"How should my 6th grade student go about choosing an
instrument to play?"
This is a great question! Too many kids choose an
instrument based superficial factors, such as on what their
best friend is planning to play or some pre-conceived
notion of what are "girl instruments" or "boy instruments",
or choosing an instrument based only on its size. The fact
is that there are no such thing as a girl or boy
instruments and the best way to choose an instrument is to
give it a try! The top factor for success is whether or not
the child can get a good, characteristic tone on the
instrument on their first try! The chances for success on
any musical instrument go way up if the child can
successfully produce a reasonably good tone when trying it
out for the first time. If a child struggles to produce a
good tone, with relative ease, right from the start, then
the process of learning that instrument can be very
frustrating indeed. Additionally, we look for kids to "fall
in love" with the sound of the instrument they choose to
play. As long as a child loves the sound they produce (even
from the very first tries) they're far more likely to want
to practice the instrument and succeed. THE ONLY WAY TO
FIND OUT ABOUT THESE FACTORS IS TO TRY THE INSTRUMENTS, AND
COMPARE THEM, BEFORE MAKING THE ULTIMATE DECISION.
"So how does my child go about trying the
The first and best option is to attend our
"Try-an-Instrument Night". In the spring, as the 5th
graders begin to register for their 6th grade classes, we
will announce the date of our Try-an-Instrument Night.
During this very special event, students will have the
opportunity to play all the primary band and orchestra
instruments! Additionally, a number of professional music
educators will be present to offer suggestions and advice
when it comes to choosing the instrument. We even have
local, reputable music retail and rental experts present to
help you with any question about obtaining the instrument
your child chooses!
"If, for some reason, we cannot attend the
Try-an-Instrument Night, will there be other opportunities
for my child to try an instrument before school
Mr. DeLong and Mrs. George will offer very brief
opportunities to try some of the instruments during the
first week of school in our beginning classes. Time will be
more limited though, since our focus is on getting the
students up and playing as soon as possible. The best
solution is to make a priority of attending the spring
Try-an-Instrument night, make your decision as to which
instrument to play, obtain the instrument sometime in the
summer, then have your child bring that instrument to
school late in the first week of classes.
Sometimes, it may be possible to go to one of the local
music instrument rental/retail shops and see if they'll
allow a child to try one of the instruments. You would need
to contact the store prior to visiting in order to see if
they are willing to provide that opportunity. Store contact
info can be found on another page on this website.
"Does my 6th grade student need to bring his/her instrument
to school on the first day?"
No. It'll take at least a couple days to work through some
basic info with the whole class, including what instruments
are available to learn, class expectations and procedures
etc... We will inform our 6th graders when they can start
bringing instruments to school. (Probably near the end of
the first week).
"Where can my student keep the instrument while at
We have lockers availble in the band room, stage, and a
nearby hallway. Combination padlocks will be provided-
please do not bring your own. Lockers are assigned on a
first come (bring the instrument), first served basis. We
have limited locker space. Students who are late to bring
an instrument to class, might not get a locker; so please
try to obtain instruments as quickly as possible. many
students with smaller instruments (flute, clarinet, and
sometimes trumpet) choose to keep the instrument in their
hall locker. Either way is fine!
"Can my student drop off the instrument in the band room
before school, and pick it up right after school?"
Yes! Students have enough time (if they don't dillydally)
to lock the instrument in the band room, visit their hall
locker, and then make it to first period on time. They can
do the same after school every day, and still make the bus;
but they must move quickly!
"How often is my student required to take the instrument
home for practice?"
That depends on individual circumstances and what you, as a
parent, feel is a manageable schedule. Students are
encouraged to practice between one and two hours at home
each week. Taking the instrument home every day is not
required, but 3 or 4 times a week is good and recommended.
At the very least, it should go home on weekends pretty
"Is there something specific the students wear for
Yes. All 6th grade band and orchestra students are required
to "dress up" for concert performances. "Dressing up" means
that students should wear nicer clothes to the concert than
they normally would wear to school. Boys can wear suits, or
sport jackets. Ties are preferred but not required. At a
minimum, we ask that boys wear a collared shirt with some
nicer pants (not jeans). Girls can wear a dress or blouse
and skirt, provided the dress or skirt length is acceptable
within Horizon's school dress code. Girls may wear pants if
they prefer. Short pants are not appropriate concert attire
for either boys or girls.
plays a pretty large, heavy instrument, and also rides the
bus. Can those instruments go on the bus, and if not, what
practice alternatives are there?"
Generally, bus drivers allow students to carry on whatever
will fit in their lap. It's amazing what students are able
to fit in their laps, (backpack, instrument, skateboard,
books, lunch box, etc...) and still be able to get their
hands free to text message each other on their cell phones!
It may not be the height of comfort, but hopefully, it's a
short ride. Even the big instruments need to go home for
practice. Many parents are able to arrange one or two days
each week where their student is picked up from school,
along with the large instrument. Also, if students stay
after school for clubs or other activities, the late buses
are often not as full as the regular buses. The Horizon
band room is made available for after-school practice at
least one day day each week. Students with the large
instruments get top priority in use of the band room for
practice. After school practice in the band room is always
"Where do I go to get an instrument for my student?"
Please see the web page entitled "Instrument Rental and
"Are all instruments created equal?"
NO! Instrument quality is a huge issue for beginners. No
matter what a student chooses to play, he/she will need a
quality instrument in order to have the best chance for
success! Please see the next question for explanation.
"Is it better to rent (rent-to-own) an instrument, or to
In most cases, the rent-to-own option is the best way to
go. More is explained in the "Handbook" section under the
tabs, "Band Instrument Info" and "Supply Info." Unless you
are well acquainted with a specific instrument type and
brand, buying an instrument can be very risky. There are so
many seemingly "great deals" either through the internet or
various large discount retailers. However, it is so true
that "you get what you pay for," when it comes to musical
instruments. Chances are pretty good that the great deal
clarinet/violin/trumpet etc... won't last your student more
than a couple months, and when it won't play- you'll find
out that the instrument cannot even be repaired! The
recommended local instrument and music shops exist to help
students get a quality, repairable instrument for a
reasonable price. These stores have all been in this
business for many years, and specialize in what they do.
Additionally, they offer terrific repair coverage policies
as well as professional repair facilities. Please call or
visit any of these stores for more details!
"Are any instruments available through the
Yes, we have a very limited supply of some instruments
available for a nominal fee. School instruments are
provided on a need basis. Parents must contact either Mr.
DeLong or Mrs. George personally to inquire about specific
"What is the cost of renting a school-owned instrument?"
School-owned instruments are available for $60/school year.
The fee helps to cover year-end basic cleaning and
maintenance costs. Any and all additional repairs and
maintenance during the school year must be covered by the
student/parent. This is an important consideration when
renting a school instrument. Repairs can be costly,
especially if the instrument has been neglected or dropped.
The School Instrument Rental Contract explains all the
"Can beginning band students start on percussion?"
We do not start any beginning students on percussion. The
skills used to learn and play percussion are vastly
different from what the majority of wind students are
dealing with in the first year. Any student who is
interested in percussion must first learn a band (wind)
instrument; which instrument does not matter. By playing
that wind instrument, the student gains confidence in music
reading skills, while gaining an appreciation for being
part of a wind band. In the second semester, after-school
percussion classes may be offered to any interested 6th
grade beginning band student. If they show an aptitude for
keeping a beat and understanding rhythm, then there is a
chance some students may join the percussion section in the
7th grade. 6th graders who already have already had a year
or two of actual percussion instruction in elementary
school are usually OK to continue on percussion at Horizon
in the 6th grade.
"My student already has experience playing his/her band
instrument from elementary school. Is there a more advanced
band for 6th graders to enroll in?"
Yes! Midway through the first quarter, 6th grade band
students may choose to try out for the "Husky Band".
The Husky band is made up of about 35 woodwind, brass and
percussion students who are showing early signs of musical
understanding and excellent progress on their instruments.
If your child has had prior experience playing his/her
instrument in elementary school, then he/she should try out
for the Husky Band when the opportunity arises! As of the
second quarter, the Husky Band will begin meeting daily as
a separate performing ensemble and class. There is only one
opportunity to try out for the Husky Band; midway through
the first quarter. At this time, there is no equivalent
orchestra option offered.
"Does Mr. DeLong know everything?"
Yes. Well, mostly. OK... some things. Pretty much whatever
he doesn't know, he finds out from Mrs. George or his
daughter, who knows EVERYTHING!