Q.
"How should my 6th grade student go about choosing an instrument to play?"

A.
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.

Q.
"So how does my child go about trying the instruments?"


A.
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!

Q.
"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 starts?"


A.
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.


Q.
"Does my 6th grade student need to bring his/her instrument to school on the first day?"


A.
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).


Q.
"Where can my student keep the instrument while at school?"


A.
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!


Q.
"Can my student drop off the instrument in the band room before school, and pick it up right after school?"


A.
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!


Q.
"How often is my student required to take the instrument home for practice?"


A.
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 regularly.


Q.
"Is there something specific the students wear for concerts?"

A.
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.


Q.
"My student 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?"

A.
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 supervised.


Q.
"Where do I go to get an instrument for my student?"


A.
Please see the web page entitled "Instrument Rental and Repair."

Q.
"Are all instruments created equal?"


A.
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.

Q.
"Is it better to rent (rent-to-own) an instrument, or to buy?"


A.
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!

Q.
"Are any instruments available through the school?"


A.
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 availability.

Q.
"What is the cost of renting a school-owned instrument?"

A.
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 details involved.

Q.
"Can beginning band students start on percussion?"

A.
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.

Q.
"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?"

A.
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.

Q.
"Does Mr. DeLong know everything?"


A.
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!