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    INSTRUMENTAL LESSONS AT THE MIDDLE SCHOOL

    For some students, instrumental lessons at the middle school are great because they get out of their regular class. For others, it is a time of anxiety because they fear that they might miss something in class. As you can imagine, our students cover the whole spectrum of responses to our rotating lessons. Out of an enrollment of almost 900 students at the middle school, we have 300+ currently taking lessons on a rotating basis. The faculty and administration have always supported this procedure and know how to deal with it.

    Rotating instrumental music lessons are certainly not ideal but have been widely accepted as the best method to allow student instruction during school hours. Lessons during their study halls does not work. Most of our seventh and eighth graders have only one or two study halls a week and it would be impossible to include the many different instruments involved at a time coordinated with their free period.

    If, on a given day, we have two scheduled classes (orchestra rehearsal, study hall, lunch duty, etc.), we are left with six periods to have lessons. Students that are assigned a lesson on that day would miss their first period class one 6 day cycle, their second period class the next 6 day cycle, etc. This means that students would miss a particular major class once every 36 school days or once for every 36 times that the major class meets. That is the good news. The bad news is that a student has a lesson every 8 days or more, not once a week.

    Permission for dismissal from a class for a lesson must be granted by the teachers. If a student's lesson conflicts with an exam that can't be made up during AREAs, then the student will be excused from his or her lesson. If they are excused, they must still turn in any assignments due and pick up any worksheets, instructions, etc. Sometimes they will even stay for a short quiz before coming to their lesson. Students can always borrow somebody's notes, and/or schedule an AREA with that teacher for make-up if it is needed. If students still feel they are missing something very important we allow them the option of splitting the period. This means they may go to their class for half of a period and then come to their lesson. We will still give them full credit for attending their lesson. In the event that the students feel a particular need to attend a class, they may, of course, miss their entire lesson. Their practice grade will still be noted for that particular week.

    Since we require all students to take some kind of lesson, the only other option is for the student to take private lessons. This is most desirable after eighth grade, since there is no group instruction in the State College Area schools after that time. We believe that our system of lessons, though not ideal, meets the needs
    of the majority of our students.

     

    IF YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER WANTS TO QUIT

    Each year (with the exception of the first, when the dropout rate is even higher) there is a reduction in instrumental students of about 10%. This, we feel, is a normal attrition rate, and is to be expected. We do not feel that students who want to quit are failures. In fact, they have learned more about music than most students and their lives will be enriched for having experienced two, three or four years of playing in a band. If your child wants to quit, the middle school years are the second most common years for dropping band. The most common reasons include: "I don't like it, I don't have time", or worse, "I don't think I'll have time". Because of the long-term ramifications of such a decision, please consider talking to us before any final decision to drop band is made. Maybe we can help you make a more insightful decision based on our experience. Too many times students are overwhelmed by the beginning of a new school year and try to drop out of activities before getting an opportunity to let schedules work. We certainly hope that any decision to drop band is at least postponed until the end of the first nine week period, and even then, we do not recommend dropping band, but will abide by your informed decision and will continue to support you and your child as long as your parental patience lasts.

    On the other hand, if the student appears to be doing well but lacks the self-discipline to practice, or is just downright lazy, then strong encouragement from home is certainly in order. If you are on the borderline of such a decision, we would be glad to respond to inquiries about any student continuing in band.

Last Modified on March 6, 2013