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 renada School District logo, slogan Education, Training, Dreams, 253 South Main, P.O. Box 1940, Grenada, MS  38902-1940, 662-226-1606

 photo of Stephanie Raper

Stephanie Raper
In the Loop Editor


2018 Beginner Band

The transformation from beginner band student to award-winning Grenada High School marching band member is no easy feat. It takes years of hard work to mold a novice musician into one with confidence and ability. In Grenada, this journey begins in the sixth grade.

During the spring of fifth grade, all Grenada Middle School students take a band test to determine if they have an aptitude for music. The test measures students' ability to distinguish between higher and lower tones and rhythm patterns among other musically related questions. Scores from the test, which is administered by Amro Music Company, help band directors choose approximately 200 students as members of the sixth grade band. After the written test, top-scoring students who made the cut try out various instruments to see which one suits them best. Students may try any and all of the instruments that interest them, then they're asked to pick their top three. Students and directors work together to narrow down the choices to the one, final instrument that provides the best fit for each individual.

Band directors strive to match each student with the perfect instrument. Mouth shape and the ability to make a sound on the instrument during the trial are a few things considered when matching students with instruments. Most students end up with their first choice, but occasionally, a student is paired with their second or third choice. This occurs in order to ensure the student's success in the program.

Once an instrument has been chosen, parents and students attend the Beginner Parents Meeting with Amro Music Company where they purchase the new band member's first instrument. This year, the Beginner Parents' Meeting takes place Thursday, September 6, 2018. Two sessions are scheduled, one at 5:00p.m. and one at 7:00p.m. The meeting is divided into two groups to avoid overcrowding. This is an exciting event, as each new band member will walk away with their very first instrument!

Once the instruments are in hand, the real fun begins! On the first day with instruments, students divide into groups based on the type of horn. Each band director takes a group of students who play instruments in their specific area of expertise. In the groups, the students' first task is to learn to assemble and disassemble their new instrument. Next they learn to correctly hold the instrument and begin to learn individual notes. Students later progress to scales and then to simple songs, learning rhythm, tempo, and sound control as they go. By the end of the sixth grade year, students should know 4-5 scales, 12 - 13 different notes, and have a basic understanding of rhythm.

Each year as a student moves up to another band level, they build on their musical knowledge and increase their playing ability. The Grenada Band program strives not only to create great musicians but also to instill a love of music in them. This program has been successful year after year and is a great activity for Grenada School District youth. If you listen closely this weekend, I bet you'll hear some brand new band members practicing near you!