Band

Course Descriptions

Beginning Band This course is open to all students who have never played a band instrument before. Ms. Bergman will provide guidance to students in the selection of a brass or woodwind instrument if the student does not already play one. No beginning instruction on percussion is offered. The class is designed to promote the development of music fundamentals and to balance instrumentation. This band will play at the VBODA grade 2 level and will perform twice during the year at Langston Hughes MS.

Percussion Ensemble (intermediate level) This class is designed for 7th grade percussion students. Snare drum, bass drum, timpani and bells will be the main emphasis in this class. Students will also be introduced to various rhythm instruments. There will be limited performance opportunities. Students in this class are required to have a bell kit in class daily. Students must have a full year of formal band percussion experience from 6th grade (or longer). This is NOT a beginning class!

Cadet Band (intermediate level) Cadet Band is an intermediate level ensemble comprised primarily of students in the 7th grade. These students usually have one or two years of playing experience. This band performs concert literature at the VBODA grade 2 level. This class is designed to promote the continued development of music fundamentals and to balance instrumentation. Performances will occur twice during the year at Langston Hughes MS.

Concert Band (advanced level/competitive) Concert Band is an intermediate level ensemble comprised of students in the 7th and 8th grades. Students in this class generally have developed technique well beyond the average elementary student by the beginning of the year. This band performs concert literature at the VBODA grade 3 level. This is a full band and is the second major performing group here at LHMS. Students in this group are required to attend after-school rehearsals several times per year. Concert Band performs at all LHMS concerts, at state assessment, and on the spring competition.

Symphonic Band (advanced level/competitive) The Symphonic Band is the premiere performance ensemble in the Langston Hughes Middle band program. Historically, more than 75% of the members in this band have studied privately for more than a year and have attended summer music camps and clinics. This class is almost exclusively made up of eighth grade students, but five to ten seventh grade students are usually selected for this ensemble. Placement in this band is strictly by audition! Students will be expected to be able to play very advanced music (VBODA grade 4 and 5 level) and perform frequently throughout the year. Students in this group are required to attend after-school rehearsals several times per year. First chair players are required to audition for All-District Band. Symphonic Band performs at all LHMS concerts, at state assessment, the Pyramid Concert, and on the spring competition.

Langston Hughes Middle School Band FAQ’s

  1. “How often will I have band at Hughes MS?” Beginning, Percussion (intermediate), and Concert (intermediate) Bands will meet every other day. Symphonic Band will meet every day. You are able to play in band every other day since it will be a regular class in your block schedule. No more missed activities and classes to come to band!

 

  1. “What about carrying instruments on the bus?” We are fortunate to have enough of the large instruments at Hughes, such as baritones, bassoons, french horns, tubas, bass clarinets, tenor and baritone saxophones, so that students can keep an instrument at home and one at school. The students with smaller instruments carry them back and forth everyday.

 

  1. “How often do we play concerts?” All of the band classes will average a performance every quarter. Types of performances will vary and will include evening concerts, school assemblies, pyramid concerts, participation in District Band Assessment, and a one-day trip to participate in a regional competition.

 

  1. “How much do I need to practice?” Despite having band every other day, students are still expected to practice outside of class on a regular basis. This practice is necessary to ensure our success as a performing group. Weekly practice records will be collected and will be a part of each student’s grade. For all band students, the necessary number of minutes per week for an “A” on their practice record will be 150 minutes in addition to a written reflection.

 

  1. What is the difference between Concert Band, Percussion Ensemble and Symphonic Band? Concert Band is the official name of our “intermediate band” here at Hughes. Students who have played an instrument for at least one year are automatically placed into this ensemble. Percussion Ensemble is our “intermediate” group of percussionists. All intermediate percussionists are placed into this ensemble to develop their percussion skills. Percussion Ensemble members will perform with our Concert Band on all band concerts.

 

  1. Symphonic Band is our premiere group and is the official name of our “advanced band”. Students in Symphonic Band perform high school level music and have auditioned successfully into this top ensemble.

 

      7. Are uniforms required for all performances? Yes uniforms are required for all formal            performances. Uniforms will be purchased through the school. Uniform costs and requirements will be     sent home on the first day of school via the band syllabus.

 

8. What is All District Band? The All-District Band is comprised of the best middle school band members in our school district. The band rehearses and performs with a nationally known band director. Membership in the All-District Band is determined by auditioning students in early January on a Saturday. Registration information will be available in November. Audition information is posted in the band room. All Symphonic Band students are required to audition. Being selected as a member is extremely prestigious, and the audition experience is invaluable.

 

  1. What is District 12 State Band Assessment? The Concert and Symphonic Bands participate in the District XII State Band Assessment, which occurs in late February or early March. All schools participate in this big event. Each band performs three selections for a panel of judges. The judges grade the band on their performance, giving each band a rating (superior, excellent, good, fair or poor) and comments. Specific information on dates and times will be given as soon as it is determined by VBODA. Attendance at this assessment is mandatory if you are a member of Concert or Symphonic Band.

This event is comparable to the SOL tests in other classes!

  1. What is Solo and Ensemble Festival? This Festival takes place at a Fairfax County school during a Saturday in April. The festival is open to all band members at HMS. Students attending this festival perform their music for a judge. The judge gives them advice on how to improve their playing. Students who take private lessons may choose to perform a solo with piano accompaniment (the student provides his/her accompanist), as well as a small ensemble piece. Students who do not study privately are encouraged to play a duet, trio or quartet with other band members. Judges give each student or ensemble a rating (superior, excellent, good, fair or poor) for his/her performance, as well as written comments.
  2. What is the Spring Band Competition? A music festival competition trip is planned in the spring for the music department. This trip is optional and paid for by the student and their family. This is an education opportunity for all band members and also serves as a reward to the students for musical and scholastic achievements earned throughout the year. Students that miss after school rehearsals will jeopardize their privilege of participating on the trip and money will not be refunded.

12. How do parents find out about volunteer opportunities?

Band Boosters meetings to sign up for events (especially Back to Band Night) b) Reply to Band Booster e-mails (email Ms. Bergman for this information) c) Contact Band Booster members (email Ms. Bergman for this information)

Band Audition Information:

Brass and Woodwind Auditions

  • Be ready to play all the scales you have learned – the more octaves the better and best if memorized.
  • Chromatic scale, if known – memorized if possible
  • Prepared piece (no more than one minute in length). This can be from the student’s method book, private lesson material, or solo & ensemble music. Choose something that makes you sound your best and demonstrates your technical ability – ask your elementary band teacher or private teacher for a suggestion.

Percussion Auditions

Percussionists should be prepared to show what they have learned on both snare (pad) and bells. If you can only show us one of them, that’s okay also.

Snare

  • If you know any exercises that show your best abilities, you can show 1-2 of those. If you know any rudiments, be prepared to show those as well. If you don’t know them, that’s okay.
  • Prepared piece (no more than one minute in length). This can be from the student’s band music, method book, private lesson material, or solo & ensemble music. Choose something that makes you sound your best and demonstrates your technical ability. Ask your band teacher or private teacher for a suggestion.

Mallets

  • Be ready to play all the scales you have learned – the more octaves the better and best if memorized.
  • Chromatic scale, if known – memorized if possible
  • Prepared piece (no more than one minute in length). Same idea as with snare drum.