Beginning a student's instrumental experience in Middle School.
In the Howard County Public School System, students are offered the opportunity to participate in instrumental music (Strings) beginning in the 3rd grade. Instruction on a band instrument begins in the 4th grade. The focus of instrumental instruction during these elementary school years is on the individual development of basic skills and techniques at a rudimentary level. The focus is on the individual.
In middle school, this focus begins to move towards the students performing together as an ensemble. the majority of instructional time (85%) is spent working with the students in a large ensemble of 50+ musicians. Many programs do not start beginners after the 5th grade. At Ellicott Mills MS, the instrumental directors work with students who are just beginning their instrumental experience with a special beginner sectional in place of the traditional sectional. Students may be limited to certain instruments based on program needs and director input.
The beginner group will meet once a week with the director. Due to the nature of the limited contact/instructional time, private instruction is STRONGLY ENCOURAGED! to reinforce the weekly instruction. Your director may require private instruction in order to begin some instruments. Please contact your director for a complete list of qualified Private Instructors.
Once a student begins to perform near grade level, they are "graduated" from their beginner sectional and added into the daily instrumental class at their ability level. This transition requires a considerable amount of hard work, energy and diligent practice. While not every student succeeds, the majority go on to high school music programs and have an amazing musical experience for the rest of their lives.
Students interested in pursuing this beginner option should contact their director at their earliest convenience. Students will then be required to rent or purchase an instrument and obtain the required accessories and instructional materials. Students that are interested in the larger instruments (i.e. Tuba, Euphonium, Bass Clarinet, Bassoon, Baritone Saxophone, Cello, or Bass) may have the instrument supplied by the Director. Beginner students will be graded on a modified list of expectations until they reach grade level.
NOTE: Beginning an instrument in middle school is designed for the highly motivated student who has a burning desire to learn a musical instrument. It is a serious undertaking, requiring an investment of time, effort, energy, and money that should not be entered into lightly.
If you have any questions regarding this unique opportunity, please do not hesitate to contact the director.