In working with the students in class and observing them as they played their individual performance projects for us, it is apparent that some of them are ready for extra assistance. They are working hard, but the obstacles that hold them back are things that cannot easily be fixed in a large class setting. Embouchure abnormalities, hand position quirks, lack of knowledge of alternate fingerings and tuning adjustments, difficulty sight reading rhythm...all are issues that can hold a student back and take many, many months to fix during regular class instruction.
The fastest way to address individual concerns is one-on-one instruction. We have MANY highly qualified private teachers in the area and several who are willing to come here to teach on campus, but we need student participation. Please consider signing your student up through the conservatory link on this website and giving them the gift of lessons to help them reach the next level of performance. Over 90% of the kids who make the All State band study with a private teacher. An added bonus: many of the private teachers are a wonderful source of college advice, scholarship connections, or a "foot in the door" to other honors organizations. Don't wait...sign your student up now!
Another obvious concern is the condition of the instruments that some of our students are trying to play. There are instruments so damaged and neglected that they barely function. Perhaps the holidays are a time to get the instrument to a repair service and have it cleaned, checked, and adjusted so that it plays as designed. Stuck slides, sluggish valves and leaky spit-corks keep brass from functioning. Worn out pads, bent rods, and torn or missing cork joints hinder the woodwinds. It's like driving your car with two flat tires and a smashed windshield....you might get there, but it's a rough and uncertain ride! Please help your student get their instrument in top playing condition. They can't do their best if the instrument won't play properly.
Finally, for some of our younger students, it's time for an instrument upgrade. The beginner model is no longer appropriate,,,they have outgrown the capabilities of that instrument and need to step up to a professional quality model. We discourage the "step-up" level or intermediate instruments, because, honestly, most of our students will outgrow them quickly and you will be faced with an additional major purchase while they are still in high school. We also discourage the "internet specials" that are often very poorly crafted instruments that do not function well and cannot be repaired once broken. Any area music store can give you great advice on the top quality, name brands of instruments. Private teachers can steer you in the right direction, or you can look at the instruments that the top performers in the advanced groups play. We are not allowed by the school system to recommend specific brands, but we can give you some ideas of instruments that have proven reliable over the years.
We want our students to experience the best that our program has to offer. Having a fully functional, appropriate level instrument and getting personal assistance in becoming a stronger player can make it happen more quickly! Happy Holidays!