Elementary Band

We have two elementary bands at Kirkland Middle School that all 4th and 5th graders at Peter Kirk, Lakeview, and Community.  The Beginning Band meets on Mondays, Wednesday (Woodwinds and Percussion only), and Thursday (Brass only), and is meant for 4th grade students, as well as 5th graders that did not play a band instrument in 4th grade.  The Intermediate Band is for any second year 5th grade band student that already played in band in 4th grade.

What band instrument can my child play?

Students may choose to start on any band instrument they choose. Although most students will find it easiest to start on flute, clarinet, trumpet, or trombone, we are allowing students to start on other instruments if they get the approval of Mr. Stedman first. This approval is needed to ensure the students are committed and ready to undertake the task of learning that instrument. Beginning Band members may choose from the following band instruments:

Flute (woodwind) 

Clarinet (woodwind)

*Oboe (woodwind)

*Saxophone (woodwind) 

Trumpet (high brass)

*Horn (high brass) 

Trombone (low brass)

Baritone/Euphonium (low brass) 

*Percussion (drums/bells)


* = Please get director approval before committing.

A few notes:

It is a big responsibility to be a percussionist!  Percussionists will need to be able to play and read music on multiple percussion instruments, NOT just the drums.  By the time they get to middle school, this will include all sizes of drums, timpani, xylophone, vibraphone, marimba, and various hand percussion, as well as be able switch between them all on a moment’s notice.  Since it is important for a well-rounded percussionist to be able to read music, all percussionists in Beginning Band will be expected to begin the year playing bells (xylophone) before being able to play the snare drum.  Percussionists in Intermediate Band will follow a rotation between instruments throughout the year.

Brass, and especially LOW brass are suggested for those who are undecided (All band directors LOVE to have more low brass players; they can really fill out the sound of a full band).  We need all types of instruments in the group (a great example: a football team can’t function if every player is a quarterback).  While it is important to practice regularly on ALL instruments, brass instruments require precise facial muscles to function, so it is important to practice at home regularly to keep these muscles strong, just as you would in sports.

Clarinet, Saxophone, and Oboe require reeds to play, which can wear out and must be purchased and replaced as necessary.  More info about buying reeds will be provided by Mr. Stedman in class.

All of that being said, it is important to pick an instrument that will inspire you.  An instrument a student enjoys the sound of will encourage them practice more often.  Don’t just pick an instrument because a friend plays it!


What about piano and guitar? 

This is a great question which we get every year. Although there is no sheet music for piano players or guitar players in a traditional school band, you are very valuable people to our whole band! Your passion and understanding of music will benefit you greatly as you learn one of the wind instruments listed above. Also, once you’re in middle school, Kirkland offers a terrific Jazz Ensemble which DOES use an accomplished piano and guitar player so keep practicing while you learn a woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument!


When do the 4th and 5th grade Beginning Bands meet?

Beginners start the week of September 23rd! Band meets from 7:45-8:25 am in the Kirkland Middle School band room.  Beginners will meet on Mondays, and then attend either Wednesday OR Thursday depending on the instrument they have chosen (Woodwinds and Percussion meet Wednesday, Brass meets Thursday).






All Beginning Band Students

All Intermediate Band Students

All Beginning Woodwind and Percussion Students

All Beginning Brass Students

All Intermediate Band Students


When does the 5th grade Intermediate Band meet?

Intermediate Band starts on Tuesday, September 17th at 7:45-8:25am, in the Band Room at KiMS.  The group meets Tuesdays and Fridays and is for students who completed Beginning Band last year.


Can I join if I’m home schooled?

Sure! We have home-schooled kids in band every year since it’s a course that would be impossible to offer at home. This is a terrific way for home-schooled kids to join other kids twice every week. Carpools become even easier if you team up with other home-schoolers. If you live in our attendance area and want to be in band, we’d love to have you join us!


How much homeroom will they miss?

Band students will miss from 5-15 minutes of their elementary homeroom on their two designated band days. This is understood and supported by the homeroom teachers and administrators at the elementary schools. During statewide MSP testing, we release the band kids a few minutes early to get them back to their campus for MSP instructions and testing.


What about Patrol and Student Council?

Students who serve as crosswalk Patrol officers, simply schedule their shifts after school to avoid conflicts with band in the morning. If you’re elected to your school’s Student Council, congratulations! We’ll try to work with your school’s Council leader to avoid conflicts with morning band rehearsals.


Where do we get an instrument?

Your child's instrument may be rented, borrowed, or owned. There are several local retail stores who can help you with obtaining an instrument or giving you the information you need. If you have an instrument and question its playability, have Mr. Stedman look at it for a recommendation. IT IS CRUCIAL THAT YOU DO NOT PURCHASE AN INSTRUMENT FROM A WAREHOUSE STORE. We’ve had trouble with off-brand instruments so only use a reputable music store for your instrument needs. Instruments purchased from sites like Amazon can be damaged in shipping or not function properly.  Please put a nametag (including which elementary school) on all instrument cases, backpacks, music books and lunch containers so that items left in the band room after rehearsal can be returned quickly.


Are there concerts? Band uniforms?

The elementary bands will have three Thursday-evening concerts during the year. Concerts will be from 7:00-8:00pm in Kirkland’s gymnasium. There is no charge and entire families are welcome to attend. The uniform for concerts is dress black on bottom and white on top.


How do I get to and from Kirkland MS for rehearsals?

All students have the choice of riding the regularly scheduled middle school bus (if there is room, as approved by the bus driver), have an adult drive them, organize a band carpool from your neighborhood, or if you’re really close you can walk! After the rehearsal has finished, all students will be bussed to their respective elementary schools for their normal classes.


Will band interfere with other activities?

Band is a fantastic opportunity for you and your family. We know how busy students and families are and we are always proud to have accomplished athletes, home-schoolers, “Hot Dog USA” members, actors, hobbyists, dancers (if you've ever taken dance classes or are currently enrolled in dance, your sense of rhythm and style make you the PERFECT candidate for band!) and other interesting people sign up for band. We try to schedule our rehearsals and concerts as sensitively as possible so students can still pursue their homework and outside interests. Band is yet another way to become a well-rounded person.


What if my child misses a rehearsal?

Attendance will be taken at every rehearsal and absences will be reported to the student's elementary school after rehearsal. Since we only meet two times per week, it is very important for your child to be on time to every rehearsal. In the case of attendance problems, Mr. Stedman will contact home to check if there is a situation or confusion we can help with.


What book should we buy?

At Kirkland, we will start using the band method book called Tradition of Excellence for beginners. It's available at local music stores and comes with a terrific DVD/CD with lots of useful videos, accompaniments and information. We may be writing and using stickers in them so it's important that they have their own book as soon as possible. If the stores run out, don't panic; your child can share for a short while. We use the same book all year and there are no other books to purchase. INTERMEDIATE Band students will also use Tradition of Excellence Book 1.


It’s the first day of band and I don't have my instrument or book yet. Should I still START band?

YES! We can wait for your instrument or book to show up but there's information you need from the very first rehearsal. Please show up even if you're empty-handed. If you DO miss the first or second rehearsal, please come as soon as you can so we can get you started!


Can I join with a friend?

You bet! In fact, research shows that you’ll be more successful in music if you learn along with friends. Sharing what you know with others from your class or from your school allows you to learn faster and have a good time, too! Additionally, carpooling or riding the bus is much easier if your neighborhood classmates join you from the very beginning. Another advantage that band kids have is that they meet many kids from the other two schools and are much more comfortable moving up to Kirkland as a 6th grader. Band students begin middle school knowing more students, several teachers, the layout of the school, and other interesting things about Kirkland. Being in band is a great way to prepare for the smoothest transition to middle school!


As a parent, how can I help my child succeed in band?

You’ll find that Mr. Stedman looks forward to communicating with parents and will try hard to keep you informed. You'll enjoy updates and hints about band via email, progress reports, concerts and written letters & notes. Another GREAT way to familiarize yourself with this new and exciting world of band is to read the book, Growing Your Musician by Tony Bancroft (2007, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, Inc.). This 145-page book (available in hardback and paperback) is full of information and ideas to help you as the parent guide your son or daughter through instrument choice, purchase/rent decisions, cleaning, practicing, motivation, terminology, private lessons and MUCH more. The directors heartily recommend this easy-to-understand, entertaining and useful book full of advice for the band parent from 5th grade through college entrance. A current search of www.amazon.com found oodles of used paperbacks available. The Grammy Foundation said that, "Parents will find it comprehensive, informative, and reassuring in supporting their child's instrumental musical endeavors."

Looked around the site but still have some questions?  Please feel free to email Mr. Stedman or visit the LWSD Elementary Band and Orchestra page for more information.