Segue to Success
Playing the first note on a new band instrument is a thrilling and exciting moment. In the St. Vrain’s middle school band programs, students see that making music means making friends, having fun, and finding a place to belong.
“For some kids, they join band because they have always wanted to play an instrument or come from very musical homes. For others, it is just the opposite,” said Nicole Kmoch, Director of Bands at Westview Middle School. “They have no musical experience, and they want to see what it is all about. They want to be part of something bigger.”
Middle school band students learn the fundamentals of playing an instrument and reading music. They also learn that music is not just a page full of notes but a form of expression and creativity. Band directors help students make connections with music and the world around them.
“A lot of what students learn in band are things they don’t realize they are learning,” said Myron Whisman, Director of Bands at Sunset Middle School. “It is not just notes, rhythms, reading music, or playing an instrument. There are direct connections to different curriculum areas.“
Tung Pham, Band Director at Timberline K-8, teaches a Mariachi Band course to show the connection between music and culture.
“We have a mariachi band that plays at local restaurants, schools and local festivals. It was a great way to get our hands into the community,” said Pham. “I wanted to make this music relevant and make students motivated to learn about it.”
Being part of a band helps students see the value of working collaboratively, rather than competitively, to reach a greater goal. Learning to perform in a group supports goal setting and confidence.
“It is not individual achievement but rather a group form of achievement,” said Kmoch. “When we perform, it is our whole group’s performance and important for everybody to be successful.”
Band fundamentals and hard work in middle school pay off as students look to continue their musical journey into high school. To ease the transition from middle to high school, high school band programs provide collaborative experiences through fun events like marching in community parades, sitting in on pep band during basketball games or performing a shared piece during a concert. The high school students show that fun, comradery and a shared love of music is what band is all about.
“Students in band go to high school, and they already have friends,” said Heather Meier, Band Director at Coal Ridge Middle School. “They have a place where they know they belong.”
Band is a commitment worth making for the sake of discovering different genres of music, developing technical skills and creating a life-long appreciation for music.
“I tell my students, ‘If music was easy, everybody would do it.’ Music is not something you can master like a level on a video game,” said Meir. “Music has more to do with interest and commitment. The things we work the hardest for are the things we value the most.”
Gleaming smiles of middle school band members, accepting applause at the end of a performance well done, shows the pride and satisfaction of being part of something bigger than themselves.