Students who want to play an instrument in middle and high school have to get started in fifth grade.
“If you don’t start in fifth grade, it’s very hard to start,” Andrew Blumhardt, Indian Head Elementary School music teacher, said. “It’s like just starting math in fourth grade. Think of all the stuff you’ve already learned in math. Can you imagine just learning addition in fourth grade?”
To drum up excitement about band and orchestra, elementary school music teachers from around the county tour its 21 elementary schools giving demonstrations of various instruments to an audience of fourth graders.
In addition to hearing the instruments played by skilled musicians, students learn how each fits into an ensemble, they also hear how the different sounds complement each other.
The trumpet can act as a spokesman for a group. “When we want people to hear what we have to say, we use the trumpet,” Steven Moyer, music teacher at Berry, William A. Diggs and Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer elementary schools, said. The low-note playing trombone, “is very important,” Julie Adolphsen, instrumental teacher at Gale-Bailey, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy and J.C. Parks elementary schools, said. “They are the foundation of the band.”
Students also are warned that playing an instrument isn’t a passing fancy. It is a commitment, and seeing as how a musical ensemble is often a whole greater than the sum of its parts, potential musicians must be willing to put in the time to learn how to play. “With these instruments, you really have to practice,” Blumhardt said. “It’s a lot of work,” Adolphsen added. “But it’s a lot of fun.”
Alia Adams, an Indian Head fourth grader, is leaning toward trying out the flute or trumpet. “I like the flute because it sounds really nice,” she said. Her friend Kaylin Miller likes the violin and the clarinet. “The clarinet has a beautiful tune to it,” she said. “But the violin has a strong sound that I like and it makes me happy.”
Both girls understand that starting an instrument could be a daunting task and one they would have to commit time to practice. Miller admitted to being a bit nervous, Adams less so. “I’m just going to dive in,” she said.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.