Instrumental Music Handbook

  •  Dear Band and/or Orchestra Parents:


    Greetings to all of you!  I hope your Summer went well.  School is in “full swing” for another year and I’m looking forward to the best year yet for Heath music students.  This handbook will provide you with information concerning the band program at Heath Middle School. Please read this letter with your child . Afterward, please sign attached slip and return it to school with your child.

    Why study music?

    When a child studies music, significant elements of his or her education find focus and expression: developing the ability to understand and use symbols in new contexts; discovering the power, precision, and control of mathematics in unexpected ways; finding and directing personal creativity; exercising the diverse skills of problem-solving; experiencing the joy of self-expression; growing into the liberation acquired through self-discipline; and participating in the deeply human satisfaction of shared work and the gratification of challenges met. All these have been concluded through research.


    In addition to these characteristics fundamental to education, music shares with the other arts a resource that is of paramount importance to the education of the young: Music is a highway for exploring the emotional and aesthetic dimensions of experience. Indeed, here is where music and the other arts make their unique and most visible contribution. Education without music shortchanges our children and their futures. Education with music offers exciting possibilities in two directions. As we look to the future, educational research on the nature of intelligence and brain function give promising indications that could change the face of education. And as we look around us in the present, we see connections between music education and changes in students that offer direct and immediate benefits, not only to them, but to education as a whole.


    All students are expected to have the materials required to participate in class each day. These include: pencil; music book and/or sheet music; instrument with all accessories needed for playing (ie. reeds for clarinet, saxophone; valve oil for brass instruments; sticks and mallets for percussion, bow and rosin for strings, etc.) In addition, the students are expected to maintain good attendance and report to class on time. Students are also expected to follow classroom policies and the rules of the school and district. No student should handle another’s instrument for any reason (percussion students excluded). Students are also expected to practice at home.


    Practicing at Home

    Proper methods of practicing and the amount of time that should be spent will be discussed with the students and will be reviewed as the year progresses.  A rule of thumb is 30 minutes minimum practice time per day at least Three to four times per week.    

    Students who can practice extra time are obviously bettering themselves.  Students will find it easier to practice regularly if they choose a convenient time that fits a daily schedule.  Concentrated daily practice is much more beneficial than one long weekly session; just as it is better to eat three meals a day rather than one big one.  It has been my experience that those students who practice faithfully and consistently are the most successful and continue to enjoy playing the instrument.



    Your child is graded in 3 areas in band.  The grades come from:  (1) Testing: including playing ability tests(progress chart testing), sheet music testing, and written tests, (2) class participation and (3) Classwork: including practice cards, worksheets, and creative exercises.  Students will be tested on a regular basis to monitor proficiency on their instrument.  All students are expected to be prepared for these tests.  It is vital that a student have the necessary accessories and supplies on testing day (reeds, mouthpieces, etc.) as well as music/book and instrument.  Testing not only measures the progress of the student, but also those concepts which may need to be covered again by the teacher.  

    Checking Grades

    Every student is responsible for his or her own grade and is expected to keep checking it so that he or she knows what their progress is in class. Students are also expected to notify parents of their grade. There are several ways that students and parents can check grades:

    1. Infinite Campus, online
    2. Ask the Teacher

    Instrument Storage at School

    Students should place their instruments in their band room locker before school begins.  Although the band room is locked daily and each locker has it’s own lock, the school is not liable for lost, stolen, or damaged instruments.  Since there are many cases that look alike, each instrument case should be marked with the student’s name on it (preferably with a luggage tag) before the instrument is brought to school (no tape please).  The school provides a locker and a combination lock for all instruments. Students are given a combination to their locker and are responsible for their lock.  Any missing or damaged lock will cost the student(s) $8.00 to replace.  Students are required to use school locks because the teacher has a master key and combination to all locks.  Students are not allowed to use their own locks from home.  Percussion students must put their name all drumsticks and mallets (use permanent marker). These sticks and mallets should also be kept locked in the student’s band locker.

    **Students that cannot get their instruments after school because they are involved in after school activities must plan to take it with them ahead of time or they can get their instruments from the band room when their after school activity is over by asking a custodian to unlock the band room door.


    The following materials and accessories will be need by middle school band students in addition to those items included with the instrument:

    • Books
      • Method Book
      • Beginning Orchestra Essential Elements 2000 - Instrument Specific
      • Beginning Band            
      • Traditions of Excellence Book I - Instrument Specific
    • Other Materials
      • Metronome/ Tuner (apps on smart phones work great)(home use only)
      • Instrument in proper working condition
      • Lined notebook paper
      • PENCIL!!!

     Individual Instrument Supplies:

    • Flute: Cleaning rod, 6 inch square cloth (handkerchief cloth works well)
    • Clarinet: four “#2” strength (strength 2 1/2 or 3 for Intermediate or Advanced) reeds*, clarinet swab, cork grease, mouthpiece brush
    • Saxophone: four “2” strength (strength 2 1/2 or 3 for Intermediate or Advanced) reeds*, saxophone swab, cork grease, neck cleaner, mouthpiece brush
    • Trumpet: Mouthpiece brush, valve oil, tuning slide grease, flexible tubing brush
    • Horn: Mouthpiece brush, rotary valve oil, tuning slide grease, flexible tubing brush
    • Trombone: Mouthpiece brush,  tuning slide grease, slide cream or oil (“Superslick”), small spray bottle.
    • Baritone: Mouthpiece brush, valve oil, tuning slide grease, flexible tubing brush
    • Tuba: Mouthpiece brush, valve oil, tuning slide grease, flexible tubing brush
    • Percussion: Concert Snare drumsticks, Hard Plastic Xylophone/Bell mallets, Med hard vibraphone mallets, Practice drum pad
    • Intermediate percussion: Same as above plus General Timpani Mallets and Med xylo mallets
    • Advanced percussion:  Same as above
    • All Strings: Bow (instrument specific), Rosin (Instrument specific), cleaning cloth/rag, Extra strings
    • Violin/Viola: Shoulder Rest
    • Cello/Bass: Rock stop or peg strap


    All of the above mentioned items can be obtained at any music store or online.

    Note to Reed Musicians

    Clarinets, Saxophones, Oboes and Bassoons

    • Reeds are expensive, so great care should be taken in handling.  A good investment is a plastic or metal “reed guard” which securely holds up to 4 reeds while they are not being used.  Reeds are fragile and eventually wear out.  When the student has only two good reeds left ( or one good reed for oboe and bassoon) more reeds should be purchased so that the student will not be without the most essential item for playing a reed instrument.

    Note to all Students Renting an Instrument from Heath

    For students renting an instrument from Heath, certain accessories will be provided with the instrument at the beginning of the rental contract. These provided accessories will NOT be replaced by the school if they are lost, stolen or broken, and MUST be replaced by the student or family responsible for the instrument.  

    • Provided Accessories:
      • Brass- Valve oil, tuning slide grease
      • Woodwind- swab, flute rod (flutes only), cork grease
      • Strings- Shoulder rest, rosin, rock stop
      • Cleaning supplies can be borrowed upon personal request. (brushes and snakes)

    Cleaning the Instrument

    Make sure your child cleans the instrument mouthpiece weekly.  Use the mouthpiece brush and warm (not hot) water.  Woodwind players should always swab out the instrument after each playing and wipe off finger marks with a soft cloth.  Do not attempt to use household products to clean or shine the instrument as most of these are too harsh.  Brass players should give their instruments a bath each month. More detailed information of cleaning will be given in class.


    Occasionally, all instruments will need some type of repair or adjustment.  If the student thinks there is something wrong with his/her instrument, he/she should first bring it to Mr. Wilkinson for inspection.  If repairs are necessary, he will tell the student to inform his/her parents or guardians.  If the instrument is sent in for a repair, a note should accompany your student to school describing why he/she does not have their instrument. Or, voice mail can be left at 970-348-3480.

    Private Lessons

    Studying privately with a private teacher is THE best way to learn to play an instrument. Students who take private lessons excel much faster. To facilitate concepts learned in the classroom and make them more meaningful, we suggest to those parents who can arrange it, that their child be offered some type of individual learning experience in addition to the classroom activity.  

    A Patron of the Arts

    Attending live concerts and recitals is a wonderful experience for everyone. For our students, it is an opportunity for them to come in contact with other creative artists in our community. We are fortunate, in Greeley, to have local access to wonderful musicians (ie. UNC and Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra). Throughout the year concerts and recitals are scheduled in the Greeley area.  This is a great way to support your child’s music education and help develop the concept of proper tone on each instrument.  It is a fun family activity too! I will send home information as the concerts or recitals come up. With proof of attendance to a live performance, the student shall receive extra credit on their grade!

    Concert Schedule and Attendance

    Your help would be greatly appreciated!  A schedule  of concerts is attached.  Concert dates are also listed on the Heath Band and Orchestra webpage. Please help us in getting your child to these concerts; they are very important.  They are presented for you to hear your child’s progress and also for their music education. Concerts and the concert review(in class) are an important part of your child’s grade.  Illness, injury and family emergencies are the only excused absences and must be verified with me as soon as possible prior to the concert.  Students that have an unexcused absence from a concert will not receive the points awarded for the concert.  If there are any prescheduled conflicts, please inform me of them as soon as possible. Students with pre- approved absences will complete another musical assignment for a maximum of 80% of the concert grade.

    Concert Attire

    At all performances, students are required to wear the proper concert attire. This includes:

    • Heath Concert Polo (sold at Heath M.S.- $10)
    • Black pants or a skirt - Pants can be jeans (yes, you read that right), as long as they are not blue jeans. Girls can wear pants or skirts, but the skirts must come down past the knees. No mini skirts
    • Black or dark shoes - Shoes can be tennis shoes as long as they are black or dark.


    Thank you for your support and I look forward to a fantastic year of working with your child!  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.  I look forward to seeing you at our concerts this year!


    Contact: Mr. Wilkinson

    Office: (970) 348-3480