Instrumental Music

Philosophy

Music serves an essential role in civilization, and the study of music is a vital part of a comprehensive education.

  • As a universal form of expression that transcends language, background, and geography, music provides a unique perspective on one’s own culture as well as the diverse cultures of the world.
  • Research has shown that music students score higher in reading, math, and critical thinking skills.
  • Participation in instrumental music engages the whole person and, in addition to developing fundamental musical knowledge and skills, also develops skills in listening, discipline, creativity, cooperation, and aesthetics.

All students in District 54 have the opportunity to participate in instrumental music. Instruction is given by highly qualified educators who follow a comprehensive and sequential curriculum based on state and national standards. As a result of their experiences in the District 54 instrumental music program, students will be able to understand, create, and appreciate music for a lifetime.

Instrumental Music Programs

At the elementary level (fifth and sixth grade), the instrumental music program contains two main parts:

  1. Weekly group lessons at the elementary school.
  2. Weekly after school rehearsals (mid October-March) on Tuesdays (5th grade) or Thursdays (6th grade). Students attend after school groups at the junior high they will eventually attend. Parents must provide transportation to and from these rehearsals.

Instrument choices at the elementary level are violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, trumpet, and trombone. In the spring of 5th grade, band students are given an opportunity to audition for percussion.

Students who have participated in the elementary program have the opportunity to continue instrumental music in junior high. In junior high, instrumental music students rehearse daily as part of a large ensemble within the school day and participate in a variety of performance opportunities. In addition, weekly lessons are scheduled for each student. Students are pulled from other classes on a rotating basis to attend these small group sessions.

Students in junior high are offered the opportunity to try several instruments not available at the elementary level (i.e.  string bass, saxophone, tuba, etc.).  Specific procedures for switching to these instruments are determined by each junior high instrumental music teacher, and decisions are made in collaboration with the parent/guardian and student.

Important Information

  • Suitable instrument (please see list of Highly Qualified Music Stores).
  • Music book
  • Folding Music Stand
  • Miscellaneous supplies specific to each instrument

Students traditionally enroll in the District 54 Instrumental Music Program in the spring of fourth grade and begin lessons in fifth grade. Due to the COVID pandemic, enrollment will be postponed until we are certain that students can begin in an environment more conducive to a successful start to their musical journey.

In the meantime, we encourage you to review the information on the District 54 Instrumental Music Enrollment Information page so that you are prepared to choose an instrument and join the fun!

In junior high, band or orchestra is an elective that students may choose if they have participated in fifth and sixth grade instrumental music in District 54 or a comparable program in another district.

Attendance at all rehearsals, small group lessons, concerts and other scheduled events is expected of all students in the instrumental music program. Any conflicts should be brought to the director’s attention well in advance.

Daily at-home practice reinforces the cognitive and motor skills learned in school and builds confidence in the individual musician. Every member of a band or orchestra depends on each other to learn their parts so that the entire ensemble can move forward. While lessons and rehearsals are important and essential, the most important factor in determining a student’s success on an instrument is establishing and maintaining a regular practice routine.

Students in elementary level (fifth/sixth grade) instrumental music are expected to commit to a full year of participation. It is important to realize that playing an instrument is a discipline that is both rewarding and challenging. Persistent practice from the students and gentle but firm encouragement from the parents will usually help students through the challenging times. Parents are welcome to contact the instructor for assistance and suggestions at any point.

A progress report for fifth and sixth grade band/orchestra students is included on the regular classroom report card every trimester. In junior high, band and orchestra are academic classes. Students will receive a grade on the report card.

Other Instrumental Music Programs

The District 54 Jazz Ensemble is a select group of eighth grade students chosen by audition from throughout the district. Students must be currently enrolled in the District 54 instrumental music program to be eligible to audition for the Jazz Ensemble. Auditions take place in the spring of the seventh grade year. Students selected for the Jazz Ensemble begin rehearsals during the summer school program and continue with rehearsals on Thursday nights during the school year (5-6:30 pm). Students perform at several venues throughout the district and the wider Chicago area.

The Early Instrumental Music (EIM) program gives kindergarten and first grade students the opportunity to begin violin lessons. Violin instruction continues throughout sixth grade at Dooley elementary school. Weekly violin lessons are held at Dooley during the school day. Parent attendance at these lessons is required through at least third grade. Additionally, children receive a group violin class once a week after school. The students perform in two large concerts per year, as well as a solo recital and at a variety of special school and community events. To participate in the Early Instrumental Music program, students must be enrolled full-time at Dooley. Children enrolled in EIM take all academic classes at Dooley.

District 54 students who have completed fifth grade and have participated in at least one year of instrumental music are encouraged to enroll in the optional summer music program, traditionally held for three weeks in July (Monday-Thursday mornings). This program gives students the opportunity to rehearse in a large ensemble, culminating in a final concert. Registration information is distributed in the spring. Unfortunately, in 2020, the summer program was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.