WELCOME! …to news about ELEMENTARY BAND for the new school year, ’23-’24.

Special Announcements or Updates….

The next big project for the 5th and 6th grade band students will be their ELEMENTARY BAND SPRING CONCERT, which will take place on Thursday evening, May 2.  The concert is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m.   REPORT TIME will be 6:30 for the 5th graders and 6:15 for 6th graders who can help set up the equipment.

Each class will perform as a separate concert band.  In addition, a few students in each class will share their solos they prepared for the Malcolm contest.

Each class has four concert band numbers to learn and present, so everyone in the class has plenty of material to practice.  All students should practice long tones every day:  hold out each note of the scale for at least 12 counts, resting 4 counts between each long note.  Practice “Bothering the Neighbors” every day.  6th graders can play the new slurring exercise every day, plus the “Five Step Scale Pattern.”  Then get to work on the Band songs.  Soloists can keep their solos improving.

The two best things you can do for your student to help their progress through the first FIVE years of band…     1)  Encourage them to take a solo to every contest that is available, and then GET APPROPRIATE HELP to get it learned carefully.   2) Consider private lessons, if possible. Every student has unique playing issues and unique potential that can’t be significantly addressed in a full class rehearsal.



older announcements…….
PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK:      Malcolm Info Sheet 24 spec
Confirming that the 5th and 6th Grade Band Classes will present their Holiday Performance on
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. at the HIGH SCHOOL
**For report time, and other important information about the performance, please click on this link: Elementary Christmas performance 2023
5th Grade Band Information…
We have completed the after school schedule that was sent out and previously posted here, and at this point there will not be any more after school extra help sessions.  We had enthusiastic participation this year which I hope was beneficial.
  1. 6th Grade Band… All the students have plenty of material to practice.  Everybody has a packet of technical exercises that alone would keep them busy for quite a while.  In addition, for our December performance they should be working on:   1) several of the songs from the holiday season packet, including specifically WHITE CHRISTMAS, RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER, JINGLE BELLS (the long packet version), and others;  2) the two band arrangements:  SANTA’S ROCKIN’ HOLIDAY MIX and the fun SANTA THE BARBARIAN;  plus 3) the two or three songs they will play together with the 5th
  1. 5th Grade Band… ONE:  Continue to use and review the video coaching guides available on the Habits Universal website.  The websites also contain for EACH exercise in the book…a video demonstration of how to play the exercise demonstrated by a professional player, along with an accompaniment soundtrack.  The speed can even be altered if they have trouble keeping up.  TWO:  Make sure the first 5 notes on pages 3-5 are learned and memorized, along with those basic review exercises.  THREE:  Work on the songs introduced on pages 6, 7, and 8.  FOUR:  Work on the scale (concert Bb) comprised of the 8 notes we marked in their fingering charts (back of the book).  The scale is also written out in exercise #86 in the book.  FIVE:  They will be receiving a packet of unison holiday season songs.  For our December performance they will specifically be wanting to work on JINGLE BELLS (short version—separate handout),  UP ON THE HOUSETOP, and possibly one more.
Date:   Thursday, May 4, 2023
Time:   7:30 is the start of the concert.  However:  Students need to arrive at the HIGH
SCHOOL BAND ROOM no later than 7:00 (earlier is fine) in order that
everyone may get their instrument tuned and receive final instructions.
Place:   Fort Calhoun High School gymnasium
Attendance:  All students enrolled in 5th or 6th grade band class are required to be in attendance.
WHAT TO WEAR:  Students should dress up.  This will be considered a more formal event than the contest some of the students attended in March.  No blue jeans, please.  NO SHORTS.   Men should wear a belt and have their shirts tucked in.  “Stage appropriate length” dresses or skirts are appropriate for Women OR high school ladies  often wear dress pants and  tucked in dress shirts, the same as the men.  Did we mention, NO SHORTS.
Program:  The concert will feature both the 5th and 6th grade classes playing as separate bands.  In addition, a few solos will also be presented from each class.

December 20, 2022

5th and 6th Grade Band Parents:

First of all, thank you so much for coming out last evening on a day that was, shall we say, “less than pleasant!” I thought we had a great turn out. I thought the students played well, despite some nerves—which is all a part of the process. Only more practice and performance experience can solve that problem.

I do want to provide some commentary on what the group can accomplish together versus our individual playing. I should have thought to express this last night while all of us were together, and especially for new/first time band parents.

When the whole class is playing together in unison (everyone on the exact same part)…especially with a larger class like the 5th grade, the song sounds nice and strong and carries right through the phrases to the end of the song. It sounds good and sounds like everyone knows what they are doing.

In reality, that is a product of the whole group working together. Not everyone can play the whole song all the way through and make it sound that way. At this point I have to remind the students about this fairly frequently. We finish going through a song in class (and last night), and to them, it sounds good. Here’s where the problem starts…some of the students didn’t get all the song played. They made some mistakes, or they possibly even got lost. At the same time, it sounds to them like “Everyone else knows the song and can play it all the way through”….because that is what they heard. In their own world, they don’t realize that not everyone in the class was playing everything correctly. Other people were making little mistakes, playing a wrong note here or there, and sometimes getting a little lost. So…here’s the dangerous part…they start thinking they are not doing as well as others…or too often, thinking they are the ONLY person not able to play the song….and they start getting discouraged.   They start thinking they are behind or “can’t learn to play the horn” or that maybe they should give up. I sometimes ask everyone who made more than one mistake, or got lost, to raise their hand. Usually many hands go up. (Once again, the “sound” they heard was simply a compilation…a joint effort…of many players just doing the best they can.) Sometimes, however, this point just doesn’t resonate with them and especially with students who might be just a little less confident…it just doesn’t reassure them they will be OK with some practice and that others are in the same boat.

I want to make this point to parents as well, because they too listen to the whole group play and…”Hey…that sounds pretty good!” But “my student doesn’t sound like that at home when they are practicing,” or “I can see my student is struggling a little out there in the performance while ‘everyone else is playing it fine.’” Same thing… in reality, not everyone else is playing it OK all the way through. (You are probably just watching your student more carefully!) It is a “collective product” of everyone doing their best that produces the end result. I saw even one of the strongest players last night get lost at one point and had a hard time finding their place in the music again. There is also some confidence that comes in playing together with others. So when many of the students play alone, it again might not be as strong as when they play it with others.

I thought it was worth trying to get this concept across so that parents can know what is going on—what is normal and natural–and can help encourage their students. They all just need more time, more practice, more lessons, and more experience. They just need to “hang in there.” Keep mildly pushing them, but most of all, just keep them playing. They will continue to improve. The more they play and the more they practice, the better they get, and the better they get, the more fun it is to play!

Again, I thought the groups played well. Thank you for your support of instrumental music in our school and in our lives. Let us know if you have any questions. (Well, let’s not bother Mrs. Geisler while she is on maternity leave enjoying her new, cute little son!)   Unless you want to send her a “Thank you” note for all her help in getting these classes started and co-directing as we prepared to perform during the first three months of the semester!

Best wish for the holiday season!

Mark Jones

The Fifth and Sixth Grade Band classes will present a Holiday season “Mini Concert” on Monday evening, December 19.  Students will need to REPORT BY 6:30 p.m. to the HIGH SCHOOL.  The program will begin at 7:00 p.m.  It will be a relatively short performance.  PLEASE READ the complete explanation and details on the event which can be found by clicking on the following link…. Holiday performance 2022

AS OF MONDAY, NOVEMBER 7…   ALL students in 5th grade band will come to regular class on both Mondays and Wednesdays.  Again, all 5th grade band members need to bring their horns EVERY Monday and EVERY Wednesday.  This will be the regular schedule from now on.

The students will make better progress by following a practice routine.  Even 10 minutes a day will greatly enhance their skills, and 10 minutes a day is much more productive for them than 60 minutes on the weekend.

They also need to know at least the 8 notes of the scale that is printed at the bottom of their “Skill Builders” page.  They should be able to identify the note by name and also know the correct fingering.  Practice/learn “Skill Builders Sets A & B.”   Practice/learn “Bothering the Neighbors.”

Please stay alert for an announcement, hopefully very soon,  about their first performance.

Thank You,

Molly Geisler

Mark A. Jones

Elementary Band Directors

5th and 6th graders are still welcome to join band.  Come in and talk to one of the teachers or just start coming to band class with your friends.




Info Sheet….

What’s happening in Class!


Still working a lot with basic fundamentals of tone  production and articulation.  All 5th graders should be memorizing the notes and the fingerings for the 8 notes of the concert Bb Scale written at the bottom of their Skill Builders sheet.  


6th  graders are trying to improve our counting skills and our technique.  We will starting soon on some holiday season songs.


Online Resources!

For extra help, new information about your instrument, etc., check out the online links on the first page of the JUNIOR HIGH BAND section of this website.