Here's how school band works in our town:
Fifth grade is the earliest that a student begins playing a band instrument, and the elementary music teachers teach both general music to all elementary students and instrumental music to any fifth-graders wishing to be in band. There are five elementary schools: four of them house grades kindergarten through five, and one is for only sixth grade. That means that the four small fifth-grade bands combine the next year to form one large sixth-grade band.
In preparation, each spring all the fifth-grade bands combine to perform a few songs as one band at the All-City Band Concert. Each fifth-grade music teacher prepares her own students beforehand, and then the sixth-grade band teacher takes over conducting duties for the combined band of fifth-graders the night of the concert. We got to hear Abigail, our fifth-grader, play her saxophone in that group at this year's All-City Band Concert tonight!
Here is Abigail playing saxophone with the fifth-graders on "Regal March."
As a fifth-grader, Suzanna performed in last year's concert playing percussion rather than her trombone--here is why. As a sixth-grader this year, she got to play her trombone. Her band director was slated to conduct both the fifth-grade and sixth-grade bands, but he has been out of school on sick leave, so a substitute teacher got the honor of conducting those groups! (And he did a fine job.)
Here is Suzanna playing trombone with the sixth-graders on "Scooby Doo, Where Are You?"
We listened to Abigail's band perform, followed by Suzanna's band, followed by the seventh-grade band, the eighth-grade band, and two different bands from the high school. The final number on the program was performed by all the students . . . grades five through twelve! The elementary students sat together, the junior high school students sat together, and the high school students spread themselves out, joining one or the other group of younger students to play along with the corresponding sections (i.e., high school flautists with the elementary flute section, etc.). Considering the massive group, spread out over a large space, composed of such varying levels of expertise, that last song went pretty darned well!
Abigail and Suzanna play "We Will Rock You" with the combined bands: grades five through twelve.