My students come from the vibrant Kingsbridge community in the Bronx. Our school is a Title I school, serving low-income students from the surrounding area. The students face diverse challenges inside and outside of the classroom, and most are first- or second-generation immigrants.
Together, my students and I are building a band program where there wasn't one before.
Our school offers numerous arts programs for students to choose from, including band, dance, art, and piano. The students who choose band truly want to be there; they are hard-working and dedicated to becoming the best musicians they can be.
"Band is the only class I can pay attention in besides when I play video games. And I have ADHD!" a student said to me proudly in the hallway last week. My band students are passionate, motivated, and enthusiastic, coming to class every day with a million new questions about music. They are thrilled to have the opportunity to play a wide variety of instruments, from the tuba to the bassoon. It is so important that we value their interests and passions by supplying them with all of the materials they need to be successful in band and life.
Our band program is young, and we are trying to build a collection of music resources that will be used in our classroom for years to come. My students are currently learning how to play woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments without method books. I exclusively use resources downloaded for free from the internet for instruction. I also create my own arrangements, and borrow from colleagues at other schools with band libraries when possible.
Teaching band without sheet music is like teaching English language arts without books; Method books are the foundation of a sequential, cohesive curriculum for our band students.
The full funding of this project will allow all of our students to have access to a method book for their specific instrument, filled with music examples and technique tips that are invaluable for a beginning band student.
We also do not have enough music stands for our growing band program. Students share wobbly, sinking stands from a school in our building that was closed in 2007. I have tried to repair the existing stands by tightening the bolts, but they constantly loosen due to age and overuse. Full funding of this project will allow us to start to replace the worst of the music stands, giving our students the working materials they deserve and need to become the best musicians they can be.
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