What do I have to do to register my child for the Band and Strings program?
Go to MSM (My School Music) portal and register your child. You will be asked to create an account using your email address and to create a password. This is the band portal we use as the database for contacting band members, managing band camp registrations, and tracking music instrument hire.
After registration, there is a selection process for instruments selection as explained in the next section. If you or your child have a preference for instrument, include this information in the registration.
When does the Training Band rehearse?
Friday mornings/ before school from 7:30-8:30am. Children should arrive by 7:20am to unpack and setup, ready to start by 7:30am.
Who supervises rehearsals?
The Conductor runs the rehearsal and coordinates the activities of the students. At each rehearsal, a parent of a child in Training Band must be present for the full rehearsal as it occurs before school hours and there must be more than one adult present at all times to ensure the safety of the students. This attending parent will mark the roll and help the conductor with whatever is needed.
We invite a volunteer parent from the band families to act as the Training Band Coordinator (note: this role can be shared between two parents) to attend rehearsals, assist the conductor, attend performances, and report twice a term to the Band Committee.
Who manages the Band and Strings Program?
The Band and Strings Committee oversees and administers the program, manages the finances, signs off on performances, organises parent involvement, and liaises with the school. The committee is entirely made up of parent volunteers (who, for the most part, volunteer alongside their full-time jobs!) and relies on parents volunteering to help with some events throughout the year. If people do not volunteer to help, the workload for the committee is huge, so please consider offering your assistance when there is a call-out for volunteers. Vacancies come up from time to time in essential committee roles when parents move on (and especially when their kids finish up at the school), so please consider taking up a committee position if you are in a position to do so when one becomes available.
The committee currently consists of a Convener, Bookkeeper, Scribe, Instrument Coordinator, Training Band Coordinator, Intermediate Concert Band Coordinator, Senior Concert Band Coordinator, Jazz Band Coordinator, String Ensemble Coordinator, Music Librarian, Tutor Coordinator, My School Music Administrator, and Events Coordinator.
What instruments are played in the band and strings program, and which are available for hire?
Concert band instruments include flute, piccolo, clarinet (including bass clarinet), oboe, saxophone (alto and tenor), trumpet, cornet, trombone, baritone horn, euphonium, French horn, tuba, percussion, and bass guitar. Many of these are available for hire with the exception of bass clarinet, cornet, tuba and drum kits.
The Strings Ensemble is for stringed instruments such as the violin, viola and cello.
Can we choose our child’s instrument?
If your child is set on a particular instrument make sure to let us know through the registration process and this will be taken into consideration in the instrument selection process.
If current health restrictions permit, the band will conduct a music instrument trial session where students are able to have a try of each of the instrument types with help from one of the conductors. The instrument trials enable the conductor to advise which instruments the student may be more suited to playing.
What do conductors look for in instrument allocation?
The conductor will assess which of the instruments the student is most interested in is the most suitable based on the students capacity to play. They look at the child’s mouth on the mouthpiece, size of hands and ability to move fingers around the instruments, strength and size of the child for the larger instruments, the ability to make a sound, and other technical qualities. If the conductors doesn’t think your child is suited to an instrument, they won’t be allocated it.
Additionally, the overall balance of the band may affect the instrument recommended, however with a large enough cohort there is usually enough variety in the students tastes to cater for everyone’s preferences.
Band Membership Expectations
Band members are required to have a private music lesson per week.
During band rehearsals, the students will be fully occupied with learning how to play in an ensemble but will not have much time to learn the intricacies of playing their particular instrument. The weekly tutorials will enable the student to learn to play their instrument and keep up with the progress of the band ensemble.
A list of recommended tutors can be found here. The tutorial lessons can be individual or, at the discretion of the tutor, as a small group with other student/students from the band playing the same or a similar instrument. Agreement is made privately between the parent and tutor.
What other expectations are there?
Band members are expected to attend a half–day Band Workshop held at school on a weekend during Term 1 one of school and the Band and Strings Camp held early in Term 2. These are intended to give the band time to get to know each other and form a cohesive unit which helps to motivate the students and improve their ensemble playing.
Attendance at performances music festivals and eisteddfods is expected. Parents are given a lot of advance notice for performance dates.
What is Band and Strings Camp?
The Band and Strings Camp is usually held at the Baden Powell Scout Centre in Pennant Hills. It takes place over a weekend in the first half of the year and the students are invited to stay overnight. On Saturday morning, children are dropped off at camp by their parents and they will play, rehearse and have fun from Saturday morning through to Sunday afternoon. Camp ends with a concert for parents on the Sunday afternoon. Note that should the number of children in the Normanhurst West Band and Strings Program exceed the number of beds available, there is an option for Year 3 children to sleep at home on the Saturday night instead of at camp