At a Cudahy Band strategizing meeting in October, which included School District Superintendent Jim Heiden, Director of Curriculum Lori Esenberg, Cudahy High School Principal Chris Haeger, Cudahy Band Department members, and Cudahy Music Department co-chair Renee Braun, options were discussed that could potentially increase student contact time. Currently, limited contact time with band students, combined with a lack of home practice, has had a negative effect on the students’ ability to master their instruments.
There is a direct correlation between the amount of success that students achieve by playing a musical instrument and the amount of time that they spend practicing. Learning to play a musical instrument involves complex physical and mental processes occurring simultaneously. Also, since a high degree of muscle memory must be developed in learning to play an instrument, students need to find time for meaningful practice for successful results.
This school year, seventy-six 5th grade beginning band students started in the school district’s program. They meet as a group for a short rehearsal one time per week during the school year and also have a brief individual lesson once per week. During the meeting Renee Braun noted that in the Waukesha public schools they have an evening all-district elementary band rehearsal once a week, and suggested that the same thing might be done in Cudahy to increase contact time. Cudahy elementary band teacher, Carl Koch, volunteered to implement the idea, and Since that time, Mr. Koch has been joined by high school band director Scott Plank, and student mentors from both the high school and middle school band programs.
Each Monday night 5th and 6th grade elementary band students, along with high school and middle school band mentors, meet to practice their skills from 6:30 – 7:15 pm at Lincoln Elementary School. According to Mr. Koch, “There are encouraging results from the additional contact time that Monday Night Band affords.” He continued to state that because of the additional playing time and mentoring by older players, participating band members who were struggling on their instrument for one reason or another at the beginning of the year have caught up quickly to their peers have been progressing at a faster rate. Also, there is increased excitement about being in band and positive relationships are developing between younger and older band members. Another notable success is that participants who began with playing the simpler Monday Night Band parts have “graduated” to the advanced parts. Awareness is developing amongst parents and community members that a special effort is being made to bolster the Cudahy Band Program, and feedback has been very positive.
Though Monday Night Band has helped increase contact time with band students in Cudahy, it is not a replacement for regular practice. Currently all Cudahy elementary band students receive one 15 minute lesson per week and participate in one 30 minute group rehearsal. Monday Night Band has added one more opportunity for band students to connect with teachers and peers during the week; but, regular home practice is still crucial to the development of our band students.
Mr. Koch, also notes that “Practicing is an important part of playing a musical instrument and we encourage our students to have self-discipline by making practicing part of their daily routine.”
Monday Night Band will continue to meet at Lincoln Elementary School on the following Mondays: March 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th; April 4th, 11th, and 18th; May 2nd, 9th, and 23rd; and June 6th.
If you have any questions regarding Monday Night Band or the band program at Cudahy schools please contact Mr. Koch at KochC@cudahy.k12.wi.us
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