Beginning Band and Strings Ensembles
Our beginning ensembles are where all the fun starts! We generally start first-timers at about 8 years of age depending on maturity (parents know best!). We like to put a real, full-sized wind instrument or appropriately sized stringed instrument in the hands of a new student. So, the learner has to have some hand-eye dexterity, some physical ability, be able to read, and be able to take action on verbal instructions. We also invite parents to grab an instrument and learn alongside their children – it’s a lot of fun! Student musicians with a year or two of training from another program or with some private instructional experience will often jump in here... More...
In choir, our voices are the instruments! Prior experience is not required to become a member of the chorale. We start each rehearsal with stretches, deep breathing, and vocal exercises. In class, we’ll learn about famous chorale works and their composers. We’ll practice solfege (do, re, mi) and learn to pronounce vowels the musical way. We’ll learn some music theory, music appreciation, and even how music can heal and enrich our lives. Our highly qualified directors teach choir through ear training, interval repetition, and by note reading. We’ll sing in unison, in parts, accompanied, and acapella through a variety of classic and contemporary compositions. We’ll also talk about proper care and feeding of those precious vocal-chords! Click the link below to learn more about how singing makes us smarter...
A string orchestra is made up of a section of violins, a second section of violins, violas, cellos, and the mighty basses. All of these instruments come in different sizes. Our instructors can help size match when needed. From time to time, we’ll augment the strings with a piano accompaniment, an aerophone feature, or even a kit drum. Student experience in the string orchestra varies between new, second-year musicians to those on their tenth year of playing. We’ll play and perform a wide variety of pieces from baroque and classical standards to contemporary movie scores. We focus the selections towards conservatory repertoire that the advancing student may see later at college as well as pieces that are really fun and interesting to play!
A concert band is an ensemble that utilizes three of the four families of instruments—brass, woodwind, and percussion*. (Full orchestras combine all four families.) The winds include things like trumpets, trombones, and saxophones. A concert band is also called a wind ensemble. The symphonic winds are combined with percussion* instruments like snare drums, xylophones, and tympani. Concert bands need them all! Like our string orchestra, experienced musicians both young and old with a year or more of training make up our advanced concert band. Many of our musicians started in the beginning ensembles and have grown up through the program learning more than one instrument. They'll play whichever is best needed by the music! Some even perform in multiple ensembles here at NHME. We're a learning ensemble and a reading band that often resembles a one-room schoolhouse. We're more cooperative than competitive; and while we strive for excellence in our skill and ability, we'll have fantastic fun and tremendous enjoyment learning and playing music together!
*Note: NHME's larger percussion equipment is kept and played at our Tecumseh location.
Summer Music Camps
In the summers, NHME holds fun, week-long music camps and workshop intensives for our growing student musicians. Each day, we’ll gather at 9:00am, learn amazing, new music from expert clinicians, enjoy a free lunch, play silly, music games, and wrap up at 3:30pm. For student musicians graduating from the beginning ensembles, summer music camp is an ideal way to transition to the advanced groups and be ready for next season. For any attendee, the opportunity to get answers from a trained professional and get special, hands-on attention regarding your particular instrument is invaluable! Our skillful specialists demonstrate advanced techniques and provide helpful hints to help take your musicianship to the next level. Summer workshops also provide performance opportunities. We’ll wrap the weeks up with exciting, outdoor concerts at the bandshells in Ann Arbor or Trestle Park. We often team up with notable area ensembles like the Adrian City Band or the Straits Area Concert Band for awesome, joint performances. Hold no worries; our musicians will thrive and grow by leaps and bounds musically in just one short week while having a great time! Come spend a part of summer with us — you'll be glad you did!
Unlike some groups, attendance at private lessons or keeping at-home practice records is not a requirement to participate in NHME's activities. While some students choose private lessons in addition to playing with our ensembles, the majority of our students do not study privately and still perform at a competent, early-college level. NHME does not discourage private lessons, however. A student learning with us and studying privately is going to rapidly become an exceptional musician! If one has to choose between learning in an ensemble setting or playing on their own privately, consider choosing ensemble learning — it's much more fun and rewarding together! Some instruments have steeper learning curves than others when first starting out. Private lessons can be useful in helping a student get over those initial hurdles. There are also some instruments that we do not as yet teach such as piano or guitar where private instruction would be the way to go. Having been in the community and involved in the musical scene for over 20 years, we’re well connected and networked. We can recommend some great private teachers. Give us a call or check out our links page!
What About Piano, Guitar, and Others?
Since NHME specializes in providing ensemble playing experiences, some types of musical instruments don’t work well with us when first starting out as a beginning musician. For example, there’s just not enough room to fit twelve pianos in our rehearsal hall for a group, beginning piano class. Some instruments, like guitars, are outside of traditional concert band or string orchestra instrumentation, so parts are not written for them by composers. Certain instruments like harps, bassoons, or oboes, hold unique peculiarities that make one-on-one instruction a necessity for new students. That does not mean they’re not welcome at NHME, however! Songs often call for piano accompaniments, and proficient pianists can lend a hand. (Pianists also make for excellent mallet percussionists!) Piano and guitar players often “double” in our group by playing regular band or orchestra instruments when piano or guitar parts are not available in a particular piece. When it comes time to play swing or big-band music, bass players, guitarists, and pianists are highly sought after! Developing double-reed players are always welcome within the advanced wind ensemble as sheetmusic parts are almost always available. We’ve also found ways to feature the unusual or exotic instruments that musicians may bring with them. Flugels, mandolins, pennywhistles, viole de gamba, chromaharps, zithers, dulcimers, accordions, bagpipes, steel guitars, mellophones, banjos, and soprano saxophones (to name just a few), are regarded as “uncommon” in today's academic ensembles, and we do not regularly provide lessons for them. If a musician has one of these kinds of instruments, we can make special, playing opportunities to have them heard. Send us a message or give us a call about any of these instruments; we’re always happy to answer questions! Keep an eye open too for periodic ukulele workshops at NHME.
Here is when and where we meet. Click below!
Here's what a rehearsal with us is like. Click to learn more!
Click the link below to register and join the fun!
Meet the Directors and learn more about us at the link below!
Some of our students join us through one of the area partnerships, such as the Lyceum, and may have a video component required by their teachers of record at the local school districts in addition to attendance at our class rehearsals. No worries! The videos are short and the requirements simple. Partnership students are most welcome at NHME – we’re glad you’re here!
During their time with us, student musicians often learn many different instruments beyond their first choice and "double" in the ensembles. NHME encourages exploration! Speak with our directors about taking up that next exciting instrument!
Ask questions and get answers from a real live person pretending to be a robot! Also, why not stop on by and pay us a visit? Let us know you're coming, and we'll keep an eye out for you!