Beginning Band & Strings
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 directions. 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 to refresh fundamentals and get acquainted with the group. NHME reserves the right to place people within its ensembles based on an evaluation of skill and ability presented at first rehearsal; we’ll work closely with these musicians and their families to ensure they don’t get bored or get overwhelmed either.
Check out our FAQ page for articles and guidance on choosing an instrument to learn. If a first choice doesn’t quite work out, don’t worry! We’re not locked into that first selection. We can help the student try something else. For example, trumpeters often find horn in F or baritone horn better, and clarinetists sometimes transfer to saxophone.
A band needs flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, horns, trombones, baritones, and percussionists.
Prospective tubists might not have grown enough yet to handle this big instrument. Baritone or trombone might be a better first start. With oboe and bassoon, we recommend private instruction in parallel with group instruction. String orchestra needs violins, violas (violas are vital and in high demand!), cellos, and basses.
Our seasoned musicians will often return to the beginning ensembles to learn a second instrument while participating in the advanced ensembles. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the beginner class. We hold the expert soloists and the versatile instrument-doublers in high regard. Many of our students participate in ALL of NHME’s ensembles: learning viola in beginning strings, singing alto in choir, and playing xylophone with the band – what fun!
For beginning students, our learning resources page has a lot of helpful videos. Beginning classes last for an hour and a half. Our directors are all experienced, degreed professionals. By the end of the year, our beginning students will have completed books 1 and 2 of Essential Elements. They'll be able to read and play grade 1.5 music. Percussionists will learn to count, winds will know a few major scales, clarinets can get over the break, and string players will be able to demonstrate both pizzicato and bowing. We host our beginning ensembles "on demand". When seven interested students sign up in one location, we add the class to our schedule; so, invite your friends and families to get in on the excitement!
Beginning ensembles perform at both our winter and spring concerts. Then, it’s off to summer workshops and into the advanced ensembles next fall!