Crash, bang! Toot-toot! Squeek!
The triumphant sounds of Year Four students and their instruments fill the rehearsal rooms of the CHC.
The Beginner Band Program is one of those programs where our students are encouraged to be loud! First offered in 2016, the Beginner Band Program allows girls to learn a brass, woodwind or percussion instrument in lessons run by specialist tutors. The small-group lessons run for approximately 30 minutes once-a-week on alternate Mondays and Tuesdays.
While many schools offer a band program, the St Aidan’s program contains some unique features. The program represents a new way of thinking about music learning and is designed to transfer understanding and skills from the classroom program directly to the learning of an instrument. The students use well-known songs from the classroom Music program, singing the repertoire with words, pitch names and absolute letter names and then apply this internalised knowledge to instrumental playing. Students sing while showing the fingering of their specific instrument and once this physical co-ordination is captured in the muscle memory, students take the very simple step of actually blowing into their instrument. This process, where the musical material is laid down in the musical mind and then applied to specific finger positions, is both simple and efficacious, promoting a deeper understanding and enhanced surety of skill.
Through the active involvement in both the classroom Music and Beginner Band programs, students have been able to build strong social-emotional skills. Intrinsic skills such as resilience, positive self-esteem and a growth mindset are fostered by teachers through the performative nature of the discipline. Teachers provide small yet manageable challenges which build in complexity over a long period of time. Students slowly develop their knowledge and skills and, as the complexity of the task increases and specific feedback is provided, confidence in ability also develops.
Not only are students developing music- and instrument-specific skills in this program, but they are also building positive and supportive relationships. Students share their progress in a ‘showcase’ performance with their small tutor groups when they join as a year level throughout the term. They also form the ‘Beginner Band’ ensemble in these sessions to perform with a conductor. It’s a great sensation when all the percussion instruments are hit with precision at the same time, the brass blare, reeds sound and flutes toot. All students have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of learning a new instrument in the Beginner Band program.