Welcome to the orchestra program, Fifth Grade! Dr. Thierbach and Mrs. Brueggemann are eager to get started with all of you!
Right off the bat, we will be teaching students how to hold and take care of the instrument. It's very important, especially in places like Missouri, that you treat your instrument carefully. Our instruments are meant to "self-adjust" as the weather changes (which we all know is characteristic of the Midwest!), so making sure that you follow the guidelines presented to you by Dr. Thierbach and Mrs. Brueggemann when you unpack and pack your instrument will hopefully avoid any issues. We often say to treat your instrument like a child. If YOU are hot outside in a car that isn't running, your instrument is too. Be careful to keep it away from vents and windows, if possible. Basically, you will want to keep the temperature of your instrument as consistent as possible.
With that being said, Dr. Thierbach and Mrs. Brueggemann will tune your instrument every time you take it out in our presence...even if it's been tuned already that day. Before long we will teach you how to tune, but in the meantime, plan to bring your instrument to the teachers each time you unpack for tuning.
You will start learning how to read notes on the musical staff right away! We will make sound on our instruments two ways: with the bow (arco) and plucked (pizzicato). Parents, some of the sounds you will hear at first can be a little "off"...this is normal, and as your child practices, it will improve greatly. While at first it may seem like it will never end, it really does improve quite quickly. It is absolutely imperative that you encourage your child in their practice, rather than point out any scratchiness or screechiness. It WILL happen, and it WILL get better. Instead, maybe record your child playing a song a couple weeks in to learning, then listen back to that recording after their first concert in December. You will be absolutely amazed!
Here are some of the many skills your child will be learning in the first few weeks of orchestra:
Below is a link to the Quarter 1 Progress Report and what Dr. Thierbach and Mrs. Brueggemann expect students to know by the end of first quarter. THIS HAS NO CONNECTION TO YOUR GRADE. The only reason for these progress reports is to show your parents what skills we have at least been introduced to in the last 8 weeks. You should have numbers all over the place on the page. String players have so many different skills being applied at any one time, so it's very common for one skill to be stronger than another. As you improve on your instrument in the coming years, your numbers will start to become more similar. We will send these to your parents directly via e-mail, but paper copies are available upon request.
Quarter 1 Progress Report
While Dr. Thierbach and Mrs. Brueggemann don't require a certain amount of practice, they firmly believe in the importance of efficient and productive practice. The easiest way to get practice in is to set up a routine. You can get practice done as soon as you're home from school, just before bedtime, or just before dinner. Some students wake up in the morning to get a few minutes in before school! It doesn't matter if you don't have 30 or 45 minutes in a row to practice...break it up! Set a goal, and try to reach it in that time.
Most of the techniques we recommend for home practice are exactly what we teach you in class. Not everyone moves at the same pace, and some people won't need as much repetition as we do in class on each step, and some people will need MORE repetition. Do what works for you. If you have a question about a skill that we go over in class, ASK. It is very important that you understand the concept before doing home practice, even if you're not able to demonstrate it. Remember, you will NEVER be in trouble for not understanding something, and it will never affect your grade. As long as you are giving your 100%, you will always have the teachers on your team. We are all about success, not perfection.
Below is similar to what our practice forms look like. Sometimes, Dr. Thierbach and Mrs. Brueggemann will give you specific skills to place in the skill boxes at the top. Other times, we encourage you to come up with your own goals. You don't have to do every skill every single day. The skills are there to help you remember what was worked on in class and help you focus your practice sessions. BONUS: Every 15 days you practice (it doesn't have to be consecutive!) you can earn a bow buddy! Who doesn't want a class bow buddy zoo??
Plan to attend our Parent Meeting on August 22 in the Middle School Band/Orchestra room! 5th grade parents are invited to come at 6:30 p.m. to get extra information about how the program works. A second "session" will begin at 7:00 p.m. to review dates, etc, as in years past. 5th and 6th grade parents will have the opportunity to fill out the Bus Transfer form for After School Orchestra that evening to be ready for your child to start being transported to WMS.
We recommend you park in the big lot (Nix Parking Lot) behind the middle school that is shared with the high school. Signs will be posted to guide you to the room!
Don't forget to sign up to chaperone the Pre-teen dances! We need every slot filled by the Friday before the dance in order to hold them each month. Go to the Fundraiser tab and click on the date you are planning to chaperone.
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