MS Band Handbook

MS Band Handbook 2015-2016 (PDF)


The mission of the Harrisburg Middle School Band program is to educate students, in cooperation with family and community, to have the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to achieve their potential as socially responsible, lifelong learners in a diverse and changing society.

Music is an integral part of a comprehensive education.  We strongly believe that it enables all students to discover and develop their artistic potential through musical experiences in listening, performing, analyzing, and creating.  Musical experiences enhance the student’s quality of life through heightened aesthetic awareness, healthy social relationships, and fun!  Music incorporates understanding from all disciplines and leads to an improved self-concept, a broader cultural awareness, and development of life-long skills.

Our journey together must begin with a will to constantly learn from each other in order to reach success.   As teachers and parents, all of our actions should always be geared towards creating a positive experience for every student.  A positive experience for those who participate in the Harrisburg Middle School Band Program must first begin with an understanding of the rules and expectations as well as the grading policy.   This handbook will explain these items in detail.


1) Instrument Lockers:  Each student will be assigned a locker to use this year for your instrument.  Please do not keep anything valuable in these lockers.  The band room will be locked when not in use, however, the school and staff is not responsible for any lost items.

2) Daily Attendance: Attendance will be taken THREE minutes after the bell rings.  This will give you three minutes to walk to class and three minutes to set up your instrument, get your folder, and sit down in your designated chair.

3) Required Materials: All students must have their band instrument, band folder/music, and a pencil to be able to participate fully in the learning process that occurs at each rehearsal.  We use the Essential Elements method book series for Band.  Supplemental method books may also be used with selected students.  All method books for lessons can be purchased at K&M Music or Schmitt Music here in Sioux Falls.  Here are a few additional “instrument specific” requirements:

Woodwinds: Always have at least TWO “broken-in” reeds that are readily available.  Please purchase your reeds in advance from K&M Music or Schmitt Music.

Brass: Keep your valves oiled and your slides greased and be ready with mutes and other accessories when appropriate.

Percussion: Every percussion student is responsible for owning their own stick bag along with a pair of concert snare drum sticks and a pair of  yarn-wrapped marimba mallets to use during Band.  Also, at the beginning of class, it is always your job to make sure you have all of the equipment needed for that day and have the appropriate sticks/mallets ready to go.

4) Gum, Food, and Beverage: Some of you like to chew gum at school.  THIS IS NOT ALLOWED IN BAND!!!  Please get rid of your gum in the trash can on your way in the door.  Likewise, the Band classroom is not a cafeteria.  No food or beverage of any kind (with the exception of water in a clear water bottle) is allowed in the classroom.   

5) Bathroom Breaks: Please do not plan on using your time in Band to use the bathroom.  The bathroom should be used during lunch, passing time, or another time during the day.  If it is an emergency, we will allow you to use the bathroom provided that this is not a common occurrence.

6) Cell Phones and Electronic Devices: Cell phones simply DO NOT belong in the Band room!  They distract all of us from learning and reaching success while being actively engaged  in a rehearsal setting.  If a student is found using a cell phone or other electronic device during Band class, it will be confiscated immediately.  Future offenses will follow disciplinary procedures outlined in detail in the Harrisburg Middle School Handbooks.

7) Care of Instruments and Equipment: The Band room has some of the most expensive equipment in the entire school.  The instrument that you play and the equipment you use every day (stands, chairs, etc.) are well-worth thousands of dollars. We need to treat our instruments and equipment with the best possible care we can.  Here are some “instrument specific” guidelines:

Woodwind students, it is your responsibility to have the following items in your case/locker at all times: cork grease, pad cleaning paper, mouthpiece brush, and appropriate swabs.  Please make sure that your instrument is also put away properly and stored in your locker or taken home.

Brass students, it is your responsibility to have the following items in your case/locker at all times: valve oil, slide grease, mouthpiece brush, appropriate swabs, and polishing cloth. Please make sure that your instrument is also put away properly and stored in your locker or taken home.

Percussion students, it is your responsibility to see that all instruments get covered after we are finished playing and that you are always using the appropriate sticks/mallets on your instrument.  Please make sure that your instrument is NEVER used as a table and that sticks/mallets do not find a home on the ground.   

Since instrument care is so vital to our success, anyone found treating our instruments poorly will be fined for damages.  This means that you should NEVER allow anyone but yourself to use your instrument so you are not held responsible for any damages that they incur.  Percussion instruments, for example, should only be used by percussion students.

8) Rehearsal Etiquette:  Rehearsal etiquette is made up of many components that we will help you understand throughout the class. Making the decision to use proper etiquette is essential for having a productive and rewarding class period.  Here are several guidelines to help you make good choices:

  • Put forth your best effort with posture, tone, blending, balance, and expressiveness
  • Pay attention to instruction directed at your section and at others
  • Remain in your assigned area and be ready to play throughout the rehearsal
  • Be cooperative with the director and other ensemble members in all rehearsal situations


Band is a curricular, graded course. As such, there are certain standards expected of all students (as there are in every other class).  All students are graded on a variety of criteria listed below:

Class Participation and Preparedness

During every Band class period, students can earn up to 10 points:

  • “On time” for rehearsal 1 point
  • Has instrument (complete and in working order) 3 points
  • Has folder, sheet music, pencil, etc. 1 point
  • Contributes positively to the ensemble 5 points

Lessons and Practice Records

During every lesson, students can earn up to 25 points:

  • “On time” for the lesson 5 points
  • Has all required materials 5 points
  • Has completed practice record on time 5 points
  • Demonstrates performance proficiency 10 points

Band lessons are the foundation of a successful Band program.  Lessons are an opportunity for each student to receive help in developing individual instrumental music skills, knowledge and understanding.  Students will be assigned a lesson day and time at the beginning of the school year.  Your attendance at these lessons is CRITICAL for your continued success in Band.  It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to remember your lesson time and bring all materials (instrument, folder, music, and pencil).  Please check the lesson schedule posted in the Band Room and online to find your assigned lesson time.  

Practicing is your “homework” for Band.  The musical repertoire played in Band is meant to challenge your skills on your instrument and should require some at home practice to master it.  

Students will be asked to record and reflect on their practice time each week by completing “Practice Record” forms online.  These practice records should be submitted each week using Google Forms by following corresponding links on the Band website.  Practice records can be found under either the “North Middle School” or “South Middle School” tabs.

The final component of the lesson grade is “Performance Proficiency.”  Students are graded on their ability to perform the required weekly lesson assignment at every lesson.  We are assessing students on the following musical elements of tone quality and intonation, technical accuracy (correct notes, rhythms, and tempo), and expressiveness (clear articulation and dynamics).  Demanding a high-level of performance proficiency will enforce daily, at-home practice.  As a general guideline, we encourage students to practice their instrument for 100 minutes per week (EX: 5 days, 20 minutes) in order to help meet performance proficiency at each lesson.

Performances and Concert Attire (50 points)

Performances are a required part of any performing arts class.  Attendance is MANDATORY. Absences from performances must be arranged at least two weeks in advance and be approved by the staff so an alternative assignment can be given.  If you communicate your absence less than two weeks before a scheduled performance, this will be marked as an unexcused absence.  Students that have an unexcused absence from a performance will receive up to HALF-CREDIT upon completion of an alternative assignment.  Absences due to last-minute emergencies such as severe illness or death in the family will be excused.

Attire for concert performances is BLACK FORMAL.  Here are some general guidelines for choosing what to wear/what not to wear:


  • Black  dress shirt
    • Collar and long sleeves required
    • Black undershirt required if no tie
    • Neck tie strongly recommended
      • You may choose any color or pattern you like
  • Black dress pants
    • Denim not allowed
    • Solid black khakis are allowed
    • Belt recommended
    • Again, jeans are not dress pants
  • Black dress socks
    • Not athletic socks
    • Not white, black
    • Seriously: no white gym socks
  • Black dress shoes
    • Sneakers are not dress shoes
    • No patterns- solid black
    • Boots are not dress shoes


  • Black dress shirt
  • Black dress pants
    • Denim not allowed
  • Black dress socks
    • Black stockings are OK
  • Black dress shoes
    • Boots are not dress shoes
    • Sneakers are not dress shoes
  • Ladies may wear a dress or skirt IF:
    • Legs are fully covered by leggings or hosiery (black)
    • Dress/skirt is significantly past the knee
    • Dress/ skirt is solid black

Playing Tests (10 points)

Occasionally, students will be asked to perform a prepared excerpt of music for a grade during their lesson. This will take the place of the “Performance Proficiency” component of their grade for that lesson.  Students will have advance notice of the parameters of the assessment.  The first playing test will be assessed using the computer program SmartMusic at the beginning of the school year to determine chair placement, but will not be graded.  Information about purchasing SmartMusic for at-home use is listed later in this handbook under “Equipment, Supplies, etc.”

Extra Credit

Throughout the school year, students may earn extra credit by attending a concert within the Harrisburg School District.  We believe it is extremely important to check out all of the great work that is happening at the middle school you do not attend, as well as at the high school.  We have listed both the NMS and SMS Band concerts below so you can plan to be there and applaud loudly for the efforts of your peers! You may earn 10 points per concert you attend, provided that you bring a program to your director.  On the printed concert program, please circle your favorite piece and write 2-3 sentences about why it was your favorite.  

Extra credit can also be earned by performing in the 5-8 Instrumental Solo and Ensemble Contest in May.  More information about this annual event can be found under  “5-8 Instrumental Solo and Ensemble Contest” listed later in this handbook.


Listed below are the performances and important dates for NMS and SMS for the 2015-2016 school year.  Please mark these dates on your calendar immediately and communicate with the directors if there are any schedule conflicts.

Friday, September 25th                        Homecoming Parade (7th and 8th Grade only) 1:30 pm

Thursday, December 3rd                      SMS Winter Band Concert (SMS Band, SMS Jazz Band, Elem. Bands) 7:00 pm @ HS PAC

Friday, December 11th                         Audition Deadline for SDMEA Middle School All-State Band

Thursday, December 17th                    NMS Winter Band Concert (NMS Band, NMS Jazz Band, Elem. Bands) 7:00 pm @ NMS PAC

Fri, March 4th –  Sat, March 5th           SDMEA Middle School All-State Band (selected 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students) T.F. Riggs HS, Pierre

TBA (Late April)                                      NMS Spring Band Concert TBA

TBA (Late April)                                      SMS Spring Band Concert TBA

Thurs, May 5th – Fri, May 6th                5-8 Instrumental Solo and Ensemble Contest 6:00 -9:00 pm @ SMS

*** All performances and important dates are also listed on the Band website calendar.


An important part of your experience in Band is having the opportunity to be an independent musician.  All Band students are encouraged to perform a solo or participate in a small ensemble (duet, trio, quartet, etc.) at the 5-8 Instrumental Solo and Ensemble Contest in May.  This unique opportunity allows students to make music with their friends without the aid of a conductor.  Mr. Novak and Mr. Shervey will provide more information about this exciting performance opportunity to students at their lessons.


This year marks the 17th Annual South Dakota Music Educators Association Middle School All-State Band. This experience is designed for highly-motivated and responsible 6th-8th grade Band students who are looking for an extra challenge.  Mr. Novak and Mr. Shervey will select several students to audition for this competitive ensemble.  These selected students will be asked to perform 3 major/minor scales and 2 études to submit as their audition.  Detailed audition information can be found on the Harrisburg Band Website ( under the “MS All-State Band 2016” tab.  


Get ready to rock!  This exciting extra-curricular ensemble is open to all 6th-8th grade students.  In addition to the standard instruments found in Band, we are also looking for students to play piano, bass guitar, or electric guitar.  This group explores improvisation through swing, rock, latin, and funk styles of music.  More information will be made available during the first few weeks of the school year.


The Harrisburg School District has a very limited supply of band instruments available for students to rent.  It is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that you visit your local music stores (K&M and Schmitt Music) to purchase/rent an instrument.  Doing so will ensure a higher-quality instrument as well as a repair/maintenance plan from a professional repairman.


A list of recommended equipment and supplies for each instrument can be found on the Harrisburg Band website by following this link:  This list included items such as mouthpieces/ligatures, sticks and mallets, and maintenance supplies.  There are links provided on this list that will direct you to vendors that sell these items at the best prices we could find.  

There is also another list with recommendations for “step-up” instruments if you looking to upgrade your child’s current instrument.  You can find this by following the “Step-Up Instruments” link found under either the “North Middle School” or “South Middle School “ tabs on the Band website.

We will also be using the computer program SmartMusic to help assess individual playing tests.  This is also an extremely versatile program and powerful at-home practice tool.  SmartMusic makes practicing more FUN(!!!) because it allows students to play along with accompaniment tracks and can score student’s achievement.  Think of it like the educational version of the popular “Guitar Hero” or “Rock Band” video games.  We will provide access to SmartMusic here at school, but we strongly encourage parents to purchase this program for at-home practice.  Follow this link for more information on how this program is revolutionizing music education and how to purchase: