MS Band Handbook

NMS Band Handbook 2017-2018 (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 lifelong 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: You must be in the room when the tardy bell rings.  Attendance will be recorded three minutes after the tardy bell rings.  This will give you time 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 Popplers Music (formerly “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 Popplers Music or Schmitt Music.

Brass: Students should have valve oil and slide grease for their specific instrument 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 snare drum sticks and a pair of yarn-wrapped marimba mallets to use during Band.  Please mark your name/initials on these items so they don’t get lost!

4) Gum, Food, and Beverage: Please get rid of your gum in the trash can on your way in the door.   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 Handbook.

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.  

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 three district-wide Band Standards listed below:

Standard #1: Organize, develop, and refine artistic ideas and work for presentation.

Standard #2: Identify, analyze, and interpret musical works related to life and society.

Standard #3: Convey and interpret intent and meaning through the presentation of music.

We have broken down these standards into the following categories: Lessons (Standard #1), Class Preparedness (Standard #2), and Performances and Playing Tests (Standard #3).  These categories are listed below along with specific grading criteria:


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

  • Has all required materials (instrument, folder, book) 5 points
  • Demonstrates performance proficiency 20 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).

The second 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).  The musical repertoire played in both lessons and Band class is meant to challenge your skills on your instrument and should require some at home practice to master it.  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.

Class Preparedness

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

  • Has instrument (complete and in working order) 3 points
  • Has all required materials (folder, sheet music, pencil) 2 points
  • Contributes positively to the ensemble 5 points


Performances are a required part of any performing arts class.  Each performance is worth 50 points.  Attendance is MANDATORY.  Please mark the following performance dates into your family calendar immediately to avoid any schedule conflicts.  

Friday, September 22nd Homecoming Parade 1:30 pm @ South MS

Homecoming Game 7:00 pm @ HS

Tuesday, December 5th NMS 7th/8th Grade Band Concert 7:00 pm @ NMS PAC

Thursday, December 7th NMS 6th Grade Band Concert 7:00 pm @ NMS PAC

Tuesday, December 19th SMS Band/Choir Concert 7:00 pm @ HS PAC

Early February SDMEA Middle School All-State Jazz Band Yankton HS (selected 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students only)

Friday, March 2nd – SDMEA Middle School All-State Band Pierre HS

Saturday, March 3rd (selected 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students only)

Wednesday, March 7th Brandon Valley Celebration of Music Festival Brandon Valley HS (selected 7th and 8th grade students only)

Tuesday, March 13th Washington Pavilion Band Concert 7:00 pm

Tuesday, March 27th HHS/NMS/SMS Jazz Concert 7:00 pm @ NMS PAC

Tuesday, May 8th SMS Band/Choir Concert 7:00 pm @ HS PAC

Tuesday, May 8th NMS 7th/8th Grade Band Concert 7:00 pm @ NMS PAC

Thursday, May 10th NMS 6th Grade Band Concert 7:00 pm @ NMS PAC

Attire for concert performances is BLACK FORMAL.  General guidelines for choosing what to wear/what not to wear will be sent out by e-mail as we get closer to the first concert.  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 may 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 considered excused, but must still be made up for up to full credit.

Playing Tests

Occasionally, students will be asked to perform a prepared excerpt of music for a Performance grade (Standard #3) during their lesson time.  Students will have advance notice of the parameters of the assessment.  

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 MS Solo/Ensemble Contest at the end of the year in May.  An important part of your experience in Band is having the opportunity to be an independent musician.  All Band students are STRONGLY encouraged to perform. This unique opportunity allows students to make music with their friends without the aid of a conductor.  Mr. Novak and Ms. Rohlck will provide more information about this exciting performance opportunity to students at their lessons..


This year marks the 18th 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 Ms. Rohlck 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 2018” tab.  

This year also marks the 1st ever Middle School All-State Jazz Band!  More information will be provided to interested students during Jazz Band rehearsals.


Get ready to rock!  This exciting extra-curricular opportunity 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.  Jazz Band 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.