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- The Forecaster
FALMOUTH — In a show of support, parents of fifth-graders involved in the band program at Falmouth Elementary School attended an all-band rehearsal last week.
Larry Jackson, the elementary school band teacher, said he invited the parents because it’s important for them to see what goes on and for them to also encourage their kids to take music education seriously.
The band room was packed with parents and siblings Nov. 17 as the 132 members of the fifth-grade band went through a series of exercises and practiced the program for their upcoming concert.
The band played portions of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9,” “Jolly Old St. Nick” and “Jingle Bells.”
Jackson also used the time to tell parents that getting their children to school early on Fridays for the all-band rehearsal is important because “I do a lot of my primary teaching during this time.”
“I understand you all have lots of things going on,” he said, “but it really is important for students to attend. As I tell my students, ‘the first step to success is showing up.'”
At the end of the rehearsal Jackson took the students through what he called the accuracy game. The goal was for them to play select measures of music three times through without making a mistake.
Anyone who made a mistake was asked to “fall out” but also to continue to practice their fingering as the other students played on.
Jackson said the goal of the accuracy game was two-fold: to encourage improvement and allow a student to hear the music played correctly.
“It’s a powerful experience to hear the music several times through with all the right notes,” he said. “It helps things to improve really quickly.”
Other key skills the students worked on last week included keeping their eye on Jackson as he conducted the music.
Jackson, who’s been teaching fifth-grade band at Falmouth Elementary for the past 17 years, said he likes to invite parents to rehearsal because “having (them) come see what we do helps with parent-teacher communication.”
“Plus the students really like to do a good job in front of their parents, (so) it gives everyone a boost. It’s also a great opportunity for parents to let their children know that they are proud of them and to show their support.”
“Parents have also told me in the past that it was powerful to see so many children working together and cooperating to make something (so) beautiful.”
Another reason Jackson likes parents to attend a band rehearsal is that they “sometimes have a hard time visualizing what we do at morning rehearsals. Especially when their children try to tell them about it through the lens of a fifth-grader.”
Jackson said the first step in fifth-grade band is for the students to learn to correctly assemble their instruments. The focus then shifts to basic playing technique and sound production along with reading music.
“We focus on counting rhythm a lot in the fifth-grade,” he said.
“Learning to read and play music is a bit like language acquisition. Luckily there is an excellent K-4 general music program in Falmouth, so that by the time they get to me they’re all ready to start reading and playing music,” Jackson said.
He’s been teaching elementary school band for a total of 30 years, but even after all that time Jackson still enjoys what he does.
“Fifth grade is a tremendous time of growth. It’s all new and exciting. I always enjoy watching the light bulb go off,” Jackson said.
He also enjoys introducing students to music because “I think that studying music is good for the soul. It makes us better people. Music has helped me make it through the most difficult points in my life. I don’t know how I would have made it through junior high or the death of my parents without it.”
“We are very lucky in Falmouth,” Jackson said. “Parent support for music (here) is outstanding and helps our department to be very high quality. Everyone wants music to succeed here.”
The fifth-grade band at Falmouth Elementary School invited parents to attend a rehearsal Nov. 17.