Beginner Band Class

  • Instrument Evaluations are complete!

    Posted by Kristina McRaney on 9/10/2023

    Beginning Band - When do we start with instruments?

    Instrument evaluations have finished! Everyone has had a chance to play test instruments to help them decide what they both show natural abilities for and want to play. Until we get started with instruments, students will learn music reading fundamentals.


    Next steps for instruments?

    • Time to get all the necessary supplies. On the back of this letter, you will see a list of what is required for students to learn to both play and maintain their instruments in working order. 
    • When will they need their supplies?  We plan to start with instruments on Monday 9/18. Not all students will have instruments at this time. It’s OK. I will demonstrate and repeat instructions for the first day every day for a while. It’s understandable that families have different financial circumstances and may not have materials immediately. However, students without materials by October will need to be switched out of the band during the 2nd 9 weeks
    • Be patient in the beginning weeks. There will be lots of instructions on how to properly handle, assemble and maintain each of the instruments. Additionally, we will start with “small instruments” and add on as we learn fundamentals. This means we will all start with mouthpieces to learn how to create sounds before we move on to assembling and making sounds. PLEASE help me in this process. Students can learn habits incorrectly during this time, so don’t let them get ahead too soon. 
    • Encourage your students to practice at home. Let them demonstrate to you what they’ve learned – this will make them more excited about what they are doing! Please have a place where the student can practice/play at home without disturbing others. They don’t need more than 15-30 minutes a day to review what we practise each day. My weekly lesson plans will be posted on my teacher's page to help you keep track of what the students are working on 

    What do we really need for band 

    Every student will need: 

    • Method Book: Habits for a Successful Beginning Band Musician (green cover and for the student’s instrument, each instrument book is different).
    • 1” Binder with 5 Dividers – I have a cover page to help organize each section and students organize based on our class/rehearsal order. This will cut out students searching for the copy of music I gave them or asking for a third copy. This method has helped cut back on lost time during our class
    • Instrument and Instrument specific supplies.  

    What Supplies does my student need for their instrument? Find your student’s instrument below and see what they need.  

    • Flute – instrument, Habits Book for Flute, flute swab and tuning/cleaning rod (usually included with flute)
    • Clarinet – Instrument, Habits Book for Clarinet, clarinet mouthpiece, ligature, mouthpiece cap, cork grease, weighted clarinet swab, mouthpiece cleaning brush, reed case/guard, 4 good reeds at all times (Vandoreen 2 ½ strength). Optional thumb rest cushion, mouthpiece patch as a cushion for sensitive teeth and Rovner type ligature. 
    • Saxophone – Instrument, Habits Book for Alto Saxophone, alto sax mouthpiece, ligature, mouthpiece cap, neck strap, cork grease, weighted saxophone swab, mouthpiece cleaning brush, reed case/guard, 4 good reeds at all times (Vandoren 2 ½ strength) Optional mouthpiece patch as a cushion for sensitive teeth and Rovner type ligature. 
    • clarinet and saxophone reeds – buy more than 4. They will go through the first few reeds pretty quickly. If you go with reeds that may be included with your purchase, be prepared to buy more within a month. Once they get used to using the reeds (about a month), they will begin to last a bit longer. Reeds are an ongoing purchase item. I buy a box at a time for myself and my kids, who play woodwind instruments.
    • Brass Instrument Care Kits: The materials in the care kit will keep the instrument in working order. Valve oil is used daily. Other materials are used sparingly. It’s similar to a car needing an oil change and tire rotation – not always every month but after so much usage. Brass students will use these materials to give their instruments a bath/cleaning at home with instructions and video for reference. 
    • Trumpet – Instrument, Habits Book for Trumpet, mouthpiece (standards are Bach 5C, 7C and 3C but Yamaha has a different labeling system), care kit: mouthpiece brush, valve brush, trumpet snake, valve oil, slide grease and a polishing cloth. 
    • Trombone - Instrument, Habits Book for Trombone, mouthpiece (standards is Bach 6 ½ AL but Yamaha has a different labeling system), care kit: mouthpiece brush, valve brush, trombone snake, valve oil, slide grease and a polishing cloth. Optional: tuner with clip on microphone 

    School-owned instruments – instruments more expensive than most and provided by the school:  

    • French Horn/Horn – Habits Book for Horn, tuner with clip on microphone, Holton Farkus MD mouthpiece, Care Kit: mouthpiece brash, Rotary Valve oil, slide grease and polishing cloth. 
    • Euphonium/Baritone – Habits Book for Baritone/Euphonium BC, Bach 6 ½ AL mouthpiece, care kit: mouthpiece brush, valve oil, slide grease and polishing cloth
    • Tuba – Habits book for Tuba, Helleberg or Bach 24 AW, care kit: mouthpiece brush, valve oil, slide grease and polishing cloth 

    Tuners with clip-on microphones are encouraged but not required. Trombones and French Horn/Horn players will benefit the most from this visual reference learning tool. It is used to pick up the sounds and show the player if the note is correct and in tune.  

    Comments (-1)
  • Incoming 2023-2024 Beginner Band Students

    Posted by Kristina McRaney on 6/14/2023

    What instrument will my student play?

    Before you go out and buy or rent an instrument, please get in touch with me to schedule an instrument evaluation. An instrument evaluation is where the student will have a brief mini-lesson on all the instruments offered to beginner students.  Here the student will have the chance to see how each instrument sounds and plays while finding out  what is easiest for them.

    Not everyone has the same physical characteristics and not everyone can play any instrument well. The students will have the opportunity to hear me play trumpet and they will understand this concept! It is my weakest instrument due to the characteristics of my lip structure. Those same characteristics make me a great flute player and trombone/baritone! 

    Instrument Evaluations help the student find an instrument they both enjoy and find easy to be successful in playing. It is too easy to quit when someone gets frustrated with something new. Students are not expected to have prior music experience - this is my job to help the students learn and we will have fun doing it!

    Our goal is to find an instrument that works with natural tendencies and attributes to help the student have a more successful start to their musical studies.  Students are more likely to quit when they are less successful than they would if they had an easier time learning the instruments and crafts.  As they progress through the years of their studies, they will develop their skills to more advanced abilities and read much more difficult music.  We want the students to be successful and enjoy their adventure!

    If You Missed the May and June Instrument Evaluation Dates: During the First Week of school, students will have the opportunity to determine which instrument the student will play. Most evaluations will take place during the student's class, but I would be glad to schedule appointments with families to attend. I love this process and enjoy watching the families see what works for the student!

    Please feel free to contact me via email. Together we will get your students started off strong! 


    Comments (-1)


  • Here I will list some suggested brands, mouthpieces, and necessary maintenance supplies. The suggested brands that are listed are brands with which I am familiar.  There are many brands out there.  Think of your purchase as if you were purchasing furniture or a car.  It is a big investment in your student’s future - reliability and quality will help.  At any time in the process of searching for an instrument, feel free to contact me for help, suggestions, or any questions.  I will gladly help you determine if the instrument in question is reliable and whether repairs may be necessary.

    There are local music stores including, Fuller’s Music in New Bern to assist you with your instrument search.  Fuller’s is in New Bern, but they have set up a website for ordering all the necessary supplies for your student’s musical future.  Monthly rent to own prices range from $21-$86 a month depending on the instrument and newness of that instrument.  Fuller’s Music has a reputable instrument repair shop in which you can place your trust for repairs of used instruments and maintenance of a new instrument – I use them for my personal instruments and my kid’s instruments. Musicraft in Jacksonville is also a reputable repair shop and I have also used Ray’s shop for our repairs.  Musicraft does not sell instruments but does great work with repair and maintenance of musical instruments. 

    • As you get your student’s instrument, please encourage them to refrain from assembling the instrument.  It is much easier to start with correct habits than to change bad habits.  Additionally, some instruments can be damaged when assembling if not done correctly. 
    • Students who are not evaluated over the summer will be evaluated in the first week of school. 

    Band is an investment in your child’s future.  Students do not have to become professional musicians, but they will learn life skills such as determination, routine, habits and achieving goals to help them in their future endeavors.  We are excited about this year’s HCMS Beginner Band Students!


    Tips for Instrument Shopping:

    • Research the brands – determine if they are reliable, quality instruments – ask around, especially your directors.  We are always glad to help!
    • Carefully inspect used instruments not sold in music stores (music stores place their instruments through their shop and know they work correctly).  You could double your cost in repairs if it is not inspected.  Woodwind overhauls could cost $200-600.  Brass slides and valves should move easily and be as dent free as possible.  Dents in tubes are big issues. 
    • When purchasing new instruments, ask about their maintenance plans.  This is a big bonus!  Speaking from personal experience with my own kids.
    • Instrument brands listed here are the ones I am familiar with.  These are suggested brands.  A reputable music store will have quality instruments.  If you are not sure, always feel free to ask!

    Suggest Instrument Brands and required supplies for Hunters Creek Middle School

    Required materials include the Habits of a Successful Beginner (green book) method book for your instrument and care/maintenance supplies listed for each instrument.

    • Flute –Gemeinhardt, Yamaha, Accent. Required Accessories cleaning rod and swab
    • Clarinet – Selmer, Yamaha, Buffett, Accent, Vandoreen mouthpiece or Yamaha with Rovner or similar type ligature, Required Accessories: 4 Vandoreen 2.5 reeds and reed case, silk swab, cork grease, mouthpiece brush
    • Alto Saxophone – Selmer, Yamaha, Keilwerth, Cannonball, Accent, Rasher, Yamaha 4C or Selmer C* mouthpiece with Rovner or similar type ligature, Required Accessories: 4 Vandoreen 2.5 reeds and reed case, silk swab, cork grease, mouthpiece brush 
    • Trumpet – King, Yamaha, Bach, Mouthpiece 5c, Required Accessories valve oil, slide grease, mouthpiece brush and snake
    • Trombone – King, Yamaha, Bach, Mouthpiece:  6 ½ AL mouthpiece, Required Accessories slide oil (or trombotine or slide o mix), slide grease, mouthpiece brush and snake

    School owned instrument accessories:

    • Tuba24 AW or Helleberg mouthpiece, Required Accessories valve oil, slide grease, mouthpiece brush and snake
    • Baritone  - Bach 6 ½ AL mouthpiece, Required Accessories valve oil, slide grease, mouthpiece brush and snake
    • French HornHolton Farkus MC or MDC mouthpiece, Required Accessories rotary oil, slide grease, mouthpiece brush and snake


    Students who show interest in percussion must first start another instrument to learn music reading fundamentals. During this time, students are being evaluated for potential success in percussion studies. Percussionists are responsible for learning a variety of pitched and non-pitched instruments. This requires skills in counting, reading music and responsibility for school-owned property. 

  • HCMS Panther Band Materials and Supplies

    – Required Materials & Fees –   

    Supplies for all Grade Levels:  

    • $10 Music Fee – required by the district.  Families may use School Cash Online to pay
    • Band Instrument in working order with necessary supplies (see supply list by instrument) 
    • Method Book: 6th Grade  Habits of Successful Beginner Band (green).  Books may be purchased through Fuller’s Music.
    • Band Binder System:  Required for organized continuous rehearsal
    • 1” Black Binder 
    • 5 Dividers 
    • Pencil Pouch with pencils and highlighter 
    • Optional sheet protectors to insert often used handouts and music
    • Metronome/Tuner combo with clip on microphone (Recommended) serves as a great practice tool for both keeping consistent time and visual note recognition tool.   
    • School provided 1:1 laptop remember to charge at home each night 
    • beg book

    – Concert Attire – 

    The following concert attire requirements will be required of all students enrolled in the HCMS Band.  If you have difficulties obtaining the necessary attire or if you have any questions or concerns, please contact Mrs. McRaney.

    • Solid Black Long sleeve button up shirt, black pants, black socks, black shoes

     concert black