Author Topic: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Updates #39, 70  (Read 13927 times)

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norrina

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
« Reply #60 on: October 02, 2012, 09:26:09 AM »
My son plays the trombone in his middle school band.  The teacher doesn't have illusions that they are going to practice during the week (what about kids in apartments?), and so he leaves his instrument in the band room and brings it home on Fridays.  It just seems as if the band teacher has you in a no-win situation.

Maybe not all students practice daily, but DSS did last year with violin, and will this year with the trombone once they start learning notes. We feel that it is the only way that he is really going to progress, weekend-only practices are not consistent enough for the progress to really build on itself. It hardly seems fair if the district were to justify a policy hindering everyday practice on the grounds that some students aren't practicing daily anyhow.

We do live in an apartment, so we have DSS practice as quietly as possible, and not after 8:00 at night. Most of the time, if he is practicing in his bedroom, WE cant hear him downstairs unless we strain our ears. If it ever became a problem noise-wise though we would get get him some pracrice mutes. His drum set is only played on the weekends, or during weekdays if we know our neighbors aren't home (we have an end unit, so only one set of neighbors), but if he was actually taking percussion lessons we would get him practice pads for daily practice. Conversely, when DSS was littler, DF would play him a bedtime song on his guitar every night, at around 8:30, and it was never a problem because a guitar can be played so quietly.



norrina

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
« Reply #61 on: October 02, 2012, 09:32:32 AM »
@Camlan and Brockwest: Now that I've really clicked into the possibility of a theft issue, I will definitely bring it up if the bussing company won't budge on their position. I hadn't really noticed that before because I was reading the handbook for information specifically about bussing, and DSS actually left his instrument in the band room last week because he was sent home vomiting and didn't feel well enough to go retrieve it. Now that I know that the band room isn't necessarily secure, if such a thing happens again I'll go retrieve it myself. (Or ask someone from the front office to do so if they don't want me in the hallways without clearance.)



Jones

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
« Reply #62 on: October 02, 2012, 09:37:47 AM »
Norrina, can I just say I LOVE how musical your family seems to be?

Although my sibs and I all had piano lessons, my parents were both non-musical and only one of my brothers was allowed non-piano music lessons. I realize it's a difficult situation you are in right now with the bussing rules, but giving DSS access to violin, trombone and drums, not to mention quiet guitar music at night...this is something that's going to pay back in a good way later in his life. Maybe he'll have a job in music, maybe not, but the discipline, concentration and finger strength will stick with him in future endeavors.

As for the bus situation, seeing how you are dealing with it (calling authorities, waiting, keeping calm, searching for answers for everyone and not just yourselves) is teaching him a different sort of discipline, to wait until answers are obtained instead of turning to Step 1: Freaking Out. Kudos to you!

norrina

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
« Reply #63 on: October 02, 2012, 09:53:47 AM »
Norrina, can I just say I LOVE how musical your family seems to be?

Although my sibs and I all had piano lessons, my parents were both non-musical and only one of my brothers was allowed non-piano music lessons. I realize it's a difficult situation you are in right now with the bussing rules, but giving DSS access to violin, trombone and drums, not to mention quiet guitar music at night...this is something that's going to pay back in a good way later in his life. Maybe he'll have a job in music, maybe not, but the discipline, concentration and finger strength will stick with him in future endeavors.

As for the bus situation, seeing how you are dealing with it (calling authorities, waiting, keeping calm, searching for answers for everyone and not just yourselves) is teaching him a different sort of discipline, to wait until answers are obtained instead of turning to Step 1: Freaking Out. Kudos to you!

All my family except me. :-( My youngest brother ended up with the most skill, he started violin at 4, went to a boarding HS for the arts, and plays in a small professional orchestra now. My middle brother took piano as a child, but never really excelled at it. My dad used to play violin (I haven't heard him play since now 22 y.o. DYB was practicing as a young boy), and worked in a violin shop when I was a baby. My mom used to play guitar and apparently was in a band as a teenager, but she sold her guitar when I was a child, and I don't think I ever heard her play. Then DF taught himself guitar when he was about 12, and his dream is to one day have a music room in the house. And DSS has taken violin and now trombone, he plays around on the drums, and over the summer DF taught him a little guitar (which he picked up right away and played a Guitar Hero song, but I don't remember which one now). He's a little sponge, he can hear a song once and sing it word for word the next time he hears it.

I never got music lessons as a child, largely because the money wasn't there (my middle brother is 5 1/2 years younger, and my youngest brother 11 years, so my parents were in a better place financially as they grew up), but possibly also because I didn't show the same potential. I found that playing Guitar Hero now has really helped my rhythmicity though, and understanding how the parts of music go together. I think I would have had a different understanding of the world around me as a whole if I had had musical training as a child, and I'm really glad that DSS is getting that opportunity.   

I actually tend towards being a bit of a hothead, so I'm working very hard at staying calm and polite and going through all the proper channels here. I think it is actually helping that while this is a nuisance for us, it isn't meaning DSS can't continue playing, so I really am moving forward for the benefit of the other children, and that makes it less personal.



Dindrane

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
« Reply #64 on: October 02, 2012, 10:51:17 AM »
The school does of course have stock percussion equipment, but I don't know if they have cellos, basses or tubas. DSS' trombone really isn't difficult to transport though. He can carry it easily with one hand, and it fits in the front seat, back seat, or trunk of my sedan. I imagine this is also true of trumpets, basoons, oboes, french horns, probably even a saxaphone. The same cannot be said for cellos, basses, and tubas.

DSS has band class every day. He is expected to have his instrument for class, and must complete an in-class vocabulary assignment if he does not have his instrument. Individual playing tests are given weekly. He is to practice a minimum of 20 minutes/day, 5 days/week, and his practice time is to be recorded on a practice sheet and signed off on by a parent. If he is unable to practice one day due to an unavoidable conflict he may make the time up another day, but "equally distributed practice time is best to promote success." (This is all directly from his band handbook.)

So DSS really needs to be able to bring his instrument back and forth to school every day to really be in full compliance with class expectations. Additionally, the handbook notes that instruments kept in the band room are there at the students own risk, and "Instruments should be taken home at the end of EVERY day." (Emphasis in the original.)

I probably wasn't especially clear in my last statement -- my apologies! I agree that trombones are probably easy to transport, and there are certainly many other instruments that fall into that category as well. So in the end, the best solution is to allow people to take them on the bus and make sure there is a secure place to store them during the day (which is often much easier to manage than a secure place overnight or over the weekend).

But I completely understand their rules about both practicing daily and having the instrument in school. I was also required to demonstrate that I was practicing regularly in middle school (my parents had to sign off on a practice sheet, and I was expected to practice at least 30 minutes per day). It's also impossible to have any sort of orchestra or band practice if the students don't have their instruments. Practicing alone is essential, but so is practicing as part of an ensemble.

In the end, they've put everyone in a very difficult spot. My intent with sharing what I did about my own experience was just to help you figure out what a reasonable and rational solution to this problem might be. Since I was also in public schools where fine arts were certainly offered (but far from emphasized), it strikes me as reasonable that if they want to offer a program to teach music, they do need to be prepared to provide at least some instruments and secure storage during the school day.


norrina

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
« Reply #65 on: October 02, 2012, 07:25:10 PM »
No updates, but a new question. I spoke with the Assistant Principal yesterday morning, and he was going to make some calls and look for the policy when he could get to it "that afternoon", but I haven't heard back from him yet. How much time should I give him before following-up?

I found out tonight that there is going to be a Band Booster Club Meeting Thursday night, so I plan to go to that. If I feel like I develop a rapport right away with any of the other parents I might inquire casually if their children are encountering resistance to bringing their instruments on the bus, and how they are handling it. Otherwise I will just watch and listen for now.



kherbert05

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
« Reply #66 on: October 02, 2012, 07:53:32 PM »
No updates, but a new question. I spoke with the Assistant Principal yesterday morning, and he was going to make some calls and look for the policy when he could get to it "that afternoon", but I haven't heard back from him yet. How much time should I give him before following-up?

I found out tonight that there is going to be a Band Booster Club Meeting Thursday night, so I plan to go to that. If I feel like I develop a rapport right away with any of the other parents I might inquire casually if their children are encountering resistance to bringing their instruments on the bus, and how they are handling it. Otherwise I will just watch and listen for now.


I would give him a couple of days maybe till friday after you see what if any info you get at Band Boosters.
1. AP's often are in charge of discipline so something could have come up there
2. He might be waiting for the higher ups to get back to him.
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GSNW

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
« Reply #67 on: October 02, 2012, 08:17:47 PM »
This is horribly frustrating and I can see why you're irked, OP.  The school I teach at is very big on our performing arts program and I see kids loading their instruments onto the bus every day, so I don't think it's a legitimate safety issue as long as the students are behaving responsibly (as they should be with or without an instrument).  Of course, our transport is part of the district, so there's not that whole "outside company" issue to content with.

Does your band teacher offer any practice time after school?  I know experience varies from school to school, but ours does "open practice" after sixth period until the late bus arrives, Mon-Thurs.  Lots of gets get their practice hours in this way (those practice sheets sure seem to be a standard!) and then they don't have to take their instrument home at all.

Someone mentioned how practice might be hard living in an apartment.  I don't think it's rude to practice an instrument in that setting unless it's later, say after 7pm.  Even the screechings of the beginners :)

norrina

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
« Reply #68 on: October 02, 2012, 09:02:04 PM »
... Does your band teacher offer any practice time after school?  I know experience varies from school to school, but ours does "open practice" after sixth period until the late bus arrives, Mon-Thurs.  Lots of gets get their practice hours in this way (those practice sheets sure seem to be a standard!) and then they don't have to take their instrument home at all. ...

As far as I know, this is not an option at DSS' school at this time. It is something that I intend to inquire about if the students continue to be unable to take their instruments on the school bus.



norrina

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
« Reply #69 on: October 04, 2012, 05:07:44 PM »
... Does your band teacher offer any practice time after school?  I know experience varies from school to school, but ours does "open practice" after sixth period until the late bus arrives, Mon-Thurs.  Lots of gets get their practice hours in this way (those practice sheets sure seem to be a standard!) and then they don't have to take their instrument home at all. ...

As far as I know, this is not an option at DSS' school at this time. It is something that I intend to inquire about if the students continue to be unable to take their instruments on the school bus.

Apparently, I didn't know very far, as DSS opted to stay after today, and has told us that he has the option to practice before and/or after school every day. He said that before school the band room is pretty crowded, but after school today he was the only student practicing and was able to get some personal instruction from the band director (who plays, or played, trombone professionally). So that is a great resource and I hope he continues to use it, but as I noted in previous posts the students still should not leave their instruments overnight for security reasons, and of course, we still had to go pick him up because the only bus home leaves immediately after school lets out.

I haven't heard back from the AP yet. I asked DSS today if he knew if all the buses weren't allowing instruments, or just his. He thought it was just his because he said other students were bringing their tubas on the bus.  ::)

A bit of a funny note, DSS said I should talk to the other parents about this, and get them on my side. Then he had a lightbulb moment and said, "Hey, the booster club tonight would be a good place to talk to them!" Where did my innocent little boy go, and who left this calculating half-adult in his place?



norrina

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
« Reply #70 on: October 04, 2012, 08:13:16 PM »
More information on the instruments on the bus situation was forthcoming at tonight's Band Booster Club Meeting. The AP spoke with the principal, and the principal has been calling around with various people in the district and at the bussing company. Right now his understanding is that no instruments on the busses has been a policy for some time, but has not been enforced until now (and it does sound like the district may have only recently begun dealing with this bus company, whereas I had thought that they had contracted with them for at least 2 years). The principal said that he is trying to work out an agreement, he suggested that instruments like the trombone could go upright on the floor between the student's legs, and instruments too large for that could go in their own seat. One of the Booster Club officers said that the school does still have some instruments available, so another option could be that students rent one instrument privately for at home, and another at the reduced school rate to use at the school (whereas I had thought those instruments were already completed rented out, and had only been available to low-income families).

So while there is no resolution yet, the AP, principal, band director, and Band Booster Club are all aware of the situation and are working in that direction.



gramma dishes

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Updates #39, 70
« Reply #71 on: October 04, 2012, 08:22:10 PM »
^^^  See, aren't you glad you got the ball rolling on this?  Other parents (and students) will thank you too!   :)

Hopefully you soon will see some resolution that works for everyone.

acicularis

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Updates #39, 70
« Reply #72 on: October 05, 2012, 11:22:38 AM »
Glad the situation may be resolved soon.

I think it's a shame, though, that one option is to have students rent two instruments. Even at a reduced fee, that may be a barrier for some families.

When my daughter wanted to start cello two years ago, renting two instruments would have been out of the question for us(cellos already being more expensive than many other instruments). Fortunately, there are school cellos (and other large instruments) available for school use, except for performances and when the entire orchestra must rehearse at the same time. Had that not been the case, we would probably have encouraged and alternate choice.

norrina

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Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Updates #39, 70
« Reply #73 on: October 05, 2012, 04:38:37 PM »
Glad the situation may be resolved soon.

I think it's a shame, though, that one option is to have students rent two instruments. Even at a reduced fee, that may be a barrier for some families.

When my daughter wanted to start cello two years ago, renting two instruments would have been out of the question for us(cellos already being more expensive than many other instruments). Fortunately, there are school cellos (and other large instruments) available for school use, except for performances and when the entire orchestra must rehearse at the same time. Had that not been the case, we would probably have encouraged and alternate choice.

The Booster Club explicitly stated, and I very much got the feeling that they were not just paying lip service, that they want to work with families to make music a possibility. I know that they will work out a payment plan or waive the usual band fee altogether if it is out of a family's means to pay it. I suspect they would do the same thing with the school instrument rental fee.