KEY EVENTS FOR MUSIC STUDENTS
Regardless of the instrument, there are certain key events that should happen over the years providing the student continues study. They are listed below, with some indication how many years study are required to reach that key event.
FIRST LESSONS: When your child starts music lessons affects every event, choice and opportunity available the rest of her/his life. At KMI we offer classes for newborns (Music Together) and private lessons for Preschoolers, so it is never too early to start. Every year younger than age 9 that you start your child's music education adds one more year of potential growth and opportunity, and every year later than age 9 that you start decreases your child's growth potential by at least a year, and reduces your child's musical opportunities substantially on many levels (especially at the High School level).
RECITALS: Whatever the instrument of study, the child's first recital is a major milestone. It often takes 1 to 2 years to be ready for a recital (depending on the age), and it will be only the first of many recitals yet to come. Students will perform at least annually at recitals, and the regular recital will be the most frequent and consistent benchmark for the student's progress.
JURIED EVALUATIONS: For piano students, the first PPTA Piano Evaluation will be after 1 or 2 years of study depending on the student. Often the reason for delayed participation is that the evaluation is held ONLY in May, and the student is not ready the first time around. For students of other instruments, it depends on the requirements of the program. Students will participate annually, accruing certificates and honors with each year of participation.
CHOOSING A SECOND INSTRUMENT: Once your child as studied an instrument for two years, it is a VERY GOOD IDEA to choose a secondary and totally different instrument of study. All non-piano students are strongly encouraged (if not required) to study at least two years of piano. If the two to three years of piano are completed, and the student wishes to discontinue piano study - then their non-piano instrument can become their primary instrument of study, and they can choose to study yet another secondary instrument. (E.g. a violinist may choose to study flute as secondary). Each family of instruments produces sound in a different way, and as a result the ability to express music is very different and the student will gain broader knowledge and learn new ways to express herself/himself. At KMI the study of a secondary instrument can often be as minimal as a 15 min. increase in lessons time - thus making it very affordable. Regardless of the years of study, choosing a secondary instrument should happen before age 12 (and preferrably before age 10) to ensure that performance opportunities are available to the student as he/she advances and matures.
SCHOOL PLAY: Most students participate in a school play some time in elementary school. If they are lucky, there is a musical component. Students who have studied music for 3 or more years will usually be leads in their first school play and/or will be part of the musical portion.
SCHOOL ENSEMBLE: Most Elementary Schools offer an instrumental program where students have class instruction and play in a group. The instrumental teacher will usually divide the students into levels based on age and years of study. In addition, the music teacher will usually organize a special chorus or honors chorus that meets after school. The members of the chorus are selected based on the student's performance within the regular music class. Students who study privately will usually be eligible to participate in the highest level school music ensembles (orchestra, band, chorus). More advanced and accomplished students will be selected to perform solos at their regular school concerts.
CHURCH MUSIC: Churches often ask their young member music students to perform as part of the regular service (especially for holidays) if they are accomplished. "Ave Maria" on the violin and "Ode to Joy" on the flute are two of 100s of possible selections a young musican might perform at her/his church. The church music director will only select students who have demonstrated good performing ability. Music students will also be asked to join the children's choir if the church has one. Voice students who have studied for 3 or more years, will probably solo at their church at some point, or possibly become a regular soloist.
LARGE ENSEMBLE: If the student studies an orchestra instrument, after 2-3 years he/she will be qualified to enter one of the All-City Orchestras, and after 3-5 years she/he will be qualified to enter one of the region-wide Three Rivers Young People's Orchestras. ALL students in grades 3, 4 or 5 are eligible to audition for the Children's Festival Chorus, and students who have studied for 2 or more years (any instrument) are most likely to gain admission. Students who have studied voice for at least two years, and who are not currently in any other choral ensembles should audition for All-City Chorus.
SCHOOL MUSICAL: At the middle school level, instrument players are almost never advanced enough to play in the pit orchestra, but more talented and accomplished music students will be in the cast at some capacity. Students with more musical training, especially 3-5 years of voice lessons are more likely to win leading roles in their first school musical.
MIDDLE SCHOOL ENSEMBLE: Middle schools usually offer several musical programs: band, orchestra and chorus, reflecting the varied music instruction their students may currently be receiving. Often there is a beginning class in every one of these areas, but students who study privately (at least 2-3 years) will almost always be placed in the most advanced group for the school.
COMPETITIONS: The brighter and harder working students might be selected to particiapte in a regional competition - and might even win a prize. Competitions are stressful, and not for every type of student. Often competition rules limit the number of students a teacher may send (often to just ONE) so most students within a studio will not participate in competitions.
HIGH SCHOOL MUSIC ENSEMBLES
At the high school level, music students who have studied 5 or more years should have no problems enterring the highest level performing ensemble for their High School. Students who have studied for less time or who have made less progress in those years may be placed in a beginner or intermediate group in preparation for the more advanced group. Music teachers will make every effort to ensure students get an opportunity to play in the highest level performing group in their Senior year - if the student is even remotely able to handle it.
HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND: The High School Marching Band is usually the most prestigious and esteemed performing ensemble of the school, and performs frequently because of the number of football games in a season. The drums, the marching, the uniforms, the big sound and the cheering crowd create for a very thrilling experience in the teenagers' life, and is often the highest performing event they will ever experience. Particularly good marching bands are recognized and invited to perform at special events such as the Holiday Parade, Regional/State Band Events or even special "bowl" games in other states. Often these activities require significant fundraising, but all the school students are happy to support their marching band and the fundraising is often easy. Likewise, due to the intense nature of the performing season many High School directors require marching band members to participate in a one- or two-week long "band camp" during the summer.
HIGH SCHOOL STAGE CONCERT: If time and scheduling permit it, members of the marching band will also perform for the stage band concert, and often the same pieces. Wind players who did not qualify for the marching band will perform in the stage concert, either in their own group or in combination with the marching band members. If the school also has a string orchestra it will often perform on the same concert as one big performing extravaganza. Although choruses almost always have their own concerts, they may be invited to perform one or two pieces, sometimes with instrumental accompaniment.
HIGH SCHOOL CHORUS: High School Choruses typically perform twice a year, sometimes in conjunction with other performing ensembles. The repertoire is always a mix of classical and popular music so that the students can learn something as well as have fun. The Chorus Director almost always prepares the cast for the school musical, so participation in the chorus places the student in position to be recognized when it comes to audition - more so than other auditioners who are not in the music program.
HIGH SCHOOL ORCHESTRA: Some high schools are fortunate enough to have a full string orchestra. Sometimes it is a strings only group and somtimes there are enough students for the director to have strings and winds in the orchestra. Usually the music director for the orchestra is the same as the band director, and since the marching band gets more priority and favor, the director will not be as qualified to conduct strings as she/he can conduct winds. Either way, if there is a string orchestra in the school all KMI string students SHOULD participate to support the ensemble, and MUST participate if they are not qualified to be in any other of the more prestigious string ensembles. (Participation in ALL-CITY alwayas requires that the student also be enrolled in the local school ensembel - if one is available.)
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL PIT BAND: Many high schools do not have enough advanced instrumentalists to staff a full pit band, and will hire professionals as needed. The better students who are qualitifed to participate in the pit band will have a wonderful opportunity to perform along side other professionals and gain the experience of being in a musical.
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: Students who have studied music 5 years or more will easily get into the cast of the High School Musical, and possibly even a leading role. Voice studenst of the same years of study will very likely win leading roles in the musical.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR VERY ADVANCED STUDENTS
As a student advances through the High School years, some become very advanced (through hard work and dedication) and certain opportunities become available for these students in their Junior or Senior years. If the student attends college locally, the opportunity often continues through the college years.
CHURCH MUSIC JOBS: Many churches cannot afford to hire adult professionals, and rely upon young students to provide the music for their services. Students may be hired to play piano or organ, or to sing solos in the choir for weekly services. For special occasions such as weddings, funerals, holidays and even special music programs at churches where they have the money to pay musicians - but not enough for professionals, student musicians (vocal and instrumental) can fill a need at these churches and make money at the same time. Church 'gigs' are the first step toward becoming professional as a young musician learns the trade of performing, and gets paid for the work. To be qualified for a church music job, a student will typically have studied 7-10 years. Church music jobs are a much better employment than flipping burgers for after school and summers while in High School and even while in College.
PRESTIGIOUS REGIONAL ENSEMBLE: Student who have studied 7 or more years will audition for and be accepted to one of the regions very prestigious ensembles: Three Rivers Young People's Orchestra or Junior Mendelssohn Choir.
MUSIC SCHOOL: Music students who have decided music is a passion worth studying as a possible career will audition for and be accepted into a music school. The more accomplished the student is, the more prestigious the school to which she/he will be admitted. The more years of study, the easier the preparation for the audition. Such students typically will have studied for 10 or more years continuously by the time of High School graduation.