NYCSD Elementary Band Notes

January '23

Thank you!

Welcome to our January '23 Elementary Band Newsletter! I skipped our December Newsletter on purpose because I did not have any specific new information to send out and I did not want to send any unnecessary emails to families. As a result, I've got a lot of info packed into this one!

I wanted to start this month's newsletter with a thank you to all of the families for supporting your Band kids and our Music Program! I know we are all very busy, and any time that you spend supporting your Band student by reminding them to practice, making payments on instruments, bringing forgotten instruments to school, emailing me questions, etc is appreciated! Parents, guardians, and families are so important to a young musician's education, and I truly value all of the time and encouragement that you give to your children during our beginning Band adventures. The students would not be successful without your support!

Additionally, I would like to give a big shoutout to my second-year Band students! These students learned TWICE the amount of music for their Winter Concert as we learned for last year's concert, and they did an AMAZING job! I am very proud of all of the hard work they have done this year, and I love seeing how much they have progressed since they first started in 4th grade. I'm looking forward to seeing how much more we can learn by the end of the year, as well as how the current first-year students will continue to grow!

Important Dates

If you would like to see dates beyond those listed, you can access your school's Band calendar by clicking on the school name below!

ALL SCHOOLS: Please put our concert dates into your calendar ASAP! Participation in concerts is mandatory! If your child is unavailable on one of these dates, please tell Mrs. Yohn as soon as possible.

  • March 31, during school - All-District Band Concert Dress Rehearsal (all Band students)
  • March 31, 7:00pm - All-District Band Concert @NHS (all Band students)
  • April 19 or 20 (Date TBD), during school - Spring Concert Dress Rehearsal (all Band students)
  • April 20, 7:00pm - Spring Concert @NHS (all Band students)


  • Full Band Rehearsals: 02/02, 02/10, 02/22, 03/02, 03/10, 03/21, 03/29
  • Day 1 lessons: 02/02, 02/10, 02/22, 03/02, 03/10, 03/21, 03/29
  • Day 6 lessons: 02/01, 02/09, 02/21, 03/01, 03/09, 03/20, 03/28


  • Full Band Rehearsals: 01/30, 02/07, 02/16, 02/27, 03/07, 03/16, 03/24
  • Day 4 lessons: 01/30, 02/07, 02/16, 02/27, 03/07, 03/16, 03/24
  • Day 5 lessons: 01/31, 02/08, 02/17, 02/28, 03/08, 03/17, 03/27


  • Full Band Rehearsals: 01/26, 02/03, 02/14, 02/23, 03/03, 03/14, 03/22, 03/30
  • Day 2 lessons: 01/26, 02/03, 02/14, 02/23, 03/03, 03/14, 03/22, 03/30
  • Day 3 lessons: 01/27, 02/06, 02/15, 02/24, 03/06, 03/15, 03/23, 03/31


  • Lessons & Rehearsals: 01/31, 02/08, 02/17, 02/28, 03/08, 03/17, 03/27

Welcome, Mr. Collado!

Within this past cycle, you might have noticed my email communications have included a new name CC'd along with my message. For the second half of our school year, I have the privilege of working with a student teacher, Mr. Jaden Collado! I am very excited to be working with him and showing him the amazing world of Elementary Band. Here is a little bit of information about him:

Hello all! My name is Jaden Collado, and I am a senior at Messiah University. In my last semester of our undergraduate degree, Messiah’s Education Majors get the chance to participate in Student Teaching in the local schools. I have been lucky enough to get the opportunity to student teach here in the Northern York School District and I am extremely excited! I have played trumpet for about 13 years and grew up just a little south from here in the New Oxford area. Although I have always enjoyed teaching those younger than me about music, I am actually looking to own my own brass shop one day where I can repair and sell brass instruments while being able to teach lessons to young musicians! I look forward to this semester with these students and making beautiful music with everyone!

- Mr. Collado

Advanced Band - Important!

This year, I have decided to try something new with our Elementary Band ensembles!

In years past, our Elementary Band students were split between Level 1 Band and Level 2 Band. Students were enrolled in Level 1 Band their first year, and students who continued their instrument from fourth grade to fifth grade were automatically enrolled in Level 2 Band. While this structure was beneficial to many students, it was not beneficial to all of them, as all students learn their instrument at their own pace. Automatically enrolling second-year students in Level 2 brought frustration to students who weren't quite ready for that level of music. Additionally, students in both Level 1 and Level 2 who were at a more advanced level than their peers were not able to receive more advanced instruction in their ensembles.

In order to benefit all Band students, I decided to move away from automatic Level 1 and Level 2 Band this year. All current Elementary Band students are enrolled in Combined Band. During our concerts in March and April, our Combined Band (consisting of first- and second-year musicians) will perform songs together. These songs will be accessible to all our Band students (as long as they are practicing at least a little outside of school), but will also allow room for growth for students who are ready for it by the time our concerts roll around.

I have selected some students to also participate in Advanced Band. Advanced Band students will learn one additional song for our Spring Concert that is at a more advanced level. Unfortunately, I only have one day per cycle where I can have rehearsals with each school, and our only time available for rehearsals during the school day is during either lunch or recess. Therefore, students can only attend one rehearsal, so students in Advanced Band will (mostly) be rehearsing separately from Combined Band. On the bright side, this separate rehearsal will allow us time to cover advanced techniques.

I would like to emphasize that this structure is NOT "good musicians" versus "bad musicians." Combined Band is the standard. Again, all students learn their instrument at their own pace, and there are numerous reasons that students might progress faster or slower than others (not all of which are in our control). All of my students are good musicians. All of the Band students have made tremendous progress this year, and I continue to be extremely proud of every single one of them! The addition of an Advanced Band is not intended to separate "good musicians" from "bad musicians," but rather to allow an opportunity for ALL students to learn music that is at a suitable level for them. I have told the students this, and I will continue to tell the students this anytime anyone feels down about not being in Advanced Band!

Advanced Band FAQ:

If you have a question that is not listed here, please email it to me! I will add new questions to this newsletter as I receive them.

What were the qualifications/how was it decided which students would be in Advanced Band?

  • I could probably write an entire separate newsletter about my process for selecting students, but I think most families would prefer a shorter answer! A lot of the decision making had to do with logistical factors, some of which included 1.) the confines of our overall schedule due to my traveling between four schools, 2.) the confines of each individual school's lunch and recess schedule and how it affects which grades can rehearse at which time, 3.) space constraints at each school, and 4.) the fact that all four of our schools come together for our concerts, and therefore I need to keep in mind the instrumentation of the entire district, not just each individual school's Band. If all of the Band students were together in one school, or if each school had separate concerts, there is a chance that the results might have been different! None of these factors have to do with each individual student's ability, but they were all still important factors to consider before choosing the students.
  • After considering the logistical factors, I was able to look at each students' progress so far this year and where their abilities are projected to be by our concert.
  • There are many students who were "on the cusp" where they could potentially be successful in Advanced Band with a lot of hard work, but they also won't be bored/underwhelmed with just Combined Band. For these students, I took into consideration not only the factors listed above, but also factors such as whether that student would benefit more from being a leader in Band versus being overly-challenged in Advanced Band. I was very cautious in choosing the students, as I do not want to accidentally overwhelm any students who would be on the cusp!

Why wasn't there an audition for Advanced Band?

  • Very few Elementary Band students would benefit from a Band-specific audition process, especially at this time in the school year.
  • Auditioning would promote a "good" versus "not good" mentality for some of our students, which is not the intent of this ensemble.
  • Due to the logistical factors listed in the question above, I needed more control over how many/which students were in Advanced Band than what auditions would allow.

How do I know which ensemble(s) my child is in?

  • All students are in Combined Band. Some students are also in Advanced Band.
  • I will be sending emails this weekend confirming whether students are in both groups, or if they are just in Combined Band. If you do not receive an email confirming this by Sunday (01/22) evening, please reach out to me!

Will my child's rehearsal be during lunch or recess?

  • That information is different for each school. It will be included in the email mentioned above.
  • If your child's rehearsal is during lunch, they will eat during recess. No worries - all students will still have plenty of time to eat lunch!

Will Advanced Band be a ton of work for my child since they are learning an additional song?

  • Nope! Students in Advanced Band will likely not feel challenged by our Combined Band music, which is part of the reason that I selected them for Advanced Band. So, while they will have an extra song to practice, it should not feel like a ton of extra work.

If my child is not in Advanced Band now, can they join later this year?

  • Unfortunately, no. I would love for this to be something students can work towards and join at any point in the year, but due to many many factors, it would not be beneficial for students to be able to do so at this time.
  • I did mention Advanced Band to the students when we first started rehearsals in the Fall, and I did include it in our Recruitment information as well as our Syllabus. However, I did not fully explain it to the students until recently and I know many students forgot I had mentioned it at all. If we are successful this year, then next year I will provide more information about Advanced Band to both the families and students in the Summer/Fall so that students who are interested in it are able to talk about it with me, ask questions, and work towards it early on.

Will this affect which ensemble(s) my student is in next year?

  • The short answer is no, it will not automatically affect next year.
  • For our Winter Concert next year, we will follow the same process we have always followed. Students who continue their same instrument from fourth to fifth grade will all be considered second-year Band students and therefore will participate in the Winter Concert, regardless of whether they were in Advanced Band (again, Combined Band is the standard!). Students who change instruments from fourth grade to fifth grade will not participate in the Band portion of the Winter Concert because they will be considered first-year Band students again.
  • After our Winter Concert next year, we will switch to our Combined Band/Advanced Band ensembles. Fourth grade students who are in Advanced Band this year will not automatically be in Advanced Band next year. There are a lot of factors that go into who is in Advanced Band, so it is not possible to make guarantees for next year.
  • For our students who are moving on to Middle School next year, all Band students will be in "6th Grade Band" regardless of how long they have been playing their instrument. Information about any additional ensembles in Middle School will be shared by Mr. McCartney at the end of this year/beginning of next year.

Will the students continue to rehearse separately after our Spring Concert?

  • My honest answer is that I am not sure yet! This is the first year that we have over a month left of school after our Spring Concert (we usually only have a couple cycles max), and I am buzzing with ideas of what all we could learn when we don't have the pressure of an oncoming concert! However, logistical factors such as space and schedule do still exist. For example, I do not have enough room/chairs at any of my schools to fit all of the Band students into one giant rehearsal, so I am currently unsure if we will split Combined/Advanced, 1st-year/2nd-year, 4th grade/5th grade, etc. Stay tuned! :)

NMB Common Ground Coffee Fundraiser

The Northern Music Boosters have partnered with Common Ground Coffee to raise money in a year-long fundraiser. The NMB are an organization of parents/family members who raise funds to support and advance the academic and educational interests of the NYCSD Music Program. The Boosters help to fund group programs (such as our musicals, marching ensembles, and summer lessons), individual students (such as fundraisers that go towards the HS students' trip to Disney), as well as help purchase supplies for our classrooms.

If you are interested in purchasing coffee through their fundraiser, you can order your coffee via the link above, and select "Northern Music Booster" as your fundraiser during checkout. I personally recommend their peppermint and mocha flavors! :)

If you are interested in other fundraising opportunities, you can check out the NMB fundraising page or you can become a member.

Note & Rhythm Trainers

Many of the students have utilized online programs called Note Trainer and Rhythm Trainer to assist them in reading music. The programs feel like games, so the students tend to really like them. If your child is interested in using either at home, you can follow the links and instructions below to set it up for them:

Note Trainer

This program helps students practice pitches (note names) on the music staff. In order to ensure that you get the correct notes for your child's instrument, click on the settings wheel at the top and then follow these guidelines:


  • Treble Clef only: Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Trumpet, French Horn, Percussion (Bells)
  • Bass Clef only: Trombone, Baritone, Tuba


  • Double check the Hot Cross Buns, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star pages in your Band folder to see what range of notes to begin with.
  • As it gets easier, feel free to make your range bigger!

Key Signatures

  • I recommend setting this to the first option. That means that there will be no sharps (♯) and no flats (♭), so you will only use the middle row of notes.
  • If you'd like a challenge, try adding sharps and flats to the key signatures!


  • Make sure this setting is turned off.
  • If you'd like a challenge, turn it back on. Then it will give you some notes with sharps and flats.

Rhythm Trainer

This program helps students practice reading rhythms. I recommend beginning with the fast setting, quarter notes and eighth notes (the first two rhythm choices), and the beat highlight turned on. If you'd like a challenge, add in quarter rests (the last choice) and/or turn the beat highlight off.

The rhythm trainer has two modes:

  • Mode A - click the green triangle to play a recording of a rhythm. Then notate the rhythm from the recording using the rhythm buttons.
  • Mode B - The rhythm is already notated for you, and there are four rhythm recordings provided. You must choose which recording matches the notated rhythm.

If you get an answer wrong, make sure to listen to the correct answer and compare it to the answer that you chose so that you understand why it was incorrect!

Practice Expectations

Now that we are in the full swing of things, I wanted to give a reminder about our practicing expectations! Our practice goal is 80-100 minutes per week, broken into however many days suitable for your child's schedule and attention span. Of course, this is just a goal, and I understand that we won't always make it to our goal! However, practicing is SO important, as I only see the kids for about 20-25 minutes a week maximum for lessons. Students NEED that extra practice time outside of school to develop the muscle memory required to play an instrument. If they want to continue to enjoy and excel at Band, they must put in at least some time at home as well.

More than likely, your child will need reminders to practice, just like they need reminders to stay on top of chores, homework, commitments, etc. If your child needs reminders to practice, it most likely does NOT reflect lack of interest! For most kids, this is the first time that they are expected to do something so regularly, and they just need help building the habit of practicing while they are still so young.

I recommend sitting down with your child and working together on creating a practice schedule that you both agree on. Kids LOVE having agency in creating their own practice schedule, and are more likely to stick with it if they help to create it. I have a document on my website that you can use to create a schedule. I've also attached it below, and will upload it to SeeSaw. Copies are also available in person for students to take home as needed!

Additionally, I included a link directly below to an article about developing a practice routine that will offer some additional tips. Again, it is normal to have to help your child remember to practice. If you receive pushback from your child, try some of the tips in the article. If that doesn't help, please reach out to me! I am typically able to problem solve with the student and figure out what's going on.

Finally, please make sure that you have the correct book! 2nd-Year Band students are still using our Sound Innovations book that they started with last year. 1st-Year Band students should be using our Essential Elements book (Trumpet book pictured). About 95% of the 1st-Year Band students have already started reading music from this book within the last few cycles, so if you have not ordered it yet, please do so ASAP! Information about the book was sent home via email back when students first joined Band, however if you need the information again I am more than happy to provide it - just let me know!

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How playing an instrument benefits your brain - Anita Collins

Important Links

Mrs. Yohn's Website

Click here for important announcements, handouts, calendars, and so much more!

Music Department Website

Information about the entire Music Department can be found here!

Menchey Music

We partner with Menchey Music to provide our students with top-quality instruments as well as supplies!

Music Boosters

Interested in volunteering or fundraising? Check out the Music Boosters!


Students can use SmartMusic to help them practice their music correctly!

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