The Pine Road Backstage Pass

The Quarterly Newsletter for Pine Road Band and Orchestra!

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A Message from Mr. DeGeorge

We are excited to take you "backstage" and let you see what's "behind the curtain" in our first Pine Road Band and Orchestra newsletter. The Backstage Pass will serve as a place to highlight what students are working on in the instrumental music department each marking period. We have a lot of exciting things to share with you throughout the year and hope you find this newsletter informative and engaging.

For more immediate updates and a look into our day-to-day operations in the music department, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @glendegeorge. I actively post throughout the week with interesting things we are doing in our classroom. As always, please reach out to me at any point throughout the year with any comments or questions you may have I look forward to seeing everyone at our upcoming winter concerts!

You're Invited - Pine Road Winter Band and Orchestra Concert 2018

4th and 5th Grade Orchestra and 5th Grade Band members are hard at work preparing for our 2018 Winter Concert scheduled for December 19th at 7PM. We are excited to once again host our winter performances at Pine Road Elementary School.

Students are kindly asked to wear "concert black" performance attire and should arrive at 6:15PM with their instrument and music. Parents, guardians, friends, family, and all adoring fans are invited join us for an exciting evening of music in as we transform our Pine Road Cafeteria into our esteemed Pine Road Concert Hall!

The Pine Road Choir concert will be held on December 17th at Pine Road Elementary School. Please note that 3rd Grade Orchestra and 4th Grade Band will make their debut performances at concerts in 2019.

Winter Concert featuring 4th and 5th Grade Orchestra and 5th Grade Band

Wednesday, Dec. 19th, 7pm

3737 Pine Road


Please join us for a festive Winter Concert featuring students involved in 5th Grade Band and 4th and 5th Grade Orchestra. Students should report to the Instrumental Music Room at 6:15PM dressed in concert black attire with their instrument and music. Concert will start promptly at 7:00PM. Students will dismiss back into the cafe by ensemble and grade level at approximately 7:45PM.

3rd Grade Highlights:

Third graders spent the first quarter learning some of the most crucial fundamentals of their instrument. September was spent learning how to treat our instruments safely and identifying all the main parts of our instruments. We also started playing on our open strings and learned the steps for getting into "playing position"!

Throughout October, we solidified our playing positions and performed open string songs in our lesson books to build our music literacy and confidence with our instruments. We also introduced students to our beginning bow holds and worked with the "bow bunny" to help shape our right hand bow holds (pictured right).

As we enter November, students will combine these beginning fundamentals to start working on the development of their left hand fingers manipulating the strings. We have had an absolute blast starting these young musicians on their instruments and they are off to a fantastic start!

Cool tools we use to help us learn...

4th Grade Highlights:

4th Grade Orchestra students are making a big transition this year as new members of 4th and 5th Grade Orchestra. The musical literature we are working on as part of this group is substantially more difficult than the music that students saw in third grade. Our 4th Graders have made great strides in the development of new bowing techniques while taking the time to review and solidify left hand fingerings.

4th Grade Band students are taking on the challenges of their new instruments head on and with a positive attitude! We spent much of September and October focusing on learning the fundamental process for assembling instruments and for making good sounds on our new instruments. A lot of our primary focus has been on our use of AIR and how that impacts our tone production. We have used lots of adaptive tools (see above) to help us visualize our use of air and develop the necessary muscles to make our instruments sound great. We are working throughout November to build our confidence in note reading while expanding our range of notes to begin playing some more challenging songs.

5th Grade Highlights:

5th Grade Band and Orchestra members have spent the first two months of school getting back into the routine of regular practice and have been expanding their rhythmic vocabulary and note literacy. Part of our goal in fifth grade is to help students identify the difference between the "what" and the "how" of the music they are playing. Specifically, we discuss the differences between what musical note letter name you are playing versus how the fingers help to play the note on the instrument. It is a big concept to grasp as a musician and our fifth graders have shown a lot of musical growth this quarter in this area of music literacy.

5th Grade Orchestra members have been focusing on their use of the bow and the impact the bow has on their tone production. 5th Grade Band Members are working on expanding range and breath support to hone their sound and range on their instrument. Our overarching goal for fifth graders is to develop a full and clear sound on their instrument!

Practice Journals and the Importance of at Home Practice

In October, all band and orchestra students started their first practice journal assignments in their music binders. These journals can be viewed as a student's "musical agenda book" and help to organize their musical life. Practice journals are also designed to help students, and parents and guardians, keep track of weekly assignments and musical growth. For returning members of the program, please keep in mind that his activity has been updated from last year's practice journal. Journals have three main components to help facilitate your student's practice and each section is outlined below.

The Practice Assignment and Practice Log:

The first section is a practice log where students write down their assigned music for the week and keep track of the number of minutes they practice each day. We suggest that students aim for about 4 days a week of practice for approximately 20 minutes. There is no penalty for students not completing a practice session and students are welcome to format their sessions to fit their schedule and needs. We simply ask that you use this journal as a guide for developing good practice routines at home.

As part of the practice log, we ask for journals to be signed by parents and guardians as a way for you to participate and converse with your student about their musical growth. If a practice journal is returned to music class with a signature, students receive a stamp on their journal that recognizes it's completion!

The "3 Step Recipe" for a Good Practice Session

Students should use this three step guide for working through their practice session. As part of Step 3, students are asked to identify an improvement goal and a practice strategy they will use to help them improve throughout the week. The bulk of a students time

Weekly Self Reflection

The third and final section is completed after your student's final practice session of the week. This is a self reflection section where students think back through their week and identify some areas of strength and potential areas for growth. There are also two optional short answer questions where students are prompted to highlight some challenges they faced and some things they identify as strengths in their practice session.

We hope you participate in our practice journal initiative and we look forward to seeing our students' progress as we embark on this project.

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About Mr. DeGeorge

Mr. DeGeorge is an active music educator and performer throughout the Philadelphia area. His teaching career, enriched by his performance experience, has included positions in public and private institutions teaching at the elementary and secondary level. Mr. DeGeorge oversees the instrumental music program at Pine Road Elementary School which includes daily band and orchestra lessons and performing ensembles for third through fifth grade students. Mr. DeGeorge serves as the director for the 3rd Grade Orchestra, 4th and 5th Grade Orchestra, 4th Grade Band, 5th Grade Band and Lower Moreland High School Jazz Lab Band.

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