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A Community of Lifelong Music-Makers

Parkway South Middle School, MO

760 Woods Mill Rd, Ballwin, MO 63011, USA
Parkway School District
Director: Keely Abeln
Category: Community Engagement Program
Award: Silver, 2020

Project Description

The Parkway South Middle School Community Band is an ensemble for students, parents, faculty, and community members to join together to create music. The community band provides an opportunity for entire families and community members to feel like they are welcome as part of the school community. Students see how music can continue to be a lifelong endeavor after their middle and high school experiences and the adults rekindle their love of playing their instruments. The strength of music is how it brings people together. By creating an ensemble that welcomes all ages and abilities, the Parkway South Middle School Community Band provides an event that becomes a school and family tradition.

Target Audience

The community band’s target audience is to bring as many people of varying abilities and ages together in one ensemble. In its inaugural year for the ensemble, 30 members rehearsed 4 times and concluded with a short concert and reception. These members included middle school students, high school students, parents, school and district faculty members, community members, and director’s family.

Overview of planning and execution process for this project

August:

  • Reserve concert space.
  • Place event on school/district calendar.
  • Speak to music department about parents being able to rent an instrument for one month.

November/December:

  • Announcements are made at all concerts explaining the upcoming community band opportunity. It is also placed on all social media both through band and school.

January:

  • First week-Sign-up information is sent home in a letter and placed in school newsletter.
  • Fourth week-After instrumentation has been collected, select music and create folders.
  • Develop seating chart.
  • Talk to custodial staff about school access for evening rehearsal

February:

  • Four to five evening 1-hour rehearsals.
  • During second to last rehearsal, ask for people to volunteer to bring in food for post concert reception.
  • Create program.

March:

  • Concert takes place on the first Friday evening of March to kick off Music in Our Schools Month.
  • Post concert reception.

Sponsors/charities/volunteers/ other groups involved in the project and the benefits to each.

Local music stores are aware of program and willing to rent to parents for one month.

Parent Teacher Organization can help provide treats and punch for reception.

Community Impact

Parents do not feel they are just observers at a band concert; they feel they are part of the program. They become invested in their student’s activity and gain a new level of compassion for their own child in learning an instrument. Parents and community members feel welcome and that they are a contributing member of the school community. Through music, all members feel like they are part of something bigger. This is especially true for the new director.

Overall budget

$0

Specific Budget Breakdown

No budget was needed. Music came from pre-existing music purchases for the middle school level. All food items for the reception were donated by band members and their families.

New or recurring project?

New Project

Challenges/obstacles that were encountered

One of the hurdles of starting this program was it being my first year in the school. Parents and students are more willing to try something out of their comfort zone if they are familiar with the director. In this case, I was starting from scratch with both the students and the parents. I had some trepidation as to the turn out, but administration was thrilled with the idea and moving forward. I presented the opportunity early and often to the parents. Scheduling is important because you do not want it to be too overwhelming. The parents practiced 4 times in February and concluded with a short concert and reception. A director will need to be flexible with attendance and choose music knowing some families will not be able to attend all practices. For the concert, there were 35 members made up of middle school students, parents, faculty, high school students and community members. Using the first year membership as a building block, each year should grow in membership.

Measurement of the success/effectiveness of this project?

The success of the event was measured by the 35 members of the inaugural community band as well as the excitement and support of the 50+ audience members and school principal. The anecdotal success comes from a parent coming in after school to get help on the mallets, a parent bringing her music with her to parent/teacher conferences to ask questions about the key signatures, two families getting together over a weekend night to practice together at one of their homes, high school students changing their work schedule to attend the concert and the director’s own daughter from another band program sitting in to help the only beginning euphonium player in the group.

The only changes I will make this coming school year is to ask the parents which evening works best for them for rehearsals so more parents can attend. I will also ask the Parent Teacher Organization to help with the reception.

Advice for someone looking to replicate this project in their own community?

Do not hesitate to start a community band for this level. The amount of time you put into it will come back to you ten fold in support and love of your band program. Choose music wisely so all members feel the balance of challenged, but not overwhelmed.

Supporting Materials

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