FHSD Honor Band and Choir – Creating Lifelong Learners and Music Makers

Posted on 03/23/2018
FHSD Honor Band and Choir – Creating Lifelong Learners and Music Makers

Challenging students every day in the classroom is something every teacher aspires to do. FHSD teachers strive to ensure learning continues outside of the classroom, and encourage students to challenge themselves with new ideas, lessons, and activities. At the middle school level, music students are doing exactly that through Honor Band and Honor Choir.

Comprised of an elite selection of students, the Honor Band and Choir created a community of students from all five FHSD middle schools. Directors from across the District worked together to ensure that the ensemble was evenly balanced and comprised of top performers. Students practiced on their own and in small groups over the course of a few weeks leading up to the big performance, and everything came together the day of the concert.

Students headed to Francis Howell Middle School for an entire day of rehearsals and development before the performance. “Essentially, they meet together for the very first time on the day of the concert,” said Keely Abeln, band director at Saeger Middle School. Students come together to rehearse as a large group and split for small sectional practices. Guest directors are brought in to lead and work with both ensembles. After a full day of practice, a concert was put on for parents and staff.

This year’s guest director was John Wilson from Raymore-Peculiar High School in Peculiar, Missouri. Wilson has been a band director for the past 33 years, teaching at the middle and high school level. “I can tell from being up in front of the students, what their directors are teaching them, how they’re teaching them, and what’s important to them,” said Wilson. “It kind of reinforces why I need to go back to my district and say ‘Hey, this is what we need to be doing.’”

Guest director John Wilson conducts the Honor BandBringing in guest directors has several different benefits. “It gives our students another learning opportunity. Perhaps we say the same things, but when we hear them from a different voice and a different perspective, or even just worded differently, it helps,” said Lea Eilers, Choir Director at Bryan Middle School. “It also gives the teachers an opportunity to watch another director and learn from their teaching styles. It lets us bring some other things back to the classroom for all of our students.”

While the directors can benefit by observing different styles of teaching, the students benefit immensely from the day as well. “This is really geared to those students that get it, and it’s an extra opportunity for them to be musicians, and to learn and work with other students. Which is what music’s really about,” said Abeln. “It’s building a community, not just inside your school, but outside too, so they can be lifelong learners and music makers.”

While the performances were a huge success, it’s easy to see that the Honor Band and Choir students will also be a huge success. These musicians will continue to grow and develop, as will the sense of community in and out of their band and choir rooms.

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