Start here for questions about the instrumental music program for students in grades 4 & 5 at Fairmount Park or check out a more interactive presentation at this link: http://bit.ly/FPIMSway2017-18 with all of the information below in bite size chunks.

Deadline to register is September 23, 2017

***Returning Instrumental Families: watch this short video below:

All 4th and 5th grade students have the option to play a band or orchestra instrument at Fairmount Park. This is a “pull out program” where students come to the music room with Mr. Pendergrass and other students playing the same instrument once a week for a 40 minute lesson during the regular school day. To clarify, students will still have general music with Mr. Pendergrass once a week during the teacher’s Planning and Preparation time like they did in grades K-3 (PCP). Instrumental music is in addition to PCP music. This is by no means enough time for students to advance, so a commitment to practice at home is key as well as strong parental support. Mr. Pendergrass will provide your family with information and resources to help you succeed and start a musical journey that can last a lifetime.

The program involves: 1) Choosing an instrument to study; 2) Registering online for the instrumental program; 3) Renting, borrowing or purchasing an instrument; 4) Purchasing a band or orchestra method book for the particular instrument your student has chosen; 5) Purchasing some specific supplies for your instrument 6) Bringing your instrument to school on your lesson day; 7) Practicing your instrument at home between lessons at school. 8) Putting concert dates on your family calendar; 9) bookmarking www.mrpendergrass.com. Please take a moment to read through each of the 9 steps to the program below before signing up for instrumental music.

Choosing an instrument for your 4th grade or 5th grade student can be overwhelming, but this page should help you choose one of the band or orchestra instruments we offer at Fairmount Park. Students will have a chance to sample instruments in my classroom September 2017, learn how they make sounds and take notes on an instrument choice sheet. Ask your child for this sheet or download a copy here, and have them tell you the unique characteristics or prerequisites for each instrument. Below is a list of instruments taught at Fairmount park along with their prerequisite (must) or suggested (should) condition for playing:

Flute- must make a sound on the head joint first.
Clarinet- fingers must cover all holes.
Alto Sax- hands must be big enough to hold instrument properly without hitting certain keys.
Trumpet- should be able to buzz high notes on the mouthpiece.
Trombone- should be able to buzz low notes on the mouthpiece.
Baritone/Euphonium- should be able to buzz low notes on the mouthpiece.
Percussion-no prerequisite.

ORCHESTRA INSTRUMENTS- no physical prerequisite for the string instruments since they come in 1/2, 3/4, and full sizes for students depending on their arm length (violins and violas), and height (cellos).

Any local music store can advise you about the right size instrument for your child, but it’s helpful to come in with a first or second choice instrument in mind before you make the trip.

After you have made a first and second choice of instrument you want to play, please register for the instrumental music program online at: link will be live in September 2017.
There is a form to fill out there. The deadline for registering is: End of September 2017 (specific date TBD).

Most Families typically rent or buy instruments from the local music stores in the area. Please do not rent or purchase an instrument until you register and Mr. Pendergrass contacts you about your student’s choice of instrument. A local music store can help you pick out the right instrument and size your child accordingly. Many offer rental plans for the school year with several different options, including rent to own with affordable monthly payments.
The school district has some instrument to loan to families. This requires a signed loan form and commitment from the family and student to be responsible for the instrument while in their care. The very few district instruments we do have to loan have been reserved for students enrolled in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program. If you cannot afford to provide an instrument for your student please contact Mr. Pendergrass at kependergrass@seattleschools.org

Each beginning student will need to purchase a band or orchestra method book for their particular instrument. Mr. Pendergrass will tell you the title of the book you’ll need for your instrument after you register. These books are an important resource for each beginner that includes information about taking care of the instrument, fingering charts, note learning exercises, and songs that will be learned for the winter and spring concerts. The local music stores will have the method books we use for Seattle Public Schools in stock.

Each instrument comes with specific supplies or equipment you will need to either play your instrument or keep it in working order. Mr. Pendergrass will supply you with a specific list of “must haves” for your instrument and “optional but helpful things” when you register. Most local music stores will provide an “accessory kit” for your instrument that will include some of these things. This includes reeds for clarinets and alto saxophones, valve oil for trumpets and baritones, slide cream for trombones, rosin for all the string player’s bows, and shoulder rests for violin and viola players and a “donut” (rubber disc for your end pin) for cellos.

Now that you have your instrument and method book, Mr. Pendergrass will tell you what day you need to bring your instrument to school for a lesson. Since many instrument cases look alike, it’s important that every student label their instrument case with a tag that has their first and last name, Fairmount Park, and a phone number. Also label your method book with your first and last name.
On your lesson day, when the bell rings, you will bring your labeled instrument and book to the music room in the morning before you go to your classroom teacher. Then, when it’s time to go to your lesson, you will leave your class and come to the music room for a 40 minute lesson with the other students playing the same instrument as you. At the end of the day, before you go to the bus, or go to the YMCA or meet your family to walk home, you need to come to the music room and pick up your instrument to take home and practice.

Since we only have one 40 minute lesson each week, it’s important that you practice your instrument at home between our lessons at school. This means you will need to find the time in your schedule to practice at least 10-15 minutes a day the things you learned in your lesson with Mr. Pendergrass at school. Just like you schedule time to do your homework or go to sports practice, make practicing your instrument a part of your daily routine and you will be certain to make progress on your instrument. Here is what you’ll need to have a successful practice session at home: 1) a place where you can play without distraction; this includes curious pets, nosey siblings, and electronic devices that may keep you from focusing on the music and things you need to practice. 2) the list of things from Mr. Pendergrass you need to work on. Most often this will be something you have to play multiple times until it sounds correct; sometimes it will be a written assignment. Whatever it is, have it it front of you with a pencil in hand to make notes. 3) a chair that will give you the proper posture for playing your instrument correctly; lawn chairs, recliners and generally any chair that doesn’t help you “sit tall” should be avoided. 4) a music stand for you to place your music on; this can be a folding music stand. 5) your practice log so you can record your practice with the date and time and a parent signature for Mr. Pendergrass to check at your next lesson.

Part of playing an instrument with a group or ensemble is the joy of making music with and for others. Students in the band and orchestra will be preparing songs for a winter and spring concert, typically in January and June. Mr. Pendergrass is careful to plan these dates well in advance so you can put them on your calendar and make plans to be there. Think of these as the final exam of your instrumental music lessons. More importantly, think of them as the final performance to show off your hard work and dedication with a concert of beautiful music for your family and friends. All evening concerts are on a Wednesday in the lunchroom at Fairmount Park and begin at 7:00pm. That’s the time the audience needs to be seated and ready to listen. However, the performer time to arrive for evening concerts is always 6:30pm. Students playing in the concert need to come to the music room at 6:30pm before the 7pm start time to warm-up and do some last minute practice and checking before heading on stage. Concert dates for 2017-18 are:

Winter Orchestra Concert: Wednesday January 17, 2018
Winter Band Concert: Wednesday January 24, 2018
Blues Night Concert (band only): Wednesday April 4, 2018
Spring Orchestra Concert: Wednesday June 6, 2018
Spring Band Concert: Wednesday June 13, 2018


I know this is a lot of information to digest and remember. That is why I have created a website you can access 24/7 for information about all things music at Fairmount Park. There is more detailed information about the instrumental music program including a helpful FAQ page (link) and more detailed information about each instrument at this page (link) and all the information you’ll need about concert dates and the latest announcements.