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5th Grade Band is Back at Fort Dodge Schools

October 10, 2022

After a year hiatus, fifth grade band is back at the Fort Dodge Schools. During the past year, the Fort Dodge Community School District has worked to establish a fifth grade band program for the 22-23 school year.

“The transition of the fifth grade students back to the elementary schools last year brought some logistical challenges for the band program,” said Stephanie Anderson, Director of Elementary Education. “We needed time to work through those challenges and to create a comprehensive plan to address again offering fifth grade band.”

Collaboration between the middle school and high school instrumental instructors was key to making fifth grade band a reality. During the 21-22 school year, meetings were facilitated with the music staff from across the District.

“We had to work together to determine how to continue to cover the middle and high school music needs while expanding the band program to the elementary schools,” Anderson said.

The middle and high school music instructors have begun introducing the fifth graders to band and orchestra. Recently students had the opportunity to learn about and try various instruments.

According to Laura Klein-Ferry, FDMS and FDSH band instructor, students are interested and excited when they first see the instruments.

“When we come to show off the instruments, we are hoping to spark curiosity,” Klein-Ferry said. “We want our students to try new things and this is a great opportunity for a new adventure in learning.”

Klein-Ferry said it is important students have the chance to try various instruments because they may not be aware of all their options. Students were given the opportunity to try the trombone, clarinet, flute, violin and bass.

“Sometimes they think they would love to play the trumpet, but then they try the saxophone and realize they love it more,” she said. “We want students to be interested in the instrument they start on so that when the new skills challenge them they are motivated to stick with it.”

She said letting the students try the instruments gives the instructors a quick look into where each student’s learning level is, which better informs how the students will be grouped for lessons, and which instruments might be easier for them.

“Some students get very shy when it is their turn to play,” Klein-Ferry said. “But, once they make a sound with the instrument you can see their eyes light up with excitement.”

According to Anderson, it was important to reinstate the fifth grade program to create excitement for instruments at an early age and in an effort to better prepare students for band and orchestra at the middle and high school levels.

Klein-Ferry added, “Band allows students a chance to practice emotions, fine motor skills, discipline, rigor and persistence. It is a safe space where kids can build these skills along with teamwork and the love of making music together. Band is also collaborative, it teaches patience, and responsibility.”

Fifth grade students throughout the District will have the opportunity to participate in band and/or orchestra this year. Lessons will take place during the school day.

On Tuesday, October 18,  Klein-Ferry and Brian Robison, orchestra instructor, will host 30 minute Meet and Greets in the FDMS band room at 4:00, 5:00, 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. for the fifth graders and their families This will be an opportunity for families to learn more about fifth grade band/orchestra, and get some tips on helping their student get started. Families with questions about the fifth grade program can contact Klein-Ferry at the middle or high school.

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