article by Keara Galbraith
edited by Cam Goodrich
A big part of having a great community is being able to build it for all ages. In the Massabesic community, that happens a lot. One thing that is going on right now is, after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Massabesic High School band students take a couple hours out of their day to teach fifth graders how to play an instrument.
This started as the Massabesic band directors wanting to build up the music program so that the schools would have bigger, better bands. Before this program began, band students would choose their instrument after the sixth grade year started, leaving the basics to be learned during that year. Now, with this program, the instruments are given out at the beginning of the fifth grade year, so at this program, they learn the basics. This means that they will be going into sixth grade band knowing how to read and play music and rhythms, have proper technique, and take care of their instrument.
Adam Goad, the high school band director, asked some of his students for volunteers to help out so that the kids would have mentors that specialized in playing the instrument they were interested in. As a plus for the high schoolers, they would also earn volunteer hours for their work with the kids. Sadly, many of the students were busy with after-school activities, but they made it work. Since the time period for the band class was from roughly 3:45 to 4:45, the high schoolers were able to help out after their own activities ended and so far, the program has been a huge success.
“They've gone from not being able to produce sound on their instruments to knowing several notes, and they are much more adept at keeping a steady beat and counting rhythms than they were at the beginning of the year. I've had a great time working with the 5th graders and watching the high school band students work as mentors. It's been a very rewarding experience,” said Mr. Goad when he was asked about his thoughts on the progress of the program. The mentors had similar thoughts but Emma Masse, a flutist mentor, also added on that saying, “Especially if they continue band in middle school, I think this will be really good for all of them.” This was a very good point to bring up. In all but a few circumstances, the current high schoolers have only had since their sixth grade year to learn their instruments so these kids will have quite the advantage. Helen Philbrick, a clarinetist mentor, said that, “Whenever they do something not quite right, they get it fixed without becoming a hassle.” This also relates to having more time to learn the instruments because, if you had less time to learn an instrument, then sometimes learning techniques gets rushed through and bad habits are formed. With this program, there is more time and bad habits like improper articulation or stopping every time a mistake is made aren’t formed.
In just the few months that this year’s group has been working, much progress has been made. The kids look forward to their weekly class and are very excited about learning to play. Having this connection through music certainly builds the Massabesic community, making it a better place for everyone involved.