Wiley Elementary Band

Be "In the Know" - Read the Wiley Band Handbook!

Tree of Knowledge


My Philosophy

What Parents Need to Do

How a Band Kid Should Act

A Typical Band Rehearsal

Financial, Attendance, and Weather Policies

All About Band Camp

All About Instruments

All About Concerts


In Closing

Welcome to the Wiley Elementary Band!

It is our pleasure to welcome you to the Wiley Elementary School band! We thank you for choosing to be a part of our band, and look forward to making music with you this year.

As a member of the Wiley Band, you have chosen to embark on a rewarding journey with a fine group of people. Our band isn't just something to do before school; it's a team and a family. Students, band is a place where you can have fun, meet new friends, and build musical skills that you can enjoy for the rest of your life. Parents, band will give you the experience of a lifetime, too--the joy of enriching children's lives with music (whether you're musically inclined or not!)

You may find band to be very different from other music classes you've taken in the past. Since band is a team, it functions best when everyone--students, parents, and director--brings forth their best effort. In the Wiley Band, we hold ourselves to the highest standards of behavior, and are committed to doing our very best every time we play.

This handbook is designed as a resource to answer your band-related questions throughout the school year. Please read and keep this handbook, and feel free to contact us if you need any band-related help or advice. Best wishes, and we look forward to sharing a year of wonderful musical experiences with you!

Your Band Directors,
Christina Thompson and Andrew Munger

Our Philosophy

We believe that music is a powerful medium that can help students discover their unique capabilities, build positive relationships with their peers, and foster meaningful connections with the larger community. As director, our job isn't just waving the baton--it's conducting ourselves and our band in a way that brings the benefits of music into the lives of our bandmembers and community neighbors.
As band director, I am committed to:

What Parents Need to Do

Parents are a vital part of children's music education. A child's success in music often depends on the level of support the parent gives. An encouraging comment about your child's practice, cheerful attendance at band concerts, and a positive attitude about your child's efforts can give your son or daughter the confidence to excel musically. Here are four things I ask of all Wiley band parents:

1. Be informed. Please read this handbook and all band correspondence. You'll not only be "in the know," but you'll also model responsibility and commitment to your child.

2. Teach your child the value of practice. Helping your child learn to practice is the single most powerful thing you can do to support your child's musical development. Treat practice as homework, and make it part of your daily routine by setting up a special place and time for your child to play at home.

3. Realize that greatness takes time. Beginning musicians are not going to sound like the pros you hear on the radio. When listening to your child practice or perform, train yourself to focus on growth and progress. And please, NEVER joke about your child's sound--it hurts more than you'd think.

4. Support your director. Your band director has made it her life's work to help kids through music. She's on your side, and is here to support and nurture your child's musical growth. Please keep this in mind in your interactions with the director, and treat her with respect and kindness. Also, please follow the director's policies and encourage your child to do the same. They are the result of years of successful teaching, and are in place to give you an excellent band experience.

How A Band Kid Should Act

Although our band meets outside school hours, the expectations for behavior are the same as they are during the school day. Band students are expected to live by The Wiley Way at all rehearsals and performances.

Band students are typically some of the finest young people in the school. At all times, you should be able to say these things about yourself:

Respect Yourself.
If I make a mistake on a song, I laugh it off and try again.
I practice daily so I'm prepared for band rehearsal.
I am a good example to those around me.

Respect Others.
I don't laugh at or make fun of other people's playing.
I have kind words to say to my fellow band members at all times.
I allow my band teacher to teach without interruptions.

Respect Property.
I take good care of my instrument and respect my bandmates' instruments.
I hold my instrument securely so I don't drop it.
I put my instrument together the way Ms. Thompson showed me.
If I am not a percussionist, I don't touch the percussion equipment.

You are an important member of our band, and your actions will affect everyone else in our group. Your behavior will determine how much we learn and how well we play, and will also show the community what the Wiley Band is all about. When you choose your actions in band, always remember that you are choosing your consequences as well. When you do your best, band becomes energized with music-making excitement! However, poor behavior can ruin people's good impression of our band--and even worse, it can make learning music more difficult and less fun.

One of our most important jobs is to help band students develop character traits to help them excel both in the band room and beyond. Throughout the year, Ms. Thompson and Mr. Munger will model productive behavior, establish helpful classroom routines, and provide boundaries and guidance to help students learn to make good behavior choices. Through group reflection and teacher-student meetings, behavior issues in the Wiley Band will be used as opportunities to help students grow.

A Typical Band Rehearsal

Both bands rehearse on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8-8:45am.

Please drop students off for band rehearsal between 7:35 and 7:55am. This will give them a chance to get water, unpack their instruments, and prepare for a successful rehearsal.

Your first job in the band room is to assemble your stand, and then your instrument.

Once you're set up, you may use the restroom and get a drink of water. If you have just eaten, please rinse your mouth with water so you don't blow food particles through your instrument.

Don't play until your director gives the cue; use this time to quietly count rhythms or practice fingerings.

Both before and during class, if you have a question, please raise your hand and wait for your director to call on you.

In class, we'll warm up, count rhythms, work on pieces of music together, and learn new things. This is a great time to listen, ask questions, and practice The Wiley Way.

Sometimes, your director may ask you or your section to play alone in class. This isn't to torture you; it's a way to make our music sound better. When we ask you to play solo, it helps other kids understand specific musical techniques--but it makes you a better musician, too!

When class ends, your director will dismiss you. Clean and pack up your instrument carefully, and have a great day!

Financial, Attendance, and Weather Policies

Because the Wiley Band receives no funding from WCPSS, we cover our operating expenses by requesting a suggested donation for each band student. This donation includes Band Camp, performances, sheet music, and twice-weekly rehearsals with a licensed music educator. The suggested donation is $175 per child, per semester.

Donation payment for fall semester is due by April 30, and for spring semester by December 14. Please make your check payable to Wiley PTA.

Each parent is responsible for the cost of purchasing an instrument, cleaning supplies, concert attire, and a band book for their child.

If you must withdraw from band prior to August 1st, you are eligible for a 100% refund of your donation. If you withdraw from band between August 1st and 31st, you will receive a 50% refund of your donation. No refunds will be issued after August 31st.

All 3rd-5th grade Wiley students are welcome to join the band, regardless of ability to pay. For families facing economic hardship, the Wiley Band provides scholarships to defray the costs associated with participating in band. These students may use PTA-owned instruments and supplies free of charge during the school year. For more information, please contact Christina Thompson (Head Band Director).

Rehearsal attendance is vital to our band's success. Students who are absent for three or more rehearsals in any given month will be issued a warning. If a student receives two attendance warnings during the course of one semester, his/her membership with the band will be terminated without a refund.

Students arriving after rehearsal has begun will not be permitted to rehearse with their instruments. Late students should follow along and write down the homework so they will be prepared for the next rehearsal.

If your child is absent, he/she is expected to obtain the day's homework assignment from the band website.

No portion of your donation will be refunded if your child is tardy or absent from a rehearsal, concert, or other band event. If your directors must cancel a rehearsal (for personal reasons/illness/etc.), they will offer a make-up time before the end of May.

If Wake County Schools are closed for inclement weather on a rehearsal or concert day, our band will not meet. If the schools are operating on a 2-hour delay, we will meet 2 hours late as well. If we must miss a rehearsal or concert due to inclement weather, the directors will do their best to arrange a make-up date.

All About Virtual Band Camp

The beginning the school year is a very demanding time for young musicians. Beginners require detailed individual-instrument instruction to build a strong musical foundation. To provide this vital support, the Wiley Band requires all Beginning Band students to participate in our Virtual Band Camp program starting in mid-August.

Virtual Band Camp consists of two parts: instructional videos and Skill Sheets. In each video, Ms. Thompson teaches a specific band-related skill. Then, the Skill Sheet details several exercises to help your child master that skill, plus a practice chart to help your child keep track of his/her progress. By watching each video several times and working on the Skill Sheet exercises until they become easier, your child will gradually learn the basics of his/her instrument.

Students must demonstrate their participation in Virtual Band Camp by bringing their completed Skill Sheets to our first rehearsal. (September 3, 2019)

All About Instruments

Choosing an Instrument:
Late in the school year, Ms. Thompson will hold two Instrument Show and Tell sessions for students who are interested in joining band. At Show and Tell, Ms. Thompson will play several band instruments and briefly discuss their characteristics and challenges. Then, students will be able to try each instrument. By the end of the last Show and Tell, each student should have an idea of which instrument he or she wants to play in band. Students must have their instruments by August 15, so they can begin Virtual Band Camp.

Percussion is a very popular instrument family, but often for the wrong reasons. Many children mistakenly think percussion is "easy" or that playing percussion is all about "rocking out" on drums. Many of these children are sorely disappointed when they discover that percussion is challenging, and requires that they learn more instruments than anyone else in the band. I strongly encourage parents of future percussionists to discuss the following with their children:

1. Percussion is more than just drums. You will start on bells, and will have to learn to read music just like everyone else. You will only play drums if you become good at bells first.

2. Percussion instruments are as difficult as every other instrument in the band.

3. You have to build a strong foundation to "rock out" successfully.

Three ways to get an instrument:

Many music stores rent instruments for a monthly fee. (See the list of music stores below.) This is a good short-term option, but usually ends up costing more than buying a nice used instrument.

If you know a friend or family member who has a band instrument they don't use, ask if your child can borrow it to use in the Wiley Band. This can be an easy, low-cost way to obtain an instrument for your child. Make sure, though, to make an agreement with your friend and put all the details in writing; for example, who will pay for repairs, and when the instrument needs to be returned.

3. BUY IT.
If you would like to purchase an instrument, there are several options available. Perhaps the easiest route is to purchase an instrument directly from Ms. Thompson. She has high-quality used instruments for sale at affordable prices, and each instrument includes a 1-year repair warranty.

Another great option for used instruments is Craigslist. You can find good deals on Craigslist, and since the sellers are local, you can always see the instrument before you buy it. If you find a good deal on Craigslist, contact Ms. Thompson and she will be happy to visit the seller with you.

If you would like to purchase a new instrument, we recommend visiting one of the stores listed below.

WARNING! - Over the last few years, the internet has been flooded with very cheaply made instruments. In our experience, these instruments break easily and have poor sound quality, causing students enormous amounts of unnecessary frustration. We have had several that didn't even make it through one semester. If you think an instrument's price might be too good to be true, check with Ms. Thompson before you buy.

Changing instruments:

Switching instruments early in one's musical career tends to make learning music more difficult and more time-consuming. Every instrument in the band is equally difficult to play, and each has its own set of problems for the player to solve. You will not be able to conquer these problems overnight--just like with a friend, you have to spend many years with your instrument to really know it. So, we ask students to commit to learning only ONE instrument while at Wiley.

Required class materials:

Students are asked to have all their supplies by the first day of Virtual Band Camp.

For flutes:
  • Handkerchief (to clean flute)
  • Cleaning rod
  • Standard of Excellence, Book 1 for Flute
  • Music stand
For clarinets:
  • FOUR reeds- Vandoren or Rico brand for Bb clarinet, strength 2 or 2.5
  • Swab
  • Cork Grease
  • Standard of Excellence, Book 1 for B-flat Clarinet
  • Music stand
For trumpets:
  • Valve oil
  • Mouthpiece brush
  • Standard of Excellence, Book 1 for B-flat Trumpet
  • Music stand
For trombones:
  • Slide oil or cream
  • Mouthpiece brush
  • Standard of Excellence, Book 1 for Trombone (NOT T.C. Trombone!)
  • Music stand
For saxophones:
  • FOUR reeds - Vandoren or Rico brand for Alto Saxophone, strength 2 or 2.5
  • Swab
  • Neck strap
  • Standard of Excellence, Book 1 for Alto Saxophone
  • Music stand
For percussion:
  • 1 drum practice pad
  • 1 pair of Vic Firth SD-1 snare sticks
  • 1 bell set
  • 1 pair hard plastic mallets
  • Standard of Excellence, Book 1 for Drums & Mallet Percussion
Where to Get Your Supplies
2112 Percussion
1003 E. Whitaker Mill. Rd, Raleigh (919-833-0046)

Music and Arts Center
426 Crossroads Blvd., Cary (919-854-0024) OR
5950 Poyner Village Pkwy, Suite F101, Raleigh (919-872-1601)
(Music and Arts offers rental instruments and sells new instruments.)

Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center
(Not local, but offers free shipping, and is a great source for new instruments. Be sure to call for the best price.)

All About Concerts

Wiley Band students will have many chances to perform throughout the year. We will present three evening concerts at school, as well as some exciting "gigs" around town. Our concert dates are listed on the calendar page.

Performances are an integral part of every student's Wiley Band experience. Performances give students chances to celebrate their hard-earned musical skills and give back to the community with their talents. Therefore, attendance at concerts is mandatory for all members of the Wiley Band. We will let students and parents know in advance of any additions or changes to the concert schedule, and will send reminders as concert dates draw nearer. If you cannot attend a concert for any reason, please notify Ms. Thompson well in advance. (Months and months ahead of time is best!)

So that our band can look our best at concerts, all students are required to wear a standard outfit when performing with the Wiley Band. Students who come to the concert without the required attire will not be allowed to perform.
For ladies:
White blouse
Black dress pants or skirt (below the knee!)
Black dress shoes
For gentlemen:
White dress shirt
Necktie (except for daytime performances)
Black trousers
Black dress shoes with black socks


Why does my director keep telling me I need to practice?
Daily practice is vital to musical success, and is REQUIRED of all students in the Wiley Band. Just as doing your math homework will make you better at math, practicing your instrument will make you a better musician. At each rehearsal, your director will assign you a song, a scale, or a group of measures to practice at home. It's your job to practice learning your fingerings, counting your rhythms, and making your assignment sound a little bit better every day. Don't worry if you don't sound perfect! If you practice thoughtfully and do your very best, you've done your job.

Sitting in band class will make you an OK musician. But practicing on your own is what makes you EXCELLENT, and is what makes band so fun. Practice for 15 minutes each day--it works!

Can I still play if I get braces?
Yes, many people with braces are able to play in band. If your mouth hurts because the orthodontist just tightened your braces, we will allow you to refrain from playing in class. We will work with you on this as long as we feel you are not taking the situation for granted. Follow your doctor's instructions and gargle with warm salt water to help ease the pain.

What if I forget my instrument at home?
If you forget your instrument (or necessities required to play your instrument, like reeds), it means you have to work even harder than normal in class that day. You're still responsible for participating and learning the material, even if your horn is at home. Remember, it's not your director's or your parents' responsibility to bring your instrument to class--it's yours. Good musicians come prepared!

What if my instrument breaks?
In many cases, Ms. Thompson can fix minor problems on the spot; just show them to her before or after class. If Ms. T is unable to fix your instrument right away, she will be happy to take it to her shop and fix it there. Depending on the severity of the problem, an instrument repair can take from one day to over a week, and will incur a cost. Ms. Thompson strives to keep her repair prices reasonable, though, and will give you an accurate estimate before commencing work.

What if I can't make it to a concert?
Please tell Ms. T as soon as possible! The more advance notice you can give, the better. We work hard to prepare for our concerts. Band members who don't show up or cancel at the last minute let their band--and themselves--down.

In Closing...

Students, in joining the band, you have taken your first step onto the path that every great musician throughout history has walked. Band is going to be fun, but be aware that there will be some spots on your path that are challenging and hard to pass. When the going gets tough, remember that you have the ability to keep practicing and beat any challenges that come your way. Also remember that your teachers and parents are here to help you become the best musician you can be.

To Parents: Young people need positive direction in their lives, and our community is in constant need of good music and happy news. Let's make the Wiley Band a positive force that provides both! Working together, we can design a band that not only influences students' lives for the better, but also allows our students to influence the world for the better. We invite you, Band Parents, to become active in our program. Communicate with your directors, encourage your children in their practice, and volunteer often. This is your band, too.

Many thanks for your support and best wishes for a safe, happy, and successful school year!