Fifth Grade Instrumental Music Program

  • 5th Grade Instrumental Music Program flyer (full of everything 5th grade music - same document as below) - Information available by clicking here.
    5th Grade Band Program - Information available here
    5th Grade Orchestra Program - Information available here


    MERCER ISLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT                                                      

    Music Department                                                                                                                                                               

    Beginning Elementary Instrumental Program                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

    2020/2021 year


    Dear 5th grade Parents:


    This spring many of you enrolled your student in the Beginning Instrument program offered through the Mercer Island School District. The following is important information for you to review regarding the program if your child is planning on participating.




    A critical component to your child's success as a musician is the quality of his/her instrument.  Unfortunately, all brands are not created equal!  Below is a list of instrument brands we have found to be of consistently high quality.  We encourage you not to compromise your child's opportunity for success.




    Violin/Viola/Cello/Bass - Roth, Pfretschner, Hammond Ashley, some Yamaha (be careful)


    Flute:                         Yamaha, Gemeinhardt, Selmer, Emerson, Armstrong, Olds, Jupiter

    Clarinet:                   Buffet, Yamaha, Selmer, Vito, Jupiter, Bundy, Olds, Leblanc

                                        Clarinet mouthpieces:  Yamaha 4C or VanDoren mouthpieces

    Trumpet:                 Yamaha, Bach, Holton, King, Bundy, Conn, Besson, Jupiter, Olds, Blessing, Getzen

    Saxes:                       Yamaha, Selmer, Yanigasawa, Conn, Vito, Keilwerth, Jupiter, Olds, P. Mauriat

    Horn:                         Yamaha, Holton, Conn,

    Trombone:              Getzen 351 (or 300-400 series), King 605 or 606, Bach TB200, Yamaha YSL 354 (made in Japan only, not made in China) Bundy, Conn, Holton, Jupiter, Olds, Besson, Blessing

    Baritone:                 Yamaha, King, Besson, Bach, Holton, King, Bundy, Conn, Jupiter, Olds, Blessing, Getzen


    No such list could be all-inclusive, and MISD music staff members welcome students and parents to contact them about brands or makers not listed.


    We are fortunate to have several excellent vendors in our area, all of whom provide quality instruments and repair services.  Any of these vendors can provide students with instruments from our district’s recommended list.  It is important that students and their parents select instrument from the recommended list.  Beginning student level instruments vary widely in terms of quality.  We want all of our students to have every opportunity for their best success playing their instrument.  An instrument of poor quality can be frustrating and difficult to play.  Students have trouble playing well, and don’t realize that it’s not their fault, it’s because of the instrument!  The list of instrument brands and models included on the booster email have proven to be dependable and suitable for student success.


    ‘INSTRUMENT ZOO’ INFORMATION -  In a normal year, we are able to spend time with each of our district 4th graders during their music class to discuss instruments and have then pick them up, try them out, and select what they prefer to play.  This year we could not do that because of our quarantine.


    We still wish to give our students an opportunity to select their instrument and talk to an Orchestra or Band Director about ‘fit’.  So we are hosting an ‘Instrument Zoo’ on Wednesday, August 26th at Islander Middle School.  We will send out times, per elementary school, for each family to join us at IMS.  After a chance to explore the instruments there and chat with a Director, we will have a ‘vendor fair’ with representatives from area music stores about the option of renting instruments.


    Stay tuned for details on our Instrument Zoo.  Thank you all for being flexible with our new operating model for the 2020-2021 school year.



    RENTAL PURCHASE PLANS: Most area music stores have rental/purchase plans which allow rental payments to apply toward purchase of the instrument.  It is recommended that a used instrument be checked by an instrumental teacher.  These prices are based on a per month charge.




    Craigslist, Ebay, The Attic, Want-Ads, Private PartyIf you purchase an instrument through the want-ads or through a friend or relative, please have it safety checked by a member of our staff as to condition and size.  REMEMBER:  An instrument that is not in good playing condition or is the wrong size may be impossible to play.   


    The School DistrictVery few instruments are available through the Mercer Island School District - mostly string basses and baritone horns.  If an instrument is available, it can be used for a rental fee of $100.00/year.



                      (You may choose to purchase these through local music stores or online through the contact list that we will provide via         email)

                      Books:    5th grade band students will use:

                                                          Essential Elements 2000 Book 1 (also sometime just labeled Essential Elements, Book 1

                                                          (Lautzenheizer, Higgins, et al)           


                      INSTRUMENT ACCESSORIES:   Students will need the following accessories with their instruments:



    Violin/Viola            Rosin and shoulder pad

    Cello/Bass               Rosin and rock stop


    Clarinets:                 One box of #2 1/2 Bb clarinet reeds, a plastic reed keeper, cleaning swab, cork grease, mouthpiece brush, and consider getting a Neo-Tech neck strap -especially if your child is small.  (The neck strap is optional). Please ask your vendor to supply a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece.

    Brass:                        Valve oil for cornets and trumpets, mouthpiece brush, slide cream and a small spray bottle for trombones.  No slide oil please!  Trombones and Baritones please ask for either a 6 ½ AL or 5GS mouthpiece

                                        Flutes:                       Small 5x7” mirror, and cleaning swab


    III.             PERCUSSIONISTS

    In choosing percussion, families agree to have student take private lessons from Sept. to Jan. and take band from January on.  Percussion enrollment is on a space available basis. If your first choice instrument is percussion, please be aware that registering does not guarantee a spot in the percussion section, but does add your student's name to the list for the random selection of students. Please have a second, back-up instrument in mind should your child not be selected in the Percussion Lottery (1 student from each school is selected, then 3 from a pool of all schools). Mr Bixby will phone the families of students whose names are drawn.  All other students should plan to play their second choice instrument.  Percussion has a rental cost of $100 a year as we use and have to maintain the percussion instrument inventory at each school.



















    The first and second 5th grade instrumental music lessons for all instruments will be held in the evening at Mercer Island High School (Band) and at Islander Middle School (Orchestra).  These evening lessons will allow us to group like instruments and give your youngster a fast, sure start.  It will give you an opportunity to observe the early steps so you will be able to help your child at home.  We STRONGLY urge parents to attend this evening lessons with their children.




    LESSON #1 – Tuesday, September 22nd                                             



                                                          6:30 to 7:30 p.m.                   Trombones (Rm 503), Baritones (Rm 503), Trumpets  (Rm 505)

                                                          7:45 to 8:45 p.m.                   Flutes (Rm 503), Clarinets Rm (505)



                                                          4:30 to 5:15 p.m.                   Bass (Rm 502)

                                                          5:30 to 6:15 p.m.                   Cellos (Rm 502)

                                                          6:30 to 7:15 p.m.                   Violins & Violas (Rm 502)


    LESSON #2 – Wednesday, September 23rd                                       



                                                          6:30 to 7:30 p.m.                   Trombones (Rm 503), Baritones (Rm 503), Trumpets  (Rm 505)

                                                          7:45 to 8:45 p.m.                   Flutes (Rm 503), Clarinets Rm (505)



                                                          4:30 to 5:15 p.m.                   Bass (Rm 502)

                                                          5:30 to 6:15 p.m.                   Cellos (Rm 502)

                                                          6:30 to 7:15 p.m.                   Violins & Violas (Rm 502)




    Band/Orchestra classes meet from 8:10 to 8:55 a.m. beginning on Monday, September 28th (depending on the days of the week for your child)


    Students will receive two group lessons per week.  You will be advised as to these specific days and place during the evening classes





    Lastly, since 5th grade music practice is NOT at your student’s home school, your student must have MD orders to carry his/her emergency medication to all music practices.  This includes inhalers, EPI pens, glucagon and diabetic snacks.  The music teacher and/or school nurse at practice site will administer in an emergency.




    Our orchestra program has a wonderful booster organization that provides support – Team O at


    Our band program also has a wonderful booster organization that provides support – Mercer Island Schools Band Boosters


    Our band also has a dedicated website that lists things such as private instructors, hints, tips, etc at







     The Mercer Island School District Band Staff:


                                                                            David Bentley - Band                              275-5940       


                                                                            Parker Bixby - Band                                 230-6324       


                                                                            Haley Smith - Band                                  275-5938       


                                                                Vicki White-Miltun – Orchestra        230-6322