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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

    2021/2022 year


    Dear 5th grade Parents:

    This last spring 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.


    In a normal year, we are able to spend time with each of our district 4th graders during their music class in the spring to discuss instruments and have them pick them up, try them out, and select what they prefer to play.  This last year we could not do that because of the Covid restrictions on in-person time..

    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 Tuesday, August 24th at Islander Middle School.  We are separating out our ‘zoo’ time into dedicated elementary specific time windows so we keep people as socially distant as possible:

    • Lakeridge elementary time is 8:30 to 10:00 a.m.
    • Island Park elementary time is 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
    • Northwood elementary time is 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
    • West Mercer elementary time is 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.

    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.

    Please be aware that all our school campuses require face masks regardless of vaccination status.

    Thank you all for being flexible with our new operating model for the 2021-2022 school year.


    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, 

    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 instruments 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.

    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 Party, any online optionsIf you purchase an instrument through the want-ads or through a friend or relative, or online from a random vendor 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 at the Instrument Zoo.

                      Books: 5th grade band students will use:

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

                                                      (Lautzenheizer, Higgins, et al)     


                                   5th grade strings will use:

                                                      Essential Elements Book 1


                      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

    1.             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 21st                                              


                                                          6:30 to 7:30 p.m.                   Trombones (Rm 503), Baritones (Rm 503), Trumpets (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 – Tuesday,, September 28th                                      


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


    1.             REGULAR CLASS SCHEDULE 

    Band/Orchestra classes meet from 8:10 to 8:55 a.m. beginning on Monday, October 4th (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 Instrumental Music Staff:

     David Bentley - Band                     275-5940

     Parker Bixby - Band                      230-6324 

    Haley Smith - Band                        275-5938 

    Vicki White-Miltun – Orchestra        230-6322 

    Sarah Hart - Orchestra                   230-6322