Music Education

Every Ferndale Schools student is a musician. Even our earliest learners can be heard singing and dancing down the hallways of the Early Childhood Center and Lower Elementary School, both in play and through music education integration into our brain-based academic models. Traditional music education begins in 5th grade Band & Orchestra, where 70-80% of students choose to learn an instrument. With the transition to the Ferndale Middle & High School campus, there are bands of every kind available to these developing artists. 

The success of the Ferndale Schools music programs are easy to hear as you wander the halls of Ferndale High School or scroll through a list of regional honors bands and orchestras, or by viewing the Marching Band’s nine state championship banners hanging in the band room. But the true achievement can only be measured by speaking with the students and alumni who passionately discuss the importance music has played in preparing them for the future. 

Senior Jacob Keener was introduced to the viola in his 4th grade music class, and he sees the benefits clearly. “Music is all about patterns, and I think in a very pattern-based way. Much of my success in math and science is due to my ability to see patterns quickly and clearly, and then apply those patterns. This is very similar to how I play music.” This skill accounts for Jacob’s academic success, achieving a perfect ACT score–as a Freshman–and a perfect SAT score as a Junior. “I also think playing an instrument like the viola that usually plays harmony has made me tune in more to background events, such as listening to harmonies when I listen to music or looking more closely at how mechanical objects work,”–a talent he applies as a member of the robotics team. 

Jacob also had this to say: “My experience in music has had a huge impact on my education. It has helped broaden my horizons, and experiences like participating in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival Honors Orchestra have given me a new outlook on art and life as a whole. Music has made me a much more well-rounded person.” Early integration of music education benefits students profoundly, and not just in the classroom. As with all of our extracurricular activities, the skills they develop will benefit them throughout life and the shared experiences amongst their peers will continue to shape who they will become. 

A Brain-Based Advantage

In our elementary classrooms, music and movement are embedded into the daily routine. Music and movement are essential to child development and activate a child's frontal lobes, which is important in language development. In addition, music and movement produce a neuro-chemical called endorphins. Endorphins are feel-good chemicals that cause a feeling of energy and make the brain more conducive to learning.

Crossing the Midline

Another important aspect of music and movement in our youngest learners is crossing the midline. The 'midline' is an invisible line from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Cross lateral movement is necessary for the brain to be ready to learn. Cross lateral or crossing the midline is easily done while dancing, moving, tapping patterns, etc. Cross lateral movement enables the brain to cross the mid-line - going from the right side of your body across the center to the other side. This simple activity is necessary for reading and writing. When reading and writing, the eyes and hand must go from one side of the paper to the other.

Other effects of music and movement:

  • great for the cardio-vascular system
  • supports the balance system
    • Did you know a child who isn't able to stand on one foot probably isn't able to read and write? Movement, coordination and balancing activities are all ways to strengthen the vestibular system in our brain

The Sound of Music

Ferndale prides itself on supporting the whole child. Our focus on and understanding of the importance music and movement play in the role of a child's brain is visible in our daily practices. In our elementary buildings, students attend a vocal music class twice a week. In addition, our teachers build in 'brain breaks' for students each day so they can have some organized, systematic movement to activate their brains.

Intro to Instrumentation

Band and Orchestra starts in 5th grade at FUEL, and meets daily for 40 minutes. While optional, in most years 70-80% of students elect to play a band and orchestra instrument. We are able to break the classes down into like instruments, and the daily instruction allows students to build very solid fundamentals from the very first year. This is crucial to the long-term success of both the students and the program of which they are a part, as it is very easy to build bad habits without that regular instruction, and simultaneously very easy to build strong habits with that regular daily instruction.

Ideally, students learn all the fundamental skills they will ever need as a musician that very first year, and then spend the rest of their time just refining and expanding those skills and knowledge, much like an early and solid start at reading gets students ahead and keeps them ahead! Our students demonstrate a significant growth in performance ability and continued engagement thanks in part to this approach.

Ambassadors of Rhythm

Musical performance reaches new levels at Ferndale Middle School and on to Ferndale High School. Students have the option to play in all of the following bands.

5th Grade

  • Beginning Woodwinds/Brass/Percussion
  • Beginning Orchestra
  • Choir

6th-8th Grade

  • Band
  • Orchesta
  • FMS Jazz Band
  • FMS Concert Choir

9th-12th Grade


  • Symphony Band
  • Wind Ensemble
  • Jazz Band
  • Marching Band
  • Pep Band
  • Chamber Ensembles


  • Concert Orchestra
  • Symphony Orchestra
  • Full Orchestra (combined with students from band program)
  • Pit Orchestra (combined with students from band program, for spring musical)


  • Concert Choir
  • Bel Canto Choir
  • Tuesday Night Singers
    • Men's Ensemble
    • Women's Ensemble
    • Mixed Choir