Award-Winning Music Programs
Intro to Instrumentation
Band and Orchestra starts in 5th grade at Ferndale Upper Elementary, 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! We are seeing significant growth in quality and number of students in the program thanks to this approach and the recent full integration of the Ferndale school community at FUEL.
All students at Ferndale Lower Elementary participated in Cardio Drumming this week! Music teachers Miss Grammatico and Mrs. Duncanson collaborated with P.E. teacher Coach Hileman to merge music and P.E. together. Cardio drumming incorporates steady beat, different rhythm patterns and the joy of music all while getting our heart rates up and moving our bodies. Students had a blast drumming it out this week.
Last Friday, 7th & 8th-grade band orchestra and choir took a field trip down to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to their Tribute to Aretha Franklin performance. Students had a great time hearing Aretha's top hits in symphonic form, narrated along with a historical retelling of her outstanding musical legacy, character, and activism. The show was a fantastic tribute to our local Queen of Soul!
FUEL 3rd and 4th-graders had an assembly where they got to learn about what goes into making music from local musicians. The program, The Musical Elements, is an original educational program commissioned by Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, written by Detroit composer and educator Kris Johnson. Hip-hop artist James Gardin narrated the show as Merideth Esteves (oboe), Marion Hayden (bass), and Timothy Blackmon (trumpet) played in the band. Students learned musical terms and discovered instruments in an interactive way from these local professionals.
The program was especially exciting for fourth-graders as they officially began their instrumental music journey by picking their instruments this week! While optional at FUEL, 70-80% of students elect to begin their musical journey in most years. Discover more about our Award-Winning Music Programs.
This week, the adults and families of our Ferndale Lower Elementary kindergartners were invited to participate in music class. Kindergarten music students— led by Mrs. Duncanson—hosted informal performances (AKA “informances”) for parents and families. Students showed how they sing hello, participate in story time, play glockenspiels, and move throughout their movement space. Families of our Kindergartners were able to see first hand how music education begins in our school.
Miss Grammatico and her 2nd graders put on their "Making the Band" concert on Tuesday night. The students sang songs such as "We Got the Beat," "Twist and Shout," "Footloose," "Stand by Me," and "Dancing in the Street." The students shined on stage, rocking out with their inflatable guitars! They even had the audience shining lights on them because they were all shining stars! It was an amazing night.
This past weekend, the Symphony Band played at MSBOA Band and Orchestra Festival and got straight 1 (superior) ratings from all 3 judges in performance, and a 2 (excellent) rating in sight-reading. That means a strong 1 rating overall.
Ferndale Director of Bands Elon Jamison reported, "The auditorium chairperson was blown away...Lots of directors have said things about the consequences of COVID about their performances today, but he said that it didn't sound like Covid had impacted us at all." Mr. Jamison praised the students for their hard work since September which earned this high score. "I am SO proud of them. They've shown up every day and gotten better. I would say they've probably exhibited at least a year and a half of growth, in only 6+ months."
In addition, Wind Ensemble performed today (March 17th) at the Great Lakes Concert Band Festival at Easter Michigan University. This event is a non-rated, non-competitive festival affiliated with Bands of America, the national concert and marching band organization. It featured twelve high school bands from around the state (as far as Manistee and Traverse City), as well as a performance by the EMU Wind Symphony.
Wind Ensemble performed a challenging 25-minute program, and did a phenomenal job. Performing groups were assigned a clinician after each performance, and Ferndale was fortunate to work with Dr. Stephen G. Peterson—recently retired Director of Bands at University of Illinois. While he gave them plenty to work on, he also had high praise for their musicianship and achievement. "When he was told that Ferndale HS has a student enrollment of less than 700, he was floored with what they played and how they played it! He assumed we were a large suburban school of 1500 students or more," Mr. Jamison said.
We are all so proud of our Golden Eagles and cannot wait to hear their beautiful sounds once again. The next performance of Symphony Band and Wind Ensemble will be on Wednesday, May 3, at 7:30 pm in the FHS Auditorium.
Tuesday night, Ferndale Schools 5th-12th grade orchestra students took the stage with electrical violinist Mark Wood, Emmy-award winning composer and founding member of the Trans Siberian Orchestra. The crowd went wild for their contemporary music performance. as you can see in this video shared by parent Tanya Kempf on facebook.