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Music Education

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.

Brain-Based Music Integration Awards & Recognition

Music News

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May 7, 2019
Orchestra Practices ORIGINAL COMMISSIONED Piece

It is with great excitement that I share an update on the Ferndale Orchestra's commissioned piece. Commissioning an original composition is a unique opportunity for a performance group. Thanks entirely to private donations and the help of OrchSupport and Ferndale Schools Fine Arts Boosters, the Ferndale Orchestra program was able to commission composer Costas Dafnis to compose an original composition for the orchestra to be performed at the Ferndale High School Spring Orchestra Concert. 

I received delivery of the piece on Monday and today was the first ever play through of the piece. I tried to impress upon the symphony orchestra students what a unique experience this was. The very first time that this piece of music had ever been played into existence by actual instruments was what they played in class today. Before then it had existed only as a collection of dots and lines on a page, as an idea in the composers head, or as an electronically generated sound file from a computer. I wonder if they truly grasp how cool that is.  Or maybe I'm just geeking out as a music teacher. :)

The piece is entitled "Like Planted Hearts" and composer Costas Dafnis drew inspiration from the wedding poem that J.R.R. Tolkien (author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy among other things) wrote for his wife Edith on their wedding day.

Lo! Young we are and yet have stood
like planted hearts in the great Sun
of Love so long (as two fair trees
in woodland or in open dale
stand utterly entwined and breathe
the airs and suck the very light
together) that we have become
as one, deep rooted in the soil
of Life and tangled in the sweet growth.

The students will continue to rehearse the piece in preparation for it's public performance debut at our spring orchestra concert on May 21st at 7 pm in the FHS Auditorium. We invite everyone to come be a part of this special once in a lifetime opportunity.  

If you would like to be a part of this project in a more tangible way, we are still accepting donations to go towards the cost of the commission. Donations of $15 and above will be thanked personally in the program. For more details on how to donate please contact me.  

May 3, 2019
Weekly E-blast - May 3rd, 2019

April showers bring may flowers, but what do may flowers bring? May flowers bring learning gardens, not to mention home-grown leaders at the state, national and international level in music, marketing, robotics, diversity, and more. Read about all of them in the e-blast!

Weekly e-blast - May 3rd, 2019

March 29, 2019
Weekly E-blast - March 29, 2019

Winterguard heads to SVSU for competition, Eagles of the Year are honored, a student athlete signs to Albion, and guest readers wrap-up reading month. Plus news on robotics, bel canto choir, high school engineers, and SECOND GRADE DOCTORS?

Weekly E-blast - March 29, 2019

March 27, 2019
Bel Canto Choir Earns Straight 1s at MSVMA

The FHS Bel Canto Choir attended the MSVMA Choir Festival at Walled Lake Central High School last week and received  all 1s (excellent rating). Way to go!

March 22, 2019
Weekly Eblast - March 22, 2019

Robotics rolls forward, winterguard wins again, a musician plays masterfully, a Ferndale fireman reads to friends, and more. Happy Friday!

Weekly Eblast - March 22, 2019

March 11, 2019
FMS Musicians Excel at Districts and Beyond

The Ferndale Middle 7th and 8th Grade Band had an outstanding performance at the MSBOA District 4 Band and Orchestra Festival. Not only did they receive First Division ratings from all four judges, but they also received straight A's from all of the judges in all five of the categories they were evaluated on!

Eleven Ferndale Middle School students also represented the music department at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Middle School Honor Days Concerts at Orchestra Hall. The students spent the day rehearsing with DSO musicians and coaches and then put on a fabulous evening concert on stage at historic Orchestra Hall. Representing the orchestras were:

  • Ryan Chapman (violin)
  • Peter Deegan-Krause (bass)
  • Lena Hooper (cello)
  • Sophia Rewald (cello)
  • Lucy Reinke (viola)
  • Kieran Venugopal

Representing the bands were:

  • Wonare Burde (oboe)
  • Arden Jungmann (flute)
  • Isadora Purrier (bassoon)
  • Abby Schuster (clarinet)
  • Najah Williams (alto sax)