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.
Music NewsView Archives
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 hardwork since September that 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 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.
FHS Bands and Orchestras participating this past weekend in the District 4 Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association Solo and Ensemble Festival. Ferndale students participated in 37 event performances—about 1/3 soloists and 2/3 small ensembles—at the event in Royal Oak. Of those 37 events, 20 earned a 1 (Superior) rating, 13 earned a 2 (Excellent) rating, and 3 earned a 3 (Good) rating. All three levels of rating represent a solid level of success and musicality, a result of commitment and hard work, mostly (sometimes entirely) all on their own, without direct support from the music staff.
These students represent a large majority of the high school students in band and orchestra classes, and this year was the first year since 2019 that Solo/Ensemble went entirely as planned and in-person. Ferndale Schools Director of Bands Elon Jamison said, "Lyd [de Leeuw, Orchestra Teacher] and I are VERY proud of their hard work, representing their school and community with distinction!"
Lower Elementary music teachers Meagan Grammatico and Charissa Duncanson presented this past weekend at the Michigan Music Conference! Charissa led an engaging and fun session all about movement and mindfulness. She taught other music educators different movement activities to bring back to their classrooms.
Meagan was a part of a panel with two other music therapists called “Ask a Music Therapist.” She gave other music educators ideas on accommodations and modifications for students of all different abilities and talked about strategies to incorporate social emotional learning into the elementary music classroom. Next year, they plan to present together!
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!