Western Springs schools strike up the band
Olivia O'Donnell (from left) Mary Grace Lansing and Daniel Kiely follow their books and teacher Dawn Fiebrandt's instructions as they practice their highs and lows on their clarinets. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 28, 2012 6:13AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — Most kids would complain about going to school on a Saturday.
But the beginning band and orchestra students at Pleasantdale Elementary School couldn’t wait to get there on Sept. 22. That was the day they finally got their hands on their new musical instruments.
“It is an exciting day,” said music teacher and band director Eric Woltman.
Students at Pleasantdale are allowed to try three instruments before deciding on which they will pursue. Tomas Samuolis of Burr Ridge decided on trombone.
“I kind of liked the sound,” he said.
Dawn Fiebrandt, beginner band director at Western Springs Elementary District 101, said the benefits of band are many.
“They learn responsibility,” she said, as well as organization, teamwork and how to work toward a common goal.
A vast majority of fourth-graders at District 101 and 107 choose to be part of the beginner band, but few realize the amount of work it takes to be good. By high school, only a few are still playing.
“I wish the numbers were bigger,” said Woltman.
“A lot of kids try it in fourth grade and then realize it is hard work,” said Fiebrandt, who leads the band programs at John Laidlaw, Field Park and Forest Hills elementary schools, as well as McClure Junior High.
Band is more than a one-year commitment for Pleasantdale fourth-grader Joshua Garcia. It is his mom’s rule that once he starts band, he has to do it through eighth grade.
Joshua, who chose trumpet from the field of available instruments, already has a musical goal in mind.
“I want to play the wake-up song,” he said, referring to Revelry.
While that might not be something his mom, Kimberly, looks forward to, she does look forward to hearing him learn. Daughter Simone, a sixth-grader, started playing clarinet in fourth grade.
“She improved by the middle of fourth grade,” Kimberly said. “In fifth grade, it was just tremendous.”
Kimberly said she hopes band teaches hear children to appreciate all sorts of music.
“That is the ultimate goal. A lifelong love of music,” Fiebrandt said.