Fifth and sixth grade students wake up early
Fifth and sixth grade students choose to wake up early
Posted on 01/09/2019
Fifth and sixth grade students choose to wake up early

Its 7:30 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and orchestra teacher Rachel Dinwiddie’s classroom at Stahl Junior High is filled with fifth grade students. More than 60 students have elected to wake up early three mornings a week and travel to Stahl for beginning orchestra lessons — before their school day begins.

And they are not the only ones. More than 1,150 fifth and sixth graders travel to their local junior high during the week to participate in band or orchestra. Every junior high in the district offers these classes for elementary students eager to learn a musical instrument prior to attending junior high. They ride their local junior high bus in the morning, then take a shuttle bus to the elementary school.

The students in Dinwiddie’s class come from Brouillet, Carson, and Firgrove. She has fifth graders three mornings a week and second year sixth graders the other two mornings. They performed their first concert last December and the next one is scheduled for May 29.

“Beginning orchestra is a challenging and exciting time! In early months, students are isolating each of the skills they will need to combine. They learn how to hold the instrument, the correct placement of their fingers on the board without any physical marks, and start to learn how to balance and hold the bow. In later months, students will combine all three skills to play their instruments with bows,” says Dinwiddie.

When students begin orchestra in elementary school it helps them to progress faster when they reach junior high. “When they continue to play in junior high, students already have the basics down and are able to work on advanced techniques right away,” says Dinwiddie.