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rehearse during band time on a rotating basis. The jazz ensemble also participates in solo and ensemble.

Instrumentation issues always exist in small bands. Allowing students to play instruments of their choice increases reten- tion. Undecided students can be steered toward needed instruments, but we deal with the imperfect instrumentation. Care- ful music selection is important, always looking for new, interesting works that appeal to students. We perform a variety of styles, but pop styles are limited to pep band and a spring pops concert. Small bands require frequent re-scoring to cover missing parts.

Our five-week summer program is vital. Beginners can get a fast start in the sum- mer with two lessons each week. Incoming junior band students have weekly lessons and a full-band rehearsal. The senior band has evening rehearsals, and about a third

of the students choose to take optional lessons. Three local parades are part of the senior band summer program.

A primary emphasis in all instruction is musicality. Even students with technical limits can learn to play expressively and with fine tone and intonation. “Last-chair” players are the backbone of the band, and their ability to play musically makes a difference.

Conclusion

Administrative, school board and commu- nity support is vital to arts programs. With- out positive administrative support while building our programs, we would not have reached this level of success. Administra- tive presence at performances reinforces the importance of the arts to students. Administrators who understand the im- portance of class scheduling are vital. For years, our class schedule was built around band and chorus – they were placed in the

schedule first and single-section electives, particularly college-prep courses, were not scheduled opposite them.

Everything is not perfect at Owen-Withee. Like many small schools, we struggle with school-wide declining enrollment and rev- enue caps. In recent years, new scheduling issues have prevented some students from taking arts courses they signed up for. As a result we continue to be concerned with maintaining our programs and their level of excellence.

The visible success of our students causes arts participation and artistic expression to be accepted by our student body, allow- ing us to bring the world to our students through the arts.

jscheuer@owen-withee.k12.wi.us

Wisconsin School Musician

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