Sixth Grade Band/Orchestra

Smith students perform at holiday concert
High school student shows Harman student the violin
Harman students at holiday concert

Sixth Grade Instrumental Music

Welcome!  We are proud of our band and orchestra programs in Oakwood and we would love for your child to be part of its excellent tradition.  We believe students are most successful when their parents take a genuine interest in their school activities, so we appreciate all of your support and encouragement at home.  

All sixth grade students have the opportunity to begin studying a woodwind, brass or string instrument. The choices for sixth grade are: flute, violin, trumpet, viola, clarinet, alto saxophone, cello, trombone and upright bass.

The elementary instrumental schedule consists of three rehearsals per week during the lunch recess period.  (Harman Orchestra will meet Fridays before school in lieu of the lunch recess period).  In addition to rehearsals, students will participate in several performances throughout the year.  Also, to be successful at their instrument, students and families should plan on implementing daily practice time at home. 

Band and orchestra is intended to be a year-long commitment and students should plan on being in band/orchestra for the entire year.  This is a class you sign up for, similar to an elective in Junior High.  Students will not be allowed to withdraw before the Holiday Concert in December.  If a student does not want to continue with band or orchestra, there is a process for withdrawing from the class including: a parent conference, discussion with the teacher, and an exit survey to be completed by the student (Most of the time, we can solve any issues they are having by switching to an instrument that might be a better fit).  Learning to play an instrument takes time and it is not something you can learn in a few weeks.  Sometimes it just takes students a little longer to feel successful.  Every student is important in a musical ensemble and we value each student in the group!

We understand parents and students may have additional questions.  If so, please feel free to contact any member of the instrumental music staff.  

Adam Uhlenhake, Band Director,
Caleb Vanden Eynden , Smith music,
Scott Forney, Harman music,
Julia Bonifield, Orchestra Director,

For more information on the following topics, click on the title and you will jump to that part of the web page:
Buying/Renting Band Instruments
Buying/Renting String Instruments
Frequently Asked Questions
Private Lessons

Buying/Renting a Band Instrument

As with most products, there are a large variety of musical instrument models and brands available to the consumer.  The Oakwood Music Department is not in the business of selling or promoting specific musical instruments or music companies.  However, it is in everyone’s best interest parents purchase or rent a quality instrument from a reputable vendor. 

Below is a list of instrument brands and models we recommend for beginning band students.  Although we recommend any of these instruments, this is by no means a complete list of acceptable brands and models.  If you have a question about a specific model or brand of instrument, please feel free to contact a member of the music department prior to purchasing the instrument.  Remember, when buying a used instrument, it should be checked out by a qualified instrument repair technician.

Recommended Band Brand and Models

  • Flute:  Jupiter 700A, DiZhao 222 or Yamaha 221
  • Clarinet:  Yamaha 255  Note:  We recommend using a Vandoren B45 mouthpiece for all clarinets.  Please buy three Vandoren # 2 ½ reeds and three Vandoren #3 reeds.  Hodge Silk Clarinet Cleaning Swab
  • Trumpet: Yamaha YAS 200AD  Note:  We recommend Bach 3C Mouthpiece and Blue Juice valve oil
  • Trombone:  YSL 200AD,  Bach 301, King 606, Jupiter 432  Note:  We recommend Bach 6 ½ AL Mouthpiece and Yamaha Slide Lubricant (purple bottle)
  • Alto Sax:  Yamaha YAS 200AD or  Selmer AS400  Note:  We recommend Selmer C* (C Star) mouthpiece and three Vandoren # 2 ½ reeds and three Vandoren #3 reeds.  Hodge Silk Alto Sax Cleaning Swab

Wind Instruments

  • Hauer Music - (800) 544-2837; Local Rent or Buy
  • McCutcheon’s Music - (937) 435-2900 Local Rent or Buy
  • Woodwind Brasswind - online @

Buying/Renting a String Instrument

Unlike band instruments, there are not specific brands of string instruments that are recommended for beginners. Instead, it is important the instrument is set up well (good bridge, strings, bow, etc.) and is easily playable. By renting from a reputable store, they will ensure the instrument is in good shape to play.

If you choose to purchase an instrument, please do not buy a cheap instrument online. Although it might be cheaper at the beginning, it will not last long and there will be many issues that will involve more money later. Also, they usually have a poor sound quality. If you are thinking about buying a new or used instrument, please contact Jordan Millard prior to purchasing to make sure the instrument you are buying will work well for your child.

Please note:  Renting a string instrument is very popular with families because the string instrument can be exchanged directly through the rental program when your child grows and needs a larger instrument.  

String Instruments

  • Baroque Violin Shop -  (513) 541-2000 - Rent or Buy
  • McCutcheon’s Music- (937) 435-2900 Rent or Buy

Frequently asked questions

When does band/orchestra meet?
We rehearse three days a week during lunch recess except Harman Orchestra that meets Friday before school in lieu of their Friday lunch recess rehearsal.  

What if my child wants to play other instruments, like percussion, bassoon or tuba?
The 9 choices for 6th grade year are violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet and trombone.    In Junior High, some band students will have the option to switch to other band instruments like percussion, tuba, euphonium, french horn, saxophone, oboe, bass clarinet, etc..  If your child is currently taking (or has the intent to begin this summer) private lessons on a different instrument, please talk to one of the music staff members to discuss your child’s options for 6th grade.  

What books does my child need?  How do they get them?

  • Band- Essential Elements Book 1 (instrument specific)
  • Orchestra - Essential Elements Book 1 (instrument specific)

You can purchase these at local music stores or online retailers.  You will need to get your band/orchestra book by the beginning of the school year.  

Where are good places to find a quality instrument to rent or buy?
We recommend that you buy an instrument from a reputable store such as ones listed below.  Please be cautious about buying an instrument online, or from a big box retail store.  The quality of these varies greatly and our experience has shown that students are most successful long-term with a quality instrument that is in perfect playing condition.  For band, please stick to the well known brands and models. 

  • Hauer Music (937) 222-2815 or (800) 544-2837
  • Baroque Violin Shop (513) 541-2000
  • McCutcheon’s Music (937) 435-2900   
  • Woodwind Brasswind -
  • Shar Music

What about buying a used instrument?
For band: Refer to the list above.  Look for quality brand names such as Yamaha, Bach, Selmer, King, and Conn.  All used instruments should be checked out by a licensed instrument repair technician (such as Hauer Music)  Most of the time, a few repairs will be needed to bring it up to playing condition.  A quality used instrument, that has been looked at by a technician, can be a great and affordable choice for some families.  

For Orchestra:  It depends on the condition and quality.  Mr. Millard would be happy to assist you in finding a quality used orchestra instrument.

What if I can’t afford an instrument?
For the bigger instruments, such as the string bass, students may be able to use a school instrument during class. They can also sign-out a bass from the school to practice at home.  If money is an issue, please talk to a member of the music department, and we will discuss possible options such as borrowing a school-owned instrument.  

What other costs are involved?
Books - approximately $10.    Supplies for your instrument - varies with instrument.  (Reeds, maintenance, optional private lessons) 

How much practice time is recommended for 6th grade students?
Consistency is the key!  15-30 minutes, every day is a great goal.  It is better to practice 20 minutes every day, rather than 2 hours for one day.  The hardest part about practicing is deciding to begin; Once you start playing, the time goes by fast.  Tip: Make it a part of your family’s schedule and write it down in your planner or calendar. 

When are the concerts?
- Holiday Concert in December
- Cherry Pie Concert in May

- Holiday Concert in December
- Spring Concert in May

What does my child wear to the concerts?
White top, black pants/skirt, black socks/shoes.  Band Spring Concert dress is khaki shorts and our Band Shirt.  

Can my child be in band/orchestra and still play sports in high school?
Yes!  In fact, many Oakwood band and orchestra members participate many extra curricular activities such as sports, ballet, theatre, dance and other clubs.  

Are there any after school commitments involved?  
In grades 6-8, the only after school commitments are the scheduled concerts and at home practice time.  

How do I sign up?
Please fill out this online form:
Harman Students:
Smith Students:


Private Lessons

While private lessons are by no means required, it is a great way for students to improve at their instrument.  We strongly encourage all students to consider taking private lessons at some point in their musical experience at Oakwood.  If students take private lessons from the beginning, they will have the potential to excel at their instrument at a much faster pace.  Additionally, students can avoid developing bad habits that are harder to fix later on.  Below are some instructors who have been successful with our Oakwood families in the past.  

Samantha Kauffman (937) 340-1947
Betsey Hofeldt (937) 901-4485
Karen Johnson (937) 610-0495
Zsuzsanna Przyzcki (937) 478-6313

Karen Johnson (937) 610-0495
Sheridan Currie (937) 259-0930

Mark Hofeldt (937) 293-5753

Jon Pascolini (937) 367-6767
Steve Ullery (513) 467-1190

Deborah M. Wittig (937) 974-3641
Sarah Robertson (937) 865-6539

Christina Condon - (937) 620-4920

Christopher Jeffery- (937)347-7415
Eric Knorr  (937) 395-1320
Jay Halpin

Richard Begel (937) 299-2476
Gretchen McNamera (513) 460-3054
Norlan Bewley (937) 253-5812

Suggested Parent Guidelines for Private Lessons

  • Ask for a “trial lesson” with parent observing.
  • Ask for references of other parents and give them a call.
  • If the teacher gives lessons from their home, stay in the home until the lesson is over.
  • Talk to your student about each lesson.
  • Be highly visible with the teacher.
  • Private lessons and teachers listed are not school sponsored nor affiliated with Oakwood City Schools.