About the McCarthy Middle School Band Program
The McCarthy Middle School Band Program is an arts organization and an integral part of life at the school. The Band Program is one of the largest organizations in the entire school system with members who perform in a plethora of ensembles during and after school.
The primary goal of the Band Program is to provide a comprehensive and well-rounded music education for every student. This education focuses on building a solid foundation of music theory & playing technique, upon which artistic performances are built. In addition to providing a quality music education, the Band Program also recognizes the need to educate the whole child. Band Directors seek to develop the character and citizenship of each member of the Band, assisting each student to attain his/her own personal best.
The McCarthy Band Program has the privilege of being an academic class that requires extra curricular involvement, which meets both inside and outside of the Band classroom. These “after-hour” commitments include but are not limited to performances, rehearsals, and competition festivals. There is an extra commitment required around certain concerts and performances, and these requirements are discussed in the Assessment portion of the Band Handbook. All other performances are encouraged, but are not mandatory. The McCarthy Band Program will continue to promote a culture of musical enrichment and diversity through its performance opportunities.
Meet the Band Directors
Allison Lacasse has been a music teacher in the Chelmsford Public Schools since 2007. In addition to her role at McCarthy, she is the Associate Band Director for the Chelmsford High School Band. She maintains an active flute studio and continues to advocate for new student ensembles and performing opportunities.
Allison is an active orchestral flutist and chamber musician in the Greater Boston area. She has performed on flute/piccolo for local orchestras including the Cambridge Symphony, Boston Civic Symphony, Arlington Philharmonic, Fall River Symphony, Newton Symphony, New Hampshire Philharmonic, Lowell House Opera Company, South County Chamber Orchestra, and the Cambridge Symphony. She has performed in notable performance spaces such as Jordan Hall and Symphony Hall. Her chamber ensemble performances include local and tour concerts with the Fusion String Ensemble. Allison performed in the NYU Chamber Music Institute in 2010, and was in the Fellowship program of the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival at Juilliard in the summer of 2012.
Allison received Bachelor of Music degrees in Music Education and Performance from the University of Rhode Island (2007) and a Master of Education degree from Cambridge College (2009). She is currently working on a Master of Arts in Instrumental Conducting Degree at the American Band College of Sam Houston State University.
Sean Wright has been a Band Director at McCarthy Middle School since 2010. He is also the Assistant Director for the Chelmsford High School Band. He is the Assistant Coach of the Chelmsford High School Lacrosse Team. He maintains a private lesson studio where he teaches saxophone, clarinet, and piano.
As an active saxophonist, Sean has performed and worked in a wide range of ensembles including jazz bands, wind ensembles, pit orchestras, rock groups, and other various chamber groups in the Northeast. He performed abroad both as a soloist and as a part of the Saxophone Orchestra of the Piraeus Prefecture. He currently tours and performs with artist Jason Anderson.
Sean received Bachelor of Music degrees in Music Education and Performance from Providence College. He has received his Masters in Music Performance from the Boston Conservatory under the instruction of Ken Radnofsky. In addition, Sean attended Athens Conservatory where he studied under Theodore Kerkezos.
In addition to your regular band class, there are extra performing ensembles that you can participate in!
- McCarthy Lobby Band
- The McCarthy Lobby Band began in the Fall of 2015 as a “pick-up” group. Any student in the program who wishes to participate is allowed to perform. The band meets at 7:40AM on Friday mornings, where they receive music in the pep band style. We sight-read the parts and rehearse for approximately 20 minutes. At about 8AM, the band situates itself in the Lobby of the school and plays at the start of the bell for the students who are walking into school from the bus drop-off zone.
- McJazz (Auditioned Ensemble)
- The McCarthy Jazz Ensemble performs music in the Jazz, Swing, Funk, Latin, and other relevant genres. Students perform a brief playing audition for Mr. Wright upon their arrival to the program. The Jazz Ensemble rehearses at 2:45-3:45PM on Tuesdays. We perform at both the Winter and Spring Concerts as well as the CPS Jazz Showcase, an annual event featuring a professional guest artist with all of the jazz ensembles in town. There are also extra performances that pop up throughout the year. The McCarthy Jazz Ensemble is made up of students in grades 6-8 (5th graders who take weekly private lessons are welcome to audition).
- McCarthy Festival Band (Auditioned Ensemble)
- The McCarthy Festival Band was created in the 2015-2016 school year. The purpose of this ensemble is to compete at the MICCA (Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association) Concert Festival each Spring. This ensemble meets from 2:45-3:45PM on Thursdays to rehearse their competition festival program; three pieces of concert band literature. The McCarthy Festival Band is made up of members in grades 6-8 (5th graders who take weekly private lessons are welcome to audition).
Assessment: Students will be graded on the following scale:
- Performances: 40% Mandatory Performances: Winter & Spring Concerts (and a November “Debut” Performance for Grade 5) Weekly
- SmartMusic Playing Assignments (Due each Wednesday by midnight): 20% SmartMusic assignments turned in on time with appropriate effort will receive a 100% in X2. If passed in one day late, the grade will be lowered by 10%*. If passed in two days late, the grade will be lowered by 20%*. If the assignment is not turned in by midnight on the second late day, the grade will be 0%. *If a child turns in an assignment one day late, but receives a SmartMusic program grade of more than 90%, the grade that is earned is the one that will be entered into X2.
- Effort/Attitude/Rehearsal Etiquette/Performance Etiquette: 20%
- Preparation: 20% Instrument Pencil Band Method Book (Pearson’s Standard of Excellence Red or Blue) One Inch 3-Ring binder containing sheet music & other distributed materials
Attendance Policy: Concerts
- In order for the Band to perform well, it is vital for each member of the ensemble to attend concerts and events. Each individual musician’s part contributes equally to the whole. Occasionally, you may experience a situation in which another activity conflicts with a Band performance. If this situation occurs, you must notify your directors immediately. The earlier the notification, the more likely a solution may be found.
- All students must remember that performance attendance is 40% of their final grade.
- In the event that a student misses a performance for an excused reason, that student will have the opportunity to make up that grade by performing the concert music for the ensemble directors and earn 100%. If a child misses a performance for an unexcused reason, they will be able to make up their grade and earn up to 50% on that performance grade. Extra credit opportunities will be available.
- UNEXCUSED REASONS INCLUDE (but are not limited to): Sporting Events, dance rehearsals, work commitments, private lessons, and transportation, others at Directors’ discretion.
- EXCUSED REASONS ARE: Student is not in school during the performance day for medical or other reasons, family emergency, or religious observation, others at Directors’ discretion.
McCarthy Band Polo Shirts
- Members of the Band will be asked to purchase McCarthy Band polo shirts, which we will wear as a group to all Band events throughout the year, and throughout the four years your child will be in the program. The shirts are $20.00 each and feature a Band program logo. If this purchase is a financial concern for your family, please contact the Directors for assistance in obtaining a polo for your child, as we have a polo shirt donation program. Please note that if you already own a McCarthy Band polo, you are not required to purchase a new one (unless a new size is needed).
- black dress pants/long black skirt, black socks/tights, black dress shoes, McCarthy Band Polo. If you choose to wear a long black skirt, you must wear full black tights or leggings underneath.
- McCarthy Middle School has some school-owned instruments. These instruments are not typical beginning instruments. They are instruments that complete the instrumentation needed for symphonic band. These instruments include: bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, oboe, bassoon, French horn, baritone horn, tuba, and many percussion instruments. There is a non-refundable $50 rental fee that is charged for the use of school-owned instruments (percussionists included).
- As well as the yearly $50 rental fee for school-owned instruments, students are expected to keep the instruments in good repair. It is the student’s responsibility to show the utmost of care for the instrument he/she is loaned by the school. All band instruments have finely tuned mechanisms, which require careful handling. Any damage beyond normal wear and tear will be billed to the student. Students who play a school-owned wind instrument may be required to purchase their own mouthpiece. All woodwind students will be asked to purchase reeds for their school-owned instrument. The rental period is for the school year. If a child is continuing in the program between school years, they are allowed to begin the next year’s rental in June (to practice over the summer).
Grade 7 and 8 Before-School “FUN”hearsals:
- Due to the reduction in the Band rehearsal schedule at the 7th and 8th grade level, as well as the significant increase of performance responsibilities at this level, the Directors will occasionally be holding extra rehearsals on Tuesday mornings. These rehearsals will begin at 7:15am and will run until 8:10am.
- These rehearsals will be announced with ample time to plan transportation and carpools.
- If you are concerned with your child not being able to attend these rehearsals due to transportation, please contact the Directors or another family in your child’s band to arrange carpools. It is the expectation that all members make every possible effort to be present at each rehearsal barring any academic conflicts.
Rehearsal and Class Expectations
- The goal of all rehearsals is to develop musicianship and attain artistry as an ensemble. Ensemble musicianship cannot be developed until each individual member is comfortable playing his/her music. Band members should come to rehearsals with their music prepared so that the balance, blend, intonation, and tone of the ensemble can be the focus of the rehearsal. Expectations of every rehearsal are listed below:
- Be on time to all rehearsals. Allow extra time for instrument set-up and individual warm-ups.
- Be respectful and courteous to all musicians in the room. Refrain from talking or playing your instrument when the director is on the podium or running small sectional rehearsals.
- Be prepared with a pencil on your stand and keep all music organized and neat in your folder/binder.
- Leave the Band Room better than you found it. Maintain the set-up of the Band Room at all times, keeping chairs out of the aisles and unnecessary objects off of the floor.
- Food, gum, or beverages other than water are strictly not allowed in the Band Room.
- All student musicians are strongly encouraged (but not required) to take weekly private lessons. There is a lesson program provided at a very good rate through Chelmsford Community Education throughout the school year and summer. There are also many professional musicians in town that teach privately. Information is available at www.chelmsfordcommunityeducation.org, or please contact Directors for references.
Care and Maintenance of Your Instrument
- Proper care/maintenance of your instrument will enhance your performance and will limit the number of trips your instrument will take to the repair shop. The instrument you are bringing back and forth to school every day is the most expensive piece of equipment that you most own. They are easily broken if handled incorrectly. Consistent repairs are an unnecessary addition to the financial cost of the instrument, so please adhere to the following guidelines:
- Assemble/disassemble your instrument properly. Take your reeds off EVERY time! Keep the instrument in its case when you are not playing it.
- When possible, clean your hands and brush your teeth before playing (travel size bottles of mouthwash and hand wipes are a great addition to your music bag).
- Keep your mouthpiece clean. If it is all plastic, you can actually wash it in the sink with the dishes
- ABSOLUTELY do not store books or music inside the instrument case.
- A qualified instrument technician should make repairs (sorry, handy parents!).
- Use a durable luggage tag on your instrument case and include your name, address, phone number, and email address.
- We will explain how SmartMusic paid subscriptions will work through an informative letter and in-person discussion at the open houses this Fall.
- SmartMusic is designed to facilitate the participation of every student.
- SmartMusic is web-based; supports Chromebooks and iPads.
- The new SmartMusic is priced to make full classroom coverage a reality. For $399/year, up to 3 teachers can connect with up to 50 students. Plus it’s easy to add more teachers (just $40/year per teacher) and students ($40/year in increments of 5 students). There is also a free version, which makes SmartMusic’s power available to every student and teacher, but with limited access to the SmartMusic repertoire library. We will discuss this in the Fall.
- SmartMusic allows the Directors to:
- Assign any content from the entire new SmartMusic catalog to all your students. This includes 18,500+ solo titles, 5,000+ ensemble titles and 100+ method books for band, jazz, orchestra, voice and general education. Best of all, the catalog is continuously updated.
- Receive submitted student recordings and assessment scores directly to the directors' gradebook, allowing you to complete the practice cycle with individual guidance.
- In addition to bringing SmartMusic to Chromebooks and iPads, this also means that SmartMusic can be continually improved and refined, without downloads or other disruptions to students or teachers. We encourage you to view the product roadmap to view our future plans, and to add additional features to the feature request list.
Concert Etiquette: Please respect the following principles when attending and performing at a concert.
- Enter the concert hall before the performance or between entire pieces/works. Never enter or exit after the music has started, as it is distracting to the performers and fellow audience members.
- Applaud at the end of a work and not between movements.
- Please applaud appropriately- no whistling or shouting during the applause.
- Please refrain from talking during the performance.
- If you are taking pictures, please do not use a flash on your camera.
- Please turn off cell phones, or put them on airplane mode if you are using them to take pictures.
Band Parent Guide: What Can YOU Do?
- Ensure that your child is set up to complete assignments in SmartMusic.
Help your child be prepared for class by giving reminders to bring their instrument and all materials to school on days that they have Band rehearsal.
- Encourage your child to play for others when the opportunity arises.
- Arrange a regular scheduled time for practice and find a quiet place for practice.
- Students should own a folding music stand to practice with good posture while at home.
- Become familiar with your child’s music. Take time to listen to their practicing.
- Provide a safe place to store musical instruments.
- Seek weekly private lessons taught by professional instrumentalists for your child.
- Help keep the instrument in good playing condition with a supply of reeds, cleaning swabs, valve oil, etc.
- Visit the Band Room while your child has a rehearsal. Our doors are open to willing listeners!
- Notify the Directors if your child is to be absent or late to rehearsal that takes place outside of school hours.
- Attend McCarthy Band Booster Association Parent Meetings (Wednesdays, once monthly at 7pm!)
- Become an active member of the McCarthy Middle School Band Boosters Association and the Chelmsford Friends of Music, a support organization for K-12 music in Chelmsford.
- McCarthy Lobby Band (Non-Auditioned Ensemble)