New Parent FAQs

Concert Bands

Do students have to audition every year?
There are no auditions for Concert Band. Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble are by audition only. All returning and new students must audition if they wish to be considered for Symphonic or Wind. Auditions are held in late spring for the following year. Students should start practicing before April to be prepared for auditions.

Who can be in Jazz Band?
Jazz Band members are selected from Wind Ensemble members. Jazz Band is strictly extracurricular — practices are held after school a few days a week. See the calendar for the rehearsal schedule.

Why did Mr. Abend recommend private lessons for my son/daughter?
Lessons are recommended because Mr. Abend sees potential in a student, not because they need help keeping up. If a student really wants to get into Symphonic Band or Wind Ensemble, or if they are taking their music seriously, they should take lessons. Anyone who wants to audition for All State should be taking private lessons. Some teachers come into the school — see Mr. Abend for a list. Most music stores also offer lessons.

Why is there a concert uniform fee?
The $50 fee for concert uniforms began in the 2014-15 school year. It was instated, with approval by the principal and the school board, because we did not have enough uniforms for all band members, and we did not have the budget to buy what we needed. Formerly, the men still had to provide their own tux shirt, tie, pants and dress shoes. This fee covers everything but the girls’ shoes.

We are working with a local tuxedo company, which comes in and sizes all the men in band for jacket, pants, and dress shoes. They also receive a tie. We will rent them for at least the next few years because the fee does not provide enough to purchase them. We are also starting to buy new dresses for the girls. After we get a full stock of dresses, we will start buying tuxedos. The fee also includes two dry cleanings per year.

What is the Solo & Ensemble festival, and does my son or daughter have to participate?
Solo & Ensemble festival is not required, but anyone can participate, and students taking private lessons are strongly encouraged to do so. Mr. Abend will help choose music for ensembles and for students who are not in private lessons.

In high school, there is both a District and a State Solo & Ensemble festival. District is typically held in late January/early February at Rochester Adams High School. State is in March, and varies between Lapeer High School and Chippewa Valley. At District, students receive a rating of 1 to 5. Anyone receiving a 1 can advance to State. At State, freshmen still are ranked on the 1 to 5 scale. (Ensembles are also ranked 1 to 5.) Upperclassmen perform a proficiency exam that includes scales and sight reading along with their solo piece. The highest ranking students are invited to participate in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival (MYAF) in May. High-ranking ensembles may be nominated for MYAF as well.

What is All-State?
There are five All-State ensembles each year: Middle School Band & Orchestra, High School Band & Orchestra, and High School Jazz Band. In late October, students may audition for All-State, playing specific excerpts that are available on the MSBOA website. These are blind auditions that are recorded and submitted for judging — the judges do not know the students’ names or schools. By late November, those who are invited to join an ensemble are notified. The All-State performances take place at the Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids in late January. This is a 3-day event for the All-State students: rehearsals on Thursday and Friday, and a performance on Saturday.

Marching Band/Winter Guard/Winter Drum Line/Pep Band

Is Marching Band a graded class?
No, Marching Band is strictly extracurricular. Even after school starts, all practices are outside regular school hours. There is no grade earned, but continued participation in performances is dependent on attendance, both during the summer rehearsals and throughout the fall.

What does the Marching Band fee cover?
The fee primarily covers band camp costs and marching band staff (sectional instructors). A small portion occasionally helps cover the purchase of new and used instruments and equipment that students do not provide themselves (sousaphones, euphoniums, percussion equipment, etc.), either as replacements for worn-out instruments or as additional instruments as the size of our band increases. Marching Band fees are used ONLY for the Marching Band. They are never put toward general band costs.

How often do we get new Marching Band uniforms?
Our current uniforms are new to us in the 2015 season. They replaced uniforms that were 15+ years old.

I’ve heard the percussion called both the battery and the pit. What’s the difference?
The battery is the instruments that march on the field. The pit, or front ensemble, is the instruments that are stationary at the front of the field.

What is MSBOA Marching Band Festival that’s on the calendar in October, and where will it be held?
There are several possible locations for MSBOA, which is the annual marching band festival organized by the Michigan State Band & Orchestra Association. Marching bands perform their entire show in front of judges, and receive a rating that can range from Division I to Division V, with Division I being the highest. There are strict rules about timing of the performance, as well as time to get on and off the field. We submitted our first choice of location as L’anse Creuse North, but we never know for sure until closer to the performance date (which is the reason there are two performance dates on the calendar, as well as two rain dates). The kids will be bused there and back.

Do we only participate in one competition each fall other than MSBOA?
It can vary. It mostly depends on our game schedule and homecoming. For instance, we usually compete in the Scholastic Invitational at Chippewa Valley, but this year it’s being held the same Saturday as homecoming. So instead we’re participating in the Brandon Invitational. In the past we have sometimes participated in more than one competition. When we go to a competition, the kids are bused there and back.

What are Winter Guard and Winter Drum Line?
Winter Guard and Winter Drum Line begin after marching band is over for the season, and ends in April. They are open to anyone, whether they’re in band or not, but since both were created to enhance the Marching Band experience, anyone who wishes to participate for more than one season must be in Marching Band too. These are performance-based educational experiences, and both ensembles compete in the Michigan Color Guard Circuit.

Winter Drum Line is basically a marching band show with just percussion, and performed on a smaller scale (performances take place in a gym). Winter Guard performs with flags and sabres to a recorded sound track.

No experience is necessary to audition for either ensemble. There is a fee to participate.

Is there a pep band for away games?
Not generally, although we do usually send a pep band to the playoff games, and if our game against Chippewa Valley is at Chip, we’ll send a pep band there too. These are volunteer only.

How does the Thanksgiving Parade and raffle performance work?
The kids are bused from school to both locations, then back to school. Call time depends on our starting time in the parade, which we don’t find out til a couple weeks before the parade. It can be as early as 6:30am. We do not take chaperones on this trip — we are limited to how many chaperones can march with the band, and we easily cover that with staff. As soon as the band finishes the parade, they get back on the buses and go to the raffle winner’s house. The raffle performance generally takes about an hour, from stepping off the buses to getting back on. Then they’re bused back to school to change out of their uniforms. Students can only be picked up back at school.


I’m having difficulty making a payment on time (or paying the full fees). What should I do?
The key thing is communication. Contact Mr. Abend, and he will be more than willing to work with you to set up an alternate payment plan.

How do student accounts work?
Every student has an account, and any money they earn through fundraising (or the scholarships they can audition for at the end of the year) goes into that account. They can use this account to pay almost anything related to band: fees, band attire (like the band t-shirts and sweatshirts), reeds, band trips, instrument repair, etc. To use money in the account, the student should fill out one of the withdrawal slips available in the band room and put it in the safe.

Which fundraisers go toward student accounts?
Any fundraisers designated as “individual” (rather than “group”) go toward student accounts. Typically, fundraisers where the students are selling a product are individual fundraisers. Group fundraisers are things like the bottle drive, raffle, golf outing, or bowling.


How many concerts are there each year?
There are four: Collage Concert in October (two nights), Winter Concert in December, Pre-MSBOA Concert in late February/early March, and Spring Concert in May. There is also the MSBOA Marching Band Festival in October, and the MSBOA Band Festival in March. The Marching Band Festival has been at L’anse Creuse North lately, but that is not guaranteed. We host the MSBOA Band Festival in March, so we’ll perform in our own auditorium.

What is the Collage Concert?
It’s a concert of every musical performing group at Dakota — all choirs and all bands, including the Marching Band. It’s the only concert that we charge admission to as a fundraiser for both the band and choir. Admission is $5, and tickets are sold in advance. In recent years the attendance became so large that we expanded the concert to two nights to accommodate everyone. Students must perform both nights. It’s an absolutely phenomenal concert, and you will regret it if you miss it!


How often does the band go on trips?
We take a trip every other year, and every four years we go to Florida. Trips always coincide with spring break, but they don’t necessarily start on the first day of break and/or end on the last day.

Who can go?
Everyone in a concert band, marching band and color guard is eligible to go, but like most school trips, we have to be sure we fill buses. So occasionally kids who sign up late are put on a waiting list in case someone cancels.

What does it cost?
Cost varies depending on where we go and how many days it is. It can be anywhere from $600/person up to $900 or so. There is usually a discount for 2nd and 3rd kids in one family.

Who gets to chaperone?
We take names of people who want to chaperone, and if we have more than we need, we make decisions based on how many men and how many women we need, along with balancing out experienced chaperones with those who are new to band. Chaperones pay a discounted price for the trip.