Here are some questions that are most often asked by new parents to our band and choral programs.

Q: What classes are offered in the Music Department at Clermont Middle School and how do I register?

A: Registration forms are made available to 5th grade students at the elementary schools and 6th & 7th grade students at Clermont Middle School sometime after Spring Break.  They are also available at the Falcon EXPO held around the first week of April.  Students can choose 2 year long electives, 4 semester long electives or 1 year long and 2 semester long electives.  All music department courses are year long electives.

We offer Band 1 for students who are brand new to instrumental music.  This class is open to all students, regardless of grade level.  After beginning band, students will move into the symphonic band classes.  Students with one year of instrumental experience can register to take Band 2.  Students with two years of instrumental experience can register to take Band 3.  Band 2 and Band 3 combine to form our Regiment Band, which is our athletic band, which performas at all of the in-school games, marches in the Clermont Christmas Parade, attends Middle School Night at one of the local high schools and does other cool, fun community performances.  You can find more information about these ensembles on the Bands page on this web site.

Students who are chosen, by audition, can register for Band 4, our jazz ensemble class, and be a part of the “Flight of Sound” Jazz Ensemble.  This highly-select group of students does the most performing of any of the ensembles and requires a high-level of personal commitment.  Band 4 may be repeated for credit. For more information, see the Jazz Ensemble page on this web site.

Students who are interested in vocal music can register for Chorus 1 and become members of the Falcon Singers, a mixed grade level group made up of all voice parts.  The Falcon Singers also divide into women’s and men’s chorus as well as Bella Voce, an auditioned vocal ensemble.  Chorus 1 may be repeated for credit. For more information about the Falcon Singers, visit their page on this web site.

Q Can I take more than one music class?

A: YES!  Students enrolled in Band 2 or 3 may take Band 1 again as a second elective if they wish to learn a second instrument.  Students enrolled in Chorus 1 may take Band 1 as a second elective if they wish to learn an instrument.  Band students may take Chorus 1 as a second elective if they wish to learn how to sing.  Singing is a great way to increase instrumental musicianship!  Band 4 (Jazz Ensemble) is ALWAYS taken as a second elective as membership in Band 2 or 3 is a requirement to be in the jazz ensemble.

Q: Do I have to take band or chorus all year?

A: Yes, band and chorus are both full year classes.  If you take more than one music class, you can get a waiver so that you will be exempt from the Physical Education requirement.  You can even take THREE music classes, if you are able to commit to taking an online class to free up the room in your schedule.

Q: What are Music Performance Assessments?

A: Music Performance Assessments are administered by the Florida School Music Association in conjunction with the Florida Bandmasters Association and the Florida Vocal Association.  There are assessments for marching bands (high schools only), jazz ensemble, solos & ensembles, concert bands and concert choirs.  Ensembles (or solos) perform for distinguished adjudicators who offer feedback for improvement and assign ratings based on the proficiency of the performances.  These assessments are required of all schools that are members of the FSMA, the FBA and the FVA.

Q: How do I get into the Music Department Leadership Academy?

A: Students are chosen at the end of each year by a process that includes an application, faculty recommendations, a self questionnaire and, in some cases, an interview.  Results of this process are announced at the Music Department Awards Banquet.

Q: How do I get into the Tri-M Music Honor Society chapter?

A: There are a number of qualifications, but the first step is to apply for membership.  Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.75 with all A’s in music classes.  Band students must also have participated at solo & ensemble or been selected for an honors band.  Students who are members of both band and chorus are also qualified.  Tri-M is open to all music department students.

Q: How much does it cost to be in band and chorus at Clermont Middle School?

A: Clermont Middle School has some of the lowest band and choral fees in the area.  In 2016-17, Symphonic Band fees were $80, Beginning Band fees were $60, Chorus fees were $50 and Jazz Ensemble fees were $25.  What these fees cover is specified in the Music Department Handbooks.  Some of the items included are: assessment fees, transportation fees, music books and music department t-shirts.  Band students may also have to rent an instrument from one of our fantastic local music stores.

Q: Why do you have to charge band and chorus fees?

A: The Lake County School Board provides minimal funding for band and chorus.  The total allocation for each middle school music program from the district is $1500, and out of that we must pay the Florida School Music Association $241.  Because of this near-lack of funding, we must find ways to fund our programs adequately.  Most of the fees paid by parents cover tangible items (t-shirts, books, etc.), transportation or student entry fees into Music Performance Assessments.

Q: How much do you charge to attend concerts at Clermont Middle School?

A: We do NOT charge you money to see your kids perform.  We are the ONLY band and ONLY chorus in South Lake County that does not charge money to come to concerts.  We have a concession stand and we “pass the hat” for donations.  I can tell you that other programs make thousands of dollars on their concerts and we don’t make $1,000 total for the year.  I strongly believe that you should not have to pay to watch your student do what they do.  We do NOT exploit our student performances for profit.  (On the flip side of that, many of my band director colleagues would argue that people ALWAYS pay for good entertainment so why should band and chorus concerts be any different than rock concerts, theater or athletics? … good point, but I still don’t do it.)

Q: How much fundraising is required?

A: NO fundraising is REQUIRED, however, we hope all of our students will pitch-in and help.  In each fundraiser, students earn a portion of the profit to put into an account to help offset the cost of fees, music department awards banquet tickets or the end-of-the-year trip.  No one likes to fund raise or pay fees, but the reality is, there’s very little funding from our school system.  I have tried extremely hard to keep the number of total fund raisers to a minimum.  The Music Department (band & chorus) holds three fundraisers per year: a brochure sale in the fall, a candy sale at the beginning of the spring and the Walk-A-Thon after spring break.  Our jazz ensemble has only one fundraiser and that is the Jazz Under the Stars, BBQ Dinner and Silent Auction which is held near the end of the year.  The music department also offers a sponsorship program, earns some money from concerts (see the previous question) and gets some random donations.

Q: Why do students have to pay to go to the Music Department Awards Banquet?

A: In 2017, our Awards Banquet tickets were $20 per person and every person (students included) must have a ticket.  I am aware that the Athletic Department Banquet does not require students to pay.  I am not sure about the details of their event, but let me speak to ours.  We use the Wesley Center, which is one of the nicest halls in Lake County.  We have a professional chef and a full staff cater our meal, serve it and clean up after us.  We have a technical man there who runs all of the audio and video presentations.  As a part of the deal, the Methodist Church charges us PER PERSON in lieu of charging a rental fee for the hall and full price for the meal.  Last year, we paid over $6,500 to the Methodist Church for the hall and meals.  And, for those of you who have never been to our banquet, we preset over $3,000 in awards to our students.  If you have not been to one of our banquets, it is an amazing spectacle to behold … and the food is top notch.  I am very proud of our banquet and our students deserve to be given the best after a long year of hard work, dedication and musical excellence.  It is a very special night, especially for our eighth-grade students who have put in three years to make our music department exceptional.  It is a celebration of their efforts and an opportunity to look forward to what lies ahead as we close the banquet with the appointment our officers for the next school year.

Q: Are band and chorus fun?

A: YES!  But, be aware, band and chorus are hard work too.  Like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it.  If you work hard and practice, you will become a good musician and if you’re a good musician, it will be more fun!  In addition to the work, we also have music department exclusive dance parties, social time before and after school, jam sessions and a fantastic end-of-the-year trip that includes an awesome musical show.

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