Modern Band Class Becoming a Big Hit

Modern Band Class Becoming a Big Hit
Posted on 12/21/2022

Students in the Waterford-Halfmoon Union Free School District have a new class to consider when looking to fill their art requirements.

Chorus teacher Kaitlyn Koch has introduced Modern Band to the district, a course that gives high school students the opportunity to explore popular music from 1950 onward in a classroom setting.

“Music teachers throughout the country have been looking for alternative ways to engage students with music during the school day,” said Mrs. Koch. “We will always encourage our students to participate in the traditional bands and chorus groups all districts are familiar with, but we want to help students explore other opportunities that fit their interests.”
Modern Band class practice

This is the first time the year-long elective is being offered, and it meets the district’s art requirement for the high school curriculum. Instruments for the class are provided by the district through the Student Support and Academic Enrichment program, also known as Title IV grants. The federal funding is earmarked for providing students with a well-rounded education, and improving the use of technology within the school.

Students open the course by getting a week-long intensive introduction to each of the instruments available in the class: drums, bass guitar, lead guitar, keyboards, and vocals. Every student completes a rotation on each instrument before selecting where they would like to focus for the rest of the course.

“It’s really interesting that you don’t need to have any experience with any of the instruments before joining the class,” said Ninth Grade Student Raelynn Tranka. “I had never played the bass guitar before joining this class, and now it’s the instrument I’m most excited about.”
Modern Band class practice

On top of all the hands-on learning that takes place on the stage of the Waterford-Halfmoon auditorium, students are taught the history of popular and rock music, dating back to the 1950s.

“Music is such an important component of all our lives. It bleeds into everything that we do,” said Mrs. Koch. “Helping students understand how intertwined all genres of music are can help build on their relationship with music outside of the classroom.”

Their history lessons are brought to life on stage. Students will be asked to perform songs from each decade they have learned about in class, with their first performance scheduled to take place at the high school’s January assembly. Their set list includes hits from Twisted Sister, Chuck Barry, and The Beatles.

“It’ll be a walk through rock history,” said Mrs. Koch.

To go along with the mechanics of playing the different instruments, Mrs. Koch has also built in lesson plans to discuss audio engineering, sound reinforcement, and songwriting. In the spring, students will be challenged to write their own original pieces to perform in their year-end concert.

Right now, the class is home to just four students. The small class size has allowed students to double up on what instruments they play throughout the year, but those enrolled in the school’s first rock band hope their fellow classmates will follow their lead and join the class.

“The only advice I would give someone who is curious about the class is to join,” said Twelfth Grade Student Andrew Savage. “You’ll learn something new about yourself in this class, and you’ll get the chance to make the school day a little more fun along the way.”