Band teacher helps beginners build passion in District 181
Nancy Golden, award-winning band teacher in Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181, instructs beginning musicians during class. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 28, 2012 6:03AM
CLARENDON HILLS — While band programs have been a casualty of reduced financial resources in school districts across the country, Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 sees growth.
The beginning band program for fifth-graders plays an important role, as it is the first such experience available in school for students.
“We recruit kids when they’re in fourth grade, and they start with beginning band in fifth, said Nancy Golden, who just started her 10th year teaching beginning band in District 181. Golden teaches students at Prospect, Walker, Monroe and The Lane schools.
Golden’s passion for music and teaching are very evident while watching her work. And Quinlan and Fabish Music Company named her a 2012 Chicagoland Outstanding Music Educator.
“Most of the kids are here because they want to be here; they’re not forced to get involved in band,” Golden said. “Being in band allows them to use their brains in a different way. It also builds self-confidence. Once they start playing real tunes, they really feel good about what they’re doing.”
Prospect Principal Anne Kryger said she is very glad the band program is in full bloom.
“Some students thoroughly enjoy music; it’s a spot for them to shine through,” she said.
The beginning band students meet weekly for small group lessons and get together, also weekly, for full band rehearsals from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m. District 181 has 240 beginning band students for the 2012-13 school year, 140 of which are taught by Golden. Another teacher, Laura Stilbich, works with band students at other district elementary schools.
“Being in band allows kids to be on a team where no one sits on the bench,” Golden said. “I love the beginners. They’re old enough to understand, and they get so excited. So much happens in the first year.”
The use of computers and other technology have made their way into classrooms for academic subjects, and band has not been left out of that in District 181.
Golden said this is the third year for the use of SmartMusic, a software program to which students play along.
“It gives them a background to play along with, and it shows them right away where they have made mistakes,” Golden said. “It’s a great tool because it helps to prevent them from continuing to play the wrong thing over and over. It’s revolutionized practicing.”
Nicholas St. John, a Prospect School fifth-grader who has just started playing percussion, said he enjoys using SmartMusic while practicing.
“I like playing the drums; my brother played percussion,” he said. “I love it because I like the sound. SmartMusic helps me get better because I know what I’ve done wrong right away.”