Performing Arts
Beginning Band & Orchestra Information

Performing Arts

This year marks a new opportunity for Charlotte-Mecklenburg fifth grade students who have eagerly waited their turn to join our instrumental music program. Some of the benefits your child can receive from the study of instrumental music are responsibility, mental discipline, teamwork, self-esteem and, above all, an enjoyment and lifelong appreciation of music. Research has also demonstrated that music students tend to score higher on standardized math and reading tests.

In the next few months, you will have the opportunity to register your child to participate in either band or orchestra in middle school. After this initial registration, band and orchestra directors will host meetings for prospective band and orchestra students and parents. It is important that at least one parent attend this meeting. Complete information concerning the instrumental music program will be presented and instrumental demonstrations will be given. Parents will be required to provide their child with an instrument through lease or purchase. At a later date, more specific information regarding these meetings will be distributed through middle school instrumental teachers.

Every child should have the opportunity to learn, participate in, understand, and appreciate instrumental music. We hope that you will afford your child this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Mark Propst
Performing Arts Specialist
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

My Child Wants to Play an Instrument! What's Next?
This section has been established to provide CMS parents and students a central location to learn about beginning instrumental study in our school district. You are invited to be a part of the fun and success in your middle school band or orchestra program!

Important information is provided (Beginning Instruments) for students who play or wish to play band instruments - flute, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, trumpet, F horn, trombone, baritone, euphonium, tuba, and percussion - or orchestral instruments - violin, viola, cello and string bass. Not only do students who study instrumental music learn to perform on musical instruments, but they also learn the essentials of teamwork, self-discipline, individual responsibility, and social skills that prove to be effective in any career, sport, or other activity. Please download the Future Band Member Guide and the Future Orchestra Member Guide to see if playing in an instrumental ensemble is right for your child. (Click on Documents in the menu.)

Just like a sports team, not everyone can play the same position. Not everyone who “really wants to” play a certain instrument will be able to do so either. Instrument selection will be based on physical characteristics, musical aptitude, academic history, pre-determined instrumentation needs, and instrument availability. Also, due to the importance of having a balanced instrumentation, a limited number of students may be assigned to play percussion and saxophone. Please emphasize to your child the importance of having a second and even a third choice for an instrument. Reiterate the importance of staying committed to the band or orchestra for at least one year to experience the real joy of being in the instrumental program.

An Instrumental Music Permission Form should be attached to your child’s middle school course registration form. Parents will need to sign the permission form and return it with their registration form in order for their child to join band or orchestra. Once forms have been returned at all schools, band and orchestra directors will be in contact regarding important dates and times to help your child select the best instrument for his or her success.

Do NOT immediately run out and get an instrument until you have met with the director and have been given all of the necessary information about the instrument and the list of required accessories to accompany the instrument. Do NOT buy used instruments without consulting the director and do NOT buy from anyone other than a reputable music vendor without consulting the director. Consider this purchase as important to your child’s success as the purchase of a vehicle to your family’s safety.

No prior experience or knowledge is necessary to join the band or orchestra. Remember to turn in your Instrumental Music Study Permission Form with the registration form by the established deadline. Make sure at least one parent attends any Band Parent or Orchestra Parent Information Sessions. Hopefully, many of your questions about signing up for band or orchestra will be answered by reviewing this site. If you have other questions or concerns, please contact the middle school band and/or orchestra director at your child's middle school.

Please view the Frequently Asked Questions below for further information. Please contact your child's middle school to find out when they will be having the parent meetings.


Should I rent or purchase an instrument?
To avoid such a large initial monetary investment, we recommend renting an instrument from a reputable music vendor.
- Guaranteed working condition
- Proper selection of equipment and mouthpiece
- Ability to return the instrument without further obligation

What if my child is chosen for an instrument but REALLY wanted to play a different one?
Remember that each director is a trained music professional interested solely in your child’s success on his or her instrument. We WILL NOT set your child up for failure. While desire plays a large role on a student’s willingness to work hard, practice, and learn – physical and academic characteristics MUST be taken into consideration.

May I purchase an instrument from another source?
Absolutely - HOWEVER, take into account that the different brand may be inferior in quality and can be detrimental to your student’s progress. Similar to buying a used car, there are many things you will want to consider before purchasing – please see a director for help.

May I purchase a used instrument?
Yes, but be careful of the same problems mentioned above (another source section). We strongly encourage you consult a director BEFORE purchasing the used instrument. If you still choose to purchase from another source or to purchase a used instrument, your student will still need to have the necessary listed accessories (book, etc.)

What happens next?
Do NOT have your child even open the case until the director has taught proper care and maintenance to the student. Directors will need to be in touch with parents. Please make sure at least one parent attends all parent meetings and be sure to give the director your contact information.

How was my child chosen for this instrument?
Instrument selection is based on a series of criteria so to best fit students with instruments in which they will be most successful. These criteria include (but not limited to): facial characteristics (lip, teeth, and jaw structure), body characteristics (arm length, frame size, hand/finger size), score on a standardized musical aptitude test, participation in piano lessons, participation in musical groups in elementary school (honor choirs, etc.), citizenship, academic performance, enrollment limitations within each section, and a quick interview with the directors.

Should my child take private lessons?
ABSOLUTELY! Private lessons are the best way to increase your child’s chances for success. It means they will meet once a week with a professional player of his or her instrument for some one-on-one instruction time. It would be best to wait until the school year has started so that your child is progressing along with his or her class. Classes generally begin from scratch so no prior musical knowledge is required.


P.O. Box 30035
Charlotte, NC 28230-0035
Phone: 980-343-3000
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools website ( is in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Any website accessibility concerns may be brought via the following, Email the Web Accessibility Team at WebAccessibility or Call: 980.343.0115. In compliance with Federal Law, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools administers all education programs, employment activities and admissions without discrimination against any person on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Inquiries regarding compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities, may be referred to the District's Title IX Coordinator at titleixcoordinator or to the Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Education.