For some Denton families, the financial challenges of involving a child in band—renting a musical instrument, purchasing music and supplies, and paying a private teacher—are insurmountable. The College of Music is working to even the playing field by helping low-income students get a successful start in music through the Start Up the Band program.
Led by music education professor Darhyl Ramsey, Start Up the Band is a one-year program designed to provide band instruments and musical instruction for children with financial needs in the Denton Independent School District.
The program begins in the fifth grade and is designed to give the participants a head start in learning how to play a band instrument. Students who qualify are provided with an instrument and instruction on a weekly basis at no cost for one year prior to entering a middle school band program.
Instruction for the students is provided by UNT students. Graduate students are the primary teachers and undergraduate students are the assistants. This provides an opportunity for the UNT students to gain valuable experience in teaching prior to their student teaching semester in music education.
Numerous UNT music education students work with Start Up the Band, from graduate students who receive funding to design curriculum and mentor less-experienced teachers, to music education undergraduates who volunteer their time to teach. These teachers-in-training provide small group lessons and large ensemble experiences to help the fifth-graders get a head start on learning an instrument.
The kids gained confidence in themselves as they progressed, which was really exciting to see.
- Audriana Garcia, music education student