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We are excited about you learning a band instrument! We know that you have lots of questions about starting band, and have answered some basics in this online version of the handbook. You can also visit us at Skokie, and as always, please contact us directly via phone or email.

Cadet Band (Grade 5) is open to all Grade 5 students at The Skokie School!

We all meet in small lesson groups, one time a week. For half an hour, we learn to play and read music. Each group works as a team to help each other try new sounds. We write down our next week's assignments in our assignment book, and get our parents to listen to the assignment at least once before we go to our next lesson. After we can play some notes, we meet together as a larger group once a week. That way we play two times; once in a lesson, and once in the whole band. We play two concerts a year, where we dress in concert dress and play music for an audience. Most of the time, we spend as much time as possible making strange noises, bothering our sisters and brothers, and making our family pets hide under the table!

When do I start lessons?

Group Lessons start within the first three weeks of school each September! Cadet Band meetings before school begin in mid to late October. The calendar can give you specific dates. All 5th grade band students have both group lessons and Cadet Band rehearsals. Lessons are set up in small groups with other people playing the same instrument, and meet during the regular school day. We will give you a lesson schedule during the first few weeks of school, after we have talked to you and made sure that you have an instrument and are ready to go! Cadet Band meets before school (7:30 am to 8:15 am) on either Tuesday or Thursday; don't worry too much about it yet, though, because we want you to have some lessons before everyone gets together as a band. Cadet Band will start after a few weeks, and we will give you a rehearsal schedule then.

Where are lessons held?

All group lessons and band rehearsals for 5th grade Cadet Band members will take place at The Skokie School in the Band Room (141).

How do I get an instrument to play?

If you have not met with Mr. Vowles or Mr. Chester to see what instrument you want to play, please contact them now! We have all sorts of information on what instruments to play, where they are available, and how you can get them. Students are expected to provide their own instruments. Percussionists must provide their own sticks, mallets, and stick bags. It is extremely important that all of our students play on quality instruments in order to ensure the highest degree of success as performers. Many of our students rent from Quinlan & Fabish Music Company. Quick links to rental instruments can be found on this page. Before you buy or rent an instrument, please contact us. We would be happy to suggest a reputable retailer. In the case of larger instruments (tuba, percussion, baritone sax, baritone, tenor sax, bass clarinet, etc.) the district can provide a few of these; if an instrument is available for the student the cost of maintenance would be $140.00 for the school year. Rental forms will be provided. Please contact Mr. Vowles or Mr. Chester for more information. PLEASE DO NOT ORDER YOUR INSTRUMENT ONLINE OR FROM A MEMBERSHIP WAREHOUSE WITHOUT SPEAKING TO US FIRST!!! 

What else do I need to have to participate?


We us the "Tradition of Excellence" books by Pearson and Nowlin. These are usually ordered with your rental instrument, as part of the school package. If you are playing an instrument you have purchased or been given, please place an order for this book for your instrument.

Supplies like reeds and oils are available at Washburne and Skokie at a very discounted rate. You should plan on bringing your Tradition of Excellence workbook, your school issued iPad, your instrument, any sheet music, and a pencil to each lesson.

  • Pencil
  • Student instrument
  • Ensemble music and folder
  • School iPad, and access to Schoology
  • Woodwinds: Three good reeds, cork grease, and a cleaning swab.
  • Brass: Slide grease and valve oil
  • Percussion: Drum sticks, mallets, stick bag, and a drum pad and mallet kit for home practice.

When does Band meet?

All 5th grade band students have both small group lessons and Cadet Band rehearsals. Lessons are set up in small groups with other people playing the same instrument, and meet during the regular school day. We will give you a lesson schedule during the first few weeks of school, after we have talked to you and made sure that you have an instrument and are ready to go! Cadet Band Rehearsal meets before school (7:30 am to 8:15 am) Tuesday or Thursdays. You attend one of these rehearsals a week (though you are welcome at both if you would like). These larger before-school rehearsals will start in October, and we will give you a printed rehearsal schedule and post it on Schoology. Schedules are also posted in each classroom, the Band Room, and outside the Band Room.

What do I do if I am sick and can't go to a rehearsal?

TO PERFORM AT A HIGH LEVEL WE NEED ALL OF YOU PRESENT! Rehearsal time is very important to the success of the band. We need to make full use of every minute! No one should be absent from band unless they are absent from school. If you are sick, please have one of your parents send us a note, give us a call, or e-mail us. Please arrange for help sessions, etc. at times when we do not have band rehearsal or group lessons! If missed rehearsals become a problem we will call home to discuss the situation. Excess absence may result in suspension from future performances (you not getting to play in a concert).

When are the CONCERTS?

Concerts are GREAT - they are lots of fun to play, and give your folks a chance to see what all that practicing is for! We have two concerts: The PREMIER CONCERT is in January at Skokie School. The SPRING CONCERT is in May at Skokie School. There are lots of other things going on with other ensembles -  a complete calendar of dates for all ensembles is available.

What do I need to wear at a concert?

Concert Dress The following list is considered the uniform for all concerts, all ensembles. Attending a concert in inappropriate attire may result in the student not being allowed to perform with the group.

  • White Collared Dress Shirt or White Blouse
  • Black Pants or Black Skirt
  • Black (or dark) Socks
  • Black (or dark) Dress Shoes (NO GYM SHOES OF ANY KIND)
  • Long Neck Tie, any color, if you wear the dress shirt option. Not required if you wear a blouse.

What about private lessons?

Private lessons are not required by the District; however they are strongly recommended and do provide students with invaluable one-to-one instruction. Currently, about 50% of Washburne/Skokie students study privately. With the help of private lessons students will be able to increase their technique and appreciation of music. They will also improve the performance of the group through their individual efforts. The District has a list of recommended instructors - just see us!

Are there other things I can do playing my instrument?

Right now, you are just starting out, and you need to learn a lot about your instrument. Later on, you can play in lots of different ensembles, or even make up your own with some friends. If you have been playing your instrument for awhile, anyone playing saxophone, trumpet, trombone, electric or string bass, piano, guitar, mallets, or drum set may audition for the jazz bands (Lion Jazz Ensemble and Washburne Jazz Ensemble). You should probably have been playing your instrument outside of school for a year or so before auditioning.

If you would like to play in Jazz Band on Drum Set, Guitar, Bass, or Piano, we can direct you to some good teachers at New Trier High School and in the area so that you can audition for the separate group when you are ready. We suggest picking out another instrument to have fun with in Cadet Band if you play guitar or bass. You can never play too many instruments!