Orchestra FAQ

“It’s been so fun ending our week on a musical note! It’s so easy to follow!”

Lead teacher for Harmonica Orchestra at Fairacres Elementary, Las Cruces, NM

Who is the Harmonica Orchestra for?

Harmonica Orchestra is designed to engage many people at a school.

Why are students, teachers, administrators and caregivers so excited about the harmonica?

The harmonica is a perfect instrument to introduce to your school

How does the Harmonica Orchestra work?

Discussion of three aspects of the program; the Rehearsal videos and songbook, Play Along and Extra videos and engagement with the Orchestra Director.

When is the best time for Harmonica Orchestra?

When is a good time for your students to engage with the Orchestra?


Who is the Harmonica Orchestra for?

Students

  • Designed with students in 2nd through 6th grade in mind.
  • Lessons engage various learning styles by including
    • Reading notation
    • Improvisation 
    • “Playing by ear” (rather than reading)
    • original music composition

Teachers & Administrators

  • No prior music experience is necessary! In fact, teachers are encouraged to learn to play along with the students.
  • Music other arts teachers will find that Harmonica Orchestra enhances the work they are already doing in their classes by reinforcing artistic concepts and providing an additional venue for students to engage with the creative process

Why are students, teachers, administrators and caregivers so excited about the harmonica?

  • Immediate Success – The nature of the instrument allows students to be successful immediately which builds confidence right from the start. 
    • 1. Put it in your mouth 
    • 2. Blow  
    • 3. You’ve got some pretty good music!
  • Deep Musical Concepts  – Ease of playing allows for students to engage with deep music concepts like dynamics, ear training, rhythm and composition without the struggles of also having to produce a clear tone.
  • No Tuning Needed – Unlike string instruments, the harmonicas are ready to go right out of the box every day.  
  • Cost and Durability – Relatively inexpensive as compared to other instruments and easy to replace if they are misplaced. Harmonica are also very difficult to break.
  •  Volume – Even at their loudest, harmonicas are not very loud. Orchestra practice can happen without disturbing the neighboring classrooms and many times. 
  • Small Size – Harmonicas and songbooks can easily be stored on a bookshelf in a simple box or plastic tub.
  • “Let’s Jam!” – Size, ease of play, and relative quiet volume encourages students to explore together by “jamming” before and after school or during recess or free time.  
  • Caregivers and Children Can Share Music – When the students are so successful so quickly, both the students and their caregivers open their ears to more opportunities for musical exploration.  Both the students and the caregivers feel proud, which builds even more excitement for music! 

How does the Harmonica Orchestra Work?

  • Rehearsal Videos and Songbook – Teachers and students are provided with ten Rehearsal video lessons which present the main concepts of the program. Each Rehearsal is 15 to 25 minutes long. These lessons correspond directly with the Harmonica Orchestra songbook that each student receives.
  • Play Along and Harmonica Orchestra Extra Videos – In addition, teachers and students receive 15+ play along videos for all the songs presented and Harmonica Orchestra Extra lessons for further exploration. Students can participate with those and practice together or independently. These videos are between 5 and 15 minutes long.
  • Engagement with Jason, the Orchestra Director – There are 3 levels of engagement with Jason. Specifics will be discussed with each school/community to make sure their needs are met.
    • Consultant – Jason is able to meet with the lead teacher(s) either through email, phone call or virtual (Zoom, Google meet, Webex, etc.) ahead of time and make sure that everyone feels comfortable as the program starts off. He is then able to support teachers as the program progresses and answer student questions in ways that work for the classroom teacher.
    • Virtual Classroom Visits – Jason is available to consult as above and attend a set amount of virtual visits with classrooms. This is a great option for kick-off days, mid-session check-ins and preparation for culminating events/or program wrap-ups.
    • In-person Classroom/School Community Visits – Bring Jason to your school! In addition to the above consultations and virtual visits, many options are available for Jason to participate in the Harmonica Orchestra culminating event. Recording sessions, during school and evening concerts, presentations during and “arts week” or any number of ideas can be explored.

When is the best time for Harmonica Orchestra to take place?

  • School Day or Extended Learning Time  – The Harmonica Orchestra can be tailored to the needs of each school and rehearsals can happen during the school day or before or after school. 40 to 60 min blocks of time allows for engaging with that day’s Rehearsal video and for students to explore the material on their own or in groups.
  • Length (in terms of weeks) – This can also be tailored to each school.  The program generally runs between six and ten weeks, but there can be a lot to learn in even one to three weeks.  Jason is ready to consult with teachers and administrators to put together a path through the material that will insure that students will be successful.
  • Season – Harmonica Orchestra fits any season.  Start the school year off with music in the students’ hearts, play and sing through the winter lull, finish the school year off with a bang, or add a fun and captivating program to summer school.  In addition, the  songs presented in Harmonica Orchestra can be adjusted to meet the desires of each school in regards to seasonal programming. For example, Jingle Bells in December or Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow for Earth Day in the spring, Ode to Joy for an end-of-year celebration.

Write to Jason at jason@harmonicaorchestra.com if you have any questions about these topics. He’s happy to help!