On Monday morning 26 fifth-graders at Holy Redeemer School took turns familiarizing themselves with their chosen musical instruments with music teacher Amy Labat.
"Jenson, I need you to be the boss of that saxophone," Labat said while helping a student adjust a strap. "By that I mean, you bring the saxophone to you, don't go to it."
Holy Redeemer School Band Director Amy Labat shows fifth-grader Daniel Magrath how to hold his trumpet, while Anna Timmerman puts together her clarinet.
The fifth-graders met every morning this week in short sessions with flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, trombone, baritone, bass guitar and percussion. What they learn is how to put the instruments together, take them apart, get comfortable handling them and how to play the first few notes before the school year starts.
"I meet with them all in the spring," Labat said. "The parents are invited. They get to see what's available, then the next week we have a meeting and they get to try out their top three choices and see what feels best."
Labat has been music teacher and band director at Holy Redeemer for 16 years.
"It has been an excellent asset for our school in providing another enrichment for our students, to make them well-rounded and explore all the gifts they've been given," according to Holy Redeemer Principal Carol DeSmet.
For some kids it's their first experience playing an instrument. For others who've had music lessons, it's an opportunity to learn another instrument.
"My daughter Camryn has had piano for three years," said Michele Leary, "so I think this will help her with reading music."
The school provides some of the instruments, others are rented with an option to buy from Music Street in downtown Marshall. Students get to take the instruments home with them, after learning how to care for them.
"If your drum sounds, for want of a better word, "squishy," then it's time to tighten the drum head," Labat tells the percussion class. "The drum pad is for a quieter drum, it's for you parents. You can practice quietly without driving everybody in the house crazy."
Labat instructs the wind instrument players how to care for their reeds, and how to blow through their mouthpieces just so. When school starts music lessons will begin in earnest. For now, the kids get a chance to get to know their instruments.
"You homework to night is to put your instrument together, take it apart, put it together," Labat said.