Information For Parents of 5th Graders

Welcome, new band parents!
I am so happy that you would like your child to be a part of our band at Carroll Magnet Middle School! Please take a look at the following information about our program, and feel free to email me with any questions. - Justin Dickson, Band Director.

About Our Band Program

Please watch this video to learn more about our band program at Carroll.

Also, if you would like to hear recordings of our bands in concert, please browse our Youtube channel here:

Common Questions About Band

What is Band?

Band is an elective class, not an after-school activity, in which you learn how to read music and how to play an instrument of your choice. We perform music at two concerts each year and we play music at fun school events! Band class meets every day, all year long. You can continue to be a part of the band for all three years at Carroll, and then continue in high school and college!

What instruments can I play in Band?

You can choose the Flute, Clarinet, Trumpet, Trombone, Baritone, or Xylophone. Later in the year, you can try out for other instruments like the Saxophone and Drums. During the first week of school, you will get to try all the instruments to see which one “fits” you the best, so you do not need to decide which instrument to play right now.

How do I sign up for Band?

You sign up for the 6th grade band class when you sign up for your 6th grade “elective” classes. Your teacher will give you more information about this. Please get your parents’ permission first, because you need an instrument.

Is it too late to sign up for Band?

No. If you already chose your elective classes for next year, but you changed your mind and would like to do band, it is not too late until after the first few weeks of school. Until then, we can change your class. Email me at . We want you in band, and we will make it happen!

What are the recommended brands and models of instruments for the Carroll Band program?

Please click here for the list of recommended instruments.

Where do I rent my Band instrument?

1. Hills Music Shoppe,, (252) 492-4116

This is a family-owned shop that I have been working with for many years, and I give them my highest recommendation. Their rates are excellent and you will not find better service. A representative from the shop visits our school several times each month to check on your child’s instrument, and to bring them anything you order through the website or over the phone. If your child’s instrument needs to be repaired, they will bring a loaner for them to play so that they do not lose instructional time, and the cost of almost all repairs is included in your rental fee. The “rent to own” program means you are not just renting, but rather making payments towards the purchase of the instrument, which is much better for you financially. You can order your rental through their website and they will bring the instrument to the school, so you never need to drive to the shop in person.

2. Music & Arts Center,, (919) 872- 1601

This is a national chain of music instrument retailers, and there are several shops in the Raleigh area. They provide high quality instruments, an a representative from the shop can deliver your instrument to our school.


I am aware that cheap “instruments” are available online through Amazon or eBay, or even major big-box retail stores. These are toys, not real instruments. Please, please do not buy them. Really. They stop working within a year, and they cannot be repaired because the parts are not available to licensed repair technicians.

I have had too many good kids quit band because their instrument breaks, and I would like to avoid this. I understand you may want to save money, but buying a cheap instrument so you have to by another one later because it broke is not a way to save money, it is a way to waste money. I also understand you may be hesitant to invest money in a real instrument since you are not certain if your child is going to stick with band. But in my experience, kids do not stick with band after their toy instrument breaks.

Hills Music Shop and Music And Arts have many options to make it very affordable to give your child a high-quality real instrument that will set them up for success, which is one of the reasons why our band program works so closely with them. Please consider these options, instead of buying a toy for your child to play in our band.

The following are quality brands that I recommend and that can be serviced by our local professional repair technicians: Armstrong (not Aristocrat), Bach (not Prelude or Aristocrat), Blessing, Bliss, B&S, Conn, Getzen, Gemeinhardt, Haynes, Holton, Jupiter, Kanstul, King, Ludwig, Leblanc, Musser, Pearl, Selmer (not Prelude or Aristocrat), Vito, Yamaha.

But I don’t know how to play an instrument

That’s normal! Most students start 6th grade band with no previous experience. Don’t worry, we will teach you everything right from the beginning. All you need to do is listen carefully to your Band Director, follow directions, and practice your instrument at home every day. The more you practice, the easier it gets, and the more fun you have!

I am not sure about this… Could I start Band in 7th grade instead?

No. If you want to be a part of the band, you must start in 6th grade. You cannot sign up as a beginner in 7th or 8th grade. So if you are interested, you need to sign up now. You can always switch to another class later if you do not like it.

If you love music, if you want to help other people and be a part of a team, and if you have the self-discipline it takes to learn how to play a musical instrument, I need you to be a part of our band at Carroll Magnet Middle School! ~Mr. Dickson

More About The Instruments

Our U.S. Navy Band created these videos, and they are a fun way to learn more about each instrument. Dig it: