6235 Beginning Band: Laying the Foundation for Years of Success


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Recital Highlights

This course is packed with strategies to help your youngest band students achieve the highest level of success, and help you give them the skills to excel in their second year and beyond. Topics to be explored include Beginning Band literature; method book strengths; embouchure and hand position; does the quality of the instrument, reeds and mouthpiece matter?; recruitment and retention; diagnosing common problems in young players; making it fun for you and your students; and more. This course will be very hands-on. Please bring a secondary instrument or two on which to perform.

Instructors: Rachel Maxwell,  Steve Nendza, Bryan Ames, & Wendy Hart Higdon


Rachel J. Maxwell currently serves as the Director of Bands at Traughber Junior High School and as the Junior High Band Coordinator for Oswego District #308. She has taught music education courses at North Central College in Naperville, IL and has been invited to be a  guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator at a number of music camps and festivals including ISYM, Il State Univ. Junior High Camp and IMEA District Level Festivals.


Rachel J. Maxwell attended Illinois State University and graduated in 1993 (Summa Cum Laude) with a Bachelor`s Degree in Music Education. She received a Master of Music Education degree from the University of Illinois in 1997. In 2003 she completed a Master of Educational Leadership degree from Aurora University. During 2006 Mrs. Maxwell also completed additional coursework in team-building and leadership and in working with diverse students. Mrs. Maxwell has taught band in the West Aurora School District (1993-95) and in the Oswego School District (1995-present).

Additional information about the Traughber JHS Band program may be found at


Steven M. Nendza is currently in his 5th year as band director at Jack Hille Middle School in Oak Forest, IL. Under his direction the size of the band program has more than doubled, a second jazz band, a woodwind ensemble and percussion ensemble have also been added. In January 2012 the Hille Jazz Band performed at the Illinois Music Education Conference. Prior to Hille Mr. Nendza taught for 10 years at Deer Path Middle School in Lake Forest, IL. Students in the Deer Path Band performed at many community events, graduate level college classes and as a demonstration ensemble at the Midwest Clinic. 

Mr. Nendza is an activity clinician for concert, jazz and marching bands. He is a past guest conductor for the ILMEA District 8 Honor Jazz Band and Concert Band & ILMEA District II Honor Concert Band. He is also a past presenter at the Music for All Summer Symposium, VanderCook college of Music and The Midwest Clinic. He was also awarded the Chicagoland Outstanding Educator sponsored by Quinlan & Fabish Music Company. He is a graduate of VanderCook College of Music where here received his bachelors and masters in music education.








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Course Information

6235 Beginning Band: Laying the Foundation for Years of Success

3 graduate credits

Location: Herman Hall Armour Dining

Click HERE for a campus map.

Tuition: $930 (includes $75 resource fee)
A $75 deposit is required at time of registration. Tuition balance is due in full by the first day of class.

June 29-July 2
Monday - Thursday: 8:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.


VanderCook College of Music

3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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