Summer music programs Band Bash and Summer Strings are staples of West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Community Education’s Summer of Learning program. Offered each summer for more than 20 years, Band Bash and Summer Strings each provide instrumental music students with a place to advance their skills in areas they are passionate about.

Students practice "The Pink Panther Theme," a Summer Strings favorite.

Students practice “The Pink Panther Theme,” a Summer Strings favorite.

The groups learn several pieces to perform for their friends and family at the end of two weeks. Students in the programs rehearse every day, and some take part in musicianship classes and sectional rehearsals. The improvement seen is partially due to the wide range of ages in each group. Band Bash is available to students in grades 6–12, and Summer Strings has offerings for students entering grades 5–9.

“It is a great opportunity for our younger students to see what they can accomplish if they continue in our program and work hard,” WDMCS elementary orchestra teacher and Summer Strings instructor Matt Meyer said. “It is also a good time for our older students to serve as role models for the younger kids and reflect on where they’ve been ability-wise on their instruments and how much they’ve improved and grown over the years.”

French horn students practice together during Band Bash.

French horn students practice together during Band Bash.

Program instructors agree the daily contact with students is a factor, since students do not get instrumental music time every day during the school year. The programs give students the opportunity to develop their skills and gain confidence in their abilities while meeting new friends with similar interests.

“My favorite part of teaching Band Bash is being able to work with the kids in a fun, no-pressure situation where most of the kids really want to be there,” WDMCS band teacher and Band Bash instructor Jon Lewis said. “We always have a lot of fun making music.”