Notes from an Accidental Band Geek

Notes from an Accidental Band Geek

4.4 41
by Erin Dionne
     
 

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Elsie Wyatt is a born French horn player, just like her father and her grandfather before her. In order to qualify for the prestigious summer music camp of her dreams, she must expand her musical horizons and join - gasp! - the marching band. There are no French horns in marching band (what the heck is a mellophone??), but there are some cute boys. And marchingSee more details below

Overview

Elsie Wyatt is a born French horn player, just like her father and her grandfather before her. In order to qualify for the prestigious summer music camp of her dreams, she must expand her musical horizons and join - gasp! - the marching band. There are no French horns in marching band (what the heck is a mellophone??), but there are some cute boys. And marching band is very different from orchestra: they march, they chant, they . . . cluck? Elsie is not so sure she'll survive, but the new friends she's making and the actual fun she's having will force her to question her dad's expectations and her own musical priorities.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Elsie has one passion in life—her French horn—and her dream is to play in the Boston Symphony Orchestra, like her father and grandfather before her. The key to achieving that dream is getting accepted into Shining Birches, a prestigious summer music camp that requires potential players to participate in a musical ensemble, which is why Elsie joins her school marching band. Although band is beneath her musical taste, she will do anything to show her father that she can make it into Shining Birches. But from the first moment, the goofy, high-energy, and high-intensity band is nothing like Elsie expected. This kind of coming-of-age story, about a girl so focused on a goal that she's forgotten to make friends, has been told before, but Dionne (The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet) brings heart and humor to the subject, making it fresh, relatable and fun. A subplot with Elsie trying to impress her father loses steam, but Elsie's band adventures will have readers rooting for her every high step of the way. Ages 10–up (Sept.)
From the Publisher
“It has humor, heart, and a touch of romance that will provide ample fodder for booktalks.” — School Library Journal

“Marching-band kids everywhere will enjoy this believable celebration of a life-changing, musical rite of passage.” — Kirkus

Children's Literature - Jennifer Waldrop
Elsie Wyatt knows what she is going to do with her life; she has been born into a family of professional French Horn players, and all she wants to do is continue the tradition. However, attaining that goal is a bit more complicated than she expected. If she wants to get into the summer music camp that she needs to, she has to diversify her musical portfolio. In short, she has to join the marching band. Readers who have never been exposed to the madness that is a marching band can still relate to Elsie's difficulty in adjusting to a new environment. They may not have had to cluck to fit in, but the growing process that comes with learning to embrace change is universal. Elsie is not always likeable as she struggles to break out of the mold her preconceived notions have created, but her various failures and successes still make for enjoyable reading.
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—Elsie has her career path all mapped out: she will become the principal French horn player for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, just like her father and grandfather. The 13-year-old's life has revolved around this single focus for years. It hasn't left much time or space for learning to read people or navigate social situations. All that changes when she grudgingly joins marching band and, against all odds, falls in love with it. This self-absorbed, socially awkward narrator who celebrates a good day by cranking out Beethoven on the stereo will present a few hurdles for many readers. The best potential audience will be kids who have at least a passing knowledge of music. Those who get past Elsie's obsession with the French horn and the fact that she turns snappish under pressure will be sure to identify with the scenes of mortal embarrassment that are the hallmarks of young teen life. Who wouldn't want to die on the spot if dubbed "Zombie Chicken" by a whole group of people you just met and with whom you'll be spending the next nine months? While this novel isn't for everyone, it has humor, heart, and a touch of romance that will provide ample fodder for booktalks.—Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library District, Elgin, IL
Kirkus Reviews

Can a serious French horn player ever find happiness in marching band?

Thirteen-year-old Elsie starts out determined not to like her high-school marching band. She's only joined because she needs some ensemble experience before auditioning for the prestigious Shining Birches musical summer camp. One humiliation follows another, many caused by her absolute inability to empathize with those around her, all leaving her frustrated and ashamed. Her problem is understandable: She's pretty convinced that her future hangs solely on the quality of her musical ability, so she's never focused on other people, just practice and more practice. But the transcendent joys of marching band—the intense camaraderie of hours and hours of marching in the hot sun, learning how to stay in straight lines, play clearly, follow drill formations and myriad other details that will ring perfectly true for marching-band geeks—gradually change Elsie's mind. At the same time, she learns, through some trial and mostly error, more effective ways to deal with her controlling parents, manage the stress of adjusting to high school and, most importantly, make friends. At times, Elsie's introspection is painful, as she overanalyzes the nuances of every relationship, but it is simultaneously realistic.

Marching-band kids everywhere will enjoy this believable celebration of a life-changing, musical rite of passage. (Fiction. 11 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101529409
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
09/01/2011
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
551,312
Lexile:
770L (what's this?)
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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