What are pBANDs?

“The one who was larger than the universe became a microscopic embryo.” This is a direct quote from page 21 of one of my favorite books, The Gift for all Peoples by Max Lucado of San Antonio. All of Max Lucado’s books center on Jesus Christ and are reader friendly as well as easy to understand. I am convinced that there are other gifts originating from God which are merely microscopic exhibits of God’s amazing love for us. And if you have seen the phrase music & math, then you have a hint that they too are included in what James 1:17 declares: “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.”
As a secondary band director and math educator, I am compelled to tell anyone I teach that music and math are two such gifts that have been underappreciated for centuries. (Many things come into focus more clearly after experiencing them personally.) Indeed, teaching music and math over the years have exposed me to the amazing benefits God intended for these two gifts.
Give me a few minutes to explain an approach that I believe could relieve our public classrooms of some of their academic woes. This approach is a major benefit that has been unwittingly applied in virtually every successful school district throughout this country. Moreover, it is important to note that this approach is sensible, realistic, and affordable so that every school district might systematically use it to change their own educational outlook.
My startup business, called Music & Math Masters Studio, came on the scene in Woodway, Texas, on 7 September 2013. I am convinced that its two essential components are at the heart of this approach.
Teaching band and math at Aquilla ISD, over the past six years, helped me to realize that music and math ought to be used synergistically to significantly transform student attitudes, behavior, and conduct (ABCs) with respect to their educational environment. Carefully examine those school districts that have placed a great amount of emphasis and finances on building collaborative improvements in their academic curriculum, both musically and mathematically. They are easily identified.
Any school district that truly takes music seriously ought to invest resources that start music education programs at the earliest possible ages. Early music training (that is pragmatic and theory based) ought to be coupled with early math education to undergird and nurture an improved academic environment and state of mind. A well-planned music program that enriches the academic environment should be addressed and emphasized at the same intensity level as math, for all grade levels.
From my perspective, this level of intensity is facilitated best by introducing pBands in the elementary grades. The p stands for ‘plastic’ and merely reflects the predominate instruments used in this musical group made up of beginners and amateur musicians. Children as early as third grade can be taught to play in harmony, in various keys (other than C-Major), music theory, and how to care for and handle plastic instruments which duplicate those commonly used in middle school and high school bands. Each instrument of a pBand is ultra-lightweight, easy to play, carry, and will produce sounds of an authentic quality. Heretofore, a traditional elementary enrichment program uses recorders, ocarinas, and song flutes. P-Bands can boost the musical experiences of children and offer them a broader, colorful musical palette to choose from.
My studies reveal that music plays a vital role in reducing academic pressures resulting from intense classroom testing and serves to counterbalance stresses commonly associated with other subjects (including math). This notion is clearly implied by David in Scripture. It is David who deserves credit for putting so much emphasis on music. He not only composed numerous psalms but organized praise groups and choirs and even designed musical instruments for sanctuary orchestras (consisting of 4,000 singers/musicians based on 1 Chronicles 23:5). Also, David used music early on during his life as a shepherd boy and customarily played music on his harp to “refresh” and heal King Saul during his periods of depression caused by an evil spirit (1 Sam 16:23).
Elementary classrooms need to receive a similar dose of refreshing tranquility and discipline. Music training not only contributes these two factors as well as many others besides. I happened to bring a list of ten benefits that are derived from an elementary music program. It 1) promotes group harmony and teamwork; 2) projects self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth; 3) strengthens cultural ties and school spirit; 4) serves as a catalyst for making everyone a winner; 4) reinforces positive behavior and conduct; 5) facilitates a learning environment; 6) keeps stress under control; 7) provides an emotional escape from turbulence and anxiety; 8) trains children in the meaning of self-discipline and self-control; 9) offers pre-band practical training; and 10) it will significantly improve the academic performance of any school system.
That said, music and math, along with the employment of skilled educators, are two vitally important ingredients for successful academic performances. Why? Because each component separately benefits the brain’s thinking processes in ways, one alone cannot. Math provides the necessary mental calisthenics essential for creative thinking whereas music activates the brain’s relaxation properties to help soothe, restore, and rejuvenate the brain. They in essence constitute a full complement, and therefore are my favorite catch-all phrase for summarizing or characterizing my point of view.
To be effective, music and math must be used evenhandedly throughout the early stages of childhood educational development. Since math is already considered a core subject, music training must catch up to it as a parallel mandatory activity for purposes of classroom balance. P-Bands will not only provide elementary students with an enrichment program that uses better quality musical instruments but will motivate their interest and enthusiasm as well. Most importantly, p-Bands will accelerate weaning children away from electronic whiz-toys, television, and social media devices, which in my opinion are detrimental to educational goals.
P-Bands consist of realistic sounding musical instruments (made of polyurethane materials) such as clarinets, saxophones, flutes, trombones, U-bass ukuleles, and trumpets. Although each instrument, on an average, weighs less than 10 pounds, each merits praise for sounding strikingly authentic. These instruments are not toys! But will enhance the dimensions of music appreciation. As a result, children will no longer be limited by their physical strength, stamina, or hindered by parental concerns over replacing costly instruments due to accidental damage. Music training should be fun and exciting on a routine basis. Our elementary children deserve to be in an environment where they can learn to play musical instruments much like those in middle and high school bands.
To my knowledge, not a single pBand has been established in the country. On the other hand, this is not that surprising since there is not a single business functioning as a Music & Math Masters Studio either. Therefore, I urge parents reading this article to insist that their public school administration officials put more emphasis and resources to modernize elementary music programs.
P-Bands are unbelievably pocketbook friendly and fall well within the parameters of any school budget. My small business is a prominent promoter of this approach. Please visit my studio for pBand musical supplies, information, and other band and orchestra accessories.
Submitted by:
Charles L. Perkins, Sr.
(254) 235-6662