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Anchor Bay’s Instrumental Music Program

Nestled along the shoreline of Lake St. Clair, Anchor Bay School District encompasses the city of New Baltimore and parts of Chesterfield, Lenox, Ira, and Casco Township in Macomb and St. Clair counties.

This region, northeast of Detroit, was among the fastest growing in Michigan during the past ten years. The community has met the challenge of expanding enrollment by funding a state-of-the-art AA high school, which opened in September of 2003.

The instrumental music program at Anchor Bay High School consists of six concert bands, a jazz ensemble, and a 200-plus member marching band. All are offered as courses during the regular school day, except for the marching band, which meets as a seventh-hour class outside of the school day proper. The concert bands include a ninth grade cadet band, a ninth grade symphonic band, a concert band, two symphonic bands that meet separately and combine in performance, and a wind ensemble.

Instrumental music in the Anchor Bay School District begins in fourth grade with a general music class studying the recorder. Band instruments are introduced in fifth grade, with the district’s seven elementary school bands meeting before or after school for rehearsals.

At the middle school level, sixth grade students meet in classes of mixed instrumentation every other day as one of their electives. Depending on the middle school, seventh and eighth grade students are either grouped by ability level or grade level.

After being cut from the curriculum in the early 1980s, the Anchor Bay instrumental music program began its resurgence in the late 1980s under the direction of Randy Casteel, who restored and grew the program.

In recent years, the program has blossomed to annually include approximately 1000 students district-wide including 300 student-musicians in one or more of the high school ensembles. The secondary bands consistently receive first division ratings in district and state MSBOA festivals and the Anchor Bay School District music program was recognized in 2006 as one of the “Best 100 Communities for Music Education in America” by the American Music Conference. The Anchor Bay High School Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble have recently performed at the Michigan Music Conference in 2006, 2008, and 2011.