Located in Plano, TX, Rice Middle School boasts an annual enrollment of approximately 1,150 students; 900 of wich enroll in their campus music programs each year. Under the direction of Jason Tucker, the Rice Middle School Band was named the 2012 Outstanding Texas Band Program by the Texas chapter of the American School Band Directors Association.
What do you believe sets the Rice program apart?
The Rice Band community of students, parents, directors, and administrators have incredibly high standards for student achievement. We take great pride in the program and it's because of these community efforts that our band has been a four-time TMEA Honor Band state finalist.
What role do you believe that equipment plays in the overall success of your program?
Musical performance is a symbiotic product of the performer and the equipment he or she uses. For a student to succeed, he or she needs to put forth the necessary work to progress. At the same time, having the best available equipment, commensurate with the student's level of development, is critical for student success. Young players become very frustrated and lose interest in their instrument quickly if they struggle. Quality equipment from the start improves their odds of early success and, consequently, their probability for continued growth and interest. Developing players likewise need equipment that will allow them to realize their potential without creating obstacles. As teachers, we guide students and their families in a manner that will maximize the rewards of their effort.
What products have your students found success with?
We currently use the Vandoren M13 Lyre mouthpiece for our clarinets and the Vandoren AL3, TL3, and BL3 Optimum mouthpieces with our saxophones as well. I have been very pleased with the new Vandoren M|O ligatures for both clarinet and saxophones, and we have begun to transition our students to these ligatures in the past year. We use Vandoren Traditional reeds for all of our single-reed instruments as our baseline reed type. Many of our more advanced clarinetists prefer the V•12, and a few use the 56 Rue Lepic. Our saxophonists who play in jazz band often use Java reeds. They particularly enjoy trying the available Vandoren jazz mix cards of different jazz cuts.
We selected Vandoren mouthpieces in particular because our students are more likely to produce a good tone with reliable intonation from beginners to our most advanced students.
In terms of cost, the Vandoren mouthpieces we use are fairly priced with competing products, making them a good value for our students. In my experience, students with basic knowledge of reed care are able to perform particularly well on Vandoren reeds. We do have students who will sometimes purchase a different type of reed, but the ones they use for auditions and performances always seem to be their Vandoren reeds. I think this alone speaks to the quality of the product.