Strike, an extracurricular percussion ensemble at Caledonia (Michigan) Community Schools, has been in operation for 23 years.
Don Raaymakers, music teacher at Kraft Meadows Middle School who started Strike, developed a six-level program where students gain skills in performing and teaching. That way, older students get teaching experience, and Strike’s education stays in the family.
Newcomers enter at level one.
To advance to level two, they must record performances of six pieces. Level two students get to perform one piece of more difficult music in the first half of the June Strike concert and become eligible to travel on Strike performance trips.
At level three, Strikers access all of the June concert music.
At level four, students become eligible to teach Strike lessons. All lower-level Strike members must take lessons with upper-level performers. “I don’t do any of the lessons anymore; I do the supervising,” Raaymakers says.
Teaching these lessons becomes a part-time job. According to Raaymakers, level four students make $16 an hour, which increases if they hit level five and level six. Strike members pay a yearly fee to cover lessons and operating costs, but they can offset this fee by selling tickets to concerts.
Also at level four, students take a six-week class where Raaymakers teaches them music pedagogy and applied behavior analysis.
Level five comes with a pay raise, and level six performers get their names on an honorary Strike plaque.
“Strike has levels that students can achieve, like a testing program,” Raaymakers says.