Frequently Asked Questions

Just show up! School of HONK is open to anyone who wants to come out and play, parade, and dance with us. We don’t care if you’ve played an instrument before. We don’t agree with the elementary school music teacher who told you you don’t have rhythm. If you play with us, you’re a member, and we invite you to join our announcements list anytime and to join our Facebook group and community list after you’ve come out to a session or few.
Yes. We believe everyone can make music, and we invite people of all genders, races, musical, cultural, and educational backgrounds to join us in making music every Sunday. The brass world is largely dominated by straight, white cis men; we are working to create a space that supports all people to learn, grow, lead, and have fun playing music in the street.
No problem! We have instruments you can borrow, and people who can help you start playing your very first day. We offer a newcomer orientation starting at 2:30PM, before our regular session starts at 3PM, and we encourage you to come play with us!
Yes, but maybe not on that instrument. We are a band of mobile, acoustic instruments. This means we do not welcome amplifiers of any kind and require instruments that can be played on parade. Electric instruments are a hard no. Stringed instruments are a maybe. We suggest you try one of our loaner brass instruments! Email schoolofhonk@gmail.com with further questions.
Yes, but we don’t currently have mentors dedicated to all of these sections. Our music is arranged for traditional brass instruments including trumpet, trombone, clarinet, saxophone, flute, melodica, tuba, and percussion. Other mobile, acoustic instruments are welcome, but we may not have the mentors or sheet music to support your horn. Email schoolofhonk@gmail.com with any questions.
Our bass section is currently closed to new members. Please email schoolofhonk@gmail.com with any further questions.
We have horns available to be borrowed during our Sunday sessions. If you show up at 2:30PM, someone will be able to get you set up with one of our loaner horns. Note that these horns cannot be borrowed outside of our Sunday sessions.
Then our dance troupe might be the right section for you! With the same ethos as the larger band, the School of HONK dance troupe invites dancers and non-dancers alike to learn some simple choreography during our monthly dance parties, which usually takes place the first Sunday of every month.
When you arrive at 2:30PM, you will be set-up on an instrument and buddied with a mentor in your section. They will get you oriented and ready for our regular session which begins at 3PM. We usually start by playing one of our simpler songs. We formally welcome everyone and then run through the couple songs we are going to focus on for the day. You might not know them yet, but don’t sweat because then, we break out into sections by instrument to learn the songs more in depth. After that, we come back together as a full group to run through those same songs again. Sometimes we’ll throw in one more song for fun. Finally, at 4PM, we go out for a parade around the neighborhood, returning by 5PM for chatting and snacking!
You can, but be warned that you may have many excited, new players suggesting you try playing! We really do believe anyone can make music with us, even on their first day!
No, of course not! We want everyone to participate how they are comfortable. That said, we do encourage parading, even if you are new and don’t play most of the time, because that’s where the real fun is!
Our location sometimes changes, so you should check our homepage for details about this week’s location and details, but our current location is the Cambridge Art Center at 119 Windsor St. in Cambridge. There is limited parking available in a small parking lot out front.
Most important is to wear weather-appropriate clothes, as we go out to parade almost every week! This means gloves and scarves in the winter and sunscreen and hats in the summer. Outside of that, School of HONK wears polka dots as a “uniform.”We have extra polka dotted clothing and accessories to share, so don’t feel like you have to invest in any new clothing to join us!
School of HONK is absolutely free, but we accept donations. You can make a donation online or in person in the donations bucket we bring out at the end of each session.
Yes! Young people are welcome to dance and play music, as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian at all time—especially during our parade from 4-5PM each Sunday. For children under 8, we have toy instruments they can use. For kids 8 and over, we have plastic trumpets and trombones they can play. Young people should come at 2:30PM, especially if they are new and want to be buddied up with a mentor for the session!
Yes! While we learn by ear and rote during our Sunday sessions (i.e.. without sheet music), we do provide sheet music for small group and personal practice. You can find sheet music for each song as well as recordings of School of HONK playing the song and the original song we based our arrangement on all in the music section of our website.
If you are looking to get your own horn, we are happy to help you find a horn that’s right for you. Sometimes, we have excess inventory we can sell or else we can connect you to some tried and true sources. Email schoolofhonk@gmail.com if you are in the market for a horn and want some help figuring out where to look.
We empathize, and there are other opportunities for you to play with School of HONK. We try to organize monthly sectionals for each instrument as well as occasional gigs for the whole band, which you can hear about on our announcements list. Sometimes, School of HONK members will also organize unofficial gigs which you can hear about on our our Facebook group and community list.
Yes, please! Write to paul@schoolofhonk.org, as he handles our instrument inventory.
Yes, please! You can make a donation online or in person in the donations bucket we bring out at the end of each session. We are also a 501c3 non-profit organization through our fiscal sponsor sprout, so any donations are tax-deductible. Email schoolofhonk@gmail.com for details.
We’re all over the interwebs! Find us on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and Flickr.
Wonderful. Send links to your photos or videos, and we’ll share the best of them with our members. Best of all are photos and videos posted to platforms with the largest audience, such as instagram or youtube.
Mentors help make School of HONK happen. They lead songs and sectional break-outs, welcome and orient new members, help organize and lead our weekly parades, and set up the space during Sunday sessions. They also lead monthly sectionals, arrange songs, and do other invisible work to keep our operation running.
At the beginning of each session, we ask mentors to raise their hands to make sure new members know who they are. We are working on creating a members and mentors database on our website as well, so check it out and submit your own picture and bio if you’re not yet on the site!
Mentors are members of School of HONK who are nominated and selected by the existing pool of mentors and the School of HONK steering committee.
Don’t sweat it! You will be able to learn a lot in a day or a month or a year, but you won’t be able to learn it all. Part of the fun of School of HONK can be laying out and listening when new songs happen on parade or indoors. Feel free to try and pick it up as you go, or to just soak in the sounds and dance when an unfamiliar tune comes up!
Songs are chosen and arranged by mentors on the School of HONK repertoire subcommittee. We look for popular dance songs, from any genre, that can be arranged for our big brass band, and playable by musicians at all levels. If you have a request, we welcome the suggestion, but know that we only choose to play 1 in 100 suggestions because of the ratio of amazing songs to songs we can actually learn with our huge, amazing group!
We’d love to hear it! Feel free to talk to any mentor during or after a session, to email us at schoolofhonk@gmail.com, or to place an anonymous suggestion into the donation box if that is more appropriate.