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Notes from an Accidental Band Geek

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,121 Ratings  ·  195 Reviews
From the author of Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies comes a middle grade novel hailed by Linda Urban as “A perfect blend of laugh out loud funny and real-world heart.”

Elsie Wyatt wants to be an orchestra superstar, like her dad and grandfather. The first step? Get into a super-selective summer music camp. In order to qualify, Elsie must “expand her musical horizons” b
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Dial (first published May 12th 2011)
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Catching Jordan by Miranda KenneallyLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie PerkinsEpic Fail by Claire LaZebnikWe'll Always Have Summer by Jenny HanAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
2011 YA Contemporaries
89th out of 165 books — 596 voters
How to Seduce a Band Geek by Cassie MaeAmerican Band by Kristen LaineBand Nerds Poetry from the 13th Chair Trombone Player by DJ  CorchinBand Geek Love by Josie BlossIf I Stay by Gayle Forman
Best Marching Band/Orchestra Book
11th out of 17 books — 12 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,372)
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Jubilation Lee
So confession time, my friends – I am not a musician.

I mean, I’ve always had mad dreams of picking up a musical instrument and instantly being able to play it like some kind of magical wunderkind.

But those dreams are dependent on me never proving them wrong, so aside from an ill-fated few years as a child where Grandma forced me to play endless scales on the piano and three months where I studiously avoided even looking at the French Horn that I was supposed to be practicing, I have never parti
Howdy YAL
To see full review click here:

Confession: When I was in high school I was in band. Actually, I've mentioned that before. What I didn't mention was marching band.

Honestly, some of my worse memories are from marching band. I was a double alternate (i.e. they gave up trying to teach me how to march in step). The ironic thing is, despite this I actually excelled at actually playing my instrument. I was the only one in my school to qualify for the All-State ba
Apr 16, 2012 Deborah rated it really liked it
So anyone who has read any of my reviews knows that I'm a sucker for a book about a talented kid whether they be a dancer, singer, soap maker, etc but this is my first one about a marching band member and it kind of made me wish I hadn't quit the clarinet in 8th grade (though it was probably for the best for all concerned, especially those who had to hear me play).

Elsie, a 9th grade French horn player, has only joined marching band so that she can have a required extracurricular to get into an
Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids
4.5 stars

This book was not at all what I was excepting it to be, it was so much better! Talk about a fun, enjoyable read with a main character who's sarcasm, awkward social challenges and desire to enjoy her own life and relish in the moment, made for a story that was both entraining and relatable.

I played band for one year in middle, but have no idea what it's like to be in band in high school, let alone the marching band, but reading Elise's story gave me more of an insight to what they do. Er
Sep 09, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Notes from an Accidental Band Geek by Erin Dionne is the perfect book to hand to your fifth and sixth grade readers who are looking for something a bit more mature, but that is ultimately a clean and fun read. No swearing, one kiss, but all around pleasant and no big drama. I enjoyed reading this book, even as I sometimes vacillated in how much I liked the protagonist, Elsie.

Synopsis: Elsie Wyatt is a born French horn player, just like her father and her grandfather before her. In order to quali
Oct 21, 2011 Kate rated it it was amazing
Confession: I will always be a band geek at heart. My junior high and high school years were spent marching around fields and up and down neighborhood streets in parade formation in my small town, riding the band bus, and ogling the boys in the trumpet section. So really...was there any way I was NOT going to like this book? Probably not... but I didn't just like it - I loved it.

Elsie Wyatt is a great twist on the classic fish-out-of-water story, a classic orchestra kid who's forced to join marc
Dec 28, 2012 Caroline rated it it was ok
I am a band geek. So I was expecting this book to be something I could relate to. What I got was a cutesy kids book that did not impress me. Some parts had the potential to be good, but, when combined with the rest of the book, just seemed out of place. It tries to be funny at moments that should be serious. Even more than that, though, I had a problem with the characters. Especially Elsie.

Throughout the book, freshman Elsie develops as an egotistical, over-emotional know-it-all who thinks that
Oct 19, 2011 Mary marked it as to-read
School Library Journal (October 1, 2011)
Gr 6-9-Elsie has her career path all mapped out: she will become the principal French horn player for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, just like her father and grandfather. The 13-year-old's life has revolved around this single focus for years. It hasn't left much time or space for learning to read people or navigate social situations. All that changes when she grudgingly joins marching band and, against all odds, falls in love with it. This self-absorbed, s
Sep 30, 2011 athena rated it it was ok
Notes From an Accidental Band Geek is by Erin Dionne. Elsie Wyatt is a high-schooler with high ambitions, to get into Shining Birches (A very prestigious orchestra thingy,) and nothing can get in her way. Even if that means joining marching band to fit the requirements. But this place-filler turns out to be much harder and--more fun?--than anticipated. Elsie must use her new experiences to learn much more about life than just how to play the mellophone. This book was overall lame. Yes, she does ...more
Jul 27, 2012 Adrienne rated it it was ok
Elsie was almost too hard for me to handle. I understand that this was a book about growth, and that she's socially awkward and under a lot of pressure, but she was mean, insensitive, and not a particularly engaging narrator. (That's not to say she's not a realistic high school student, but it does mean it's hard to care about her.) I was also irritated by the author's weird name switches for things, such as the "Darcy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" and the popular vampire movie, Dusk. I'm not sure ...more
Dec 09, 2012 Sophia rated it really liked it
This book is about a teenage girl named Elsie, but her friends call her chicken! All Elsie wants is to get into a band called the Shining Birches, but to do that she has to join her schools band to become "more experienced" Elsie reluctantly joins, and she turns out to start liking band, the only band part is that she has to play a mellophone instead of a French Horn. She makes many friends along the way. But what will happen when she has to choose between her school band and her dream, The Shin ...more
Jul 21, 2014 Thebookchick rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who like snobby people
Recommended to Thebookchick by: Amazon
Shelves: why, no, oh-god-no-why

If you read my "The Fault in Our Stars" review then you know that I said that I had asked for a shitty book. THIS was the shitty book.

I was 11, turning 12 in April of 2013. I had always loved books, even writting them came naturally to me at a young age! I had gotten Notes From and Accidental Band Geek by the same author that Easter so obviosuly I thought "this is going to be awesome!"

Oh honey, if only I knew.

I got it May 18, 2013 (my 12th birthday) and I started reaidng it almost rig
Apr 29, 2014 Lana rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pat Gilleland
Aug 07, 2011 Pat Gilleland rated it really liked it
Speaking as a french horn/mellophone player who has been a lifelong band geek, I kept turning the pages of is book thinking "This is my life! Did I know this woman in high school"? I have never read a more realistic description of the world of marching band and of the difficulties that "serious" musicians face in trying to straddle their two worlds. Anyone who has ever been in marching band will recognize and identify with the perfectly drawn characters in this book.
Jun 18, 2013 Erica rated it liked it
Shelves: youngadult, fiction
This was a fun summer read. Whenever I go to the library, I always peruse the YA shelf, and this caught my eye. Brought back lots of memories about my days as a band geek, although we were called Band Heads. I appreciated the fact that the main character at times isn't all that easy to like. And she eventually comes to realize this and struggles with what to do about that.
Selena Knight
Feb 17, 2012 Selena Knight rated it really liked it
I loved this book. The main character, affectionately referred to as Chicken, experiences tremendous personal growth throughout the story. For those Bank Geeks out there, it will bring back fond memories of high school marching band. It was an easy, realistic, believable and enjoyable read.
Nov 01, 2015 Sabrina rated it liked it
I believe this book is great. One reason why I think this book is great is because it's about a girl named Elsie and she wants to be a super star like her dad but the first thing she doe is go to music camp. But one obstacle she has to face to join that summer music camp is to join her school marching band. Elise hats it because she has to wear a plumb hat and polyester pants. Also she hats it because in the marching band at school she has to play an instrument that she doesn't even know how to ...more
Ms Threlkeld
This is what I call a fluffy read. It was enjoyable in the moment, but fairly forgettable and didn't require too much thought. I wasn't in marching band in high school, but my best friend was, and what the main character goes through her first year in marching band seems completely authentic. I appreciated the journey Elsie went on during the book, but struggled to actually like her as a character. Most of the time I wanted to smack her upside the head and shout "figure it out, already!" The sup ...more
Jan 09, 2014 Lauren rated it liked it
Erin Dionne’s Notes from an Accidental Band Geek features Elsie Wyatt, who wants to become an amazing horn player just like her dad. Only, there is just one problem with that. To attend the super-selective summer music camp, Shining Birches, she has to have one other orchestra to add to her application. Elsie is a pretty average freshman, but she has dreams big, bright, and clear in her sky. After Elsie gets over the fact that marching band is not the kind of orchestra she is used to, she quickl ...more
Mallory Lee
Jun 15, 2015 Mallory Lee rated it really liked it
I'm going to be honest, at the beginning of this book, I couldn't stand Elsie and her constant need to complain about everything or her extreme pessimism. Then I began to slowly like her and hated her dad and his snootiness towards anything that was not a formal ensemble. “just a marching band competition“?! Really?! I know enough about marching band to know that a marching competition is no little task. But overall it was a pretty good book, once you get past Elsie's pessimism and her dad's bel ...more
Brandy Painter
3.5 stars really

Originally posted at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

Notes from an Accidental Band Geek by Erin Dionne is a book I wanted to read because, I'm not going to lie, I was a band geek. Even after I quit band and wasn't in it anymore I was still a band geek. That's where all my friends were. It's like the mafia. Once you're in, death is the only way out.

If you aren't or weren't in band much of this novel will be meaningless to you. You will wonder why these people do what they do. Why
Shelley Daugherty
Mar 23, 2012 Shelley Daugherty rated it it was amazing
Elsie has wanted nothing but to follow in her father's footsteps and be member of the orchestra some day. In order to achieve this dream she has to get into the Shining Birches musical group and she wants to do this her freshman year (no one has ever been admitted into the group as a freshman). But since she must sign up for marching band, she wonders if it will take time away from her French horn practice. On her first day of band practice, she finds out that she won't be playing her French hor ...more
Dec 28, 2011 Kris rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of Erin Dionne. Her Total Tragedy of A Girl Named Hamlet is one of my favorite books for young readers. So I was thrilled to read her new one. I was equally thrilled that it was about band geeks, which is something I am quite familiar with. I was a band geek in high school. I played clarinet for two marching bands, Worthington High School and Bellefontaine High School. Elsie is a much more serious musician than I ever was. She is a bit of a prodigy on the French Horn, just like h ...more
This was simply a fun, fast read that my tired brain was happy to read. The main annoying thing for me was the main character, Elsie. Didn't care much for her parents most of the time either. However, there were reasons she was the way she was. It was a true coming-of-age novel as Elsie realized or learned a lot of things, recognized the need to change, and started to improve--and all in the right ways. A bit of cheese here and there, but not too bad overall.

I think the best part was entering th
John Clark
Jun 26, 2013 John Clark rated it really liked it
Quick, fun read that does a great job of portraying how family expectations and obsessions with success can create endless problems with friendships and romance. In this case Elsie's determination to get accepted at a prestigious music camp at an earlier age than her father, creates endless problems with peers, her parents and the boy she realizes is kinda special. When a family vacation to Europe derails her plan to participate in the Boston Youth Orchestra, something she needs to round out he ...more
As a band geek and bookworm, I'm always on the look out for novels about band. So, naturally I had to give this one a shot.

As far as accuracy goes, I feel like it caught the spirit of marching band, but it messed up some of the details. Like for example on page 100 Elsie describes a marimba as "...a big xylophone on wheels, only with pedals on a piano". As someone who plays marimba in the marching band (and for concert band), I can tell you that it has no pedals. The only mallet instrument with
Jul 11, 2013 Lisa rated it liked it
I think it is really great for a middle reader...not quite ready for YA. Elsie is a likeable character that is obsessed with playing her French horn. To diversify herself for her Shining Birches audition, she must join the band and she has preconceived notions about what it will be like. Until she actually joins and it turns out that band is a lot different than she thought. She goes through growing pains with her parents - who have their own expectations. What makes it even more difficult is th ...more
Dec 06, 2013 Drucilla rated it liked it
Shelves: d
Wow! This definitely brought back some memories. If you're a current or former band nerd, I recommend you pick this up, if only for the nostalgia aspect. It's really light, but it's a fun read. I was actually surprised how specific the book got. If you've never played an instrument before, you might actually feel a little left out. I didn't understand why Elsie's friends got so upset with her. She was a little abrasive, but nothing serious and even though Elsie made up with her father, I didn't ...more
Princess Bookie
Aug 31, 2011 Princess Bookie rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2011
My Thoughts: I still need to read Dionne's other novels! I ended up getting the chance to read this one and was very excited. It sounded like such a cute and fun little read. And it was!

We are introduced to Elsie who is a new freshman at a new school. Elsie is a talented french horn player. Her dad is a famous musician and she wants to follow right in his footsteps. In order to audition for a special music group, she must spice up her musical resume a little bit so she joins Marching Band. Her
Jun 25, 2012 Delaney rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What the heck is a mellophone?! Literally, what the heck?! Elsie is joining a marching band and she has to play a mellophone?! Wait, a close cousin?! Elsie is having problems right on the first day of school, already?!

Elsie was quirky and at a point I found her personality too self-centered. Who could blame, right? Her dad and her both play the french horn and her dad has played because of his dad! Elsie can't audition for Shining Birches because of vacation. So getting into marching band won't
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I write books for tweens, teens, and anyone who survived junior high.

Please note: I have changed my review policy. I'll no longer be using the star rating system--I'm an author, not a reviewer or editor, and I'd rather support other authors by not ranking their books. I write honest (brief) reviews for each book I read, so please look to those to find out what I loved.
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