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Notes from an Accidental Band Geek

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  1,248 Ratings  ·  206 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 LaZebnikAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie PerkinsWe'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
2011 YA Contemporaries
92nd out of 165 books — 604 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)
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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
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
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
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
May 26, 2016 Adrienne rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen
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 ...more
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.
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
Oct 22, 2016 Chloe rated it it was amazing
This book was everything!!! I read this awhile ago (I keep forgetting to update) and I still have feelings about it. This was especially great for me because I'm in band (I play tuba) and my sisters in marching band, so yes!
Jan 05, 2013 Rebecca rated it liked it
I picked this up at a school book fair. I’m a “band geek” I suppose, so I thought it might be a cute, light read for me during school. And it was. It was cute and it was a light read, but it didn’t have a Wow Factor, and I think that the target audience is much too limited. The novel had an extremely annoying main character and under-developed side characters. Though it was enjoyable, it was still a flawed book.

The plot is pretty basic, and it’s all set up during the first chapter. Elsie wants t
Katie Fitzgerald
Elsie never planned to join the marching band, but when she learns she must join another ensemble in order to qualify for a competitive summer music program, she finds she has no choice. At first, mainly because of her musician dad's prejudices, Elsie doesn't take marching band very seriously. She's offended that she has to play mellophone, instead of her beloved French horn, and she just can't seem to get into the rhythm - musically or socially - of how marching band works. Once she gives it a ...more
Danielle Schuman
Oct 31, 2016 Danielle Schuman rated it it was amazing
This book was the best. At first I wasn't exactly sure about it and usually with those books i just put them down and i don't finish them. This time I stuck with it and oh my goodness it was absolutely the best and it had a lot of different types of emotions and it made it oh so much better. I would reccomend it to pretty much every one because it is easy to read but it gives subject matter and it is just a great book.
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
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
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 ...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
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
Apr 29, 2014 Lana rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 ...more
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 ...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 ...more
May 30, 2013 7megan rated it liked it
The book I read was Notes from an Accidental Band Geek by Erin Dionne. In this book Elsie was a French horn player that had to do marching band in order to qualify for a prestigious audition. Elsie has lots of ups and downs while doing marching band, she even has to change her instrument. Elsie learns lots of things and actually made a couple of friends along the way and didn't practice her French horn 24/7. I though this story was just okay. I liked how this story was very relatable to life in ...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
Talia Castro
well dis book is abt a freshman named Elsie Wyat.... her mom worries about Elsie’s every breath; her classical musician-superstar dad doesn’t notice her successes; she’s a year younger than everyone else in her class; and thanks to her extreme schedule and over-confident attitude, she has no friends. bt she’s good at The French horn. She’s so good that she’s sure she can get into the summer music program of her dreams…but first she has to survive a season of marching band.

And that’s not going to
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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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