What instruments are allowed in the GMS Bands?
The Gateway Concert Bands build skills on the following instruments: flute, oboe and bassoon (usually beginning in 7th grade), Bb soprano clarinet (which will provide skills for the entire clarinet family), alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone (beginning in 7th grade - please ask about exceptions), trumpet, French horn, trombone, baritone, tuba, and percussion (mallets, snare, timpani, bass drum, accessories). NOTE: Beginning percussion students must have already had at least one year of piano lessons.
Alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, trumpet, trombone, guitar, bass guitar, upright (acoustic) bass, piano, and drum set are welcomed into our Jazz Band
Where can I get an instrument?
You can find instruments in local music stores, on-line, in classified ads, in pawn shops, in thrift stores, at garage sales, and from family members.
Please be aware that instrument quality, service, and warranty are issues that you should consider. If you have questions about a pending purchase, please feel free to contact Mr. Morgan for his input.
Gateway Middle School has some of the larger band instruments which can be rented on an annual (school year) basis. These instruments are bass clarinet, baritone saxophone, French horn, baritone, and tuba. These larger instruments are usually reserved for 7th or 8th graders, but please contact Mr. Morgan for availability and options.
What if I want to upgrade my child's instrument?
Many older middle school students and their families want to upgrade their band instrument. I recommend that as a family you consider these questions:
Has the student demonstrated a commitment to practicing already? Sometimes a student will tend to practice more on a new instrument, but that is not guaranteed in the purchase price!
Is the student intending to play in band only through middle school or continue through high school?
What level of instrument do we want to purchase? Band instruments are usually designated as "Beginner" (starter instrument), "Intermediate" (after 2-5 years of playing), and "Professional" (appropriate for self-motivated, diligent middle schoolers through college players).
Parents, please contact me before you consider purchasing an instrument! Some instruments are simply not needed in the GMS bands; other instruments are sold as "professional" quality but are actually lower quality; other instruments are simply junk. I can help you make a wise investment.
What is the GMS Band uniform?
In a normal school year, Gateway Bands will perform using a uniform, because an ensemble is a group of people performing as once voice. However, due to the remote nature of our school start, we will offer the opportunity for students to purchase a band shirt to commemorate their participation in Gateway Bands. Later in the year, if we have the opportunity to perform live, we will discuss uniforms.
What about Jazz Band? – More information to come
Jazz Band is an “extra opportunity” club. It is an advanced musical option for self-motivated students who want to explore being as creative as possible with their instrument. While we are learning remotely, students will learn to the various basic concepts of jazz phrasing, style, and improvisation. Students will be able to learn at their own pace. We will learn famous jazz melodies, jazz history and especially jazz improvisation! We will use play-a-long tracks to practice improvisation at home.
Jazz Band typically rehearses before the school day. However, many people do not appreciate hearing instruments practice before the sun rises! We will find a time for Jazz Band to meet remotely which benefits everyone.
In person, the GMS Jazz Band is a learning group which focuses on building a strong foundation of jazz fundamentals: articulations, improvising, sectional playing, stage presence, etc. We will rarely compete in a "contest" although we will support local festivals as much as possible.
My child wants a greater challenge; what "above and beyond" opportunities are there for motivated band students?
Our bands are full of students who want to do "more"! Here are some ideas...
With a SmartMusic subscription, students can work on music for next year, for high school, or even for college. Occasionally in band we look at up-coming playing targets and students can always work ahead in SmartMusic at their own pace.
Students can learn all major scales and all minor scales before the end of middle school. We will work on major scales in 6th, 7th and 8th grade and minor scales in 7th and 8th grade. But your child can learn these crucial skills at his or her own pace right now! When they accomplish these scales, there are plenty more to master.
Many students love to compose music. There is free music notation software available for download. Just have your child ask Mr. Morgan for the information.
All GMS Band members are encouraged to participate in the Mt. Pilchuck Music Educators' Solo & Ensemble Contest held in May. This is a classic solo/ensemble contest: play for a judge who will award one of three levels of distinction.
Self-motivated & committed 7th and 8th graders who play standard jazz instruments are invited to participate in Jazz Band.
Private music lessons are the single most impacting activity which can provide extra challenge and greatly enhance your child's band experience.