Gateway Band Information
Band is a lighthearted, fun class where students learn to play instruments and read music together. As we learn and grow, you'll get to play in concerts, for assemblies, and attend field trips! Anyone can learn to play an instrument, and no experience is necessary. At Gateway, we have three levels of concert band and a jazz ensemble.
- Band 1 - Beginning Band: If you are new to learning an instrument, reading music or this is your first band experience, this is the right band for you! Most 6th graders start in Beginning Band.
- Band 2* - Intermediate Band: Mostly 2nd year players and students who audition with Mr. Morgan. This band is for students who have some experience and are developing their skills.
- Band 3* - Advanced Band: Mostly 3rd year players and students who have auditioned with Mr. Morgan. This band is for students who have at least 2 years of experience or have successfully auditioned.
- Jazz Ensemble*: This is an audition only before school club. Any student who is signed up for band, choir or orchestra can participate!
*Ask Mr. Morgan for audition information for these classes.
You get to choose which instrument you want to play, and if you aren't sure, I'll help you! We get to pick instruments at the start of the school year.
What Instruments Can I Choose?
In Band, you can choose from Woodwind, Brass, and Percussion instruments. Options Include:
- French Horn
- Percussion (mallets, snare and more)
The only requirement is percussion is auditioned and students need to have 1 year of piano lessons before choosing percussion. See videos below for examples of each of the instruments you can choose from!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
*Which instruments are allowed in the GMS Bands?
The Gateway Concert Bands build skills on the following instruments:
- 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)
- French horn (usually beginning in 7th grade)
- Tuba (usually beginning in 7th grade)
- Percussion (mallets, snare, timpani, bass drum, accessories). NOTE: Beginning percussion students must have already had at least one year of piano lessons.
All instruments may participate in Jazz band, but the “traditional” jazz instruments include: Alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, trumpet, trombone, guitar, bass guitar, upright (acoustic) bass, piano, and drum set.
*Does a student need to have experience in playing the instrument they choose to play in band?
*Can you play an instrument even if you do not know much about music?
*Can you play the electric guitar or electric bass in band?
Not in regular band but yes in jazz (before school).
*Is there jazz band?
Yes. Jazz band meets one hour before school starts, and is an advanced, auditioned group.
*Which instrument is the hardest/easiest instrument to play?
Most are about equal. French horn, oboe, and bassoon are considered more difficult to start.
*How many instruments can we play?
Only one to start with. In the second year some students will add an instrument.
*Which instrument is there the most of in band?
*Does the band make out of town trips to play?
Yes. The 7th and 8th grade bands as well as the jazz band perform at out-of-town festivals.
*Can a student be in choir or orchestra as well as band?
In some rare situations, but there are occasionally choir or orchestra students who participate in jazz band.
*Do the bands play at assemblies?
*Can a student play piano?
In jazz band. Once in a while piano students can play synthesizer in regular band.
*Can a student be in band and jazz band at the same time?
*How many kids can be in band?
The more the merrier!
*Do you have to try out to be in band?
No. Jazz band, however, is auditioned.
*Does the drummer need to bring his own drum? The full set?
They will need a drum kit (snare drum, stand, sticks), not a full drum set.
*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?
Uniform shirt ordering information will be distributed during the first weeks of school. The uniform consists of the GMS Band shirt, black pants, black shoes and black socks.
*What about Jazz Band? – More information to come
Jazz Band is an “extra opportunity” club that students will need to complete an “audition” for. The audition will include musical scales, a prepared piece of your choosing, and some sight reading. The audition date will be announced after school begins.
It is an advanced musical option for self-motivated students who want to explore being as creative as possible with their instrument. Students will learn to the various basic concepts of jazz phrasing, style, and improvisation. We will learn famous jazz melodies, jazz history and especially jazz improvisation! We will use play-a-long tracks to practice improvisation at home. As an ensemble, jazz band students will learn to play jazz, rock, funk, and pop music from the great composers and performers throughout American music history.
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.
Jazz band typically meets before the school day starts, so interested students should plan to need a ride to school on jazz rehearsal days.
*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. 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 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.