The Mountain Brook Band
Micheal Holmes, Band Director of the Elementary and Beginning Bands
Dr. Frank Blanton, MBHS Band Director
Dr. Mark Foster, MBJH Band Director
I am delighted to talk to you about the changes afoot with the Mountain Brook Band! Your parents may remember the Mountain Brook Junior High Band from their days in school. I would like to tell you how things have changed. Bands at both the junior high and high school have grown dramatically over the last seven years. The MBJH band is now an outstanding performing ensemble capable of competing with bands from throughout the area. The band has performed at the Alabama Bandmasters Association Music Performance Assessment and earned straight superior ratings with distinction for the last two years, the Southern Star Music Festival where we earned a Gold rating and a sweepstakes award for winning first place in our class, and at the Music in the Parks Festival in Atlanta, Georgia where the band earned best in class awards each of the last six years. Many students have earned chairs in the prestigious all-state band, district honor band, and UAB honor band. Each year, most band students participate in solo and ensemble festival where they perform individually or in small groups for a judge. Most of these events earn the highest rating possible-superior. Perhaps the most exciting recent event at the junior high school is the latest construction project, a new state-of-the-art band room. If you haven’t been able to see it, please plan to stop by and have a look. It is truly the nicest band facility I have ever seen. The amenities are too numerous to mention here, but I’ll name a few: it has a cavernous rehearsal room, three sound-proof practice rooms, an improvisation lab, music library, small ensemble room, and four Smartmusic stations. Needless to say, there are many quality learning opportunities available to you in the junior high band. Whether it is practicing a small ensemble with several friends; performing at the 8th grade football games while cheering the Spartans on to victory; or playing your music along with Smartmusic on one of four Macintosh computers, you will have a rich and robust musical learning experience in the junior high band.
I hope you have been able to see the high school marching band over the last few years at the Spartan football games. The band has experienced record growth of over 100% since 2002, which has enabled us to stage more elaborate and exciting halftime shows as well as reach out to the community with more effective public performances. The high school band has performed in New York City, Washington, DC, and Atlanta.
We want you as a member of the MBJH band. You do not have to know how to play an instrument to join, and you do not have to know how to read music to join. We teach you everything you need to know from the very beginning. We need many students this year, and there are openings on every instrument.
How do I sign up?
Good question. Seventh graders can take either beginning band or concert band. The beginning band is a class for students who do not know how to play an instrument already. The concert band is a class for students who took elementary band in the sixth grade. All that is needed is to sign up for the appropriate class on your schedule selection form in a couple of weeks.
What instruments are available?
We teach the following instruments: Flute, Oboe, Bassoon, Clarinet, Saxophone, Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone, Baritone, Tuba, and Percussion. We do not have a string program at this time, but we do offer string bass to any student that is interested.
Will I have to buy an instrument?
In most cases, yes, but the local music stores offer convenient rental plans and competitive pricing to help bring the cost down. There are some instruments that are too expensive for individual students to reasonably purchase, and are therefore owned by the school and rented to the students who play them.
How do I select an instrument?
We will take you through a process by which you will try each instrument in order to determine the best fit for you. This process is much like the wand selection in Harry Potter-you don’t pick the instrument, the instrument picks you.
Can I play sports and be in the band?
Yes. Many of our students participate in sports at the junior high school including football, baseball, track, basketball, volleyball, and cheerleading. Since these sports meet after school, there is no conflict with band. I am proud that we have some of the best athletes in school playing instruments in the band.
Can I take more than one elective at the junior high?
Yes. You can take the zero period PE class which frees up another elective period during the school day allowing you to take band and one of the many other electives offered at the school.
Is there homework in band?
Yes. As with every academic endeavor, students need to practice outside of school in order to be successful. Students who play better also enjoy band more and tend to stick with it. There are many helpful practice aids that make this fun and engaging.
Bands are everywhere…
It has been a great time for bands in America. I noticed with great pride this year that more college football bowl games showed the bands this year instead of some pop star lip-syncing. Also one could not help but notice that bands were everywhere during President Barack Obama’s inauguration. From the wonderful United States Marine Band that played before and during the inauguration ceremony, to the numerous high school, college, and military bands that marched proudly in his inaugural parade. These musicians started off just like you, as an excited elementary school student who wanted to learn to play an instrument. So, come along with me and begin your musical journey in the award-winning Mountain Brook Junior High School Band.
Check out the links on the left to find out more information about the band. The honors and awards link gives you a great picture of what our students have accomplished over the years. The "REASONS TO JOIN BAND" link has some information about some of the long-term benefits of playing a studying music.
Please feel free to contact me if I can provide more information.
Dr. Mark Foster, Band Director
Mountain Brook Junior High School