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Band » Jazz Band Syllabus

Jazz Band Syllabus

Philosophy on Music

      Music provides an aesthetic experience unlike any other. No other subject works both the creative and the analytical sides of the brain so strenuously as music. This strenuous “exercise of the brain”, compliments a student’s endeavors in all other classes as well.  Studies have shown time and time again that students who study music at an early age tend to excel in languages, math, and sciences as well.  On average, they test higher than students who have had no musical study.  It is ironic that students look upon very few subjects as being as much fun as music.  The person who plays in a musical group paves the way for a lifetime of musical enjoyment in listening and possibly in performing.

            Participation in a music group provides many non-musical benefits, such as developing a sense of responsibility, learning to work together as a team, and feeling a sense of accomplishment in doing something well.  However, the primary purpose of a musical performing group is to build instrumental technique and musicianship, and to make music together.

            Every aspect of music is important and will be emphasized at various stages in a student’s development.  The core of the instrumental program is the concert band and choir. From these ensembles, groups such as the marching band, jazz ensemble, and CMEA groups are derived. The Union music department stresses the advancement of the student’s abilities to function in both the large and small ensemble setting.  Music offers a unique opportunity to challenge each student cognitively, emotionally, and physically.  It provides for emotional expression, intrinsic worth, and has a positive impact on individuals, families, communities, and cultures.

General Information


Jazz Band: Anyone in the Concert or Symphonic bands may join jazz band, which will meet on Wednesdays before school from 8:30 to 9:20a.m.  Jazz band is a club, not a class, and no grade will be received for being in jazz band.  Jazz experience is not required, but an extreme amount of dedication will be.  Because the jazz band meets only once a week, it is important that the rehearsals are not missed.  Students that join jazz band should make every effort not to miss rehearsals and their parents should be aware of the time commitment they are making.  If a student begins missing multiple rehearsals without talking to me about it, he/she will simply no longer perform with the group.


Equipment Needs: Each learner must bring to class everyday: a sharpened pencil, a notebook of paper, their instrument (excluding percussionists) in good working condition, assigned music, and a good attitude.  Percussionists should have their own pair of drumsticks that they take to and from school.  Mallets for the timpani, xylophone, etc., are provided.  It is also a good idea for percussion students to have a drum pad to practice on at home, as it is not as loud. 



The objectives of this course is for students to be able to perform jazz concerts at a level in which they meet the following high standards: Students should be able to produce good tone, contrast in dynamics, appropriate style and articulations, and a display of enough technical ability in order to read and perform the selected ensemble music.  Students should also be able to blend and balance with the rest of their ensemble.  The criteria for performance exams will follow closely with the criteria outlined here, and in the California State Framework for Music for middle school level students.  (Which I will have available to look at, if needed)  In addition to developing musical skills, students in these courses will learn to work together as a team.  They will learn to rely on one another and to be reliable.  The students will also develop work habits that are important both in and out of the musical environment and in life in general.  This is explained further in the grading criteria. 


If a student misbehaves in jazz band they are given one warning.  If the student does not shape up after that,  the student is asked to leave rehearsal If that happens again, they are out of jazz band. 


Classroom Procedures


         The following guidelines for music students have been formulated for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a performing group in which each member, the entire school and the community may take pride.  Because membership in a musical performing group requires individual as well as team effort, each student must agree and adhere to the following rules: 


  1. Come to rehearsal with all necessary materials.This includes pencils, (please put one in your case or music folder) method books, music and instrument.
  2. Do not play your instrument until instructed to do so.
  3. No talking while rehearsal is in progress unless director gives permission.Be courteous, encouraging and respectful to fellow students and also your teacher, coach, director, or instructor.  “Put-downs” will not be allowed.  Treat others respectfully and they will likely treat you with respect.  If they don’t, remember that the golden rule is to treat people, as you would have them treat you, not as they actually treat you.  As my father used to tell me, the best way to get rid of an enemy is to be nice to them. 
  4. Refrain from any act that is not conducive to learning or detracts from the orderly operation of the class.This includes harassment of other students, or the use of inappropriate language, or dress. 
  5. Gum is not allowed on campus, and obviously has no place in the band room.Do not chew gum in the band room, as it is dangerous to do while playing an instrument, (duh) and we would like to keep the room looking as nice as possible. 
  6. Food or beverages in the classroom are not allowed during class time, unless you have special permission from the teacher.
  7. Music students who are on probation or the flag list (see school handbook) will not be able to participate in music activities held during the school day, such as the Elementary School Tour or assemblies when the students would have to miss classes other that music classes.
  8. We have 8-10 performances throughout the year.See the attached schedule.  Performances are part of the student’s grade, since this is a performing arts class.  If a student must miss a performance, a written note must be given to Mr. Kay well in advance so plans can be made to cover the missing part.    Please check the attached schedule of performances and clear your schedule for those dates.  If there is a conflict, please notify Mr. Kay within three weeks of having received this schedule. (The first three weeks of school)  If an emergency situation arises, please send a note with the student as soon as possible after the performance that he/she missed. 
  9. Show up on time to rehearsals and performances.
  10. Have respect for the room.  Keep it clean and undamaged.  Do not leave personal belongings behind. Instead, take them with you. 
  11. Do not leave instruments, music, or equipment lying around in the room.  The room is used through out the day by many different students and it is not safe to assume your belongings will be untouched if left out in the room proper.  Instruments should be stored in the instrument room, which is locked during break and lunch if the room is not in use.  Students have assigned lockers or cubbies for their instruments.  Instruments should be stored in these assigned spaces.  It is best to keep music in the folio provided, which can easily fit in the student’s backpack.
  12. Be ready to rehearse on time.  When the director’s hands go up, bring your instrument to your mouth (wind players).  Be ready to play, even if you do not play on the first beat of the musical selection.  At the end of a piece of music, do not but your instruments down until the director’s hands go down.

            Due to the nature of this ensemble, one of the skills that I want the students to leave with is their sense of teamwork and responsibility to others.    If a student chooses to skip a performance or not take it seriously, that is grounds for dismissal.  Please encourage your students to be at rehearsals on time as the bottom line is that they are letting down the other students in the group when they do otherwise.



Private Instruction


            Private instruction is extremely valuable, and highly encouraged.  I cannot give students theindividual attention they need and deserve.  You can contact a local music store, or see names posted on our classroom bulletin board.  We have also worked out a special program with music students at Leigh High School who have had private instructors.  Some high school students have agreed to tutor Union Middle School students at a rate of $9.00 for a 30-minute lesson, once a week.  See Mr. Kay for names and phone numbers of these students.  Professional private teachers charge between $20.00-$40.00 per 30 minute lesson.


Concert Dress


Black pants, black shoes, and nice shirt.  On some less formal performances, students will where blue jeans, and perhaps a Hawaiian shirt.


Gift Checks

Starting Friday, August 24th, we will be starting our first music department fundraiser for the year.  For beginning and intermediate band students this will be the only fundraiser for the year.  This fundraiser helps us buy new instruments, new music stands, and also new sheet music.  Advanced band and choir will be doing other fundraisers to help reduce the cost their going on our Disneyland trip in the spring. In this fundraiser, students will be given a bag with ten gift check books in it.  It is encouraged that each student sell at least ten books, but it is their responsibility to turn back in either the books or the money as a result of selling them.   Please encourage your student to sell the books, but also to take care not to damage those books she/he does not sell.  The fundraiser will last through the second week of September.


Concert Schedule

            Because your student is enrolled in a performing group, all members are expected and required to participate in all performances.  Performances are tests that cannot be made up.  Illness or family tragedies are the only legitimate excuses.  Please arrange your schedules around the following dates. Please review and sign the last page to confirm that you and your student have reviewed and agree with these music class rules and procedures and that you will be able to attend all of the performances listed.