Middle School Band Grades 6-8

Falcon Bands
Beginning Bands, Concert Bands, Jazz Band
Mrs. Laurie Zentz, Director

“We are underestimating the power of music and the arts.”      
— Dr. Miguel Cardona, US Secretary of  Education

Band Payments
Student's Name:


August 13, 2021
Meet the Teachers
Time 2:00 – 4:00
Middle School

August 16, 2021
First day of school
Instrument selection process begins during band class for beginners.  Advanced bands will start playing on day 2.

August 31, 2021
Instrument Rental Night for beginners.  Drop in between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm with Rhapsody Music.
FCA Cafeteria

September 7, 2021
First day with instruments for beginners

November 9, 2021
First Concert
Beginning Band and Orff Ensemble
6:00 pm

November 16, 2021
First Concert Advanced Bands and Jazz Band

March 3, 2022
Second Concert
Jazz Band and Orff Ensemble
6:00 pm

March 8-9, 2022
Symphonic Band
@Pacetti Bay MS

March 10, 2022
Second Concert
Beginning and Concert Bands
6:00 pm

April 8-9, 2022
Solo & Ensemble
Orange Park HS

May 19, 2022
3rd  Concert
All Bands

June 2, 2022
Last Day of School

[email protected]









Announcing our
2021- 2022
FCA Band Booster Organization

Suzanne Belahmira,

Jan Michelsen,
Vice President

Meghan Roy,

Danielle Carwell,
Assistant Treasurer

Rienna Baratta,

Tammy Jenkins,
Assistant Secretary

Melody Parrales,
Member at Large

Liz Brabston,
Member at Large

FCA BBO Constitution and By Laws

21-22 Falcon Band Handbook

[email protected]


Welcome to school year, 2021-22!  I’m so excited that our band program is still growing fast!  We now have 3 Beginning Bands, Concert Band, Symphonic Band and Jazz Band.  There are more than 240 students in our band program!  Check the important dates in the left sidebar and mark your calendars!

We have a dedicated Band Booster Organization, Inc, to support our program.  This group of parent volunteers works with me to set the calendar, create the budget, organize fundraisers, and manage the concerts.  All FCA band parents are members of this 501(c)3 organization.  There will be multiple ways for you to get involved if you desire.  Just let us know!

We are active on Amazon Smile!  When shopping on Amazon, go to Amazon Smile and select FCA Band Booster Organization as your charity.  Shop away and we will get .5% of your purchase.  Here is a direct link to our organization:  https://smile.amazon.com/ch/84-2135136

Our band is parent-supported through your fair share payments.  If you’d like to make your payment online, see the left sidebar for PayPal shopping cart.  If your family has been financially affected by Covid-19 and you need a fair share waiver, please contact Mrs. Zentz. No student will be denied participation in band because of inability to pay.

This year we are welcoming back our percussion instructor, Barry Olsavsky, and a music education intern from the University of Florida, Mallory Suppa! These two professionals will help support our large band program.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Mrs. Laurie Zentz, Director


Why Should We Choose Band as an Elective?

There are so many compelling reasons to have your child join the band at Freedom Crossing Academy! Having the skill to perform on a musical instrument has been one of the most cherished accomplishments throughout history. 85% of adults who do not know how to play an instrument say they wish they did! You can make that wish come true for your child right here at school!

Students who learn to play an instrument can use this skill and knowledge for the rest of their lives. There is nothing like the joy of performing music with friends. It happens every day in school groups and continues for adults who still play in community bands and orchestras or for those who perform professionally. Even if you don’t go on to perform in your adult years, your musical experience and knowledge causes you to listen to music with deeper understanding and enjoyment.

Unlike other subjects studied in school, Band is a group effort. Musicians are required to shift from an “I/Me” reasoning to a “We/Us” concept. This means extending oneself beyond the normal considerations of much of our fast-paced, competitive day-to-day living. Instead of the logic being, “What’s in it for me?”, it becomes, “What’s in it for us?” The values of cooperation, communication, concentration, correlation, and completion come into play during every rehearsal and performance. These are great values for a future career! Band builds positive self-worth. Although we share many similarities with our athletic counterparts, everyone in the band plays a starting role. Rarely is a person serving as an alternate or substitute. There is no “bench” in the band. Everyone is a starter!

Aside from the obvious benefits of playing a musical instrument, there are a number of surprising academic benefits to students who study music. Students who learn an instrument at a young age stimulate the brain in a valuable way. Studies have shown that learning to play an instrument enhances a student’s academic performance in math, language arts, foreign language and other academic areas. Even standardized test scores such as the SAT are higher among musicians. In band class students use their brain power in a totally different, holistic way. Participating in a musical ensemble develops very focused listening skills. I also helps foster impulse-control and lengthened attention span.

Whatever the reason, playing an instrument can bring joy and fulfillment like no other activity. The most common remark from parents following a wonderful school concert is, “I wish my parents would have encouraged me to play an instrument and stick with it.”

Because of the nature of band class, students often bond with the other band members and they become a close knit “community”. This has been even more special as we are building the very first band at Freedom Crossing Academy! Band is a place where every individual is a valued member of the “team”. Differences are celebrated! Imagine going to a new school and not knowing anything about where to go, or who to talk to. The transition from school to school is easier for band students because they have many friends to help them through this process. Once they get to high school, incoming band freshmen have immediate contact with upperclassmen, in a big brother/big sister kind of way.

How Do We Get Started in Band as a Beginner?

First of all, you do NOT need to get an instrument before school starts. I will help your child through the process of selecting which instrument is best suited for him/her. Choices include all the traditional concert band instruments: flute, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, french horn, trumpet, trombone, baritone, tuba, and percussion. The selection process takes about 2 weeks. The students will learn about each band instrument and select a first and second choice. Together the entire band examines and balances the instrumentation. Parents are notified of the student’s choice and invited to “Instrument Rental Night” with Rhapsody Music. There are other options for obtaining an instrument as well. Please be careful in buying a used instrument or a new instrument online. If the deal seems too good to be true, it is! I do NOT advise purchasing an instrument from Amazon. Most of those “band director approved” no name instruments are of poor quality and can’t be repaired.  With an inferior instrument, students often struggle and eventually quit.

What if My Child Doesn’t Read Music?

To begin in band all they need is a great attitude and desire to learn! They will soon be able to do things they never thought they could! Our students come from excellent elementary music programs which have prepared them well to succeed in band!

What Will It Cost to Be in the Band at FCA?

You will need to obtain a quality band instrument for your child. Instrument costs will vary, and can be rented from a music instrument dealer for $25-$40 a month on a “rent to own” program. Typically your instrument is paid for in 2-3 years and it’s yours to keep. You may choose to pay it off early and get a discount. Instruments can be returned to the dealer at any time, ending the contract before it is completed. You may also buy a new instrument, buy a used instrument, or use one that you already own, if it’s in good condition.  Please avoid buying a cheap instrument online because it’s for a “beginner”.  These instruments are difficult to play and often discourage young musicians.  Your instrument is an investment which will hold value for years to come. Be sure to rent/buy a name brand instrument from a music company, not an online site.

Some of the larger, more expensive instruments may be rented from the band for $150/year. These are tuba, baritone, french horn, bass clarinet, and tenor saxophone.  The fee will be used toward maintaining the instrument and the end of the year cleaning. 

There is also a “Fair Share” for all band students which covers the small accessories, books, music, rewards and incentives, guest instructors, professional organization fees, and uniform parts needed throughout the school year. Our band fee is $150/year and can be paid by check or through our Band Booster Organization PayPal account.

Will My Child Be Graded in Band?

Yes! Band is an academic subject and is graded accordingly. You will receive a course syllabus at the beginning of the year. The curriculum is based on the Florida Next Generation Sunshine State Standards. Students are graded on playing tests and other formative assessments. All band students will take the St Johns County End of Course Exam (EOC) for Band. Performances count as summative assessments and the dates are announced well in advance. 

Is There An After-School Commitment for Band?

After school practices will be extremely rare or never, given that we will get so much accomplished during each band class. Having to stay after school for band practice is almost non-existent at FCA. There may be three evening concerts which are required. Students will be expected to practice at home (band homework) at least twice a week.  

Does Band Fit Well with an Advanced Academic Schedule?

Students and parents often assume that the only way to get good at music is to do nothing else but music. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, one of the facets of the band that I am most proud of is that we will accomplish very high musical goals while maintaining a balance with the total school experience. In our band program, we have MANY students who excel in advanced courses, MANY who are on sports teams, MANY who participate in clubs like “National Junior Honor Society” and “Girls on the Run”, and academic events like “Math Counts” and “Battle of the Books”. Many are involved in church activities, and MANY have been involved in our school drama productions. It is very true that band kids are some of the most well-rounded kids around! Whether you are in band or not, good grades are dependent upon being an organized, good worker. If you are conscientious and organized, band (or any other activity) will not adversely affect your grades. The band schedules have been carefully developed to work with the school’s academic demands. Most of our work is done in class. Of course, some practice at home is required in order to make progress.


Meet the Teacher:
Laurie Zentz has been a music educator since 1984 when she graduated magna cum laude from Valdosta State College (GA) with a Bachelor of Music degree. She received her Masters Degree from Jacksonville University in 1993 summa cum laude, and achieved the status of NBCT (National Board Certified Teacher) in Early/Middle Childhood Music in 2005.

Mrs. Zentz has taught all levels from pre-kindergarten through the university level, including ESE and Gifted Education. She was the music specialist at Cunningham Creek Elementary for 11 years, The Webster School for 4 years, and she most recently taught band at Switzerland Point Middle School for 7 years.

In 2015 she was named “Teacher of the Year” for Switzerland Point Middle School. In 2016 she was named “Teacher of the Year” for St. Johns County School District, and a top 5 finalist for “Florida’s Teacher of the Year 2017”. In 2012 she was named one of “50 Band Directors Who Make A Difference” by SBO: School Band and Orchestra Magazine. She was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts as a fellowship recipient in jazz education, Windy Hill Elementary’s “Teacher of the Year” in 1992 and as a semi-finalist for Duval County’s (FL) Teacher of the Year in 1993. In 2005 she was named “Teacher of the Year” at Cunningham Creek Elementary.  She is a member of the Florida LEAD Teacher Network, the Florida Teachers of the Year Alumni Group, and a graduate of the FMEA Summer Institute 2017.

Mrs. Zentz’s student performing groups are known for their excellence, having performed twice on the Florida Music Educators Association Annual Conference. Her concert and jazz bands have received superior ratings at music performance assessments and her solo and ensemble entries have been rated superior.  Her jazz ensemble was awarded “Most Outstanding Middle School Jazz Ensemble” at the Lakeside Jazz Festival 2018.

Email Laurie Zentz at [email protected]