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

Pay 2023-2024 Band Fees:
$150 Band Fee for all students
$150 School-owned instrument
$150 Percussion Fee
$50 Guitar Class Fee


Questions?  Refer to the
FCA Band Handbook

Want to support our band by shopping from our Amazon Wish List?  Click here!




Concert Program
Feb 13 Concert Program

for 2023-2024:

October 6, 2023
8th Grade Night at BTHS

October 30, 2023
First Concert Symphonic Band
and Jazz Ensemble
FCA Cafeteria 6:30 pm

November 6, 2023
First concert Beginning Band
Cafetorium 6:00 pm

November 6, 2023
First concert for 3rd period Concert Band
7:00 pm Cafeteria

February 13, 2024
Concert for Jazz Ensemble,
and Beginning Band
and Guitar Class
FCA Cafetorium 6:30 pm

March 25, 2024
Concert Band and
Jazz Band 6:30 pm

March 28, 2024
Band Picture Day
Individual Pictures with instruments
During Band Class

April 2, 2024
Pre-MPA performance at FCA
6:30 pm
Symphonic Band Only

April 12, 2024
Music Performance Assessment with Symphonic Band
Gainesville, FL  7:15 pm Performance
Lincoln Middle School
3:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Permission Slip for MPA Gainesville 24

April 19, 2024
Jazz Band to Lakeside Jazz Festival
11:40 am performance time
Parent Permission Lakeside 2024
2024 Lakeside Jazz Map of Festival
2024 Lakeside Jazz Schedule updated

May 13, 2024
3rd Concert
FCA Pavilion
6:30 pm

May 24, 2024
Last Day of School

June 24-27, 2024
Summer Band Pops Camp
FCA Band Room
One year of experience required
Band Camp 2024 Registration Form

2023 Sponsorship Letter  Click here for the Sponsorship Form

Click here to donate to our Teachers Pay Teachers account

Click here to donate to our band program

[email protected]




Announcing our
FCA Band Booster Organization

Jan Michelsen,

Morgan Chacos,
Vice President

Christina Grim

Alexandra Stallard

Danielle LaBare
Assistant Secretary/Treasurer 

Member at Large
Jessica Riegle




FCA BBO ByLaws rev. 2023

[email protected]



From the Director

Welcome to school year, 2023-24! This is year six at FCA!  We offer Beginning Band, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Guitar Class, and Jazz Band.  There are more than 200 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!

Another way to support our band program is to donate toward our Teachers Pay Teachers classroom account.  This allows me to download tried and true teacher made materials for us to use:  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/ClassFund/Mrs-Zentz-72488?ownCampaign=&utm_campaign=ClassFundDashboard

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 or other economic hardships, 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, “Mr. Barry”. We offer one guitar class, taught by Mr. Price.  It’s going to be a great school year!

Let me know if you have any questions!

Mrs. Laurie Zentz, Director

Thank you to our 2022-23 Sponsors:
ATC Healthcare

All Florida Soft Water
Liquid Lights
Atlantic Pottery
Florida Local Team
Novatae Risk Group
Rhapsody Music
Voglio Jewelry
Nemetz Dental
Castle Nails
Rumore Law
Chore 904
Simplicity Home Team
Accetta Art
Gracious Property Services
Windy Keene Realtor
Harrell & Harrell
Code Wiz
SG Cleaning Services
St Johns Chiropractic
Ninja Shark Designs

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.  In band class students use their brain power in a totally different, holistic way, as both hemispheres of the brain are actively engaged. Participating in a musical ensemble develops very focused listening skills. It 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 a new band program at Freedom Crossing Academy since 2018! 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. The descriptions sound amazing but the product is not. 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. If you need instrument repair, I recommend Mr. Robert at Rhapsody Music. They are located on State Road 13 and their number is 904-642-4040.

Please avoid buying a cheap instrument online because it’s for a “beginner”.  These instruments are difficult to play and often discourage young musicians. The inferior quality control results in frequent repairs and lost playing time. 

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. It’s also important to rent or buy from a store that can provide expert service and repair.  If you are unsure, please let me advise you. 

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 and bari 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. A course syllabus will be posted here 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. 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.  She is a certified Clinical Educator and has hosted dozens of college interns over the years.

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 taught band at Switzerland Point Middle School for 7 years. She began her career in Georgia, teaching there three years before moving to Jacksonville.

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.  In 2023 she was named a “Woman of Action” by the EMMA Concert Association Guild. 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 ensembles were awarded “Most Outstanding Middle School Jazz Ensemble” at the Lakeside Jazz Festival 2019 and again in 2022. In 2023 they were awarded 1st Place in the Virtual Division of the National Jazz Festival, Philadelphia, PA.

Email Laurie Zentz at [email protected]