At over 280 members, the Mercer Island High School band program is one of the largest in the state, with close to one in every four MIHS students participating. Students enrolled in the Marching Band perform challenging literature that inspires and motivates both our sports teams and audiences alike. The Marching Band performs at all MIHS home football games during the year as well as the MIHS Homecoming Parade. In addition, the MIHS Marching Band has performed at The Tournament of Roses, the London New Years Parade and on numerous other national and international stages.
The Mercer Island Concert Band program is made up of four bands:
Concert Band – The Mercer Island High School Concert Band is composed of freshman band students. Students enrolled in the Concert Band perform innovative new literature as well as valuable core compositions in the band repertoire. The Concert Band performs at two concerts during the year as well as Fine Arts Showcase and the Eastshore Band II Festival.
Symphonic Band – This is an auditioned group made up of over 80 junior and sophomore members. Students enrolled in the Symphonic Band perform innovative new literature as well as valuable core compositions in the band repertoire. The Symphonic Band performs at two concerts during the year as well as Fine Arts Showcase and the Eastshore Band II Festival.
Wind Symphony – This is an auditioned performing ensemble in the MIHS concert band program. At over 70 members strong it is made up of sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Students enrolled in the Wind Symphony perform challenging literature that represents the cutting edge in the compositional world as well as valuable core compositions in the band repertoire. The Wind Symphony performs at two concerts during the year as well as Fine Arts Showcase and the Eastshore Band I Festival. In addition, the MIHS Wind Symphony has performed at numerous national festivals including the Dixie classic Festival in Washington D.C. and the Heritage Festival in Chicago.
Wind Ensemble – The Mercer Island High School Wind Ensemble is the premier performing ensemble in the MIHS concert band program. This 55 member ensemble was created using standard wind ensemble instrumentation and performs challenging literature that represents the cutting edge in the compositional world as well as valuable core compositions in the band repertoire. The Wind Ensemble performs at two concerts during the year as well as Fine Arts Showcase, Eastshore Band I Festival, and numerous national festivals.
The Mercer Jazz program begins in 8th grade and continues with a broad collection of offerings at the high school level.
Jazz Ensemble – The MIHS Jazz Ensemble is an auditioned group of dedicated and talented students who comprise traditional big band instrumentation. The Jazz Ensemble is a class at MIHS, meeting daily during seventh period. Literature for the band consists of the finest in repertory and contemporary compositions, including all of the important historical periods and styles for big band. The group annually participates in local and regional jazz festivals, and regularly earns honors for its consistently high level of performance. The band is routinely a finalist at festivals, and has won numerous awards at area festivals, including first places, and sweepstakes awards at festivals such as the Bellevue Jazz Festival, Clark College Jazz Festival, Jazz NW and Newport Jazz Festival. The band has appeared on the KPLU School of Jazz project numerous times.
Morning Jazz 1 (Jazz 2) – Morning Jazz 1 is an auditioned jazz band targeted at younger high school musicians, or students whose schedule does not allow a class such as the Jazz Ensemble. The band rehearses two days per week before school as a club. Participation in area jazz festivals is a staple of the experience for students, and the band has recently garnered awards for its excellence, including 1st place in its AA division in 2012 at Jazz NW in Spokane , WA.
Morning Jazz 2 (Jazz 3) – Morning Jazz 2 provides an opportunity for all students to perform and learn jazz literature in a big band group setting. The band joins with the Morning Jazz 1 and Jazz Ensemble in traveling to area festivals. Students in the band enjoy great camaraderie and continued opportunities for growth as aspiring jazz players.
8th Grade Jazz – The IMS Jazz Ensemble is available to all interested 8th grade band students. The class rehearses 2 days a week before school and has several performances throughout the year, including participation in at least one Jazz Festival. The course will focus on big band literature including swing, latin and rock styles with the heaviest emphasis being traditional big band jazz. Student are also introduced to jazz improvisation, and encouraged to experiment with their own musical ideas. 8th Grade Jazz provides a fun, enriching experience for the motivated student, and experience for the student wishing to participate in the MIHS Jazz Band program.
The Animal Band is the well-earned and unique name of the MIHS pep bands. Comprised of all the members enrolled in the MIHS concert band program, the Animal Band is really four bands, each comprised of one quarter of the MIHS Marching Band members. Known for its high level of musicianship as well as its undeniable volume and enthusiasm, the Animal Band is an integral part of the success of Mercer Island Girls and Boys Basketball. Look and listen for the Animal Band at this year’s boys and girls home basketball games.
The MIHS Percussion Ensemble plays a critical role in the band and at the high school. Percussionist are selected in 5th grade through audition and lottery, and after freshman year they meet as a separate class daily. Largely the “heart-beat” of MIHS school spirit, the “drum line” typically leads the student body through the school hallways and into the gym during assemblies and other activities and are called on to play at Breakfast of Champions, various fundraisers and sporting events.
STEEL DRUM BAND
Mercer Island High School’s two Steel Drum Bands explore the performance of traditional Steel Band Music of the Caribbean. Core competencies including correct performance practice, style, improvisation, music theory and history as applied to the Steel Pans are emphasized. Students in Advanced Steel Band expand their knowledge base to include other genres and greater complexity of music.
ISLANDER MIDDLE SCHOOL BAND
The Mercer Island High School Band program is powered by an impressive middle school band program available to all Islander 6-8 students. Enrichment opportunities for small ensemble playing are also available for motivated students.
6th Grade Band – The sixth grade band offers students an exciting year of expanding musical technique and experience in becoming musicians. The sixth grade band meets every other day in small groups of differing instrumentation. The class emphasizes structured skill development in a fun environment.
7th Grade Band – The seventh grade band is an exciting continuation of the excellent sixth grade band. The seventh grade band meets every day, and meets in much larger groups, typically in different subgroup arrangements. These will include two equal concert bands, woodwinds, brass and percussion subgroups as well as individual sectionals. The class emphasizes both skill development as well as group performance of band literature.
8th Grade Band – The eighth grade band is the culminating band experience for students at IMS and springboard to the stellar high school band program. Curriculum shifts to include a greater emphasis on performance band works and less on technique books.
5TH GRADE BAND
The fifth grade band program is available to any interested fifth grader in the Mercer Island School District. This program is an exceptional opportunity for students offering specific instruction on their chosen instrument, as well as universal musical concepts and skills. The program stresses the collaborative cooperation and teamwork necessary for group success. This program is also the gateway to the exceptional band programs at IMS and MIHS. Most importantly, it’s fun! The instructional program is provided free of charge by the district.