Making the grade: North Tahoe jazz band teacher gains respect from students, parents |

Making the grade: North Tahoe jazz band teacher gains respect from students, parents

Photo courtesy of Tahoe Truckee Unified School DisNorth Tahoe Middle School jazz band teacher Shauna Gilberti.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212; Motivating middle school students to do much of anything, including waking up, can be a tough task.

But a group of students at North Tahoe Middle School wakes up and gets to school an hour ahead of time Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, on their own accord, to practice their music in the NTMS jazz band.

How are they motivated to do this? Parents credits the jazz band’s teacher, Shauna Gilberti.

and#8220;They just love Shauna,and#8221; said Amy Levy, whose son Jacob is an eighth grader in the program. and#8220;She makes the music fun, and she’s really cool, and that’s big with the kids at that age.and#8221;

Gilberti, a seven-year music teacher in her third year at NTMS, called her group of seventh- and eighth-grade students very positive and said the kudos go to the high school’s exemplary jazz band.

and#8220;They are so excited to be in jazz band and that breeds down from the high school,and#8221; Gilberti said. and#8220;They are a really, really positive group and they just can’t wait to be in jazz band.and#8221;

Ann Lindemann, another North Tahoe parent, said in an e-mail Gilberti is the and#8220;awesome and#8212; and tireless and#8212; band teacher at North Tahoe Middle School. This woman really goes above and beyond. The honor band, middle school band and jazz bands consistently win regional awards. Kids love her.and#8221;

Gilberti said the students, who must audition in May of the previous school year, generally take on about three times the music as students in concert band and are generally the same students who excel in concert band.

For the past two years the band has brought home awards from the Music in the Parks Regional Middle School band competition, last year collecting top honors.

and#8220;Outside directors are sometimes surprised,and#8221; Gilberti said. and#8220;They can’t believe it’s a middle school band.and#8221;

Student dedication leads to those awards, Gilberti said. They show up three days each week at 6:40 a.m. for a nearly hour-long class, because their normal class hours can’t cut it.

and#8220;When you get only a half hour, by the time they’re set up, it’s time to go,and#8221; Gilberti said.

Families, too, must commit themselves to jazz band.

No bus runs to school in the early hours, so parents are on the hook to get their kids on time for band practice.

and#8220;The families have to be involved to in order make it all work,and#8221; Levy said. and#8220;We take part in the fundraisers and the fan club, doing volunteer jobs, it takes a commitment from everyone.and#8221;

Gilberti said parent support is critical to the program’s success, both in driving students to and from class and competitions and in fundraising.

But, Levy said, it’s well worth it.

and#8220;I think the North Tahoe schools really do music best,and#8221; Levy said. and#8220;The kids are musically talented and you can tell they’re having a really good time up there.and#8221;

The NTMS Laker Jazz Band plays at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11 at Jake’s on the Lake at Boatworks Mall in Tahoe City. The band and soloists will play alongside the Bryan Smith Trio jazz group from Reno. Jakes is featuring an extended happy hour until 9 p.m. and proceeds go to benefit the NTMS jazz band.

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