MTHS Music Boosters launch fundraising effort to ease jazz class overcrowding

For Mountlake Terrace High School Band Director Darin Faul, seeing increased numbers of students interested in the school’s music program has been both thrilling and agonizing this year: thrilling to welcome more student musicians into the fold, but agonizing dealing with the growing pains.

The MTHS Music Booster Club is hoping a GoFundMe page fundraising effort will raise $15,000 and bring in some help for the veteran director.

In addition to concert bands, pep bands, a chamber winds orchestra and a drum ensemble, Faul has led a Jazz 1 band and a Jazz 2 band at Mountlake Terrace during recent years. This year demand is pushing Faul to add a third jazz band into the mix.

“I have a lot of kids that want to play jazz,” Faul declared.

The money raised by the Music Booster Club will pay for a couple local musicians to be part of the before-school program that molds student musicians into the Mountlake Terrace Jazz 2 and Jazz 3 bands.

On a recent Wednesday morning, about 30 student musicians rehearsed under Faul’s leadership as part of the school’s jazz program. The students represented too many for a traditional jazz band made up of about 18 musicians, but Faul wanted to find a way to stoke the fires of interest in all of them and avoid cutting anyone out of the program.

“It’s possible that I could keep one big Jazz 2 and they would still be playing jazz and they would still be having an experience, but I see the value in … having a third band. I want to be inclusive,” Faul said.

Eventually the students will be split up into two bands, but no one will be cut. “Some kids who are going to end up in the third band are just getting going and don’t play that well yet — I didn’t want to eliminate them,” Faul explained. “If they can’t start now, when would they start?”

Faul has been at Mountlake Terrace more than 18 years, going back to a time when overall school attendance topped more than 1,800 students and staffing for the music department worked differently.

“There were times where we did run three jazz bands before; they were staffed by the district,” Faul noted.

Now the jazz program is totally under Faul’s tutelage. With money raised in the GoFundMe campaign, Faul will be having veteran Seattle musicians Mark Taylor and Steve Korn come in for the 6:20 a.m. rehearsal time on alternate days and help lead the Jazz 2 and Jazz 3 students.

Faul is looking forward to what Taylor and Korn can add to the program. “It’s important on many levels,” Faul explained. “One, the education for the kids. But the other part is being part of a team.”

“For me, it’s about the kids and about the opportunities,” he continued. “But I’m also really digging having these other people come in and work with them. “

Faul calculates that funds raised from the booster club’s GoFundMe page and extra money left over from last spring’s Hot Java Cool Jazz performance in Seattle will meet the need of the additional before-school assistance.

Faul added that having the additional help for the early morning rehearsals would lift his spirits also.

“Band directors, it’s a lonely job,” Faul said with a smile.

You can view the MTHS Music Booster Club GoFundMe page here.

— Story and photos by Doug Petrowski

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