Journey Middle School Band
The JMS Band consists of three different levels: Beginner Band, Concert Band, and Symphonic Band. Our program also includes a Jazz Band and a Percussion Ensemble. Our bands will perform at least three concerts during the school year: one in the winter before the holiday break, one in early Spring before our State Music Performance Assessment, and a final concert in May before the end of the school year. These dates and venues will be available as soon as possible. Please check the calender throughout the school year.
Students will have the opportunity to participate in Solo and Ensemble, State Contest, and District and All-State band auditions. We will have more information about the dates, places and requirements of these festivals as they become available.
The Beginning Band is composed of students who have no previous experience in band. The Beginning Band will have at least three concert performances this year. There are three beginner band classes: woodwind class, brass class, and percussion class.
The Concert Band is composed of mainly 7th graders who have been playing their instrument for at least one year; membership is determined by audition only. The Concert Band will have at least three concert performances this year. The Concert Band will also perform at the State Music Performance Assessment. Concert Band students may also travel on our Spring trip (optional).
The Symphonic Band is composed of mainly 8th grade students; membership is determined by audition only. The Symphonic Band will have at least three concert performances this year. Members of the Symphonic Band are required to audition for District 1/All-State Band. The Symphonic Band will compete in an out-of-state festival in the Spring. The Symphonic Band will also perform at the State Music Performance Assessment. Symphonic Band students may also travel on our Spring trip (optional).
The Jazz Band is designed as a complementary ensemble to the Concert or Symphonic Bands. Students must have at least one year of playing experience and must provide their own instrument. Students will explore jazz elements in literature while learning advanced playing techniques and fundamentals. The Jazz Band may perform at Concerts, Competitions, or Festivals determined by the director.
Degrees and Certifications:
BA in Flute Performance, McNeese State University, 1990 MM in Instrumental Conducting, New Mexico State University, 1995 K-12 Ed. Certification, University of Texas at El Paso, 1997
Mrs. Gwen Rakoff
I was born and raised in Lake Charles, LA, but relocated to Las Cruces, NM soon after graduating from McNeese State University. I spent the next sixteen years living and working in Las Cruces and El Paso, TX. I met my husband at New Mexico St. University where we were both students. We were married in 1996 and have two boys.
We moved to Madison, AL in the fall of 2008 when my husband, Nikolas took a job with a Defense Contractor in Huntsville. I am very happy to be back in the South. My family and I are enjoying all of the cultural, sporting and educational attractions of the Huntsville area.
- In 1993, I moved to Las Cruces, NM to take a position as a Graduate Assistant in the Music Department of New Mexico State University. I taught undergraduate music classes, flute lessons and assisted with the Pride of New Mexico Marching Band.
- From 1993 until 2004, I was an adjunct professor at Dona Anna Community College in Las Cruces, NM, where I taught Music Appreciation and Intro to Music classes.
- I began my public school teaching career in 1995 in El Paso, TX at Henderson Middle School where I taught Band and General Music classes for three years.
- In 1998, I transferred to Gadsden High School in Anthony, TX. I conducted the Symphonic and Concert Bands as well as the Marching Band. In January of 2000, my marching band was invited to participate in the Cotton Bowl Parade and Bowl Game in Dallas , TX.
- From the Fall of 2000 until 2008, I taught in the Las Cruces Public Schools system in Las Cruces, NM. I taught band, choir and general music classes at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
- After a family move to Alabama, I began teaching at Liberty Middle School.
- Beginning in the Fall of 2023, I will be the Band Director at Journey Middle School in Madison, AL.