Washington Middle School


Music Department

Located in the heart of Seattle’s Central District on the musically historic Jackson Street, we are dedicated to continuing excellence and equity in music education.

WMS Music serves a diverse and dynamic student body through daily music ensembles: band, orchestra, and choir. Students from every educational program and background are afforded the ability to participate, and more than half of the school’s population is enrolled in a music ensemble. Complimented by after-school music offerings, our program is truly groundbreaking.

WMS Music FAQ’s

Why should students take a music class?
Over 50% of the students at Washington Middle School are currently enrolled in a music class. Research on the impact of early childhood music education shows enhanced social and intellectual development for students involved.  In addition, music at Washington will give students the opportunity to learn a new skill, collaborate with peers, perform for an audience, go on trips, work with professional artists, and gain independence and responsibility.

What instruments can they play?
WMS offers instruction of the following stringed instruments: violin, viola, cello, upright bass. Band instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, trumpet, horn, trombone, baritone, and tuba. Students can also learn how to play percussion instruments, or sing in the choir. We sometimes have after school offerings that provide instruction for additional stringed instruments, such as banjo, ukulele, guitar, and rhythm section instruments used in roots/jazz ensembles.

When will my student have music class?
All music classes that occur during school meet every day. There are band and orchestra classes based on skill. Students can reach out to a music director(s) if unsure which class to sign up for. Our concert choir is intended for singers with any level of experience.

How much does it cost?
Many students use school-owned instruments for free. All music is supplied in class. We do have a limited supply of school-owned instruments, so families are encouraged to rent an instrument if it is within their budget, which can be done after school starts. We also have a 501c3 non-profit parent organization that aids in scholarships for trips, provides coaching and lessons, and purchases new equipment for our program. We never turn down a student from participating due to financial constraint. All students are welcomed.

Are there performances?
Each ensemble typically performances 2-3 times during the school year, but upper level ensembles perform several times throughout the year. Our regular performances are held at WMS on weekday evenings.

Are there trips?
Upper level senior ensembles sometimes travel to regional festivals and out of state every year. Our trips are built on student learning, performance opportunities, and cultural immersion. Every student in a class planning to travel is welcomed on these trips, and partial – full scholarships are available.

Myths and Facts (for students)

Myth: I don’t think my family can afford this, so it’s not for me

Fact:Music at WMS is for everyone. We can help provide you with the resources you need at no cost

Myth: I will have too much homework in middle school, so I shouldn’t take on learning an instrument.

Fact: Balancing responsibilities and managing your time is an important part of middle school. Learning a new instrument does take practice, but it is fun and it can fit into your day to day life without issues. Over half of the school population does it, and so can you!

Myth: I can’t read music or play any instruments at all, so this will be too hard for me.

Fact: Most students who join beginning level have never played any instruments. We learn how to read music starting with basic note reading and rhythms. Your prior knowledge is not a factor!

Myth: My parents said I must pick between sports and music, and I want to play my favorite sport!

Fact: Music at WMS is a daily class, which means you will learn during the school day. It does not impact participation in sports in any way. It is a class just like math, reading, science, and history.

Myth: None of my friends participate in a music class, so I won’t know anyone.

Fact: With over 50% of the school population in a music class, you will make new friends! We also encourage you to invite your friends to learn an instrument with you.

Myth: I don’t think I will enjoy the type of music performed – it’s not my style!

Fact: Students in music at Washington learn all sorts of different styles and genres of music. We like to diversify our performances with unique arrangements, and sometimes we have pieces written just for us.

Myth: I take the metro and can’t carry a big instrument home every day to practice.

Fact: For larger instruments, the music teachers will often give students an instrument that stays at home for practice. This means no carrying big instruments to and from school!