The student body from St. Agatha performs last year.

The student body from St. Agatha performs last year.

St. Agatha Catholic School seventh grader Meg Metzler-Gilbertz plays the flute, but now she thinks it’s time to shake things up so she’s switching to the trumpet as she joins the school’s new band.

“I love the sound the trumpet makes.” says the petite 12-yr-old. “I wanted to play the trombone, but the trumpet is small and I can carry it.”

St. Agatha, in Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood, has a new music teacher this year, Tracie Swanson, who has rich experience directing school bands throughout Oregon.

“We wanted to fulfill our parents’ request for a performing arts program. This band is an opportunity to develop our students’ talents beyond academics,” says Chris Harris, principal.

Students can choose from wind instruments and percussion. The program is open to fifth through eighth grade students who will practice together for an hour before school, twice a week and perform two concerts.

Meg’s mom Nancy Gilbertz is thankful for the small group instruction her children will receive for the $150 band fee. She has paid much more for private lessons.

“Having a band really gives the kids an opportunity to learn different instruments and see how they sound together,” says Gilbertz. “I’m excited. This new teacher has a lot of energy.”

In addition to the new band, Swanson provides St. Agatha students with general music classes and leads the school’s church choir.

“The rigor of learning a band instrument benefits the student both academically and emotionally,” Swanson says. “Students feel proud of themselves when they hear how their well-rehearsed part fits into the final product.”

Swanson adds that by providing students with a band experience at St. Agatha, they will be prepared to continue band at the high school level.

“The main reason I want to join the band is it’s something fun to do,” says Meg. “I can’t wait to perform and see how it sounds.

St. Agatha Catholic School has an enrollment of more than 225 students.