Welcome to DSA Bands

Current Events!

The link for Parent Teacher Conferences:
David Hammond is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: David Hammond’s Parent/Teacher Conference
Time: Oct 16, 2020 08:00 AM Mountain Time (US and Canada)
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Meeting ID: 328 067 1122
Passcode: 7111m
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Dear Parents and Students of the Bands Department, September 26, 2020

I know many of you have asked for guidance as to what the in-person option would look like in DSA Bands and thought it might be helpful if I shared my honest feelings to you. Your choice is between a fully remote scenario which is what we are doing now and an “in-person” plan offered by the school. The in-person plan, as stated this week, is that we go remote Monday through Thursday and Friday be offered as an “Arts Friday” where majors could come and partake in some sort of in-person “event” at the school. 

First, I apologize that you have to make this decision in such a short time-frame. The district has mandated that we get answers from you after rolling out the plan. The timing of this is very unfortunate and I know there should have been more time allowed to make this important decision. 

Secondly, since the Denver Public Schools have mandated that wind instruments are not to be played on school property, this puts Bands and the Vocal Major in an extremely compromised position. I would have to tell students to leave their instruments at home and we would be relegated to only rhythm work and/or music theory or listening – all of which we are teaching on remote quite successfully. 

Thirdly, another thing to consider is the inequity presented as far as transportation to and from the school on Fridays. I know many families would struggle getting their student to and from school for merely a morning or afternoon disallowing those students the chance to be involved. I have also been made aware that DPS transportation will not be able to accommodate all students – this further weakens the plan. 

Lastly, my biggest concern is the health and well-being of students and their families, and the health of faculty and staff at DSA. Although teaching outside, with masks and distancing at least 6 feet would appeal to me selfishly, the reality is that the weather turns colder here in Colorado in late October and we would be forced indoors most of these Fridays before semester’s end creating an even larger health risk. Seeing recent local colleges and other secondary programs opening too soon and immediately shutting down because of COVID infections shows us the danger in the in-person plans. This is devastating for families and communities, eventually delaying the opportunity to rid the greater Denver area completely of the virus and our community returning to normal. Coupled with the reality that the long-term health risks to children still haven’t been fully understood, this could be a disastrous plan to say the least. The instructional and musical possibilities we gain from an in-person activity on Fridays are simply not worth the infection risk if we were to take this incalculable risk. 

So, I am highly recommending that the Bands Department stay remote until we see the infection rate dissipate and become less of a risk for in-person activities, that we all sacrifice a little more for the greater good of less chance of infections in our corner of the world. I urge all families to make the decision yourselves if you’d like to get your students together with others in order to play in small groups or to practice together. You, better than I, can make these decisions. 
Dave HammondDirector of Bands    Denver School of the Artsdave_hammond@dpsk12.orghttp://dsapresents.org/bands/

Welcome to a whole new world! – Bands Department 2020-21

As you all know by now, virtual learning is a completely different animal from in-person. We all have to learn to adapt during this challenging time and I have had many, many hours of adaptation! We have spent many weeks thinking, conversing and then planning on an experience for you that does a number of things: 1) Offering a curriculum that will make you a better musician, 2) Offering an experience that will hopefully engage you – and keep you engaged, 3) Offering an experience that allows you to move outside your musical nature and apply thoughtfulness to who you are, what matters to you and where you are going. All these things mean different things to different students – what matters to a 6th grade student is wildly different than what matters to a senior.

The key to all this is diversity. We will try to offer as diverse a curriculum as possible without straying too far from our band roots and what makes us practice our instruments every day, what makes us love music and want to express ourselves better and better through music.

We start with the schedule of what our offerings will be:

Remote Schedule DSA Bands 2020-21

As you can see, all band majors will see their respective Practicing Artists twice per week (green boxes) rather than once. These Mondays and Thursdays add consistency to the sectionals and increase specific instrument training. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are days that we will break the majors into Music Theory/Composition groups to help the students with these very essential skills. These blocks will also contain Ethnomusicology Studies, Listening Labs and Ear Training classes as well. Jazz Band meets Mondays and Wednesdays at the time indicated. Fridays will feature a chance for the students to hear performances but also to give performances to the class. I hope you are as excited as your teachers are to offer such a wide range of daily curriculum.

How and where we meet will be communicated through Schoology, our new platform for giving assignments, information and grading. We will start the synchronous learning on Google Meets.

2019-20 School Year in DSA Bands —————————————–

Essentially Ellington Virtual 25th Anniversary Festival


After performance interview with Essentially Ellington Education President Todd Stoll, judge Riley Mulherkar, and JWO director Dave Hammond (top row l-r) and students Mitchell Galligan, Maddie and Megan Cody (bottom l-r). The band won Outstanding Saxophone Section, Outstanding Guitar (Maddie Cody), Outstanding Tenor Saxophone and Clarinet (Shota Renwick) and Honorable Mentions: Mitchell Galligan – Piano and Dylan Kries – Alto Sax. Over placement of the bands was not given this year due to the online nature of the festival. Congratulations to ALL JWO1 students!
Senior Dinner 2020 or “Virtual Vittles” was held on May 13th. Mr. Hammond had a wonderful time with the seniors as we all ate out favorite meals. Congratulations 2020 DSA Band Seniors!
For the eighth time in recent years students of the Denver School of the Arts Jazz Workshop Orchestra are recognized in this year’s Student Music Awards issue of the preeminent jazz magazine DownBeat. The band wins the 2020 Co-Winner Large Jazz Ensemble in the Performing Arts School category. The frequency of DSA JWO getting this award should not underestimate how difficult this level of performance is for a high school jazz band. The students have worked extremely hard to achieve such a level of excellence, depth and understanding of America’s art form.
Both Concert Band and Wind Ensemble 2020 were extremely successful this year before the shut down of performances. Both ensembles were awarded “Superior with Distinction” having all judges giving the groups the highest scores possible for their performances. Congrats to the Concert Band and Wind Ensemble members!

2019-20 Overview

Think that this year was cut short as far as the success of the students and program? Think again! The students of the DSA Bands Department were motivated, mobilized and executed a phenomenal year of success even though the year was cut short at school because of the pandemic. Look below at the amazing awards locally, state-wide and nationally that the students were able to achieve this year. Congratulations to all the students, especially seniors!



Congratulations DSA Band Department 2019 Seniors!

The 2019 Seniors at the Bands Senior Dinner, May 14, 2019. (From top left: Giselle Florencio, Galen Metzger, Thutmose Toure, Farinaz Molei, Makayla French, Ben Fraterelli, Makenna Nolop, Camryn Honea, Natalie Joram, Adam Burton, Aleks Girshevich, Chris Ferrari, Sam Keedy, Jack Bendure and Azura DeHerrera.


Superior With Distinction

The phrase “Superior With Distinction” means that all judges present gave the ensemble the top scores possible:

Superior With Distinction:

Band Composer Richard Saucedo master clinics the DSA Wind Ensemble after their performance at the CBA State Concert Band Festival where the ensemble received “Superior With Distinction” Scores (4/16/18)

September 8th DSA hosted Zimbabwean Mbira master Patience Munjeri in a master class that offered advice in music and in living life – a truly unique experience for DSA band students.

On September 13th DSA Percussionists and JWO members had the opportunity to meet and experience a master class with Percussive Arts Society’s “Best Percussionist in 2017”, Cuban born congero Pedrito Martinez and his band.

On September 14th DSA hosted pianist Emmet Cohen and his band Russell Hall (Bass) and Kyle Poole (Drurms) to play for DSA students and to clinic the DSA JWO jazz combo.

Since the before the beginning school the DSA Pit Orchestra has worked tirelessly to rehearse then to perform 8 shows of “In the Heights”, this year’s All School Musical.  The production was tremendous in that it focused on DSA’s students of color and also presented the pit with great opportunities to learn many styles such as mambo, reggaeton, merengue and salsa!

What is DSA Bands?

The DSA Pit Orchestra again performed 8 phenomenally professional Shrek shows elevating the all school musical to new heights. The show was featured at the DSA Gala on Saturday, September 22nd along with the DSA Wind Ensemble – both performed to rave reviews to a very knowledgeable, elite crowd. A big thank you going out to both groups for their continued commitment to excellence!

See a great article about DSA bassoonist Tatia Slouka from the Denver Post:


See “Leave Them Wanting More” – a video about the Jazz Workshop Orchestra’s preparation for and the trip to New York for the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Festival and Competition in May of 2017.

See a video about the Jazz Workshop Orchestra and other schools deep in the teaching of jazz music from Rocky Mountain PBS’s “Arts District” show.


The Jazz Workshop Orchestra poses on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York after winning second place at the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Festival and Competition in New York City.

The DSA Woodwind Quintet sets up to play at the Colorado Youth Leadership Awards Ceremony. The Mayor recognized the group at the event.

JWO2 plays Dazzle on 5/1/17. This will be the last performance of the bands at this Dazzle location.

The Jonathan Kreisberg trio plays for DSA students 5/1. DSA Alum Colin Stranahan ’05 was playing drums.

Members of the DSA Brass Quintet perform in Master class under the watchful eye of the famed Canadian Brass at the University of Colorado at Boulder 1/29/17.

The Jazz Workshop Orchestra poses for the official picture at the 70th Annual Midwest Band and Orchestra Festival, 12/16/16.

The Jazz Workshop Orchestra poses for the official picture at the 70th Annual Midwest Band and Orchestra Festival, 12/16/16.

DSA students Abby Davidson, Jenna Pizer and Tatia Slouka performed in the finals of a National Chamber Music Competition at New England Conservatory, Boston.

DSA students Abby Davidson, Jenna Pizer and Tatia Slouka performed in the finals of a National Chamber Music Competition at New England Conservatory, Boston.

Highlights from the 2015-16 year!


DSA Wind Ensemble Collaborates with Augustana Symphonic Band 2/25/16

Top DSA Band Students Perform at the 2016 Concerto Concert

DSA Middle School Band students pose with other students from DPS Schools at the Denver Citywide Honor Band event on Saturday, 2/20.

DSA Middle School Band students pose with other students from DPS Schools at the Denver Citywide Honor Band event on Saturday, 2/20.


Mr. Hammond and the Denver School of the Arts congratulates the following Band students for their representation in the following All State Ensembles.  We are very proud of you!

2016 American Composers Network Honorable Mention

Zach Bahn

DSA Band Students: CU Honor Band

Jenna Pizer, Erik Ondrejko, Alison Orthel

DSA Band Students:  2016 All State Symphonic Band

Callie Nellis, Josh Bogen, Jenna Pizer, Carson Hann (alt.), Erik Ondrejko,

John Bickle, Alison Orthel

DSA Band Students: 2016 All State Orchestra 

Philharmonic Orchestra: Caroline (Callie) Nellis, Eli Castro

Symphonic Orchestra: Tatia Slouka, Allison Orthel

DSA Band Students: All State Jazz Bands

Rico Jones, Christopher Ferrari, Erik Ondrejko, Liam Hughes-Butler,

Gabe Rupe, Julian Archer

All American Jazz Band

Rico Jones, Erik Ondrejko

Next Generation Jazz Band

Erik Ondrejko

DSA Bands News…

Jazz Symposium 2015 with Visiting Artist Greg Osby

DSA Bands Rock the Colorado Symphony 5K

DSA Bands showed up for business on Saturday’s (9/19) 5K race to benefit the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.  DSA Bands won the “Largest Group” award and Emily Hanson won the 3rd overall female winner in the race.  Many DSA students came in top places in their age group but all had a great time at the event!  Thanks to all that showed up!

DSA Jazz Workshop Orchestra featured in the Stapleton Front Porch: http://frontporchstapleton.com/article/dsa-jazz-band-play-five-points-jazz-festival-may-16/

DSA Band student Obediah Oakley tells why music is central to his life on the DPS Foundation videohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Yh9O8U5-kE&feature=youtu.be

DSA Band student Rico Jones performs in the Grammy Band: http://blogs.denverpost.com/theden/2015/02/07/denver-school-arts-rico-jones-grammys/