Meet the Band Director
Ballard High School
Jay Gillespie is in his 3 rd year of directing at Ballard High School where he directs 3 concert
bands, a jazz ensemble, a New Orleans style brass band and a percussion ensemble. Originally
form Eagle River Alaska, he graduated high school from Interlochen Arts Academy where he
earned a fine arts award for saxophone performance and graduated with honors. He attended
the University of Michigan as a classical saxophone performance and jazz and improvisational
studies major studying under Donald Sinta and Donald Walden. Upon his departure from
Michigan, Mr. Gillespie spent 9 years in the Navy Band playing for audiences exceeding 1.5
million as a clarinet and saxophone instrumentalist. Mr. Gillespie performed in, arranged for,
and led multiple ensembles in the Navy Band including jazz combos, jazz ensembles, rock
bands, concert bands, marching bands, and brass bands. After the Navy, Mr. Gillespie attended
the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned his degree in music education Magna
Mr. Gillespie was honored with the PTSA teacher of the year award in the 2021-2022 school
year and the Ballard bands were featured in a multiple page Seattle Times article that same
year. The Ballard Marching Band won best musical/drill entry in the 2021 Auburn Veterans Day
Parade and the newly formed New Orleans style brass band, Ballard Brass, is the only such
group in the Seattle area and is a crowd favorite. Mr. Gillespie lives on the Kitsap peninsula with
his wife and two children and performs professionally with multiple ensembles throughout the
Wind Ensemble 1
The Wind Ensemble is the school’s premier concert band. Membership is by audition only. This ensemble performs the highest level of literature written for the wind band medium by composers such as Grainger, Holst, Ticheli, Bryant, Mackey, and others. Recent honors include an invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall in 2017 for the New York International Music Festival where they received a Gold rating for their performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Overture to Candide” and David Maslanka’s “Give Us This Day.” The Wind Ensemble has been invited to perform on a prestigious concert hour at the WMEA State Music Teacher’s Conference in Yakima in February 2018.
All Members of the Wind Ensemble also support the greater school community by performing as part of the award-winning Marching Band at football and basketball games and at parades throughout the Northwest.
The Symphonic Band is comprised of 9th-12th grade band students. Membership is by audition only. Students in Symphonic Band perform technically and musically challenging repertoire throughout the year. An emphasis on fundamental concepts, including breathing, instrument-specific techniques, and mastery of musical skills, are an important component of this band.
All Members of the Symphonic Band also support the greater school community by performing as part of the award-winning Marching Band at football and basketball games and at parades throughout the Northwest.
The Concert Band is comprised of 9th-12th grade band students. Most incoming freshmen are placed into this band. Students in Concert Band perform technically and musically challenging repertoire throughout the year. An emphasis on fundamental concepts, including breathing, instrument-specific techniques, and mastery of musical skills, are an important component of this band.
All Members of the Concert Band also support the greater school community by performing as part of the award-winning Marching Band at football and basketball games and at parades throughout the Northwest.
The Percussion class is focused on all aspects of percussion technique and playing. Students will learn various skills on mallet instruments, snare drum, timpani, and all other concert percussion instruments. Students in the Percussion class perform as part of the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble but also through various percussion ensembles.
Ballard Percussionists consistently represent the Elliott Bay Region at the State Solo/Ensemble competition and have twice placed in the top 3 at this prestigious event.
All Members of the Percussion class also support the greater school community by performing as the Drumline for the award-winning Marching Band at football and basketball games and at parades throughout the Northwest.
Ballard Big Band is the premier jazz band at Ballard and has recently emerged onto the Seattle jazz scene as one of the Northwest’s top high school jazz bands. Its accomplishments include prestigious invitations to perform at the Essentially Ellington competition in New York (2018 & 2012), the Swing Central Jazz Festival in Savannah (2014), and the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey (2018 & 2015.) The band won 1st Place at the Mt.Hood Jazz Festival (2013) and is the only band to have been named an Outstanding Jazz Ensemble for two consecutive years at the UW Jazz Festival (2016 and 2017). Jazz 1 has also performed at Seattle’s Earshot Jazz Festival and Starbucks’ “Hot Java Cool Jazz” concert. During a normal school year, Jazz 1 meets every school day at 7:45 AM
Jazz Lab Ensemble is comprised of students interested in learning the art of jazz through the study of jazz technique and improvisation. The band plays at all school concerts. During a typical school year, Jazz Lab meets Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:45 AM.
Both bands both perform annually at Jazz Alley, one of Seattle’s most prestigious jazz venues.
Brass Band is a combination of the Ballard Big Band & Jazz Lab Ensemble plays every Friday to learn New Orleans style Brass band music. New Orleans style brass bands are exciting, mobile groups that play anything from funk to traditional Americana music and are composed entirely of winds, brass and percussion. These songs will be learned completely by ear and develop students' skills improvising with pentatonic scales, blues, and modal chord changes. If you would like to hear some good examples of this genre of music, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Soul Rebels, and the Rebirth Brass Band are great bands to look up!
The band is fortunate to have Saxophonist Gary Hammon provide mentoring and coaching. Mr. Hammon emerged from the Seattle funk and free jazz scene, studied at the New England Conservatory of Music, toured with organist Big John Patton, returned to Seattle and recorded Fangs in 2005 with saxophonist Hadley Caliman.
Find out more: http://www.hammon-esvelt.com
Jazz Instructor Alexis Rosenberg
Alexis Rosenberg is a jazz saxophonist and educator based in Seattle, Washington. She grew up in Los Angeles where she initially developed her passion for jazz music, and went on to study at the University of Oregon where she received Bachelor degrees in Jazz Studies and Music
Education. Some of her performance achievements include touring in Europe with the Oregon Jazz Ensemble, headlining a show with her original compositions at the Jazz Station, performing at the North American Saxophone Alliance Region 1 Conference in 2019, and partaking in gig opportunities throughout Oregon when requested. As an educator, she taught music full time for two years at Illinois Valley High School, was a clinician at the McKay High School Jazz Festival in 2022, and taught sectionals/ensembles for local high schools as a college student. She recently relocated to Seattle where she will be teaching the Jazz II at Ballard High School, teaching lessons, and playing local gigs. She is looking forward to working with everyone in Jazz II this year!
The Award-Winning Ballard High School Marching Band is the largest marching band in all of Seattle Public Schools and is recognized throughout the Northwest and beyond for its excellence in music making and its precision in marching. The band is comprised of all students in the Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble and Percussion classes. It most recently won 1st Place at the 2016 Autumn Leaf Festival Parade in Leavenworth and has won numerous other awards and accolades at parades in Wenatchee, Victoria, Disneyland, and Seattle. The band has also been featured in a local commercial for Bartell Drugs.
The Marching Band performs at home football games and basketball games, 1-2 parades, and at pep assemblies and community events throughout the year. Its highly energetic and entertaining halftime show at the Homecoming football game is not to be missed!
Watch the video of Ballard's Marching Band performing at the 2012-13 Homecoming game.
Black Band t-shirts are the required uniform for all basketball games. Students will not be allowed to play with the band if they are not wearing your band shirt and you will not receive credit towards their grade for showing up without the band t-shirt. Students not wearing Band t-shirts, should not bother showing up! Students are to be in the Band Room ready to play 30 minutes prior to game time.