Director of Instrumental Music: Helen Harrelson

To look at the Department Handbook click here.


Click here to view schedule >>

This scheudle is the one-stop-shop for everything instrumental related!


Interested in Instrumental Music?

We are hosting consultation sessions on May 4th & 12th, 2020 for any students interested in joining one of the many curricular or extra-curricular music ensembles at SJA. THIS IS NOT AN AUDITION and there is a place in the Sound of Thunder for all levels of instrumental music students, including beginnings who have never played before.

Students are encouraged to come and play a short piece of music that best demonstrates their skills and experience (it can be a band piece, solo, or something that they are working on with a teacher) or they can just come for a chat with the instructors. Large percussion, amps, and a piano will be provided. 

This is a great opportunity to get to know more about the music department and ensembles and will help us assign students to groups that will enthuse and appropriately challenge them!

The sessions are very informal, so do not worry. If you have any questions please contact Mrs. Harrelson.

To register for a session please fill out this form.

Opportunities to Perform, Learn, and Create


Freshmen Percussion, Concert Band, Crimson Collective, Thunder Drum Lines, Intro to Music, Jazz Band, Music History & Theory, Music Technology, String Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, & Advance Wind Ensemble


Brass Ensemble, Clarinet Choir, Navy Drum Line, Flute Choir, Grade School CSP Project, Jazz Combo, Musical Pit Orchestra, Pep Band, Saxophone Ensemble, Tri-M Music Honors Society



PA 306 // CREDIT: 1 // GRADE: 9, 10, 11, 12

Prerequisite: Open to all brass and woodwind players. (Percussion, piano, and guitar students must have instructor recommendation due to limited places.)

This is an ensemble for band instrumental musicians. The following groups practice during this class: Concert Band, Jazz Band, Wind Ensemble, and Pep Band. Groups from this class regularly perform at school concerts and events, KSHSAA Solo and Ensemble Festival and KSHSAA State Large Group Festival. Students enrolled in this class will also have the opportunity to develop their instrumental specific skills through scheduled sectional instruction sessions.

Crimson Collective

PA 302 // CREDIT: 1/2 // GRADE: 9, 10, 11, 12

Prerequisite: Must play own instrument, Teacher Recommendation

This is a guitar, keyboard, vocal and percussion ensemble aimed at developing performance skills through a wide variety of musical genres including praise & worship, blues, rock, pop, and soul. Students will also learn how to arrange and create their own songs in small groups. 2nd Semester only.

Freshmen Percussion


Prerequisite: Teacher Recommendation

This class provides freshmen percussionists with the opportunity to develop both technically and theoretically. Students will refine skills and rudiments on concert and marching percussion through group and individual projects so that they become multi-disciplined. Students are encouraged to participate either as a soloist or as part of an ensemble it the KSHSAA Regional Music Festival (April). A solid foundation of theory and history is also established through a variety of activities that help prepare students for continued success in the music program.

Intro To Music

PA 400 // CREDIT: 1/2 // GRADE: 9, 10, 11, 12

Prerequisite: None

Intro to Music is an introductory class that provides students with a chance to learn the basics of music through performance. Students will learn how to read music as well as develop the basic skills required to perform on a variety of instruments. Aspects of music theory and history will also be covered though applied learning projects. No previous musical experience necessary. On completion of the class, students may progress and continue their studies in either vocal or instrumental music ensembles for the following year.

Jazz Band

PA 306 (Ex. Credit) // GRADE: 9, 10, 11, 12

Prerequisite: August Audition

The Jazz Band is an extracurricular/credit ensemble that meets during Thunder Block and on Tuesday mornings (7:00 AM – 8:00 AM) during Sept, Oct, Dec, Jan, Feb, and May.


PA 406 // CREDIT: ½ // GRADE: 10, 11, 12 

Prerequisite: Teacher Recommendation Required

Music Theory and History is a non-performance course open to those students with a serious interest in learning the basic rudiments, structures, and elements of music. The course will focus on music analysis with reference to historical context. Students will also develop aural training skills, including melodic and rhythmic dictation as well as sight-singing


PA 401 // CREDIT: ½ // GRADE: 9, 10, 11, 12 

Prerequisite: Students must be able to pass a basic music theory entrance test.

This class is focused on the creation of music using technology. This includes the concepts of pitch, rhythm, form, and sound construction, as well as music notation. Arranging and editing musical projects and evaluating the merit of the musical content are also covered. The class will learn computer-based techniques for creating, recording, and producing projects on GarageBand, Sibelius, and iMovie. Class members will also be taught how to create multi-media presentations. This class fulfills a Fine/Performing Arts or Technology credit requirement.



Auditions are held in September to be part of the musical pit orchestra. Rehearsal times vary but are mainly Tuesday mornings (7:00 AM– 8:00 AM) during October and November as well as after school practices in November.


PA 502 // CREDIT: 1 // GRADE: 9, 10, 11, 12 

Prerequisite: Must have previous experience playing stringed instruments (Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass & Harp)

Students enrolled in a performing arts ensemble for more than two years are exempt from their speech or debate credit requirement. The SJA String Ensemble aims to provide string musicians with a chance to listen and perform musically, both as an individual and in an ensemble. Students are guided through personal skill development as they learn and perform solo and ensemble repertoire for school concerts and community events. In the second semester, the group prepares and performs for regional and state festivals. Aspects of music theory and history will also be covered in class.


PA 305 // COURSE CODE: Z // CREDITt: ½ // GRADE: 9, 10, 11, 12 

Prerequisite: Must pass placement audition.

The Thunder Drums ensemble is a zero-hour class that meets 7:00 – 8:00 AM on Monday or Tuesday mornings. The group is a high-profile ensemble both at St James and in the wider community. Students will work on rudiments, marching, and general technique as well as prepare and perform music for sporting events, pep assemblies, and KSHSAA Solo and Ensemble Festival.



Prerequisite: Teacher Recommendation

The Sound of Thunder Pep Band combines all wind, percussion, guitar, and keyboard players in the department. The group meets during Thunder Block (Aug -Oct) to prepare music and shows for fall sporting events and community activities.

Uniform orders are Due August 19th. Anyone ordering after this date will not be guaranteed to receive their items for the first game on Sept 2. 
View Uniforms >>
Order Here >>


Open to all Juniors & Seniors in good disciplinary standing.

Tri-M Handbook >>


Grade School Orchestra Program

New for 2019 – 2020! Open to 4th – 9th grade students!

More information >>

Grade School Band Night

We would like to invite our grade school families to join us for our Spring Concert on May 6 at the Bell Center, MidAmerica Nazarene University. The concert will feature music from our Concert Band, Orchestra, Jazz Band and will also showcase some of our small ensembles and soloists (Percussion, Brass Band, Saxophone Ensemble, Flute Quartet, Clarinet Ensemble, String Ensemble) This is a great way to experience the St. James Academy Music Department and meet some of our students and their families.