New family welcome letter from Mr. Leslie

Welcome to Sequoyah! With this new chapter comes new opportunities and some difficult decisions. You want your child to be engaged, challenged, and prepared for middle school and beyond. Just as important, you want to know that your child is in a supportive and safe atmosphere that will allow them to not only survive, but to thrive. In the award-winning Department of Instrumental Music, we strive to provide all of that and more!

Music is more than an artistic endeavor. It is a science, a foreign language, and a sport all rolled into one. At over 220 student-musicians strong, we are the largest co-curricular elective on campus, and being a part of our music program means that your child has a home base at Sequoyah. A place where they will be engaged at the highest levels and surrounded by many of our finest scholars; a place where they will be supported and challenged physically, mentally, and musically; a place that teaches character, commitment, and cooperation; a place where excellence is encouraged, expected, and attained.

Research has shown that students who study music tend to have higher achievement scores, are more proficient in all subject areas, are more creative, and have better social skills due to their musical experience. Setting aside all of the academic and brain-based research, music also immerses your child into a culture of high achieving students who are committed to a heightened standard of behavior and character development. Frequently, we discuss teamwork, commitment, dedication, and ideas related to personal development and character education.

Students who participate in music are not limited from participating in other opportunities. Students can participate in all Sequoyah Middle School sports. While there may be occasional conflicts, know that our faculty works collaboratively to solve them when they arise. Students do not need any prior music experience to join. We will teach them everything that they need to know. By the end of the first semester, your child will have performed at least once. Students throughout their musical career will have various performance and travel opportunities throughout the state as a middle school student, and throughout the country as a member of the high school music program.

Students entering 6th grade will be placed in our beginner band where they will have the opportunity to learn flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, baritone, tuba, and percussion (drums). Students who wish to learn a string instrument (violin, viola, cello, bass) will be placed in our beginner orchestra class. Students will have the opportunity to try each of these instruments and determine which instrument might be the best fit for them. It is the goal of the Federal Way Public Schools to make participation in music available to all students. Families have three options when acquiring an instrument for their child.

  • Purchase/Own: If you have the resources to purchase or borrow an instrument, of course this is an option! Check with Mr. Leslie for advice or information on quality beginning model instruments before purchasing.

  • Rent from a local music store: This is the most common method of acquiring an instrument. Local music stores provide students with quality instruments for a reasonable monthly rate.

  • Check out an instrument from Sequoyah: School instruments will be distributed first to students who exhibit financial need at no cost to families. More information will be available at the beginning of the school year.

On behalf of the music department, I would personally like to welcome you to the Phoenix Family! I encourage you to browse this website to discover the numerous opportunities your child will have as a member of our program. I look forward to potentially working with you and your child in the near future!

Latest Updates

The latest information will be posted here. Click to learn more.

No updates at this time. Check back soon!

Frequently Asked Questions

Click to view our most frequently asked questions.

How can I participate in band or orchestra at Sequoyah?

To register for band or orchestra, please click here to complete the online registration form. Mr. Leslie will work with the counseling team to ensure your child is enrolled in band or orchestra.

Does my child need an instrument?

Yes. Students enrolled in band or orchestra will need their own instrument. Families may rent/purchase an instrument from a local music store, or may check out a district-owned instrument at no cost.

What instruments are available to learn?

Students in band may choose one of the following instruments: Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Trumpet, Horn, Trombone, Baritone/Euphonium, Tuba, and Percussion (drums). Students in orchestra may choose one of the following instruments: Violin, Viola, Cello, and Bass. Students who have experience playing piano or guitar may join our after-school jazz band class. Ask Mr. Leslie for more information.

What instrument will I play?

New students will receive their instrument assignment within the first two weeks of school. Families should not purchase/rent an instrument until instrument assignments are finalized.

Can I participate in athletics/clubs AND band or orchestra?

Absolutely. The majority of our music students participate in athletics and clubs in addition to band or orchestra. Most band and orchestra obligations take place during the school day. Band and orchestra will rarely conflict with after-school activities.

Is band and orchestra expensive?

No. We want to ensure that all students have the opportunity to participate in band or orchestra. While families are welcome to purchase/rent instruments, we have instruments that students can check out for free.

What is the time commitment?

The rewards of playing a musical instrument increase in direct proportion to the number of hours invested in individual practice. Students should plan to practice for a minimum of 20 minutes a day, five days a week. Additionally, enrolling in band or orchestra is a full year course, and students are expected to commit to the full academic school year. While after-school obligations are minimal, students will participate in four after-school concerts. Depending on the ensemble, some band and orchestra students may have occasional after-school rehearsals. All after-school obligations will be communicated to families.

How do I stay informed?

Important information will be posted to this website and will be communicated via Synergy (our email management system). Please make sure your contact information is accurate and up to date by contacting the main office (253-945-3670).

Any other questions?

Any additional questions can be sent to Mr. Leslie (click here to email Mr. Leslie)

Contact Information

Chris Leslie, Director of Bands and Orchestras

Covid-19 Safety Information

We are committed to providing a safe learning environment and adhere to all Washington State Department of Health and King County Public Health guidance as it pertains to the performing arts classroom. Click to view the latest update.


At least 3 feet while indoors. More if possible.


  • Universal masking with appropriate material – MERV13 or 3-layer medical face mask or similar material (provided by FWPS) – is required by all students and staff in performing arts classes and while participating in performing arts activities.

  • Aerosol-producing musicians (woodwinds and brass) are required to wear appropriate masks/face coverings (provided by FWPS) and/or use appropriate bell covers (provided by FWPS) while performing. Woodwinds and brass performers may remove their face coverings/masks when performing on their instrument and must replace their face covering/mask during non-performance time.

  • Bell covers with appropriate material – MERV 13 or 3-layer medical face mask or similar material – are required for brass and woodwind instruments when indoors (provided by FWPS)

Additional Safety Practices

  • Practice good hygiene collecting water condensation from brass instruments.

  • Reduce shared equipment to the degree possible. Students will not share instruments. Have students use hand sanitizer before using shared equipment like music stands.

  • Maximize ventilation of the space as much as possible (windows open, maximum air exchange possible with HVAC system, use of portable HEPA air cleaners).

Important Links

Click for links to area music stores and important forms/documents.

Area Music Stores (to purchase supplies and rent/purchase instruments)

Ted Brown Music
Music and Arts
Federal Way School of Music


2021-2022 Instrumental Music Handbook (coming soon!)
Beginner Band and Orchestra Practice Sheet
(coming soon!)
Volunteer Background Check Forms
(coming soon!)