The Manistee Catholic Central band program begins in the 5th grade, where all students learn to play a band instrument, read music, and count basic rhythms. Students will perform 3-4 times during the year, but the emphasis is on acquiring fundamental skills of musicianship.
The 6th, 7th, and 8th grades are combined into one perfoming ensemble which meets three days per week but only once with all grades combined. This band will perform more frequently and will also participate in M.S.B.O.A. events such as Solo & Ensemble Festival, District 1 Band Festival, District and State Honors Bands, and more. Focus shifts to skills needed to participate in an ensemble setting effectively, and also to increased technical mastery of the instrument.
The High School band meets three days per week and will participate in selected sporting events, parades, concerts, and M.S.B.O.A. activites. Further mastery of the instrument and increased knowledge of advanced performance techniques are the main concern.
Mr. Robert Gras is in his first year as director of the MCC Bands. Previously, Mr. Gras taught in the Algonac (MI) school district for 15 years and in the Bay City (MI) Public Schools for 8 years. Mr. Gras has taught every level of music from pre-kindergarten general music to college wind ensembles. He is the owner and operator of Educators Music Services and a published author of many MS and HS level band pieces. Mr. Gras' extensive experience in marching band allows him to work as an arranger, drill designer, and instructor for many school bands throughout the country.
As a member of M.S.B.O.A., his bands have achieved superior ratings in every division from Junior High Class D to High School Class AA. The Algonac HS Symphonic Band was a superior rating winner at the 2009 Dixie Classic Festival, won the judge's award for Outstanding Woodwinds, and finished second by .25 points for the title of Festival Honors Band. The Algonac WAVE Percussion Ensemble competed in M.C.G.C. and W.G.I. events from 2002-2012 and won back to back state championships in 2005 and 2006.
He is married to Cheryl Gras and the couple recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. His daughter, Deanna, will be attending the Culinary Institute of America in New York to train as a chef, and his son, Tristan, is a 5th grader at Brethren MS.