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Contact Aaron Lovato  Aaron Lovato (505) 857-9282 ex: 33880 Teacher
Contact Donna Schmidt  Donna Schmidt (505) 857-9282 ex: 33880 Teacher/Electives Dept Head
Meet the Directors

Donna Schmidt

Donna Schmidt, a native of Beltsville, Maryland, received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from James Madison University in 1991 and her Master of Music degree from the University of New Mexico in 1995. She taught in Arlington, VA, and was for two years the band director at McKinley Middle School in Albuquerque. Since 1997 Mrs. Schmidt has been band director at Desert Ridge Middle School in Albuquerque, where she oversees a band program of over 300 students.

A professional tuba player, Mrs. Schmidt has performed with the Mount Vernon Brass Quintet, New Mexico Brass Quintet, Santa Fe Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, and was a soloist with the Capital Winds. She is a highly sought-after clinician and adjudicator. Mrs. Schmidt was chosen as New Mexico’s representative for the School Band and Orchestra magazine’s "50 Directors Who Make a Difference." In 2016, Ms. Schmidt was named New Mexico Educator's Association Music Educator of the Year. Most recently, Ms. Schmidt was selected as a recipient of the 2018 Golden Apple Award.

Aaron Lovato

An Albuquerque native music educator and performer, Mr. Lovato is excited to be a new addition to the staff at DRMS.  Mr. Lovato received a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of New Mexico and a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas.  For the last eight years, he taught with the APS Fine Arts Department as an elementary general music instructor, and is an instructor for the New Mexico Jazz Workshop. As a performer, he has played saxophone in several professional ensembles in the Albuquerque area including the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra and the New Mexico Philharmonic.   

About Our Band Program

Concert Bands

The Desert Ridge Band program has enjoyed much success since the school opened in 1997.  Desert Ridge offers four levels of concert band: Beginning, Cadet, Advanced, and Symphonic. 

Beginning Band is offered to all students interested in playing a wind or percussion instrument (flute, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba, and percussion). No previous music experience is required to participate.

Cadet Band is offered to incoming 6th grade students who have played a band instrument for one or more years.  Advanced Band and Symphonic Band are offered to 7th and 8th grade students who have completed one year of Beginning or Cadet Band.  Placement is determined by the directors.

Band students perform several concerts and festivals throughout the school year.  An annual Spring Retreat to Hummingbird Music Camp in the Jemez Mountains is a highlight for Cadet, Advanced, and Symphonic Band students.  In addition, students learn discipline, cooperation with others, and most importantly, music skills that will last a lifetime!  Learning to play a musical instrument involves your child in a worthwhile school activity and gives them something interesting and pleasurable to do during their leisure time for the remainder of their lives.

Jazz Bands

Desert Ridge also offers two levels of Jazz Band for students who are enrolled in a band or orchestra class during the regular school day who play a tradiitonal jazz instrument (saxophone, trumpet, trombone/euphonium, piano, bass, drums, guitar). Some of our piano and guitar players have been students that play another instrument in one of our concert bands or orchestras.   

Jazz Band I is an advanced jazz ensemble.  Placement is determined by an audition in the Fall.  Music can be obtained from the band directors in May.  Jazz Band II is an intermediate ensemble open to any band or orchestra student without an audition; however, rhythm section instrumentation (drums, piano, bass, guitar) will be limited to a certain number of students.  If there is an over abundance of these instruments, a small audition may be necessary.

Jazz Band is a class that meets before school daily.  Both jazz bands perform at many concerts and festivals throughout the school year.

Join Band

Learn to Play an Instrument!

Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon, Saxophone

Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba, Percussion

Why Music?

Music promotes academic success.

Music teaches discipline.

Music increases self-esteem.

Music relieves stress.

Music is fun and social.


Does my child need to know how to play an instrument to join?

Not at all.  We will teach your child everything he/she needs to know to play.  We will start at the beginning with how to hold and handle the instruments, and together they will learn to read and play music.

When will classes meet and how much time will it take?

Our classes meet during the regular school day.  Students attend band class daily just like their other academic classes.

How much will it cost?

Band is relatively inexpensive activity.  Obtaining an instrument will not be difficult. Many instruments are available through the school and area music stores offer monthly instrument rental for a moderate fee.  We don’t want students to be excluded for financial reasons; we will certainly assist you in any way that we can.

How do I sign my child up for band?

Simply select Beginning Band on your child’s DRMS registration card.

What if my child has already played a band instrument?

Students with experience on a band instrument should select Cadet Band on the registration card.  

Can you be involved in the band and participate in other school activities like sports, cheerleading, dance, or art etc.?

Absolutely!  Due to the fact that we rehearse during the school day, many of our students are able to be involved in other activities.  Music students are often among the busiest students in the school.  The experience that they gain in balancing these interests and activities often proves to be one of life’s most valuable lessons.