The El Cerrito High School Instrumental Music Program has a proud history of musical excellence that has thrived since the school’s opening in 1941. It has held a long tradition of award-winning bands, jazz ensembles, and orchestras under the direction of many dedicated directors including John Overholtzer, Marvin Nelson, Richard Emmons, Terry Clark, Paul Yonemura, Jesse Leyva and Roland Brown among several others. The program offers students a variety of musical experiences through rehearsals, performances, clinics and travel opportunities. Currently under the direction of Keith Johnson, the program continues to build on its rich history offering three levels of band, three jazz bands, jazz combo, marching band, and chamber ensembles.

The ECHS Wind Ensemble has traveled and performed in venues throughout the west coast. Notable accomplishments in recent years include four consecutive CMEA (California Music Educators Association) Unanimous Superior Awards and being selected among some of the state’s top high school bands to perform at the 2014 CMEA All-State Band and Orchestra Festival where the group was also awarded a Unanimous Superior Award. In the spring of 2015 the Wind Ensemble will be performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City as a part of the 2015 New York Wind Band Festival.

The ECHS Jazz Ensemble has gained recognition as one of the state’s top high school jazz bands. In addition to five consecutive CMEA Unanimous Superior Awards the band has earned first place at numerous jazz festivals including the Delta, Folsom, and Reno Jazz Festivals in recent years. The band has been showcased at the state level having been selected as the only jazz ensemble statewide to perform at the 2014 California All-State Music Education Conference in Fresno. In 2014 the Jazz Ensemble embarked on its first European tour where they were invited to perform at venues including the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, Montruex Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy.