Director of Bands - (i can't seem to get this picture where I want it, but this is one of my faves of some of my faves:)

Leon Slater is in his 11th year as the Director of Bands for Hellgate High School and his 23rd year of teaching all together.                        

Mr. Slater earned his Bachelors in Trumpet Performance from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. While at Northwestern he performed in the Brass Choir under the direction of Rex Martin, the Wind Ensemble under the direction of John Paynter and 
the Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Victor Yampolsky. Upon graduation, Mr. Slater auditioned for professional level groups and ultimately joined the Marine Corps. 
In 1993 Mr.Slater moved to Missoula to study music education at the University of Montana where he received his Masters in Music and his teaching certification.  In the Fall of 1996 he student taught at Hellgate High School and learned how to rehearse effectively and passionately from Mr. John Combs. 
In 1997 he took a job as Director of Bands at Florence Carlton Schools in Florence, MT. In five years the HS band grew from 13 to 118 members. In 2002 Mr. Slater took the helm of the Big Sky Band program and within a few short years had auditioned their groups into All-Northwest, the New York Wind Band Festival and the Australian Music Festival.
When Steve Bolstad left the University of Montana Mr. Slater was asked to step in and become an interim Assistant Director of Bands and trumpet teacher at the University of Montana.   At UM Slater taught methods and materials for music education majors, brass methods, trumpet studio, jazz combos, supervised student teachers and directed the University Concert Band.
In 2008 Mr. Slater was accepted into the Center for Jazz Composition program at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL.  He studied jazz composition with Chuck Owen, assisted with the trumpet studio and directed the "Jazz II" Big Band.  He is currently an active trumpet performer with Salsa Loca, the Big Sky Mudflaps and the Soul City Brass Band.  He lives in Missoula with his wife Liz, their two children Ethan (age 18, recent Hellgate grad and soon to be Marine!) and Emi (age 16, Hellgate Junior and trumpet goddess:) and their two dogs "Bebop" and "Rock-Steady". 

Assistant Director - Percussion Specialist

Samuel McKenzie earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Percussion Performance from The University of Montana in 2009, and a Master’s Degree in Percussion Performance from The University of Akron in 2013.   Samuel has studied with Larry Snider, Robert Jorgensen, Galen Karriker and Robert LedBetter.  After graduating from The University of Akron, Samuel was the music director at Summit Academy School in Akron, Ohio.  He is currently the Director of Bands at Meadow Hill Middle School in Missoula, MT.
Samuel has performed with the Missoula Symphony, Akron Symphony Orchestra, Ed Norton Big Band, Akros Percussion, Joe Augustine, Gary Herbig, Eden Atwood, Liam Teaque, SO percussion and Michael Spiro.  In 2014, Samuel performed as the drumset artist on the Celebrity Silhouette cruise ship. 
Growing up with a father in music education, Samuel was raised with music in his life.  Following nine years of college training, Samuel is knowledgeable in a range of percussion idioms including concert band, classical, orchestral, drumset, drumline, African drumming, Brazilian drumming and steel drums.  Samuel enjoys being back home in Montana and hanging out with his two nephews Ben and Jack.