Solon High School Orchestra 2010-2011 Syllabus I. Introduction from Mr. MacDougall

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Mr. MacDougall 349-7757 x5659 Mr. Kline 349-7316

Solon High School Orchestra

2010-2011 Syllabus
I. Introduction from Mr. MacDougall

The purpose of this document is to summarize our expectations for everyone, as well as explain the grading scheme and policies and procedures of the SHS Orchestra. Playing well in an orchestral setting requires a unique combination of talent, skills, and responsibility, at both individual and group levels. An effective school orchestra is a team of students working toward the common goal of quality performances backed by structured learning about their instruments and the music they are performing. Solon High School Orchestra strives to combine these elements on a daily basis. We encourage each person to improve steadily and learn about the essentials of quality musicianship in a large group, while providing all students an opportunity to contribute to the best of their abilities.

II. Important Dates – Mark Your Calendars NOW!










III. Grading for Orchestra will be determined as follows for each quarter:

At least 3x per grading period, you will be assigned a section of your music or a selection from your technique book to perform as part of a playing test. Such evaluations will be done in person during class time in front of the whole group. These will be announced at least a week in advance so you can adequately prepare.


Once per quarter, an exam may be given covering terms and/or topics covered during our studies.


Every student is expected to be at every performance. Mark the dates above on your family calendars and agenda books. You are receiving these dates so you can plan all activities, doctor and dentist appointments, family vacations, work schedules, and other events accordingly. Students involved in other school related activities need to check practice schedules, game schedules, etc. in order to take care of any potential conflicts AS SOON AS POSSIBLE (i.e., TONIGHT). Most of the time, these conflicts can be resolved as long as they are noticed early.

Keep in mind that an unexcused absence from a performance usually results in a drop of two (2) letter grades for the quarter.

The following are examples of EXCUSED absences from a performance:

• Death in the family • Illness with a doctor’s excuse • Observance of religious holiday • Family emergency

The following are examples of UNEXCUSED absences:

• Work, detention, suspension, family or personal vacations, sports outside of school (leagues, etc.), other activities (weekly music lessons), attending a special concert, sporting event, party, or other entertainment event, and lastly, forgetting.
If you know you will be absent for a concert, one simple rule applies: *CALL* Mr. MacDougall @ 349-7757 x5659 or *CALL* Mr. Kline @ 349-7316 as soon as you know you will be absent. We re-arrange seating charts accordingly, so we need advance notice of two hours minimum. If you are suddenly ill or face an emergency, a call to our voice-mail system is necessary as soon as you or someone else is able. If you are missing from a concert, I will expect a written explanation from a parent/guardian and, if applicable, a note from a physician upon your next appearance at school or the absence will be unexcused.

Your participation grade is based on your ability to follow the guidelines below:

BE ON TIME to daily rehearsals. Students not in the room by the second bell (12:10) will be marked tardy, and the standard SHS policies regarding tardiness and absences will also be enforced. Be in your seat, with your instrument, pencil, music, and all necessary supplies, READY TO GO, within 5 minutes after the second bell (12:15). If you are not, you will be marked tardy. Leave all book bags, instrument cases, and other items not needed during rehearsal in or next to your locker.

BE ON TIME to pre-concert warm-up sessions. These typically begin at 6:45, with 6:50 being tardy.

BE PREPARED for every rehearsal with your instrument, pencil, music, and whatever accessories you need.

PRACTICE. Your success (and ours!) depends on regular, daily practice of at least 30 minutes on the music and exercises we are working on in class.

DEMONSTRATE a willingness to try your hardest and do your best at every rehearsal.

DEMONSTRATE proper playing position at all times.


DO NOT LOSE YOUR MUSIC. You are responsible for the music issued to. After we are done rehearsing always put your folder away in your case or locker. If a piece of music is destroyed or lost, you are responsible for replacement costs.

DO NOT TALK or play your instrument at inappropriate times, e.g. when the director is working with a specific section of the orchestra, or when the director cuts-off the orchestra in order to fix a spot. It is vital that all members of the ensemble hear what is happening during rehearsals, and pay attention.

BE RESPECTFUL of your peer’s musical abilities. Leave constructive criticism to the Director. Instead, offer your help (or friendship and company!) in a practice session where you help each other improve.

CLEAN UP after yourself at the end of rehearsal. This means you must put away your instrument, stand and music and make sure your locker is in good order.

INVOLVE YOURSELF! There are a variety of ways each student can help the orchestra. Talk to the Directors and Upper Classmen and think how you can best contribute to our Orchestra team:

Attendance: Keeping daily records of tardiness and absences.

Folders: Making sure each folder has the right music; adding/removing music as necessary

Library: Working with the Librarian, organizing and maintaining the SHS Music Library

Programs: Creating the programs used for our concerts

Crew: Daily room set-up, chair/stand maintenance, concert set-up, etc.

Outside Performances: Arranging for a performance at a location outside of school

Instrument Upkeep: Taking care of school-owned instruments and related tasks

Education: Preparing a lesson for your peers about some aspect of orchestra

Section Leader: Marking bowings, running sectional rehearsals, doing competency testing

Technology: Assisting with the integration of technology in the Orchestra

Mentoring: After school help sessions at Orchard, SMS, or one of the elementary schools

Music Dept. Volunteer: Market day, Concession stands, office work, etc.

Orchestra Officers: An opportunity for Seniors to organize our efforts.

IV. Policies and Procedures
Committee Work Documentation

All work done towards fulfillment of your requirements must be documented. Although this is a simple thing for some work (like a finished program for the concert, serving as an officer), pay careful attention to instructions on how to receive credit for the work you do. I do not want this to be a hassle – I simply want everyone to demonstrate their willingness to make our group better every day. Speak to me if you have questions.

Extra Credit

Extra credit (up to 5% maximum per quarter) can be earned for committee work over and above the minimum required, as well as participation in outside groups (COYO, CYO, Akron Youth Symphony, CIM Orchestras, CMSS, etc.) or attendance at orchestra or chamber music concerts. Bring me a program with a one-page, written summary/commentary on what you heard or played. I enjoy hearing and reading about your musical experiences.

Concert Attire

• Gentlemen: black suit (trousers and jacket), black dress shoes with black dress socks, white dress shirt and dark tie.

• Ladies: black dress (knee length or longer) or black pants, white or black blouse, with black dress shoes.

• Do not wear sandals, flip-flops, or other “informal” shoes for concerts.

• Any attire that distracts from a performance is prohibited (vividly colored hair, large jewelry, etc.)

Musicians who are not dressed appropriately for a concert will be denied the privilege of performing, and will receive a grade of “zero” for the concert.

As a general rule, if you have to ask if something is or is not appropriate, it most likely is NOT. By all means, ask me ahead of time and I’ll be happy to provide guidance. In short, we must look formal and professional when we appear in public.
School-Owned Instruments

It is expected that anyone enrolled in Orchestra have their own instrument or be renting one to use for the class. We encourage all students to bring their instruments to and from school each day, but since cellos and basses are not allowed on school buses, we provide them to students for use at school. The instrument issued will be in relatively good condition, but regular maintenance (e.g., broken strings, rosin, etc.), damages, or complete loss of the instrument will be the student’s responsibility.

Instrument Repairs

We have a limited amount of repair supplies and materials available at school, and, if possible, I will attempt to fix the problem myself, with you paying for any materials. Otherwise, it is your responsibility to get your instrument fixed ASAP. If you have a problem with your instrument that needs attention, I can put you in touch with a repair person right away. While your instrument is in the shop (no more than one week), you may use a school instrument and be subject to financial responsibility for it during that time.

Instrument Lockers

Instruments are valuable pieces of property and need to be secured at all times. The school has moved to a new policy of providing locks for all lockers so that they can be accessible at any time by the Directors and/or administrators of SHS. Students may share lockers, but since the inside of lockers are visible, a messy locker reflects poorly on us as a whole. You and those who share your locker will be required to keep your locker in good condition.

Private Lessons

Performing in a large ensemble means it is virtually impossible to receive adequate individual attention from the director. Having private lessons with a good teacher that suits your personality is imperative to your individual development. If you do not have a private lesson teacher, I highly recommend you find one right away. Ask me for a list of recommendations.

Solo Opportunities

Although not required, I encourage students to participate in Solo and Ensemble Contest held in January. This is an opportunity to prepare a solo or other string ensemble piece, perform for a judge, and receive constructive criticism and/or outright praise. It is my hope that anyone so doing would also take their solo/ensemble to any area venue and perform the same piece as often as possible. In addition to fulfilling the committee work portion of your quarterly grade, such activity can go toward your community service requirements. You become an ambassador for the SHS Music Department and the schools, and in return receive the invaluable experience of playing music for people who listen and enjoy what you do.

Soloing with the SHS Orchestra

If you are a Senior and would like an opportunity to perform a solo with the orchestra on the Awards Concert in May, you should prepare a movement from a concerto or other solo piece for an audition in October. Please check with me as to the appropriateness of the piece you are choosing – there are some pieces we simply would not be able to do. One or two students will have the opportunity to perform based on the audition results.


If you are ill and/or miss too many school rehearsals, we reserve the right to ask you to make-up rehearsal time during study halls, etc., to ensure you are prepared for a concert. It is understood that if you are not prepared for the concert (i.e., have not learned your music), you may be asked not to participate in the concert. In such cases, a make-up assignment will be required, and if the assignment is not completed by the due date, your absence from the concert will be considered unexcused.

Assignments to each Orchestra

Even though I know most of you and how you play reasonably well, the directors need to hear each of you play before the year begins. After auditions are complete, I will assign each student to an orchestra. Although ability and your audition are the primary means for my decision, other elements, such as regular progress, attitude, and willingness to practice, are also important.


Challenges serve two purposes in this class. First, challenges will be the vehicle through which a student can progress from one orchestra to another. If you are in Concert Orchestra, you will have the opportunity to work your way into Sinfonia. Conversely, if you are in Sinfonia and not meeting expectations, a person from Concert Orchestra can challenge for your seat. Second, a director may decide to open a section to challenges if there is still some question as to the actual rank order after a playing test. Our success relies upon each of you putting forth your best effort every day; if that is not happening, a challenge/play test helps to re-establish the appropriate effort level. Challenge music includes anything that is in the folder with specific passages chosen by the director at the time of the challenge.


Students in Concert Orchestra may need to have:

Allen, Michael and others. Essential Technique for Strings. Book 3 of the Essential Elements for Strings series. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation.
Students in Sinfonia may need to have:

Allen, Michael and others. Advanced Technique for Strings. Book 4 of the Essential Elements for Strings series. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation.

The Directors are always reviewing materials and procedures as the year progresses.

V. Final Remarks
What the year holds for us. . .

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