JOHN SEVIER ORCHESTRA
SYLLABUS & HANDBOOK
Materials/Method Books/Music Stores
Grades and Attendance Policies
Classroom Discipline Plan
Special Orchestra Awards
The orchestra program at John Sevier forms a vital part of the Middle School experience. The orchestra represents an important facet of the total educational program. The American Music Conference reports that music-makers are more likely to go on to college and other higher education than non-music-makers. This shows that by setting a student’s schedule in a reasonable manner it is possible to be in orchestra and still maintain a high scholastic standing. The performance of the orchestra at concerts, school programs, contests, and community events also adds a great deal of enthusiasm and pride for our school.
The main emphasis of the orchestra program is on musicianship. The goal of each student is to learn to play his/her instrument as well as possible, as both an individual and group performer. In addition, students will develop a long lasting appreciation for music and the arts.
The purpose of this handbook is to provide orchestra students and their parents with important information regarding policies, procedures, and the overall program. Please read the entire handbook carefully at the beginning of the school year. Refer to this handbook throughout the year, especially if questions or situations arise that involve orchestra or school policies.
BEGINNING 6TH GRADE STRING ORCHESTRA – The students in this orchestra are taught the fundamentals of playing their chosen instrument in addition to ear training and reading music. No prior musical knowledge is required, however is welcomed. The orchestra will perform a Sevier community engagement event, as well as a Holiday Concert (combined with choir and band) and the Spring Concert at John Sevier. Beginning orchestra members also may choose to participate in the East Tennessee Solo & Ensemble Festival second semester. Solo & Ensemble is not required, but strongly encouraged for beginner orchestra students. Students in this group will gain experience in the orchestral ensemble and will advance to 7th and 8th grade orchestra at John Sevier.
7th/8th GRADE STRING ORCHESTRA – The students in this orchestra are taught the fundamentals of playing their instrument in addition to ear training and reading music. Students must take beginning 6th grade orchestra or have previous musical knowledge to be in these classes. There are case-by-case scenarios in which Mrs. Elam will allow students to join if they take private lessons to catch up. The orchestra will perform a Holiday Concert (combined with choir and band at Eastman) and the Spring Concert at John Sevier. In addition, students will go out into schools on occasion to perform and encourage others to join our program. Orchestra members also may choose to participate in the East Tennessee Solo & Ensemble Festival second semester. Solo & Ensemble is not required, but strongly encouraged for orchestra students. Students in this group will audition and participate in All-East Tennessee Junior Orchestra Clinic. In addition, these students have the opportunity to travel on a Spring trip with the other orchestras in Kingsport City Schools. Students in this group will gain experience in the orchestral ensemble and will advance to the high school orchestra at Dobyns-Bennett.
TRIBE TIME SMALL STRING ENSEMBLES– Students will be offered this class a Junior Tribe Time activity twice a week for 9 weeks. It is a class with multiple groups of 2,3, and 4 for students to discover and play various pop and movie music. Note: this is only offered to 7th and 8th grade orchestra students.
EAST TN. JR. HIGH HONORS ORCHESTRA - Students in 6th, 7th or 8th grade may audition for this prestigious group. These orchestras are comprised of the top 100 middle school instrumentalists in the Tri-Cities region. Audition materials include major scales, one prepared piece specifically written for the audition, and sight-reading. Auditions are held in late September. If a student is selected, he/she will participate in a weekend clinic hosted by the East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association. Please check the calendar for the dates and locations of this year’s audition and clinic at www.etsboa.com. More information about this activity will be provided to interested students and their parents early in the school year. Note: This audition is a required grade or may be made up during class. Students who make this orchestra are expected to attend the clinic.
CONCERT FESTIVAL – The 6th 7th and 8th grade orchestras usually participate in this event, which is held in early March of the second semester. The festival is held at a Tri-Cities area school. It is the most musically demanding of our orchestra performances. The group plays two pieces of prepared music for three judges and must also sight-read one piece for a separate judge. The music is not memorized, but must be as precise as possible with the emphasis on a good quality sound and an understanding of ensemble playing.
SOLO & ENSEMBLE FESTIVAL – This is an individual or small group performance activity. It gives students the opportunity to participate in an event at their personal ability level. Solo & Ensemble is a very rewarding experience since most students receive favorable ratings at the festival. The music does not have to be memorized and is only performed in front of one judge. This event is held on a Saturday at a Tri-Cities area school within the second semester. It is possible to participate in more than one category, such as one solo and one duet. However, students cannot enter twice in the same event, such as two solos, two trios, etc. Mrs. Elam will assign students the appropriate music and help with the preparation for Solo & Ensemble several weeks prior to the festival. Note: This is not required.
It is important for each student to have all necessary supplies for orchestra class every day. Students should come prepared for orchestra even on days when field trips and other changes in the curriculum have been scheduled. Not only should students have all supplies, his/her instrument should be in proper working condition. Musical instruments are very delicate and can be costly. They should be treated with care and not handled by others who are not properly trained. This also applies to any adult who is not a professional instrument repair technician. A parent attempting to fix an instrument usually does more damage. This generally creates a larger bill at the music store. ASome problems only require a slight adjustment. Students without instruments are still expected to bring music and pencil to class.
Here are the extra supplies needed for each instrument:
Violin: Shoulder rest (KUN or MUCO brand, or appropriate sponge), rosin, method book
Viola: Shoulder rest (KUN or MUCO brand, or appropriate sponge), rosin, method book
Cello: Rock stop, rosin, method book
Bass: Rock stop, rosin, method book
There are other accessories available. The ones listed here are the minimum needed to keep the instrument in playing condition. Other supplies will be recommended if necessary.
All orchestra students will use the method book, Essential Elements 2000. 6th grade will use Book 1 and 7th/8th grade will use Book 2. Music Doctors Inc. sells these books along with the necessary supplies mentioned above. These books are required. Please contact Mrs. Elam should there be any issues with purchasing the method book.
Wilhite Strings in Knoxville, TN exclusively rent and sell orchestra instruments and the supplies listed above. Bruce Wilhite will deliver these instruments to the school. It is best to rent the first year should your child need another instrument outside of school. Mrs. Elam will do what is possible to have school and home instruments for each student according to the school’s budget. Our second vendor is Music Doctors in Kingsport. You may rent or purchase an Eastman brand instrument. Please do NOT purchase orchestra instruments at discount department stores such as Wal-Mart or Costco. These are of inferior quality and area music stores will not repair an instrument not purchased from their shop. Students need the best possible equipment to feel successful as they begin their instrumental music careers. If you decide to purchase over the Internet, keep in mind you may not know whether the instrument is acceptable for a middle school orchestra student. Many of these instruments often need extensive repairs to work properly. For this reason second-hand instruments should ALWAYS be inspected by a professional before you commit to the sale.
The orchestra program is unique because it is a graded school subject as well as an extracurricular activity. It is important to look over this section carefully to understand what is expected of the orchestra student in order to earn acceptable grades and assist in the formation of a successful orchestra program.
Grades are based on participation, playing and written tests, and performances.
Daily participation grades are taken for each class. In order to participate, students must have ALL necessary supplies for class: instrument in proper working condition, music (book & folder), and a pencil. If a student is not able to participate due to a lack of one of the above supplies, he/she will be expected to take notes during class that outline the objective of the lesson and follow the lesson plan. These students will also be expected to demonstrate the objective through performing the next day the student has his/her instrument in class.
Parents may drop off instruments in the office if they are left at home, but must be in the office BEFORE orchestra class. Students will be allowed to check in the office prior to orchestra class to see if his/her instrument has been brought to school. It is the student’s responsibility to check in the office. The office assistants will not call students to pick up instruments during the school day.
Parents will receive monthly email reminders of the orchestra schedule. It is each orchestra member’s responsibility and obligation to be prepared and on time for all rehearsals and performances. Absence from school orchestra rehearsals or a performance requires a written excuse in the form of a note or an e-mail from a parent as soon as possible prior to the event. In emergency cases, a written excuse or e-mail is acceptable by the next day the student is at school. An example of an excused absence would be an extreme illness or death in the immediate family. Having no transportation available, a ball game or practice, or any activity that can be rescheduled, is NOT an excused absence from either a rehearsal or a performance. Please contact Mrs. Elam immediately if transportation is an issue. Please avoid scheduling doctor and dentist appointments when the orchestra has a dress rehearsal before a concert. Unexcused absences from a orchestra rehearsal will cause a student to forfeit his/her right to participate in upcoming performances. *Please see the attached KCS Athletics & Performing Arts Cooperation Policy.*
Playing tests will be given periodically during class. Students will be given an assignment to prepare and play alone for a grade. These assignments will range from exercises in the method book, scales and technique exercises, excerpts from concert music, solos, or ensembles. Students should also be prepared to play alone at any time in order to assess their learning, modify lessons, and accommodate each student’s abilities. There will also be written tests occasionally to assess each students’ comprehension. The East TN Junior Orchestra Clinic Audition is counted as a playing test in the first 9 weeks for 100 points. This may be made up during class if a student cannot attend.
Performances are the culmination of all the above activities. All students receive a grade of 100 for each concert performance. Any student with an excused absence from a performance will be given a written make up assignment, which will count towards the performance grade. Students will be assigned a piece from the concert to play for Mrs. Elam in its entirety. Students with an unexcused absence from a performance will be given an in-depth make up assignment, which will count towards the performance grade. Students will be assigned a piece from the concert to play in its entirety. These students will also turn in a 2-part essay. The top score will equal a 50%. All orchestra students should do their best to be at every rehearsal and every performance. Nothing can actually “make up” a missed performance since this environment cannot be duplicated. The orchestra needs all team members!
Practice Charts are due EVERY TUESDAY. This gives you Monday as a reminder to turn it in. Each day the practice chart is late, the grade will be lowered by one point. If it is not turned in by Friday of the week it is due, the student will receive a 0. This is your only homework grade, so please, please do not receive a 0. Details of required practice minutes for each grade are outlined on the practice chart.
(9 wks) Participation – 620 pts, Practice Charts –80 pts, Playing Tests/Concerts –600 pts
Standards for 6-8 Instrumental Education can be found at https://www.tn.gov/assets/entities/sbe/attachments/10-14-16_IV_C_Fine_Arts_Standards_Attachment.pdf
All middle school students are expected to follow the school-wide discipline plan throughout the building. The following rules are specific to the orchestra.
2 – S in Conduct, change of seat in the classroom
3 – N in Conduct, lunch detention, parents notified
Severe disruption: To office immediately for fighting, profanity, insubordination, etc. Students with a 9 weeks grade of N in conduct will be on probation for any orchestra activities. Students with a 9 weeks grade of U in conduct will be suspended from any orchestra activities and likely not recommended for orchestra.
Correct dress is part of each orchestra student’s performance grade. Students will not be allowed to participate in an adjudicated orchestra performance without all parts of the uniform or by deviating from the uniform in any way. We want to be sure we look classy and sharp when in front of an audience. A good-looking orchestra is also a good sounding orchestra! Information for ordering T-shirts, dresses, tux shirts, and dress pants will be made available to parents at the beginning of the school year.
At the end of the school year students are presented special awards for outstanding effort in several areas of our orchestra program. These include:
Most Outstanding Orchestra Member in 6th, 7th and 8th grades
Student Achievement/Most Improved Orchestra Member in 6th and 7th
Perfect Practice (all grades, must have a 100% on all practice charts)
Junior Honors Orchestra Participants