Classroom Rules, Procedures, and Expectations 2021-2022


    Orchestra Classroom Rules:

    As your orchestra director, it is my goal to give you a positive classroom experience.   These rules are aimed at achieving this goal as well as upholding the strong tradition of the Missoula String Program.   As you can see, this list is short and does not contain every expectation I have for you as a student.  I will rely on your common sense and good judgment to make sure rehearsals run smoothly. 


    Be Kind, Respectful, and compassionate towards others.  An important part of life is working with other people.  One benefit of playing in a music ensemble is that we gain experience working with people that we may not agree with at all times.  Being able to work with others successfully important to your success later in life.  


    Strive to always be present and focused during the rehearsal.  Our time in class should be focused on the creation of art.  It is important that we constantly strive to stay mindful of the teacher’s guidance and the rehearsal process.  Cell phones, homework from other classes, and mindless discussion all distract us from making music.  It is important not to talk or distract others when the director is giving directions, and to be attentive to the creative process.   


    Take good care of your instrument and the orchestra facility.  Put away all instruments and equipment you used when class is finished.  Make sure you store everything in a place where you can find it easily and safe from damage.  Do not play instruments that do not belong to you.


    Follow all directions given by the teacher.  All directions are aimed at giving students a positive and enriching musical experience.  In order to keep everyone safe and productive, it is important that everyone follows directions the first time they are given.



    Failure to follow these rules may result in a lowered rehearsal techniques grade, students may be held after class, asked to leave class, referred to administration, given detention, or their parents may be called.  In extreme situations, student may be permanently removed from class.




    Standard Rehearsal Techniques:


    Performing instrumental music ensembles generally adhere to established standards of behavior for public performances and for rehearsal efficiency. These standards date back to the 1400's, and have thus proved their worth by their longevity in a performing ensemble.

    An excellent ensemble member:

    Is on time to rehearsal- Students are to be in their seats 3 minutes after the tardy bell rings. Before the teacher starts class, students should be warming up on their own by practicing scales or reviewing difficult passages.

    Has all equipment needed with them before class starts.  This includes your instrument, pencil and music folder.  Applying rosin is to be done before class, not during rehearsal.

    Always has their instrument.  Not having an instrument is a zero for the day.

    Has music in the order listed on the board.  Transitions should only take a couple of minutes.

    Uses the pencil in their folder to write in music during rehearsal- ALWAYS have a pencil on your stand so that you can mark everything that is discussed during rehearsal. Remembering the details from rehearsal to rehearsal will save a TON of rehearsal time.  If you miss it - mark it!  Make your marking concise and meaningful.  Avoid simply circling notes or problem areas.  We always use pencil because it allows for different interpretations in future music uses without destroying it.

    Is positive and cooperative about making music.  An excellent ensemble member is focused on rehearsal and actively engaged at all times.  Also, their body language reflects a positive attitude as well as playing posture.

    Is silent when director is giving instructions of working with other players, and gets quiet before the countdown to begin class is finished.  Finding ways to increase your concentration is expected, especially when I am addressing another section.

    Comes to rehearsal with their part prepared.  Rehearsal is intended to be a time where we learn how things fit together and how everyone else's part interconnects with our own. Remember that others are depending on you. EVERY part is important.

    Has instrument in playing position immediately after the director puts arms up to begin conducting.

    Cleans up after themselves when class is finished.





    Music performance courses are unique among curriculum classes in that they are performance organizations.  Students in these classes must understand at the outset that each performance and rehearsal activity must be considered a necessary part of the class curriculum and will be treated as such.  It is the philosophy of the department that each student is responsible not only for themselves, but is also responsible to the ensemble as a whole and to the other students in that ensemble. Therefore, participation in performances is not only expected, but is required.


    In addition, each group is a year-long class (two semesters).  Making the commitment to the full year is important for the individual as well as the group. 


    Grading Computation:              90% or higher = A

                                                                            80% to 89.9% = B

                                                                            70% to 79.9%  = C

                                                                            60% to 69.9%  = D

                                                                            Below 60%       = F


    The following will be used for grading purposes. 


    Quizzes: (50 pts. Each quiz) 

    • Written evaluations 
    • Musical terms and concepts
    • Informal/in-class performance evaluations

    Final Tests: (100 pts. Each test)

    Comprehensive, performance evaluation given at the end of the semester or quarter.


    Playing Technique (50 points)

    This is the informal or formal assessment by a teacher of a student’s technical progress.  The areas assessed are positions/posture, tone, intonation, articulation, ensemble skills, musicianship, and improvement in technique. These points may be awarded once a quarter.


    Rehearsal Techniques (25 pts. weekly)

    Students will receive a daily assessment of their ability to maintain the basic rehearsal techniques given on page 3 of this handbook.   Points will be awarded for a successful contribution to the ensemble during rehearsal.  Points will be subtracted from this grade for the following distractions.  Students may also lose points for not following standard rehearsal techniques listed on page 3.


    Subtraction from rehearsal techniques grade: 

    1. Late to class: Not in seat 4 minutes after the bell rings
    2. No music, missing music, or music left out
    3. No Instrument
    4. Unexcused non-participation
    5. Listless and uninvolved
    6. Rehearsal Disruption
    7. Folder not put away in cabinet or storage room
    8. Instrument not put away
    1.  No pencil, not marking parts 


    Written assignments:  10-50 points 


    Practice time:  50 points per week.  A minimum of 90 minutes per week is needed to maintain skills.  Students will be graded upon the amount of time that they spend practicing with 90 minutes being an A grade.  If a student is practicing for lessons, they may include that each week by filling out a practice sheet including all time spent practicing during the week.  Keep in mind that it’s not necessarily the amount of time spent, but the quality of the time.  Setting the timer is the least effective way to practice.  Practice something until you have it learned, or you have made significant and permanent progress.


    Performances: 100 pts. each performance.  Performance/Concert attendance is considered to equal a major test in music. Each student that satisfies the basic expectations of the performance(s) will be awarded full credit.  These basic expectations are: arriving on time, in the proper attire and demonstrating proper performance and audience behavior.  Students not meeting these basic expectations will lose points based on the infraction(s).  


                  Loss of Points for your performance points include:

                                 Improper dress, including but not limited to

                                Colored clothing other than “specified dress including:

        • Non-“dress shoes” and non-black socks for men, similarly improper shoes for women.
        • Skirts/ Dresses above the knee.
        • Inappropriate concert dress
        • Colored accessorizing 

                                 Points are subtracted regardless of whether or not the Director provides you 

    with a replacement item at the time of the performance.             


                                Leaving a concert early:

    All orchestra students are expected to stay for the entire concert.  We are all here to support each other.  Students that leave early will lose 10 points on their concert grade.


    The ability to make up points for missing a concert for unexcused reasons will be at the discretion of the director.  



                  Missing a performance will be excused for the following reasons:

    1. Death in the family
    2. Severe illness on part of the Orchestra Member or of his/her immediate family.
    3. Severe Acts of Nature (Severe weather conditions, earthquakes, etc…)
    4. School Activities notified AT LEAST ONE WEEK IN ADVANCE.  This is excused at the discretion of the director. 


    A written note from the parent or guardian must verify excused absences.  Excused absences must be made up with a makeup assignment given by the director.  The student is responsible for making up all points.  Work not done within the time limit and unexcused absences will result in zero points for that performance.  Students that miss a concert for an excused reason will make up 75 of the performance points for the concert.  


    Seating Assignments

    1. String players are not, nor will they ever be, arranged hierarchically. Music making should always be a collaborative, never competitive, endeavor. This is the policy used in all school Orchestras.
    2. Therefore:
      1. Stronger players are positioned throughout the section, often placed furthest away from the conductor.
      2. There may be 2-3 different versions of string seating over the course of the season. We switch arrangements at least for each concert, sometimes by piece.
      3. Stand partners may rotate forward at certain points during the rehearsal so everyone has a chance to sit farthest away from the conductor.
      4. Students may challenge players ahead of them to sit closer to the front of the section. Challenges will be held frequently during each term.  Students will prepare a particular section of their choice from the current concert music or etudes and challenge another student to play the same passages.  The player that plays the passage the best wins and moves to the new seat.  If the person being challenged rejects the challenge, then it is an automatic forfeit and results in the loss of the seat.


    Required Accessories: 

    Make sure that you have all of the following items.  Remember that coming to class prepared is part of your daily grade:

    • School Accessories:
      1. Pencils: Students are required to have pencils at all rehearsals to mark their music.  It is very important that we do not waste time by making the director repeat himself or practicing passages wrong.  Marking directions in your music will help cut down on wasted time.       


    • Instrumental Accessories: Contact director if you are unable to purchase any of these accessories:
    1. An instrument- Instruments should be in working condition.  There are instruments available for rental.  Notify the director if you need a school owned instrument. All instruments and shoulder rests must be labelled with the student’s name.
    2. A bow- School bows are also available for student use.
    3. A clean cloth for removing rosin from the strings.
    4. A mute
    5. Rosin 
    6. Endpin holder (cellos and basses)- Some rehearsal areas are carpeted and do not require an endpin holder.  Most of our performances take place on wood floors.  It is important that cellos and basses are not sliding all over the floor.  It is also important that sharp endpins do not scratch stage floors.
    7. Shoulder rests or shoulder pads- These are required for all violin and viola players. Playing with a shoulder rest or pads help reduce playing tension and promote better playing habits and good tone.


    Use of School-Owned Instruments

    • If renting a school-owned instrument to use throughout or part of the  

    school year, it is necessary to fill out an instrument rental form and pay an instrumental rental fee of $75.

    • Students borrowing an instrument are responsible for its care, maintenance, and for replacing broken strings with an approved string.
    • Damages caused by negligence will be charged to the student.


    Instrument Care and Repairs

    • Occasionally an instrument is out of adjustment, needs new strings or becomes damaged.  The student cannot make progress if the instrument doesn’t play.  I can make small bridge adjustments or change strings.  If there is a problem with an instrument that needs attention from a certified repairman, I will send home a note with the student or contact the parent of the student.


    Qualified String Instrument Repair in Missoula

    • John Sporman                       1027 ½ Pullman Street              241-8488
    • Mark Hollinger                      5075 Lupine Road                      542-2012


    Private Lessons

    Private lessons are highly recommended for all orchestra students.  A good private instructor can enhance musical enjoyment and improvement with one-on-one instruction on various performance problems.