• Orchestra Syllabus
    Course #1214 & #1215
    rs. Melody Lynn Cliff

    Course Description

                The orchestra and string orchestra provide students with the opportunity to study and apply techniques that have been previously presented in ensembles, sectionals, and/or lessons.  Musical literature from the baroque to contemporary periods as well as popular music is performed. String Orchestra rehearses three times per week and orchestra rehearses two times per week. String Orchestra and Orchestra members participate in Holiday and Spring Concerts, as well as the orchestra concert tour, school musical, county, district, regional, and other performance opportunities throughout the year.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       


                Music, folders, and sight-reading materials are provided by the school district. Students should be prepared for rehearsals and lessons by having their music, instrument, and a pencil. Good musicians always have a pencil! Home practice is also important in order to reinforce good technique and improve on one’s instrument.


    1. to further develop and refine techniques taught in middle school ensemble
    2. to further develop and apply the skills of rhythm, meter, tempo, musical terminology, key signatures, and dynamics; in intonation, tone quality and color, articulations/styles of bowings, phrasing, musical expression, and style
    3. to further develop sight-reading skills
    4. to develop and nurture leadership, respect, self-confidence, responsibility, dependability, cooperation, and the ability to function and grow as an ensemble
    5. to understand the historical and cultural implications of music
    6. to prepare and perform music for two to four concerts and other special performances
    7. to foster self-evaluation, self-discipline, and personal development
    8. to challenge the student to work to their full potential, experiencing maximum musical and artistic growth
    9. to promote an appreciation for orchestral playing and performance
    10.  to explore the relevance of music to one’s life


                String orchestra and orchestra rehearsals will consist of tuning, warm-up exercises, scales, concert selections of varied styles and periods of music, and sight-reading.

                Orchestra rehearsal will be conducted twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays (in conjunction with the band) in room 501 during first period. These rehearsals will be utilized to focus on ensemble issues affecting the entire orchestra, such as intonation, balance, blend, and style.

                The string orchestra will have string rehearsal during first period on the days that the full orchestra is not rehearsing. These rehearsals will be geared toward string topics such as bowings, fingerings, and shifting, plus extra attention to the challenging passages of the orchestral music.

    String Lessons

    String lessons will be held on days 3 and 4.  These will be on a rotating basis during periods 2-11. Attendance and preparation through individual home practice are necessary for the student to progress. A lesson schedule will be posted in room 501. Students may choose from a lesson on day 3 OR day 4. In the case of a major test or a class that cannot be missed, it is the student's responsibility to attend a make-up lesson.

    String lessons will focus on instrument-specific skills and isolated passages from the orchestra music that are technically challenging. This time will also be used to encourage individual development as a string player.

                Students who receive weekly private lessons outside of school can be exempt from lessons. Documentation must be provided quarterly with a signature from the private teacher, student, and parent. It is the student’s responsibility to submit this verification form quarterly.

    Schedule and Additional Information

                Required performance dates this year are:

    • Tuesday, October 15 & Thursday, October 17 (am only):
      • Orchestra tour to the elementary schools
    • Wednesday, December 11 at 7pm
      • Orchestra, String Orchestra, 6th Orchestra Concert
      • Dress rehearsal Tuesday, December 10 after school 2:45-4:30pm
    • Tuesday, May 12 at 7pm
      • Orchestra, String Orchestra, 7th/8th Orchestra Concert
      • Dress Rehearsal Monday, May 11 after school 2:45-4:30pm
    • Students will be asked to report thirty (30) minutes before concert time for warm-ups. 
    • Dress for concerts is black dress pants or long dresses or skirts (preferably floor length) for girls and suits (coat and tie) for boys, any color; appropriate shoes or dress shoes are included in appropriate concert dress, (no flip-flops).
    • Concerts: Any planned absence should be brought to the director’s attention ASAP. A concert performance is a unique experience for the performer and the audience. An unexcused absence will result in a zero with no opportunity for make-up work. An excused absence will result in the assignment of other (written) work to justify a concert grade. Due to the unique nature of the concert experience, this make-up grade will be less than the typical concert grade (up to an 80% can be earned). This is a department-wide guideline. Dress Rehearsals are also a required, graded event. In the case of an unexcused absence, the student will receive a zero. At least two weeks’ notice should be given if a student cannot make the dress rehearsal. This is a department-wide guideline.


                Students will be evaluated based on:

    • Attendance of rehearsals, lessons, and concerts
    • Daily performance, preparation, and participation in rehearsals and lessons. This includes sharing thoughts and musical ideas, posture, attitude, no gum chewing, etc.
    • Graded assignments such as recording reflections, program notes, and concert critiques.

    Playing tests that include students’ individual playing goals and orchestra music excerp