Friday, August 15, 2014

Orchestra Handbook 2014-15

Strings/Orchestra Behavioral Expectations and Grading Policies

Ms. Caryn Neidhold, Director

B. D. Billinghurst Middle School Orchestras


Why learn to play a stringed instrument?

* Learn Discipline     * Practice Patience     * Improve Self-Confidence

* Build Relationships     * Improve Academic Performance















*          Appropriate Behavior:  Be polite and respectful to and of your peers, yourself, your teacher and your environment.  Demonstrate appropriate etiquette at all concerts and activities.

*          Appropriate Participation:  Participate to the best of your ability.

*          Punctuality:  Be on time and ready to participate.

*          Preparedness:  Come to class with all of your materials.  Students will receive grades periodically for having materials in class.  Materials include but are not limited to:

1.     Instrument (in good working condition with all necessary equipment including rosin).

2.     Music binder

3.     Pencil, shoulder rest (violin/viola), strap or rock stop (cello/bass), student I.D., tracker

*          Show the Bighorn Attitude and TRACKS!




Fall Concert                MONDAY, December 15th, Billinghurst Middle School, 7 p.m.

Zone Concert              Saturday, March 7th at McQueen High School

All day event with concert in the afternoon for the parents.  10 – 5 p.m.

WCSD Festival           March 12th & 13th

during and after school day for Intermediate, Advanced & GS

Spring Concert            WEDNESDAY, May 13th, Billinghurst Middle School, 7 p.m.

Vallejo Tour                May 15 & 16th for Intermediate, Advanced, & Golden Strings

8th Grade Awards       Golden Strings Only – Thursday, June 4th


Concert participation is mandatory.  Pre-arranged absences will be excused only at the instructor's discretion. Written notice is expected a minimum of one week before the concert --  e-mail or hand-written notes.  After-the-fact excuses for absences from concerts will not be accepted with the exception of emergency instances.  In those cases, excusal will still be at the instructor's discretion and must include a written explanation from the parent.  (Please note:  If a concert is missed unexcused, given the weight in the grading policy, the highest grade possible will be a C.)  Students are expected to adhere to the guidelines of concert etiquette as attached. Students receiving excused absences will make up the credit by submitting a 3-page, typed research paper on a topic agreed upon by Mrs. Neidhold and the student.  The deadline for this paper is one week before the end of the quarter.


Students will need to be present and prepared one hour prior to any concert or event.


All students will take part in either the set up or tear down of each concert for full credit.


Note about carpooling:  Because the dates for all performances and events have been carefully planned and given to all parents with considerable advanced notice, please make arrangements for carpooling for any students having transportation difficulties to any concert or event.




Billinghurst Middle School

Performing Arts Dress Code


Dress Code:

Performing Arts Shirts:     Available for purchase through the Performing Arts Department

All black bottoms:

            Black pants or skirts (must cover knees when sitting)

            Black socks, tights or nylons

            Black shoes


Students will not be allowed to perform in the concerts and receive credit for concert participation unless they meet the dress code.  Black jeans are acceptable if they are NOT faded.  Blue jeans are not acceptable.  A clothes closet of donated black slacks, skirts, shoes, and socks will be available to loan to students unable to provide appropriate clothing.  Most parents paid for the shirt at registration.  If you did not pay at registration, the fee is $10.

****Please plan ahead to have concert clothes available in time for the performance.


All instrument used in the Billinghurst Orchestra Program must meet or exceed MENC specifications.  Instruments that meet or exceed the MENC specifications stay in tune and have a set-up (string height, fingerboard curvature, nut height, neck angle) that allows the student to be successful.


Please DO NOT buy an instrument off of Ebay or Craig's List.  I have had bad experiences for myself and my students with these instruments.


If you would like to purchase an instrument, please consult Mrs. Neidhold for assistance and advice.


A limited number of school instruments are available for a maintenance fee, however, many of the instruments are old and not in the best of condition.  Renting or purchasing an instrument will be a better guarantee that your son or daughter will have a great instrument.



All handouts will be posted on the Billinghurst Orchestra blog:

After the school district unveils their new website eventually the communication will switch to a page on the Billinghurst site.  The students will be notified when this is available.




*          Instrument in working order

*          Rosin

*          Shoulder rest for violin/viola, floor strap or Xeros for cello/bass.  (Some will be checked out in class.

*          Orchestra binder and pencil

*   Beginning - Books will be handed out in November

*   Intermediate - Books will be handed out in August and binders in November

*   Advanced - Books will be loaned in August and binders in November

*          Music stand to practice at home (do not bring to school)





Each quarter students will receive a Mastery Check List of skills to master during the course of the quarter.  The intention is that all students receive 100% grade.  If a student is working diligently toward fulfilling the Mastery Check List but needs more time, Ms. Neidhold may choose to allow the student additional time to complete the check list.


Beginning Strings students will work primarily on the Mastery Check List the first quarter.  Beginning students are not required to take their instruments home for the first quarter.


Each semester the grades will be dependent on:


Citizenship – Classroom behavior, having the correct materials, attitude

Concert Attendance – Scheduled events for Billinghurst Orchestra students

                                    This is always worth at least 25% of the quarter grade.

Practice Sheets

Theory and History Worksheets on the back of Practice Sheets

Playing Tests

Mastery Check Lists

Written Tests

Forms & Communication – This is essential for the educational well-being of the entire group.

The grading distribution and guidelines may be changed at the discretion of the teacher.


Extra credit may be earned for participating in a youth or community orchestra such as JHO and RPYO, attending a concert of orchestra or strings performers and extra help with concert set up or tear down.  Programs from concerts attended or performed in must be turned into Ms. Neidhold for credit. Students may also earn extra credit for bringing in needed supplies to the classroom.  Especially needed are Kleenex, pencils, black socks and nylons (new).


Theory and History Worksheets on the back of the weekly practice sheet.  Students who do not turn in Practice Sheets and Theory/History Worksheets will have a double zero on their grade.  Students who, in the past, have waited until the end of the grading period to turn in all handwritten practice sheets will receive zeroes for the Theory and History grade.  Mrs. Neidhold will not provide past Theory and History worksheets.  You may find these items on the blog:





Because making music in Billinghurst String Classes requires teamwork and cooperation, the academic grade is heavily weighted by the citizenship grade the student earns.


1.         Follow Classroom Behavior Expectations.

2.         Be in chair with instrument out and ready to tune 2 minutes after the bell rings. Ms. Neidhold is the timekeeper.

3.         Display a positive attitude throughout class.

4.         Make sure you have your instrument, music and a pencil on class days.

5.         Keep the room clean and orderly. 

*          Binders from other classes should not be brought to the orchestra room. 

*          Cello and bass cases need to be put on the racks. 

*          Violin and Viola cases may be neatly placed next to your chair.

6.         Be supportive of other members of the class.

7.         Students who earn a “C” academic grade or lower in Orchestra are not eligible to earn an “A” in citizenship.  Usually, this represents practice and preparation for class and students who are not prepared have not done their share as a citizen of the Orchestra class.

8.         Instrument safety is of upmost importance.  Horseplay or any physical motions that endanger instruments will not be tolerated.




  • Practicing is essential for the progress of the individual student and the orchestra as a whole.
  • Practicing is required each week.  The Practice Sheets are for the student’s convenience but students must practice regardless of whether or not they have received a Practice Sheet.
  • 6th Grade will begin Practice Sheets in the 2nd quarter.
  • Practice sheets are accepted late but must be turned in 3 days before the end of the quarter.  Mrs. Neidhold will refuse to grade Practice Sheets if a student chooses to turn them all in at the end of the quarter.
  • Practice for a previous week cannot be “made up” since music is time based and that window of opportunity is gone.  However, students are always encouraged to practice for extra credit.
  • Required practice times are for the entire week (not daily times).
  • The time logged on the practice sheet is for individual practice only.  Class time and JHO/YSS/YCO/YSO rehearsal time does not count, as well as time spent in private lessons.  All individual practice, whether for school, private lessons, honor groups counts toward the class assigned practice time.
  • Research shows if students try to remember their practice for the week, they will be 50% wrong.  Keep records each day while you practice.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to get a practice sheet.  It is not the teacher’s responsibility to make sure the student picks up the weekly practice sheet.  Practice logs may be turned in on any paper.  The paper must include student’s name, dates of practice, amount of time practiced and parent’s signature.
  • Parents must sign the practice sheets or the students will not be given credit.
  • Students should keep old practice sheets for each quarter.
  • Practicing more frequently in smaller time amounts will lead to better skills than completing the entire practice in one or two days on the weekend.  Students often develop bad habits practicing for long practice sessions (over 30 minutes).
  • Listening to music is critical for all aspects of learning to play an instrument.  (Consider trying to learn a foreign language just through the written language.)  CD’s of most of the music we are performing are part of the class materials.  Students are also encouraged to listen to other classical music.  KUNR, the Washoe Libraries and YouTube are great resources for a wide variety of classical music.  Listening may be passive.  Students may listen to the music in the car, while studying and before going to sleep at night.
  • Bass players and their parents must read and sign an additional practice contract which makes allowances for transportation.






The WCSD Junior Honor Orchestra (JHO) is a group that meets Wednesdays from September through the concert in November.  Students are accepted into this orchestra through nominations from their school teacher.  JHO performs music at an 8th grade level and higher.  Students are expected to practice their music and attend all rehearsals.


If you would like to be considered for a nomination, please tell Mrs. Neidhold and/or indicate on the Information Form that you would like to be considered.


Concert:  November 5th at J.A. Nugget Rose Ballroom


Many students at Billinghurst choose to participate in both JHO and the Reno Philharmonic Youth Orchestras including YSS, YCO, and YSO.





Golden Strings students have additional performance opportunities held throughout the school year.  The following are performances students should expect to participate in:


Golden Strings Wild Water's Retreat - August 27th

Veteran's Day Assembly - School Assembly - November 7th

School Holiday Concert - School Assembly - December 18th

WCSD Orchestra Festival - During and after school - March 12th or 13th

8th Grade Honor Awards Night - Evening Performance – June 4th

School Board Performance - TBA

Additional performances may be assigned throughout the school year.

Golden Strings grades will depend on attendance, tardies, concert participation, book reviews, and having a tracker every morning that is filled out in a useful way. 


Because Golden Strings doesn't follow the school Advisory curriculum, students are required to read and review two (2) books per quarter.  The books may be either fiction or non-fiction and may not be books assigned for work in other classes.  Students may get suggested titles from Mrs. Neidhold, Mrs.Coullahan or friends.  Book review forms are available from Mrs. Neidhold.  Picture books, comic books and graphic novels are not acceptable for this assignment.





Mrs. Neidhold will update Infinite Campus (IC) weekly.  Occasionally the time commitment of preparing for class and performances will make updates on IC fall behind.  Mrs. Neidhold’s time commitment priorities are:  1. Classroom lessons and planning. 2. Performances and field trips planning. 3. Grading.


Please make sure the school has your regular e-mail.


There will be occasional newsletters for Orchestra families on via email.


We will all strive to do our best to make Infinite Campus a tool to aide in the education of your child.






Please look for regular communication about the orchestra program through these means:

OR Google:  Billinghurst Orchestra Blog




In the fall semester, the Beginning Strings classes will hear the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra perform their annual children's concert.  This will occur during the school day and we will travel by school bus to the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts then enjoy a pizza lunch after the concert.  There will be a small fee for this event.



            Fundraising can hope to only cover a small portion of expenses for the Billinghurst Orchestra Program.  Chocolate sales every day after school pay for classroom expenses such as tape, storage bins, paper, etc.  8th grade students help sell this candy after school.


The Popcorn sale starting in October is our main fundraising to help offset costs of the Music in the Parks Festival Tour and the Beginning Orchestra’s field trip to hear the Reno Philharmonic Youth Symphony in April.  This is our fourth year with this successful fundraiser.  This year we need one to three parents to help.  The help would include collecting money for deposit in the school bank account; accumulating the order to submit to the popcorn company; and organizing the orders to be given out to the students.  Please contact Mrs. Neidhold if you are able to help with this fundraiser.


If you have a fundraising project you would like to organize, please contact Mrs. Neidhold.



This tour is an exciting opportunity for Intermediate, Advanced and Golden String students to participate in a competitive music festival.  Plans are underway for this event and you will receive further information as well as a commitment letter in the near future.  The benefits of participating in a major event such as this tour are:  1. giving the students higher performance goals; 2. increased motivation; 3. increased commitment and focus to music; and 4. a better understanding of the effect of the individual’s contribution to the group.


The tour is scheduled for Friday, May 15th and Saturday, May 16th 2015. (Remember we have a concert Wednesday, May 13th – a perfect way to prepare for a festival.)  Students will travel to Vallejo on Friday and perform at a music festival for judges.  We will receive comments, a rating and a ranking.  This is a festival sponsored by Music in the Parks and this will be the sixth year Billinghurst Orchestras have participated in this festival.  In the past, the students have had a wonderful experience; their behavior was admirable and the orchestras were awarded with several trophies for their wonderful performances.


We will stay the night in Vallejo and then visit 6-Flags Sea World the following day, returning in the late evening on May 16th.


Parents and students must know that the students’ day-to-day citizenship in both the Strings class and Billinghurst Middle School will determine if a student is allowed to participate in the tour.  In the interest in having a successful and positive experience, Ms. Neidhold reserves the right to revoke any student’s participation in this tour at any time.


There will be a fee for this trip.  We will attempt to alleviate the costs of the trip through fundraising.  Any parents interested in helping with fundraising are gratefully welcome J !  It is unlikely that the fundraising will cover the entire cost of the trip.  You will receive a timeline as to when funds are due and the maximum amount charged for this trip.


Because this is an overnight trip, our group will need a significant number of chaperones.  Any parents/guardians interested in volunteering as chaperones should contact Ms. Neidhold at  Older siblings and family friends under age 21 will not be accepted as chaperones.  Chaperones must fill out a volunteer form with the WCSD and be fingerprinted with the WCSD Police Department.  This must occur at least 6 weeks before the trip. 


You must start the volunteer application process with Jennifer Wilson in the Billinghurst offices.  Please also notify Mrs. Neidhold of your intentions so that she may add your name to the chaperone list.


Chaperones do not pay to participate in this trip.




 Here are some guidelines about etiquette and courtesy at a classical concert. 


It is important to remember that attending a classical concert is very different from going to a movie or a rock concert, or of watching a movie at a theater or on television. Most of these "rules" serve to provide the best possible listening environment for the audience and for the performers on stage, and others are simply the result of traditions that have evolved through the years.

The rule of thumb in classical concert etiquette is to be considerate of the performers and of other audience members and to avoid causing distractions that will disturb the atmosphere of the performance. Here is a short list of common "rules" of etiquette for attending a classical concert:

1. Be on time. Don't be the last one to be seated, and if you arrive after a piece has started wait until the piece is over before finding your seat.

2. Don't talk or whisper during a performance. Remember that the performers can hear you every bit as well as you can hear them.

3. Be sure to turn off any cell phones, pagers or wristwatches that can make noises before entering a concert.

4. Stay seated except for intermission and the end of the concert, unless you are truly ill and need to leave the concert hall.

5. Don't clap until you're certain that a piece is finished. If the piece has several sections, it is usually not appropriate to clap between the sections. When in doubt, wait to see what the rest of the audience is doing; you don't have to be the first to applaud.

6. Whistling, whooping or shouting is not appropriate at a classical concert, although occasionally someone will call 'bravo' after a particularly fine performance.

7. Every concert does not automatically conclude with a standing ovation.

8. You should not eat or drink anything in the concert space, including candy, where the wrapper can make a particularly distracting noise.

9. Be discreet in the use of your program during the performance. Many people do refer to their program during a piece, especially if they are following the text of a choral piece, but be cautious that you don't drop it or make noisy page turns.

10. Above all, enjoy the music. Everybody experiences concerts in different ways; some people closely follow the printed program during a piece, some listen with their eyes closed, some follow the conductor's every gesture, some do all of these and more. The important thing is to help create and sustain an environment where everyone in the hall can totally immerse himself or herself in the beauty and magic of the live performance of fine music.





Parents – Please complete this form with your student.  Please print clearly.

See reverse side.



Instrument________________Grade__________Class Period______________________


Parent/Guardian Names____________________________________________________

Home Phone__________________________________

Parent/Guardian Cell Phone/Work Phone #’s (please identify)


Parent/Guardian e-mail_____________________________________________________

Student e-mail____________________________________________________________


Do you take private lessons on your string instrument?__________________

Private Teacher’s Name____________________________________________________

Private Teacher’s phone & e-mail____________________________________________


Are you a member of?:

Reno Philharmonic Youth String Sinfonia_________

Reno Philharmonic Youth Concert Orchestra_________

Reno Philharmonic Youth Symphony___________


Do you have a regular place in your home to practice with good posture?_____________


INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED:  Please consider me for Junior Honor Orchestra

d  YES             d  NO


I have read and reviewed the Billinghurst Strings/Orchestra Behavioral Expectations and Grading Policy and agree to abide by them.


_________________________________________________          _________________

Parent Signature                                                                                  Date


_________________________________________________          _________________

Student Signature                                                                               Date




Please return this form to Ms. Neidhold by Monday, August 18th.




                                                                  See reverse side  -------à
Student Name__________________________________________Period_____________


Please fill and sign the following:




I would like to help:


_____ Chaperone Vallejo Tour           (Intermediate & Advanced Orchestra only)

_____ Chaperone Orchestra Festival (March 12th or 13th)

_____ Chaperone 6th Grade Field Trip to Reno Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Concert

_____ Parent monitor at concerts.

_____ Popcorn Fundraiser                 

_____Chaperone Zone Day (all grades)

_____Chaperone 6th grade field trip to hear YSO

_____Spring fundraiser (TBA)

Other volunteer activity _______________________




Billinghurst Middle School Orchestras would like to include students' performances, photos, written word or spoken word on the internet primarily for the school's website but may also be posted to YouTube or another similar website.  The purpose of these postings will be to praise and appreciate the work and effort of these young musicians and encourage students coming to Billinghurst to consider becoming part of our wonderful family.  Please sign the following permission so we may include your child. 


I give permission for Billinghurst Middle School Orchestras to record, film, photograph, my son/daughter during the 2014-2015 school year for the purposes of posting his/her photos and or videos on the Billinghurst website, YouTube, etc.  I understand that the purpose of including my son/daughter is to acknowledge and commend his/her accomplishment and encourage future Billinghurst students to participate in the Billinghurst Orchestra program.  No party (including Billinghurst Orchestras, the student, and the student's family) will receive financial or other compensation for these postings.


Parent Signature__________________________________date___________________



Videos and movies have a limited use in the Billinghurst Orchestra classroom.  On occasion an educational video or movie about music is shown.   There are a few PG rated movies that have relevance to music education and are supportive of our educational environment.  Please give permission for your son/daughter to view these movies.


I give permission for my son/daughter____________________________to watch relevant PG rated movies in the Billinghurst Orchestra program.


Parent Signature_________________________________date____________________