Orchestra Syllabus









    Course Title: Orchestra

     Textbook(s) & reference materials: Treasury of Scales (Smith), I Recommend (Ployhar, edited for strings), String Techniques for Superior Musical Performance (Frost), Bach & Before for Strings (Newell), Rounds & Canons (Bergonzi), Excerpts from “Teaching Strings (Klotman), Orchestral Bowing: Style & Function (Kjelland), Orchestral Bowing Styles (Rabin & Smith), acknowledged standard full orchestra/string orchestra repertoire, Instrumentalist Magazine brass/woodwind/percussion/string anthologies, Watkins-Farnum String Scale (standardized assessment method), teacher-developed materials.  

     Course Description: Orchestra is a course designed to strengthen existing playing/reading/aural skills and to develop greater technique and musicality with respect to the challenges presented by Orchestra literature. Literature that Orchestra performs is in addition to method books and materials and is comprised of a wide spectrum of musical styles and technical difficulty.  All performance literature, method books and materials are oriented to the string section and the accomplished wind/percussion student. All students are expected to participate in all public performances; this is a course requirement.


    This elective is open to all students in grades 9-12 who have had private or class instruction on a string instrument.  Students desiring to particpate in Orchestra who play a wind or percussion instrument must also enroll in BAND (Course 500).  Eligibility of wind/percussion students for Orchestra is determined by the student’s placement in BAND.  Students who are unsure of their eligibility for Orchestra should meet with the instructor prior to the completion of the course selection process.


    Course Content: 

    String orchestra/full orchestra literature



    Etudes in all twelve major and minor keys

    Rhythm etudes

    Dynamic studies

    Articulation/bowing studies

    Performance techniques particular to each instrument, with the focus on string instruments.

     Course Requirements: Students are required to attend all regularly scheduled rehearsals and performances.  Extra rehearsals outside of the school day are scheduled as needed for program preparation. Orchestra students should plan on regular practice sessions at home.  All orchestra students are expected to complete designated ear-training exercises on Auralia as a component of their quarterly grade.  All orchestra students are encouraged to complete at least one seating test (Watkins-Farnum String Scale) each academic year.

     Appropriate dress is required for concert performances.  Details regarding concert dress will be outlined at the outset of the school year.

     Grading System/Point Values

    Marking Periods 1, 2, 3 & 4    

             All Period 1 Rehearsals - 10 pts.

     All Performances - 90 pts.

             All Out-of-School Rehearsals - 50 pts.      

             Auralia Ear Training - 100 pts. (Proficiency Tests)



       Forgotten Instrument/Equipment/Music - “0” for that rehearsal/event

                               Concert Dress Infraction - 10 pts. per occurence

                               Late - 10% deduction from value of rehearsal/event

                               Inattentive, talking - 9 pts.

                               Improper posture, gum chewing - 9 pt.

                               Instrument/equipment not put away - 9 pts.



    Calculation of Grades: Averaged together according to weights and scale as below.


    Rehearsals/Classwork = 50% of grade for that quarter

             Students can expect to get full credit for this category if they arrive on time, with their instrument and music, and are ready to warm up and tune in a timely manner.   Students may not do homework for other classes during rehearsal, nor may they arrange to make up test or other work for other teachers during class time.  Rehearsals outside the school day do occur from time to time.  A minimum of two weeks notice will be given.   Such rehearsals will take priority over extra-curricular practices.


    Performances/Assessments  = 20% of grade for that quarter

             Reasonable efforts are made to arrange some kind of performance in every quarter, with the possible exception of the 1st quarter (see below).   Performances include evening concerts, assembly concerts at local schools and/or appearances in other venues.


    Quizzes/Tests/Assessments = 15% of grade for that quarter

    Content material relevant to this course will be covered in class and is also available in on-line sources.  Students will be expected to know more than just how to play their own instrument.  Content material will include concepts related to pitch, rhythm, notation, bow techniques and fundamental music theory topics with the goal of integrating these concepts into performance for increased understanding. 


    Auralia Ear Training = 15% of grade for that quarter

             Strengthening of aural (listening skills) is essential for total musicianship.  Students are to complete the specified drills  by the last day of the quarter.  Students may work ahead.  Students who meet the proficiency threshold for their grade/drill for the quarter will receive full credit toward this category.  Students who do not meet the proficiency threshold will receive pro-rated credit in this category (Ex. a student scores 78% on tuning for the quarter.  The grade entered in the grade book will be 78 points out of 100.)


     Grade Scale for Orchestra

    A+ = 99.0% and above

    A = 93.0 - 98.9%

    A- = 90.0 - 92.9%

    B+ = 87.0 - 89.9%

    B = 83.0 - 86.9%

    B- = 80.0 - 82.9%

    C+ = 77.0 - 79.9%

    C = 73.0 - 76.9%

    C- = 70.0 - 72.9%

    D = 60.0 - 69.9%

    F = 59.9% and below



    If there is a quarter that has no performances,  calculation of grades/weights will be as follows:

    Rehearsals/Classwork = 75% of grade for that quarter

    Test/Quiz/Auralia Ear Training  = 15% of grade for that quarter

     Alternative Assessments: Students may take advantage of the practice facilities in the school.  Students are also encouraged to contact the director or their section leader for help in this regard.  Students are encouraged to take a "seating test" (Watkins-Farnum String Scale) to identify strengths and areas in need of improvement. 


    Auralia ear-training exercises specified for students can be completed at their own pace during the quarter so long as they meet established benchmarks during that time. 

    Students with specific identified issues are encouraged to contact the instructor well in advance so any accommodations (e.g. enlarged print music, etc.) can be ready in a timely manner.


    Pathway:  Traditional Academic


    Participation in Orchestra is open to all students regardless of the pathway they have elected, as participation in a performing group is a potential life-long avocation.  This course is also appropriate for any student having an interest in other subjects or potential careers such as acoustics, acoustical architecture, instrument design/construction, music merchandising, copyright law, music publishing, artist/venue management, etc.


    Required Summer Readings: None at this time.