Class Syllabus/Grading

Class Description

This is an elective class for high school students who play a traditional string instrument (violin, viola, cello, bass) in grades 9-12.  Pianists may also schedule High School Orchestra with Mr. Neville’s permission and/or by audition (in the event that more than one pianist is interested in taking Orchestra as a class, an audition will determine who receives the position).  This is not guaranteed from year to year however, depending on the needs of the group–instruction for stringed instruments is the primary focus for Orchestra.   The High School Orchestra provides students of the high school the opportunity to play age/skill level appropriate orchestral literature at the highest possible standard. Outside of the school day, students may elect to participate in festival competition and/or other outings related to the goals of the class.



Students who were in Orchestra during the previous school year automatically qualify for Orchestra the following year.  All students will audition for the director at the beginning of the school year to determine class seating and individual ability level. The audition is to the advantage of the student as it allows the teacher to better cater the activities to student needs.  This audition is mandatory and will count as a test grade.



Orchestra is a class, just like any other academic class—the only difference is the subject matter. Classroom rules still apply:

  • Skipping class is a serious offense.  If you skip class, you will be referred to the Office and forfeit all participation points for that week.  Students who are in both Orchestra and Chorus are responsible for managing their own schedules between those two groups.  On “Orchestra Days,” forgetting your instrument is not an excuse to go to Chorus.  Attending Orchestra in lieu of Chorus (or vise-versa) will not be tolerated either and will be considered the same as skipping class.
    • Orchestra/Chorus Rotation:
      • The different schedules used for orchestra/chorus rotations may be viewed here: Vocal Instrumental Rotation Schedules
      • ***When Mr. Boice is unable to be in school, all orchestra/chorus students will report to orchestra, regardless of the schedule.  When Mr. Neville is unable to be in school, all orchestra/chorus students will report to chorus.
      • The Orchestra/Chorus rotation will be posted weekly on Mr. Neville’s whiteboard.  It is solely the responsibility of orchestra/chorus students to check the schedule.
  • If you need to leave and don’t have a signed pass from another teacher (or had that teacher communicate with me ahead of time), don’t ask me to go anywhere.  I will not call the teacher to verify your whereabouts and I will not allow you leave to get a pass to bring it back to me to sign.
  • Having a signed pass from another teacher does not mean I have to let you miss class or will let you miss class.
  • To leave class to use the restroom, you need permission to take a lanyard—don’t just leave the room.  Leaving the room without a pass will be considered the same as skipping class.
  • No gum, food or drink is allowed in rehearsals, and you are expected to play an active role in keeping our rehearsal room neat and organized.
  • The only items to be placed in your instrument cubby are your music and your instrument.  Cellos and basses may use an empty instrument cubby to store their music folders.
  • Respectful behavior is a must during rehearsals.  We cannot work on music in a noisy environment—you have responsibility in ensuring our success.
  • School-owned instruments and equipment are provided for cellists and basses for their convenience.  Violas are also available for violinists who would like to play viola.  Like a textbook, students are responsible for the proper care of these items.  Lost items, or items that become damaged beyond normal/reasonable/expected wear and tear will be the financial responsibility of the student.

Daily Expectations:

  • You’re expected to be in your seat and ready to go by 9:00 at the latest.  If you don’t meet this expectation, you will be marked late—even if you are physically present in the room.
  • The objectives for each day’s rehearsal will be written on the board when you arrive.  Please organize your music appropriately.
  • Your Orchestra folder is your “textbook” for this class.  You must have it every day!  Do not rely on a stand partner.
  • You need a pencil for class—every day.  Do not rely on a stand partner!
  • Check your mail regularly for handouts, new music, books and other class materials.  You may (and are encouraged) to use your mailbox for class material storage.
  • Violinists and violists must use a shoulder rest.  This is as essential as the bow to the proper playing of the instrument.
  • Bows should be rosined every day and should be loosened before storing.
  • Cellists and bassists are expected to treat school-owned instruments and bows with care.  Endpins need to be retracted before placing instruments on racks.  Bows should be rosined every day and should be loosened before storing.
  • Active participation in the class is a must to pass the course.
    • “Active participation” includes, but is not limited to; working to one’s full potential, being prepared for class (pencil, music, etc.), and attendance and participation in all Orchestra activities and concerts recognized by the school.  Daily participation grades will be given for having all necessary class materials, posture, correct bow hold and instrument position, etc.
    • Should you not be able to participate in a concert or otherwise be unable to complete a major grade under exceptional circumstances, an extra-credit assignment will be assigned by the director to make up for the deficiency. The assignment must be completed in its entirety for you to pass.
    • Should you not be able to participate in a concert or mandatory rehearsal, it is YOUR (not your parents!) responsibility to notify the director by filling out an excusal request found outside the office door.
  • All other aspects of student expectations for the class shall be according to the Student Handbook.



All performances are mandatory and are graded.   All of these events are located under the “Calendar” tab on the high school instrumental music website.


  • Winter Concert—December 3, 2015 @ MS Auditorium, 7:00pm.  Students report by 6:30pm.
  • Pops Concert–February 22, 2016 @MS Auditorium, 7:00pm. Students report by 6:30pm.
  • Harrisburg Trip/Capitol Rotunda Performance–TBD
  • Spring Concert—April 28, 2016 @HS Auditorium, 7:00pm.  Students report by 6:30pm.
  • “Pyramid” Concert–May 17, 2016 @MS Auditorium, 7:00pm.
  • PMEA Adjudication–TBD
  • Community/Educational Outreach Concerts–TBD


Symphony Orchestra Rehearsal

All students in the High School Orchestra are also members of the Symphony Orchestra, which includes winds, brass and percussion.  Symphony Orchestra will take place in the Spring, and will generally involve 3-5 after-school rehearsals in the weeks leading up to each concert.  Every effort will be made to schedule these rehearsals around the majority of student availability. These rehearsals are mandatory unless a student cannot attend for reasons that would also legally excuse them from the school day (illness, academic/athletic obligation, extenuating family circumstances, etc.).


Principal Chairs

In order to promote student leadership, the title of “principal” (as per tradition, the principal chair first violin is the “Concertmaster” or “Concertmistress”), “co-principal” or “assistant principal” player will be granted to students who 1.) demonstrate superior musical ability and personal leadership potential, 2.) request that they be considered for a titled chair during their yearly seating audition and are interested in taking on an active leadership role in the group and 3.) accept the responsibilities of a principal chair.   The decision of whether or not to appoint any or all principal chairs is solely at Mr. Neville’s discretion.

Principal chair responsibilities include, but are not limited to: assisting with fingerings and bowings, leading the section with issues of style/articulation, dynamics and tempo, and setting positive examples of good etiquette, attitude and musicianship.

All “titled” chairs will be asked to attend extra curricular sessions for leadership training approximately twice a month (12 times per year).  These sessions will be scheduled at everyone’s convenience as much as possible and are required for titled chairs.  The school excusal policy will apply to sessions that a titled chair cannot attend.  Missing more than 3 sessions for any reason may result in that student’s removal from the chair position.  Orchestra students with chair titles who are also officers in the Marching Band and/or have been attending Marching Band leadership training and have so far missed fewer than two sessions will not be required to do this.


Dress Code for Performances

Students in the High School Orchestra will be sized for uniforms at the beginning of the school year.  All girls will wear an issued black gown for performances.  Guys may either wear an issued black tuxedo with black cummerbund and bow tie, or may wear their own tuxedo if they have one (also with black cummerbund or vest and bow tie).



Students in the Quaker Valley High School Orchestra receive 1.5 academic credits for their participation in the ensemble. The following are examples of graded items:

Rehearsals/Class Participation/Preparation

Performances, exams and assignments:

  • Yearly Seating Audition
  • Two Rehearsal Reviews
  • Two Concert Reviews
  • Etudes/Playing Homework
  • Performances


Grades for performances and rehearsals are based upon execution, preparedness and conduct as outlined under “Expectations” above.  All scheduled performances and rehearsals will be graded and are mandatory.