Music Department Vision

While acknowledging that common goals, risk, failure and a safe learning environment are necessary and important aspects of music learning, the members of the music performing ensembles of Quaker Valley High School gain in both musical and personal achievement by continually seeking a greater understanding of music and the lessons learned through music.  

A love for what we do drives us to expect that every member of the High School music ensembles will demonstrate that they are responsible, enthusiastic and proactive individuals who pride themselves on their Musicianship, their desire for excellence through self-improvement, and their high levels of involvement and effort.

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 classStudents will be held to the same expectations as other academic classes.

  • 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:
      • Different rotations for orchestra and chorus will be available for those enrolled in both classes.
      • ***When Mr. Wolford 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 both teachers’ whiteboards.  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, candy, drinks, etc. are allowed in rehearsals, and you are expected to play an active role in keeping our rehearsal room neat and organized.  Water or coffee/tea are exceptions as long as these are not a distraction, trash is disposed of and the room is kept clean.
  • 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.  Disrespectful behavior towards other members of the orchestra is unacceptable.
  • 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.
  • Students are encouraged to attend the other music concerts in the district and to remain in the audience during concerts that are shared with other ensembles.  As members of the music department it is important to support our friends and to support everything in the department. We are a music department, not an orchestra department.

Daily Expectations:

  • You’re expected to be in your seat and ready to go no later than five minutes after the bell.  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 rehearsal 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.
  • Students are expected to practice their music on their own outside of rehearsal.  Just as you will be assigned homework in your other classes, there will also be “homework” for Orchestra.  In-school rehearsal is a time to be spent on improving the entire ensemble and should not be seen as a “practice session.”  There may be periodic playing tests/quizzes throughout the course.  Students will always be notified of when there is a formal playing test.
  • Cell phones are not to be used and to are to be put away during rehearsal unless being used specifically for tuning and/or fingering charts.
  • All other aspects of student expectations for the class shall be according to the Student Handbook.



All performances are mandatory and are graded, including those that happen during the school day and those that are not announced until later in the year.   All of these events are located under the “Calendar” tab on the high school instrumental music website and will be posted in Schoology and Charms.


  • Winter Concert
  • Spring Concerts (Small Ensembles, Combined Band & Orchestra)
  • MS Cameo Appearance
  • Adjudications, Community and/or Educational Concerts—TBD.

Please note that all scheduled concerts will require an additional dress rehearsal during the school day the week of the concert that may require students to miss classes other than orchestra.  Rehearsals may also be scheduled immediately after school prior to a performance to facilitate putting together different sections of the same class (i.e. winds and percussion; morning and afternoon string classes, etc.).  Such dress rehearsals are mandatory–students are fully excused from their other classes and are given adequate time to make up any missed work.

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.).  In those cases, a minimum of two weeks notice of a conflict is required to be excused from the rehearsal.


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 (up to a maximum of 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.  Students who are completing the same leadership training in another ensemble only need to attend the trainings for one ensemble.


Dress Code for Performances

Effective with this school year, all music performing ensembles in the high school music department will adopt all-black concert dress.  This allows for considerably more flexibility in attire choices for students while maintaining a uniform look for concerts.  The following are specific examples of acceptable concert dress:

  • A collared, button down black dress shirt, blouse or sweater (all preferred options), or a black polo shirt.  T-shirts are not acceptable. 
  • Black dress pants, or a black skirt (reasonably close to knee-length).  Black jeans, or leggings/yoga pants are not acceptable. 
  • An all-black dress 
  • Black dress socks and black dress shoes (no tennis shoes, crocs or sandals)
  • Black cardigans, jackets, and/or ties are acceptable options but not required additions. Other than additional attire for the QV Vocal Ensemble, non-black ties should not be worn.  



There will be a variety of assignments, exams, and performances during the course of this class.  They will include, but are not limited to:

·      Daily Rehearsal/Rehearsal Etiquette
·      Playing Tests
·      Concert Evaluations
·      Concert Performances
·      Written Assignments



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.