Dear Orchestra Students and Parents

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Dear Orchestra Students and Parents:

Welcome to the Crews Middle School Orchestra Program, a recipient of the 2011 Georgia Music Educators Association Exemplary Performance Award! This handbook contains valuable information and will prove to be a helpful guide for defining the expectations that will help to grow, develop, and maintain a quality musical organization. Keep it handy and refer to it often!

Orchestra is a Co-Curricular activity. Students are in an academic class during the school day and they will also have a limited number of rehearsals and concerts after the school day. In order for your child to receive the best possible musical experience, attendance at rehearsals and concerts is mandatory.

The success of our program depends on responsibility, dependability, dedication, and working toward musical improvement. It is the goal of the directors to produce an outstanding orchestra, and with each person working together and doing his or her part, we can achieve this goal. We are looking forward to meeting all the families and working with each of you to make this a great year for our Orchestra program.

This handbook explains what is expected of a member of the Crews Middle School Orchestra. Please return any colored pages of this handbook to the directors by Friday, August 12. This will indicate the receipt of this handbook and an understanding of the Orchestra expectations.
We are looking forward to a great year in Orchestra!!
Kinsey Edwards Ashley Yoo

Orchestra Director Orchestra Director


  • All – sign and return the “I have read this Handbook” Form (Yellow)

  • All Cello and Bass players – sign and return Instrument Maintenance Agreement Form (Blue)

  • 8th grade –sign and return Formal Wear Rental Agreement (Lilac) and go to for your Formal Wear payment

  • Those who are interested and willing – Parent Volunteer Information sheet (Green)

TEACHERS: Mrs. Kinsey Edwards and Mrs. Ashley Yoo
MATERIALS: Core Text: Essential Elements for Strings Book I and II, Essential Technique for Strings, supplemental materials, orchestral literature, and teacher made materials
COURSE OUTLINE: Many skills and concepts will be introduced and/or developed by means of orchestral and chamber literature appropriate to the needs and abilities of the students. Orchestra will cover the GCPS AKS as well as additional skills and concepts as outlined in the Indicators of Achievement. The Orchestra AKS and Indicators of Achievement can be found on your child’s eCLASS page.
GRADES: Grading will be based on the directors’ evaluation of student work in class and during performances, with emphasis on daily participation, preparation for performances, and progress in playing skills. Required out-of-class activities, as stipulated by the teacher, will determine a portion of the student's grade. Grades will be determined as follows:

  • 40% Classroom Assessments (ex: rehearsal competencies, daily work, etc.)

  • 50% Summative Assessments (ex: written tests, playing tests, projects)

  • 10% Comprehensive (concerts)

CONDUCT: As a member of the Orchestra, students are a visible reflection of themselves, the orchestra, the school, and our community. Exemplary behavior is expected from all orchestra members. Inappropriate behavior can result in personal injury, damage to expensive instruments, and the delay of development and progress of our orchestra ensemble.


  • Enter class quietly and be seated as quickly as possible.

  • Bring materials to class everyday – instrument, music binder, pencil, and agenda book

  • Respect self, others, and others’ property.

  • Follow all directions of faculty and staff the first time they are given.

  • Observe all rules in the student handbook.


  • The Crews Middle School discipline policy as outlined in the student handbook and agenda book will be followed in orchestra class.


  • Performance opportunities in the school and in the community.

  • Social events outside of the school day, such as the YMCA Lock-In.

  • Field trips to perform at Large Group Performance Evaluation and other possible field trips.

EXTRA HELP TIME: The directors will be available to help individual students with their music in the mornings before school. Extra help days will be announced or students may request a morning pass for the directors.
MATERIALS – to have in class every day and at Concerts!!!

  • Instrument and horsehair bow (not synthetic hair). Instrument and bow should be in good playing condition.

  • Orchestra 3 ring binder (provided) and pencil.

  • A properly fitted shoulder rest is REQUIRED for all violinists and violists.

  • Accessories: Soft cloth for cleaning instrument after each use

Extra strings - don’t get caught without them!

Cellists and Bassists: rock stop or other endpin rest for concerts

MAINTENANCE OF INSTRUMENTS: It is imperative that instruments be maintained in what is called "playing condition”. This includes the instrument having four strings at all times. You should always have a spare set of strings in your case so that there is no loss of practice time or class participation. Your teachers are available before homeroom begins to replace a broken string on your instrument. Bows should be re-haired at least annually. From time to time other repairs may be necessary. If you are renting the instrument, it is best to contact the store from which the instrument is being rented. Be sure to enroll in the damage insurance policy when you rent an instrument. Exposing an instrument to extremes of heat and cold can cause the instrument to crack. Leaving an instrument in a hot car can damage the varnish. Leaving an instrument in a cold trunk overnight can cause it to come apart at the seams. Good judgment is very important in preventing damage and costly repairs. Please let Mrs. Edwards or Mrs. Yoo see your instrument before taking it in for repairs. We might be able to save you time and money!!!
PRACTICE: Students are required to practice to improve individual skills and to be a contributing member of this Orchestra. Practice may be defined as "achieving the greatest amount of technical and musical improvement in the least amount of time". Difficult measures, lines, or passages must be carefully analyzed. Play each passage slowly at first, drilling it until it is learned. Playing entire pieces through without practicing them carefully is a waste of time. You will play as well as you practice, and the better you practice, the better our Orchestra will be. Here are some practice strategies:

  • Find a quiet place.

  • Check your assignment.

  • If you have a metronome, use it to practice slowly and steadily.

  • Strive for playing the measures correctly 5 times in a row.

  • Play the entire section including the difficult passage. Use metronome to help keep you steady.

PERFORMANCES: Performances give students the opportunity to share what they have learned with the public. Concerts have two major purposes. The first purpose is for the student to learn to interpret music for public performance while demonstrating technical growth and the expression of the musical language. The second purpose is for the student to experience music with an educated ear. Listening with full comprehension is as important as the playing of music. Most of us are listeners and a goal of music education is to develop better, more complete listening skills in our students. A student who hears with a trained ear listens with more depth. Remember, listen to learn and learn to listen. Expectations about attendance and concert dress are as follows:

  • ATTENDANCE - An Orchestra performs at optimum with all members present. Attendance by each member is important for the success of the Orchestra. Students are expected to be at all performances and after school rehearsals. Attendance at concerts is mandatory and a grade is given for each performance. In the unfortunate event that an orchestra member misses a concert, a make-up assignment will be given. Please refer to the Orchestra calendar in this handbook for concert dates!!

  • CONCERT DRESS - How the orchestra and its members appear to the audience at a live performance is a demonstration of appropriate concert etiquette. Students are required to wear uniforms for all performances. The way students dress strongly influences their behavior, self-image, and the effort they exert. It is our desire to encourage students in developing an attitude about their appearance, which will show a high degree of self-respect for the level of musical success they have achieved.

Eighth grade - students wear a formal concert uniform rented from the Orchestra Program (see lilac formal wear rental agreement form in this handbook). Tall black socks and black dress shoes are also required. Students will also wear their Orchestra Polo and jeans for pictures and informal concerts.

Seventh grade – students wear the maroon orchestra shirt, dress black pants, tall black socks and black dress shoes. Acceptable dress pants include Dockers, Dickies and Duckheads – students should not wear jeans, cargo pants, skinny jeans or legging type pants.


The Alton C. Crews Orchestra is in need of parent support to facilitate various functions of the orchestra. Volunteers are welcomed throughout the year. Parents are needed to aid with fundraising, chaperoning, uniform fitting and collection, hospitality, concert set-up, and concert clean up. If you are interested in volunteering throughout the year, please complete and return the volunteer information sheet included in the handbook (Green Sheet).

YMCA LOCK-IN: The CMS Orchestra program will have its all night Lock-in Party at the YMCA on Sugarloaf Parkway. Students look forward to this Orchestra social event. Parents, please consider serving as a chaperone for this event. More information about this event will be sent home at a later date.

FUNDRAISER: The Orchestra Program holds a fund raiser in October. Students sell various candy/food and gift items to earn money for their orchestra program. We encourage all to support their Orchestra Program!!!!

If interested, Crews Orchestra students may participate in additional performing opportunities throughout the school year. Below are several opportunities:

  • Gwinnett County Youth Symphony and The Kendall Orchestra are countywide orchestras sponsored by the Gwinnett County Public School System. Auditions will be held on Saturday, August 27, 2016. See us NOW about these auditions.

  • Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestras (MYSO) is two youth symphonies for metro-Atlanta students. The Symphony Orchestra is for students in grades 8-12 and the String Orchestra is for students in grades 8 and younger.
  • Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra is a highly competitive orchestra sponsored by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

  • GMEA Solo and Ensemble Performance Evaluation will be held on Saturday, November 5, 2016. Participants practice and perfect a solo or ensemble to perform for a qualified musical adjudicator. Additional information will be available to students during the first week of school. Registration deadline is September 6.

  • GMEA All-State Orchestra students are selected through a two-fold audition process. The District 13 audition will be held at Brookwood HS on October 15, 2016. Additional info will be available during the first week of school. Registration deadline is September 6.

Student responsibilities - Each student is expected to do the following:

  • Be at the right place at the right time with the right equipment and the right attitude.

  • Pay attention in class and be considerate of the rights of others to learn.

  • Have a positive attitude and patience when success is not immediate.

  • Approach the instrument in a serious manner.

  • Remember that everything you do affects everyone else in the class.

  • Write down assignments and practice.

  • Read and take home all written communications.

  • Keep fingernails trimmed so they are not beyond the tip of the finger. This will help to ensure an overall full and exemplary tone when playing your instrument.

Parent Responsibilities - Parents should do the following:

  • Provide an instrument of recommended size and specifications, method book, and properly fitted shoulder rest and accessories (stand, metronome, etc.), to maximize success.

  • Provide encouragement for student effort - let him/her give a concert for you.

  • Provide private study and opportunities for professional concert attendance.

  • Provide a quiet, private place and a set time for the student to practice assignments.

  • Communicate with the teacher as soon as a problem develops.

  • Help the student in his efforts to fulfill the responsibilities listed in the previous section and elsewhere in this handbook.

  • Communicate to teachers as soon as possible any conflicts with concert schedule.

Teacher Responsibilities - The teacher will make every effort to do the following:

  • Provide accurate technical information.

  • Provide a learning environment filled with encouragement and excitement.

  • Monitor the progress of each student and report it to the parents.

  • Communicate to parents all necessary information concerning performances, rehearsals, etc., well in advance.

  • Communicate to parents by phone as soon as possible in the event of any problem such as misbehavior in rehearsal, lack of practice, lack of effort, or loss of interest.

  • Communicate to parents any concerns regarding the instrument or other equipment or accessories.

*Additional information about these events can be found in the CMS Orchestra handbook.

#Additional information about these events will be sent home before the event.

Required dates are underlined.
August 17 *sign up deadline for Kendall Honor Orchestra and Gwinnett County

Youth Symphony audition

selected 6th and interested 7th / 8th grade students

August 27 Gwinnett County Youth Symphony & Kendall Honor Orchestra Auditions

Hull MS

6th / 7th / 8th grade students who have signed up

September 6 *Solo and Ensemble Money due (check payable to CMS)

*All-State Money due (check payable to CMS)

interested 7th / 8th grade students / 6th grade students with previous experience
October 11 #A classes Fall Concerts

8A – 5:30pm 7A – 7pm

October 13 #B classes Fall Concerts

8B – 5:30pm 7B – 7pm

all 7th / 8th grade students are required to attend
October 14 *Annual Fund Raiser Kick-off

all 6th / 7th / and 8th grade students
October 15 District 13 All-State Orchestra Auditions

Brookwood HS

students who signed up in August
November 5 District 13 Solo and Ensemble Festival - Mill Creek HS

students who signed up in August

December 1 #Concert with Brookwood HS Orchestra

6:00 P.M. at Brookwood HS report at 5:30 PM (all 8th grade students)

December 9 #A Classes Winter Concerts

8A – 5:00pm 7A – 6:30pm 6A – 8:00pm

December 12 #B Classes Winter Concerts

8B – 5:00pm 7B – 6:30pm 6B – 8:00pm

all 6th / 7th / 8th graders are required to attend

January 7 Final All-State Auditions students who passed District 13 audition in October

February 6 #A classes Pre-Large Group Performance Evaluation Concert

8A – 5:30pm 7A – 7:00pm

February 7 #B classes Pre-Large Group Performance Evaluation Concert

8B – 5:30pm 7B – 7:00pm

all 7th / 8th grade students are required to attend
February 16-18 *#GMEA Large Group Performance Evaluation Archer HS

all 7th / 8th grade students are required to attend

March 2-4 All-State Orchestra in Athens

students who passed state-wide audition
March 17 Lock in at Tull YMCA

all 6th/7th/8th grade students who sign-up

March 25 Violapaloosa - Bay Creek MS (interested 6th / 7th / 8th grade viola students are preregistered)

April 29 #Gwinnett County 6th Grade Honor Orchestra

selected 6th grade students

May 15 #A Classes Spring Concerts

8A – 5:00pm 7A – 6:30pm 6A – 8:00pm

May 16 #B Classes Spring Concerts

8B – 5:00pm 7B – 6:30pm 6B – 8:00pm

May 19 #8th grade uniform turn-in
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