This handbook is for face-to-face instruction. For virtual instruction grading beginning Fall 2020, see Canvas

Grading is based on:

(a) Rehearsal participation (60%)
(b) Playing tests (20%)
(c) Practice records (20%)practicerecord4week

Grades can be found on Canvas.

Up to 10 additional points can be earned through extra-credit:

    • Audition for Senior Regional or All-State Orchestra (5 points)
    • Participate in SRO or All-State (10 points)
    • Concert Attendance (3 points)
    • Orchestra help—filing music, setting stage, etc—just ask; there is always plenty to do! (1–3 points)
    • Written reflection on classical music performance on YouTube —see Ms. Thomas for guidelines (2 points per movement)
  • Research paper—see Ms. Thomas for guidelines (up to 5 points)

a) Rehearsal Participation (60%)

Daily rehearsal and concert participation account for 60% of each student’s grade. Successful musical performances depend on full and consistent participation of all members. Missing a concert will cost 30 points on the 9-week grade. The only acceptable excuse for missing a concert are (1) personal illness or (2) serious illness or death in the family. For a concert absence to be excused, I need to be notified in advance (CHS Orchestra Office: 245-2726) and a parent-signed note needs to be presented upon your return to CHS.

(b) Playing Tests (20%)

Evaluative playing tests will be held twice each nine-week grading period. These “playing opportunities” help you set goals and develop performance skills under pressure. They help me evaluate your strengths and weaknesses so that I can give you written feedback and help you grow as a musician. At announced times, playing tests will be used for seating purposes. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange a make-up test within 2 days of his/her return to school; otherwise a zero will be recorded.

(c) Practice Records (20%)

Students should record their daily practice on an official CHS Orchestra practice log. The log should be kept daily, totaled weekly and signed by a parent at the end of the 1st interim and the end of the 9 week grading period. Parent signatures are not required for seniors. Credit for practice will be given as follows:

    • 10 hours (average of 2.5 hrs/wk over 4 weeks) =10 pts (100%)
    • 9 hours (average of 1.66 hrs/wk)=9 pts
  • 8 hours (average of 1.11 hrs/wk) =8 pts, etc.

“On my honor as a student, I have neither given nor received any unauthorized aid on this assignment.”  —CHS Student Council 2010

The CHS honor code applies to practice record signatures.


A student is late if he or she is not in the chair with his or her instrument when the last chime sounds.

Extra Rehearsals

The Concert Orchestra will rehearse outside of class time at least once prior to each major concert. This rehearsal will be planned according to what is convenient for the majority of students and announced well in advance, and will be mandatory.


Please rotate seating for each rehearsal during the first few weeks of school. Prior to our first performance, playing tests for seating will be held. Ranked seating is important for the overall sound and leadership in the orchestra, and seating decisions are based on many factors. Musical considerations include intonation, tone quality/vibrato, phrasing/artistry, rhythm, bowing, and consistency in performance. Leadership qualities are also important to consider. One example of leadership is taking responsibility for (and passing back) bowings and fingerings. Leaders maintain focus in rehearsal, convey a positive attitude and demonstrate dedication to the orchestra. Determining seating is one of the most difficult aspects of the conductor’s job. I wish that everyone who works hard could sit first chair! I try to be fair; I spend hours after each audition, carefully considering each seating. Please remember that our orchestra is one of the best, and that all of you are part of our success.


Girls’ Orchestra dresses are distributed at the beginning of the year and are to be kept at home and worn to concert performances. The dresses were purchased in 2011 and need to last many, many years. Please take care of these garments so that others may wear them with pride in the future. Dresses are to be returned in June after the final performance. Those who do not return their orchestra uniform (identified by number) will receive a bill for $75 and their report card will be held until their obligation is cleared.

Guys’ tuxedo jackets, pants, ties and cummerbunds are fitted early in the year, assigned to you and kept at CHS. White tuxedo shirts are given to you to be kept and cleaned at home, and worn for concert performances. Shirts are to be returned in June.

Shoes: Every CHS Orchestra member needs to have a pair of dress black shoes for performances. No open-toed or platform shoes. If in doubt as to whether or not your shoes are appropriate, please ask.

Instrument Rental

Students are encouraged to purchase quality instruments rather than rent when financially possible. The Charlottesville City Schools has violins, violas, cellos and basses available to rent for a fee of $100 per school year. Students on free or reduced lunch programs will receive free or reduced instrument rent. Students are responsible for providing rosin and replacing strings. Rental fees are used to regular maintenance and replacement of instruments. The student is expected to keep the instrument clean and in sound playing condition. The student pays for lost or stolen instrument and repairs resulting from misuse, negligence, or carelessness. Damage must be reported to the instructor immediately. The instrument may be used only by the person to whom it is assigned. Instruments shall be returned to the school division in the same condition in which it was received. A class set of cellos and basses will be kept at CHS, for use by all classes throughout the day. Home cellos and basses rented from CHS need to be brought in for concert performances

Instrument Locker Room

The violin/viola locker room is used for storage of instruments and for individual and small group rehearsal. Students should bring in a combination or key lock to secure their home instruments, and get in the habit early of locking up your instrument after every rehearsal. Absolutely NO FOOD, DRINK or GUM is to be brought into the orchestra room or locker room. Please keep our rehearsal space clean.

Travel and Fundraising

One of the highlights of the school year is our spring trip. In the past 25 years, the CHS Orchestra has won top honors in New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach, London, Italy, Vienna, and Ireland. Travel with the orchestra is exciting and worthwhile—but it costs money! Thankfully, the Orchestra Parent Boosters provide excellent opportunities for students to earn their trip. Our major fundraisers happen in the fall—selling concessions at UVA football games, washing cars and selling poinsettias. Please take advantage of these opportunities when they occur, and don’t wait until January then ask when our next fundraiser will happen!