Dear Parents and Students:                                                                                                     September 2019


    For those new to the orchestra - it is my great honor to welcome you to the CR SOUTH ORCHESTRA. The students in our orchestra have firmly established themselves as world class performers with a reputation for displaying extraordinary talent! Last year, we had exceptional performances in Toledo, Sevilla, and Granada, SPAIN, at the Pennsbury Orchestra Festival, and at our own Orchestra Festival. In years past, we have had memorable performances at Carnegie Hall, five Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Conferences, and ten performances at the WHITE HOUSE by members of our orchestra. Our past trips overseas to GREECE, FRANCE, MONACO, ITALY, and SCOTLAND were also huge successes. This year will be no less exciting as we prepare for more great performances and activities which include: the Haunted Hayride in October, the Pennsbury Orchestra Festival (Competition) on April 30, and our CR Orchestra Festival on May 8. The Symphony Orchestra will also perform at Barnes and Noble on December 6. We will continue hosting 6 Master Sectionals this year – Master Professional Orchestral Musicians will give expert help to each section: Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass, Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion! There is a possibility that the White House will once again invite our orchestra to perform. The Orchestra members have 4 evening rehearsals this year, and before all of them we will be having Pizza Parties. We will also be selling some Orchestra shirts and other apparel. Recordings of the Selections we will perform have been put onto one CD.


    CR South has 3 orchestras. The Symphony Orchestra is the highest level group consisting of strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. The String Orchestra consists mainly of sophomore and freshmen string players. There will be auditions for the Rockestra, a select group of string players who will perform at smaller community functions. The Winter and Spring Concerts will feature the Symphony Orchestra and the String Orchestra, and they will combine for several pieces. In fact, the Spring Concert will find the orchestras combined for most pieces.


    Check-out the Orchestra Website and Online Membership Registration!

    Current news about the orchestra can be found on the schools website. Go to the CR South website, click on Clubs, then find Orchestra (listed alphabetically). Forms, calendars, etc. can all be accessed from this site. Excerpts from past performances can also be found here! We are also initiating a new online Membership form discussed on page 7.


    This packet is to inform students and families about the basic policies and procedures for the department and to outline the structure of the orchestra program. Please attend our first Orchestra Parents meeting on SEPTEMBER 11 at 7:30 in Room A1. New this year - All orchestra members and at least one parent must attend a Mandatory Meeting/Fitting Night on Monday, September 23. Included in this packet are the following, most of which needs to be returned to school or mailed to our CROPS Treasurer by Friday, SEPTEMBER 13:


    1. Rehearsal and Performance Calendar
    2. Council Rock Orchestra Parents-South Membership Information and Link to Registration Page.
    3. Commitment Form
    4. Haunted Hayride Order Form
    5. Mandatory Meeting / Fitting Night Form
    6. Medical Form (needed for all trips)
    7. Chamber Orchestra Form
    8. BCMEA Audition List
    9. Philadelphia Orchestra Open Rehearsal






    The large number of activities and performances require the help of our wonderful parent group, the Council Rock Orchestra Parents – South (CROPS). Crops helps all students enjoy a great year, so it is a hope that everyone joins and that all parents get involved in some way. Please look for the online Membership Form link found on page 7.



    We have scheduled our next Car Wash for Saturday, October 12 from 9:00 to 1:00 in the front parking lot of CR South. This is the same morning as the Fall Festival. Typically, we might find more students getting wet than cars, but it will be a good time and we might earn some money at the same time. Students will sign-up in school. We could use lots of towels for the Car Wash!



    Students will be assessed and graded during each of the four marking periods. Assessments will be conducted according to the High School Instrumental [String, Wind, or Percussion] Assessment Rubric. Categories include: Note Accuracy, Rhythmic Accuracy, Tone, Intonation, Playing Position, Musicality, etc. Copies of this rubric are available upon request. Students will perform solo assessments during the 1st and 3rd  marking periods and Group Assessments during the 2nd and 4th  marking periods. For the 4th MP Group Assessment, students will organize themselves into string quartets or woodwind, brass, percussion sections. They will rehearse on their own and then perform their music without a conductor! We will also work on this in class.  Marking period grades will be based on Attendance, Assessments, Etiquette, and Class Participation.


    Students enrolled in Symphony Orchestra are required to learn the solo for either District (PMEA) or All-County Orchestra (BCMEA).  Symphony Orchestra members need to acquire the solo in September and perform the first page of the solo for the October Assessments. By the last Assessment, Symphony Orchestra members MUST be able to perform the entire PMEA or BCMEA solo.



    All scheduled rehearsals, performances, and assessments are mandatory. Besides the great performance opportunities, students will average 3 after-school obligations per month. The calendar is provided in order to give advance notice and students are expected to attend rehearsals for the groups in which they are enrolled. Non-school related work is not considered a valid excuse given the advance notice of rehearsals. If a student is suddenly unable to attend a rehearsal due to a family emergency, please call me at school.

    Please understand the following Attendance Rules. Any infraction will result in an unexcused absence and a lower grade will be given for that rehearsal.

    1. Students who must miss a scheduled rehearsal must give at least one week’s notice in writing
    2. Students who arrive late to a rehearsal due to a clinic must present a note in advance and arrive by 3:00pm.
    3. Students who anticipate a sports-related conflict must present a note one month in advance so that the coaches can be contacted and a compromise worked out. The most common way of avoiding conflicts is to split time. For example: sport 3:00 to 4:15, orchestra 4:15 to 5:30 or visa versa.






    Students are expected to be attentive, stay on task, and be respectful of each other and to the directors during rehearsals AND performances. Students are expected to follow the formal concert dress guidelines for concerts when students are to wear formal attire – this will be considered part of the student’s etiquette grade. Practice parts will be given out in class to take home while original parts will stay in assigned folders and remain in school. Students are expected to practice at least 90 minutes each week, which is especially important for preparing for international concerts! If a student requires additional help with music preparation, they should talk to the director. I will be available at 7:00am for clinic help every day, and section leaders will be available upon request. Private lessons are always highly recommended! The level of difficulty is college level.



    Wind players have already auditioned through their assessments last year and seating arrangements will be based on those results. String students will be auditioned for seating purposes one time this year, in late September. Material will consist of scales and solos. Violinists in Symphony Orchestra must be able to play three octave scales. Students leading the 2nd Violin Section need to be strong players in order to achieve the correct balance in the orchestra. For this reason, a few students from the 1st Violin Section will be asked to lead the 2nd violin section. There will also be an effort to allow strong players to sit next to others who could benefit from their help. Seating arrangements will remain the same for the entire year. All string players MUST audition. String players will be asked to sign-up for 30 minute blocks [2:30 to 3:00, 3:00 to 3:30, etc.] for the following days:

    Symphony Orchestra           Violin/Viola Auditions          Monday, September 23        2:30 – 6:00pm

    Symph + String Orch.          Cello / Bass Auditions           Tuesday, September 24        2:30 – 5:00pm

    String Orchestra                   Violin/Viola Auditions          Wednesday, September 25   2:30 – 5:00pm



    We have had the honor and privilege of performing at the White House the past 7 years. We are hoping we get invited once again. They have granted us the wish to allow 40 musicians to perform at the White House instead of the usual limit of 26 so that we can include all of our seniors. However, due to security reasons in 2014, the White House insisted on keeping the group size at 30. If this happens again, we will need to have a selection process because we have more than 30 seniors! The highest 1st and/or 2nd chair wind players will be invited mainly because of the soloist nature of the parts that they perform. Based on the September String Seating Auditions as described above, the 1st chair on each string instrument will be invited to go (for violins-the first four chairs), and then the next highest seated senior who has not yet performed at the WH will be selected. If there are no seniors, then a junior will be selected. The idea is that if we invite the highest seated seniors, we will allow a slightly different group of students to play at the WH each year while still preserving the musical integrity of the group. The wind seating is already set. IF we needed to keep the total number down to 30 students, the instrumentation would probably look something like this: 10 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, 1 bass, 2 flutes, 1 oboe, 2 clarinets, 1 bassoon, 2 trumpets, 1 FH, 2 low brass, 1 keyboard, and 2 percussion. The instrumentation may need to be altered based on the repertoire that the orchestra performs this winter.



    Students who are interested in pursuing more challenging musical experiences can audition for PMEA District Orchestra [or Band] and BCMEA County Orchestra. It is a special honor to make these groups! Auditions are on December 14 for District Orchestra and November 13 for County Orchestra and the three day festivals are in the spring! Required solos and scales will be posted in the Band / Orchestra room. All Symphony Orchestra members will be assessed either on the District/BCMEA piece. The BCMEA solo list is included here.







    The best attributes (and hardest to attain) an orchestra member can have are to play “IN TUNE AND ON TIME.” To help in this matter, all Symphony Orchestra members are now required to have a metronome and a tuner and must present their own Tuner and Metronome (or a combo of both) by September 13. Please put your name on both and keep in your instrument cases. String Orchestra members are encouraged to also purchase tuners and metronomes. The average cost is $15 to $20.



    All students and one guardian needs to attend this new meeting to address Membership and Fitting. The Orchestra performs the majority of concerts in formal attire. The Fitting Night will be done on one night this year - September 23. Men will be outfitted for tuxedos and dress-shoes; and girls will be outfitted for a black skirt, black blouse, and dress-shoes. Orchestra collared shirts need to be purchased for the informal performances (Elem performance, Spain). Please bring the enclosed form.



    Men:               Black Tuxedo Jacket and Pants, White wing-tipped Tuxedo Shirt, Black Cummerbund + Tie, Black Socks, Black Patent Leather Dress Shoes


    Women:          Black Floor Length Skirt, Black ¾ Sleeve Orchestra Top, Jet Black Stockings, Black Patent Leather Dress Shoes



    Students are required by the school to have a medical form on file when traveling with a school-group. Please fill out this form and return it to the Band Room in the envelope marked Medical Forms by September 13.



    It is highly recommended that students enrolled in Orchestra take private lessons. If students are not already doing so, please consider private lessons. The South Orchestra performs challenging college-level pieces that are glorious to perform but require hard work, talent, and guidance. The Council Rock School District has an official list that is posted on the website. These teachers have been issued PA State clearances. Although there are many other private tutors giving lessons in our area, only the teachers who have taken the time and money to obtain the PA State clearances are listed on the CR website. With whom your child takes lessons is up to the discretion of parents.


    Please read over the calendar carefully and fill out the attached commitment sheet. The commitment sheet, membership form, Haunted Hayride form, medical form, and possible Chamber Orchestra form must be returned to the Band Room and placed in the Lock-box marked “THE VAULT” by Friday, September 13th, 2019. To make the treasurer’s job easier, please put student’s name on each check and label how it is to be used (ex. membership dues, Haunted Hayride, both, etc.). Please do not send in money or the forms for shirts and concert outfits until the Fitting Nights. 


    Your e-mail addresses are important to us. Please understand that in order to receive updates throughout the year, you need to fill-in your current e-mail address on the commitment form.


    I am looking forward to an incredible year of great music making. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at school (215-944-1162) or e-mail me at csimon@crsd.org.



    Christopher Simon

    Orchestra Director, Music Coordinator