Dear Parents and Students: August 30, 2021


    For those new to the orchestra - it is my great honor to welcome you to the CR SOUTH ORCHESTRA. We are looking forward to re-establishing an orchestra program similar in scope and quality as we have come to know pre-pandemic. However, we may need to remain flexible as we continue to navigate the difficulties of COVID. I promise to make the orchestra experience as fun and rewarding as possible no matter what comes our way! 


    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 SPAIN, GREECE, FRANCE, MONACO, ITALY, and SCOTLAND were also huge successes. This year we will be preparing ourselves for more great performances and activities which include: the Haunted Hayride in October, the Pennsbury Orchestra Festival (Competition) on March 24, a performance on the Oceean City Music Pier in May, and our CR Orchestra Festival on May 13. The Symphony Orchestra will also perform at Barnes and Noble on December 3. We will host 5 Master Sectionals this year – Master Professional Orchestral Musicians will give expert help to each section: Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass, Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion! We will have our Orchestra Camp on September 21. The Orchestra members have 3 evening rehearsals this year, and before all of them we will be having Pizza Parties. We will also be selling some Orchestra shirts and spirit wear. Since we will all be meeting in-person this year, we will only be submitting practice videos on Canvas every other week (Yay!). For our hardest pieces, you will have access to practice tracks.


    Unless we are told otherwise, masks (and wind masks/bell covers) are optional. However, I would advise everyone not to throw them away in case they are needed at some point this year. We will continue to help mitigate any spread of COVID by opening windows and have hand sanitizers available.


    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 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 also have an online Membership form. 


    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 TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 at 7:30. 


    The following forms/calendars are included in this packet. The highlighted forms need to be returned to school or mailed to school by Friday, SEPTEMBER 24

    1. Payment and Form Checklist – page 5
    2. Rehearsal and Performance Calendar – page 7+8
    3. Council Rock Orchestra Parents-South eMembership Registration Link – page 9
    4. Commitment Form – page 11
    5. Haunted Hayride Order Form – page 13
    6. Fitting Night Form (to be returned on Sept. 27) – page 15
    7. Spirit Wear Form (not required)– page 17
    8. Medical Form (needed for all trips) – page 19
    9. Chamber Orchestra (Rockestra) Form – page 21
    10. BCMEA Audition Solo List – page 23



    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 9.



    We have scheduled our next Car Wash for Saturday, October 10 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 through Canvas. Original parts will stay in assigned folders and remain in school. Students are expected to practice at least 90 minutes each week! 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 27 2:30 – 6:00pm

    Symph + String Orch. Cello / Bass Auditions Tuesday, September 28 2:30 – 5:00pm

    String Orchestra Violin/Viola Auditions Wednesday, September 29 2:30 – 5:00pm



    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! Video Auditions are on December 11 for District Orchestra and TBD for County Orchestra. 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 24. 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.


    The Orchestra performs the majority of concerts in formal attire. The Fitting Night will be done on one night this year - September 27. 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 (HMS performance, OC, Great Adventure). 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 Lockbox in the Band Room by September 24.



    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 24th, 2021. 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 e-mail me at csimon@crsd.org



    Christopher Simon

    Orchestra Director, Music Coordinator