Dear Parents and Students:                                                                                                     September 2020


    For those new to the orchestra - it is my great honor to welcome you to the CR SOUTH ORCHESTRA. This year will be unlike any other, and I can only hope that we can all be flexible with changes that may occur especially over the next few months. I promise to make the orchestra experience as fun and rewarding as possible in spite of the pandemic.


    We will be doing things quite differently this year. We won’t be able to perform live for the Winter Concert, but we will be allowed to have some ensemble playing in December with smaller sections of the orchestra on stage. During these 2 weeks, we will record 4 or 5 subsections of the orchestra and then put them together into one video recording. What happens in the spring is anyone’s guess, so we won’t plan anything yet beyond December.


    Once we start the hybrid schedule on September 29, we will need to adhere to the Council Rock School District Music Safety Measures and Guidelines. Each student will have ONE orchestra class in-person per week (for those attending school in-person) and a total of THREE after-school sectionals in-person before the Virtual Winter Concert. Any student who has chosen to be 100% virtual during the school day may choose to attend the after-school rehearsals. We are excited that we will have a chance to safely play music in-person, even if it is less often than during a normal school year. For each of these rehearsals, we will be extremely careful to follow these guidelines:


    Council Rock School District Music Safety Measures and Guidelines

    • Students will sit/stand no closer than 6 ft. from each other. All chairs will face straight ahead in straight lines (honeycombing where possible) and locations of chairs/standing areas will be marked with tape (or marking paint for outside).
    • Music stands and sheet music will not be shared. Students will need to bring their own sheet music to rehearsals. Music stands will be cleaned before and after class.
    • Windows will stay open in rehearsal rooms, where possible.
    • Masks will be worn for the entire rehearsal period.
    • Choirs may rehearse outside or in larger rooms such as the auditorium/cafeteria/gym when available.
    • Directors will use a portable microphone/amplifier to project voice over ensemble sound.
    • Wind instruments will need to have a bell covering. All wind players need to wear a mask with a small slit for the mouthpiece.
    • Brass Players will need to have their own spit collection pad such as a disposable puppy pad.
    • String Teachers will use hand sanitizers before and after tuning each string instrument.
    • Only a specific number of students will be allowed to enter instrument storage areas based on the size of storage area. Elementary instruments should be stored in the hallway outside of classrooms. Middle school and high school storage areas/lockers will be assigned.
    • High School fittings for concert uniforms will not be scheduled this year. Students will wear collared shirts normally worn for informal concerts. Middle school concert attire will be determined at a later time.
    • School cellos and basses and any other school assigned instruments will be numbered and students will be assigned an instrument for the year.
    • Percussionists will use their own sticks. Mallet players will be given a set of sticks to use for the year.




    When using these mitigation strategies, Performing Arts (singing, wind playing, acting) produces around the same amount of aerosols as speaking with a mask at 6 ft. apart. The CRSO will also employ these additional strategies.

    • Trombones should have an additional three feet of distancing making their space 9x6. The player should be seated three feet in front of the back line, leaving an additional six feet in front of them due to the extended nature of the instrument and slide that can be in extended position.
    • String Players would need to wear a surgical mask while in rehearsal since they will sing from time to time
    • Indoor Rehearsals need to be no longer than 30 minutes before a break, then leave room for 20 minute in order to allow the air in the room to be removed by the HVAC system.
      • Students will go to another music room or the auditorium after 30 minutes of playing/singing



    In order to ensure that we can follow all of the guidelines, CROPS will be purchasing level 3 surgical masks (15 for each string and percussion player, wind instrument Masks with built-in flaps (one for each of the 23 woodwind and brass player), puppy pads (15 each for brass players), and bell covers (for woodwinds and brass). The CRSD will also some of these items On the first day of in-person class, these items will be handed out. No playing or singing can occur without these items.


    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 are also initiating a new online Membership form discussed on page 6.


    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 zoom meeting on SEPTEMBER 9 at 7:30. Uniforms will not be issued this year. For performances (video or possible future live performances), students this year will wear the orchestra collared shirt and khaki pants.  in this packet are the following, most of which needs to be returned to school or mailed to school (100% virtual students) by Friday, OCTOBER 2:


    1. Rehearsal and Performance Calendar
    2. Council Rock Orchestra Parents-South Membership Information and Link to Registration Page.
    3. Commitment Form
    4. Collared Shirt and Spirit Wear Order Form
    5. Medical Form (needed for any possible spring trips)
    6. Rockestra Form
    7. BCMEA Audition List




    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.



    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 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.



    Students who have chosen the hybrid model will need to attend approximately THREE after-school in-person rehearsals between September 29 and the Winter Concert in December. All students (100% virtual and hybrid) will need to participate in FOUR or FIVE virtual rehearsals during this same time period. Students who are 100% virtual are allowed to attend the THREE in-person rehearsals.


    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 email me or send a Remind message.

    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 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 2:30 to 3:45, orchestra 3:45 to 5:00 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. Practice parts will be given out through Canvas. If printing at home is problematic, a copy can be provided for you but would need to be picked up at 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 for possible zoom clinic help. Private lessons are always highly recommended!









    Wind players have already auditioned through their assessments last year and seating arrangements will be based on those results. String students will need to submit a video audition by September 25 at 5:00pm. Material will consist of a scales and one section of orchestra music. Violinists in Symphony Orchestra must be able to play three octave scales. Seating arrangements will remain the same for the entire year. All string players MUST audition. Any violinist that is interested in playing inn the 1st violin section must audition for BOTH violin 1 and 2 parts.



    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 12 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 October 2. 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.


    CONCERT OUTFITS for this year

    Orchestra collared shirts need to be purchased for performances this year. Please use the enclosed form.



    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 October 2.



    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, medical form, and possible Spirit Wear forms must be returned to the Band Room and placed in the Lock-box marked “THE VAULT” by Friday, October 2nd, 2020. If you are interested in Rockestra, please e-mail the form to me at csimon@crsd.org by Friday, September 18th. If you have elected 100% virtual, you may mail the forms and check(s) to:


    Council Rock South Orchestra

    Attn: Chris Simon

    2002 Rock Way

    Holland, PA 18966




    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, collared shirt order, both, etc.).


    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