FAQ about Beginner Orchestra

Do I have to know anything about music to join Orchestra?


NO!!! Everything you need to know to play an instrument and read music will be taught in your Orchestra class. Any training in music you already have will be very helpful, but it is not required. All students interested in joining Orchestra must attend a Try the Instrument Night to choose their instrument and be sized for their instrument, but this is NOT an audition - all students are welcome to attend and there is NO PRIOR MUSIC EXPERIENCE REQUIRED! Learning any instrument takes practice, and by taking small steps in class every day and practicing daily at home, you will be amazed by your progress at the end of the year!

If I join Orchestra, can I still be in Athletics, Band, Choir, Theater, and other sports/clubs?
YES!!! Not only is participation in other organizations possible, but it is also encouraged. We work closely with the coaches/directors to allow our students to participate in everything without having conflicts. The Prosper Orchestras also have many academic leaders, talented athletes, singers, actors, NJHS members, cheerleaders, and more!

I'm left-handed...can I still play in the Orchestra?
Of course you can! It doesn't matter what hand you write with - everyone holds the instrument in the left hand and bows with the right hand. In fact, we have many left-handed students who believe playing a stringed instrument helped improve their dexterity!

I don't know what instrument I should play. Will someone help me?
If you are unsure about joining Orchestra or which instrument to play, A director can help you try them all when you sign up for your "Try the Instrument" appointment! You will also get to tour the Orchestra room and ask real Orchestra students any questions you might have. This may be your only chance to ever try out a stringed instrument - you never know what you might be good at or what you might enjoy until you try!!!

How much time do I need to practice?
Students are expected to practice an average of twenty minutes daily; this is the musician's homework, just like you will have homework in every other academic class. Students keep track of practice time every week by turning in an on-line practice record (you can even download a free app to turn in your practice time every week - it is easy!) Since all Beginner classes are grouped by instrument, 2-3 after school rehearsals are scheduled before concerts to rehearse together as an orchestra so you will get to hear what all the instruments sound like all together!

How many performances will I be involved in?
The Beginner Orchestra performs at our annual Fall Concert, Holiday Concert, Cluster Concert, Spring Concert, and Fun  Music Festival in the Spring. Private lessons are also strongly encouraged for all students and can provide more playing opportunities such as recitals and the annual PISD Solo & Ensemble Contest. When you join Orchestra in Prosper, you don't just play at concerts - you get to be part of the whole experience! From themed performances with costumes and props to special guests and set design, the Orchestra students truly create the concert 'hands-on' and make every performance special.

What fun things will I do in Orchestra?
The most obvious and rewarding of all is learning to play an instrument. Both Ms. Gilbert and Mrs. Nguyen love to reward students with many fun social events throughout the year such as our annual Orchestra Camp, Secret Santa, Orchestra Picnic, and End of Year Party! In the past, we have had parties at places like Main Event, Pin Stack, and Studio Movie Grill.

Some of the things you can look forward to in 7th-8th grade Orchestra and beyond include Spring in the Park Festival at Six Flags, being a Student Aide or planning your own Elementary Tour, and awesome performances/trips in high school!

How much money will this cost?
Fortunately, not much; the main cost is your instrument. Most families rent an instrument on a rental/purchase plan at a low monthly cost. Students can exchange their instrument for a bigger one as they grow, and once students reach a full-sized instrument, your accumulated rental credit can be used to purchase a quality step-up instrument. Cello and Bass students do not need to carry their instruments back and forth to school every day - families will rent one instrument to practice at home, and the school district provides instruments for students to use at school at no cost. 

For your convenience, the other required musical supplies are available for purchase with your rental package: the package includes a music stand for home practice, music book, tuner/metronome (not needed until Spring), rockstop for Cello/Bass students, shoulder rest for Violin/Viola students, and a soft cleaning cloth. Other required supplies are included in your yearly orchestra fee. These include a 1 inch black binder, dividers, page protectors, pencil bag, pencils, and highlighter. You will learn how to use all of these materials and how to stay organized throughout the school year!

We also collect membership dues in lieu of several fundraisers throughout the year, so that we can enjoy all the unique opportunities available to us! Dues cover your Orchestra shirt, festival/contest fees, parties and field trips.

I want to join Orchestra! How do I get an instrument?
When you come to select your instrument at your Try the Instrument appointment, this will be explained to your parents at your appointment. Most parents rent an instrument with an option to buy or upgrade later. For your convenience, a music store representative will be available at our “Try the Instrument” night when your child selects their instrument. Pre-order online and instruments will be delivered to school before the first day of class. 
We strongly encourage you to rent or lease a quality instrument through a specialized string company, as they offer the brands and models we prefer the children use in the program. Bargain hunters are finding inexpensive instruments on the Internet, in discount stores, and in some catalogs. Sadly, these instruments are not bargains. While the price may look right, the “real” cost of this instrument may be in costly repairs, poor durability, poor tone, or worst of all, a student who is not able to succeed in string class.

String instruments come in all sizes to fit the student, so anybody can learn to play any of these instruments! We have many talented young men that play Violin, and several young ladies that play Double Bass. However, there is a limit to the number of people that can play each type of instrument so each orchestra is balanced. Remember that Cello and Bass students do not need to carry their instruments back and forth to school every day - families will rent one instrument to practice at home, and the school district provides instruments for students to use at school. Please wait until meeting a director at Try the Instrument before purchasing an instrument.

What do I do if we already own an instrument?
Please bring the instrument to your “Try the Instrument” appointment so a director can check to make sure it is in good working condition. It is essential that the instrument is the proper size, so you do not experience discomfort while practicing from an instrument that is too small or too large. If you are a student with previous playing experience or who is currently taking private lessons, please contact a director to schedule a special time for you to visit and be placed into the best Orchestra class for you.

Can I start learning my instrument over the summer?
Your instrument will be waiting for you in the Orchestra room on the first day of school. While it might seem like a good idea to find a private teacher and start learning now, you will be bored in class when school starts! All students are strongly encouraged to sign up for private lessons once school starts.Your director works closely with these teachers to ensure that you are successful in Orchestra.

How can I get more information about the Prosper Orchestras?
If you still have questions, feel free to contact Ms. Gilbert at lcgilbert@prosper-isd.net or Mrs. Nguyen at cdnguyen@prosper-isd.net.

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