Is my child in the right class?
It can be difficult to decipher the various course codes that you see on your child's schedule. The descriptions below can help you make sure that your child is in the correct class. It may surprise you to learn that students are considered "beginners" for about two years, and so it is important that your child is in the correct class, which allows them to continue building upon their strengths. Being in a class that is too advanced is just as stressful, discouraging, and unhealthy for the learning process as being in a class that is too easy. Our primary concern is that your child is in the best learning environment for their skills and we work diligently to support their success on a daily basis.
Strings I* (aka Beginning Orchestra) is a first-year beginning class for students who have never played an instrument before and they want to begin studying the violin, viola, cello, or bass. This class focuses on learning all of the foundational concepts to help your child learn to play his instrument correctly. Content: Basic postures; introduction to music reading; learning the proper bow hand position/execution; learning how to produce a pitch and basic finger patterns; basic ear-training; developing proficiency in the key of D major and G major; introduction to C major. This class meets during 1st Period.
Strings II* (aka Concert Orchestra) is a second-year beginning class for students who have been through the NEISD 5th Grade Strings Program, or who have 1 year of playing experience. Even though your child may have gone through the 5th Grade Strings Program, their technique is still in a fragile state and still needs lots of review and drilling on basic concepts; continued development of ear-training skills. Content: Review of basic postures and developing more stamina, strength, and flexibility; review of basic note-reading and elaboration of basic harmonic structures; basic music writing; developing proficiency in the key of D major and G major; introduction to C major. This class meets during 5th Period.
Strings/Orch II, Orch II EC Courses (aka Symphony Orchestra) is an intermediate level orchestra. This class can be comprised of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who have played for up to two years. Students in this class can proficiently play basic rhythms, finger patterns, and understand the basic elements of sound production, but still need a bit more drill to develop strength, flexibility, and dexterity in both hands. Content: Continued review of basic postures, note-reading, and harmonic structures; continued practice on basic music writing; continued development in the key of D major and G major; introduction to C major; introduction to shifting, extensions, and vibrato. This class meets during 4th Period.
Strings/Orch II, Orch II ES Courses (aka Symphony Orchestra) is an intermediate/advanced orchestra. This class is comprised of mostly 7th and 8th grade students. However, 6th grade students who have been playing for 3 or more years can audition for this class. Students in this class can proficiently play varied rhythm patterns, all fingering patterns, cello extensions in D major, shifting, and vibrato. Students have more developed note-reading skills and do not need to write fingerings or note names on their music; they also have developed a more advanced ear-training skills. Content: Continued development of major and minor scales, vibrato, shifting, repertoire with varied rhythms/bowings, extensions; introduction to A major and F major scales/arpeggios, more advanced shifting, and extension work for the cello. This class meets during 2nd Period.
String/Orch III, Orch III (aka Honors Orchestra) is the most advanced orchestra here at Bush MS. This class is mostly comprised of 7th and 8th grade students. However, 6th grade students who have been playing for 4 or more years can audition for this class. Students in this class are mostly self-directed and can practice and learn music with minimal supervision; can easily play 2-octave scales; can easily identify musical problems as well as solutions; have excellent posture/form; have excellent intonation listening skills; demonstrate expressive phrasing in solo and orchestral repertoire; can read a wide range of rhythm patterns from dotted to syncopated; consistently use vibrato; understand the nuances of sound production execution; can play major keys up to four sharps and four flats along with the relative minors. This class meets during 3rd Period.
*Strings I and Strings II will often combine to produce one larger orchestra as each of these classes mirrors the same content.