Why Orchestra?

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You will use every part of your brain in powerful ways to play an instrument and artistically express musical ideas.

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You will love learning because making music with your friends is fun!

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You will learn how to express yourself in new ways, and explore the ideas of great composers.

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Through rehearsal and home practice, you will learn problem-solving skills, how to cope with challenges, and how to face personal fears when performing for tests or concerts.

You belong in orchestra!

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You will make new friends in orchestra, through activities in and out of school, and by being in orchestra year after year.

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Hard work learning an instrument pays off by providing you with a lifelong passion.

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Your instrument can make beautiful, epic, surprising, and varied sounds through different techniques.

Playing cool concerts and going on fun trips are often people's best memories from middle school.

Frequently Asked Questions

"How much time is required for orchestra?"

As a beginning music student, very little time is required outside of school.  Students have several concerts and may have a few rehearsals outside of school. Beyond that, other opportunities for students to participate include solo and small group contests, as well as private lessons.  Neither are mandatory, but ARE highly encouraged.  Students will also be required to engage in regular home practice routines, like having homework from a regular academic class.  Our home practice requirements are 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, leaving plenty of time to participate in other activities and school work.

"What will I learn?"

In the Downing Orchestra, students will learn how to properly hold and play a stringed instrument.  They will learn how to read music, and how to play with each other as a team.  Students will study the history of each stringed instrument, as well as information about famous string players and composers.  They will also learn about concert etiquette, and practice techniques.  As a string player, you can play many different styles of music, ranging from classical to rock, fiddling, country and western, jazz, and world music.  Students will play a large variety of music in the orchestra.  Orchestra is more than just learning an instrument.  Your child will learn how to problem solve, how to work in a group, and so much more.  Skills you learn in orchestra help with academic classes as well.  Students will make friends in middle school orchestra that they will have for the rest of their middle school AND high school years.

"Will orchestra impact my grades?"

Yes!  In the best way!  Research shows that participation in music programs will affect your child’s grades for the better.   Dr. Mike Moses, former Texas Commissioner  of Education, states that “Current research indicates that the fine arts, especially music, influences the brain and actually stimulates spatial intelligence.  Students who participate in an arts program experience important learning transfers in academic areas.” 

"How much will being in orchestra cost?"

Fortunately NOT MUCH! Sure it will cost SOME money, but we are able to work out arrangements with a local music store and they are able to offer discounts on the purchase of an instrument, or can set you up on a monthly payment plan over the course of time.   In fact, they even offer an instrument rental program.  This program is perfect for beginning students who may be “experimenting” with their commitment to something new.   The rental program protects you from investing money in an instrument while not being 100% certain that your child will continue in his or her band or orchestra instruction.   A select number of school-owned instruments are also available for student use.  This may be an option if finances are a major concern to your family.   Please don’t let this stop your child from enjoying a great experience in music classes!   Each music class also requires an “activity fee” which covers many of the costs that may come up during the year, including t-shirts and bus fees.   Scholarships for the activity fee are available if necessary.  

"Can I be in other activities as well as orchestra?"

YES!  Not only is participation in other Downing organizations possible, it is highly encouraged!  However, it is important to remember that commitment to the music programs and practice time is necessary. Many of the skills each student will learn in music classes (teamwork, group accountability, etc.) will be GREAT assets toward their participation in athletic programs, or any other organization. 

"Do big people play big instruments and small people play small instruments?"

Nope! Just like shoes, instruments come in different sizes to accommodate different people. Whichever instrument you choose to play will "grow with you" (as you get taller you will get a bigger size of your instrument). Your height and weight play no factor in what instrument you can or cannot play!