Frequently Asked Questions
(Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the string program.)Orchestra Lessons will begin the third week of school. I will place the students into small groups according to each student's schedule so that he or she is not pulled out of math, communication arts, GOAL, or any other important conflict.
Is it too late for my child to begin lessons?
It is NEVER too late for your child to start lessons. While most students decide to participate in orchestra at the end of the previous school year, we are more than happy to welcome students who decide to join orchestrain the fall. If you are new to the area in the fall, we would love to have your child participate. While we typically start orchestra lessons in the third grade, fourth and fifth graders are more than welcome to start instruction on an instrument. It is also possible to start instruction in the middle of the year, but please contact Mr. Morton to discuss scheduling lessons.
When will my child receive his/herinstrument? - Firstyear students will receive their rented instrument during their firstlesson. If you did not send in thepaper work to a rental company (Brighton,Volkweins, Johnstonbaugh, Center for Young Musicians or Noteworthy) the instrument willnot be at the school. If you picked upan instrument over the summer please have your child bring it into schoolduring the first week so I can tune and prepare the instrument for the firstlesson.
What does my child need for his/herlessons? In thesecond lesson students will receive a: FOLDER– to protect their book and practice card. Each folder will have your child’s name on it. BOOK-(Essential Elements 2000 Book I) - Most students ordered the book with therental of their instrument. If you didnot order the book then you will need to purchase it before the next lesson. MusicInnovations (across the street from Walgreens) should have this bookavailable. Please make sure that yourchild puts his/her name in the book. Ifyou are a 4th grader we will review book I for the first part of theyear and move to book 2 when we are ready. PRACTICE CARDS - Everystudent will receive a practice card that he/she should bring to each lessonwith his/her folder. Please help yourchild fill in the practice card and initial your name each week. Students will receive a stamp each week ifthey practice a minimum of 1 hour a weekand the parent initials are onthe practice card. When the first sideof the card is complete students can pick a prize from the gift box for theirhard work. Each month we will select astudent to be on the Practice Card Hallof Fame. The student that practicesthe most time during the entire month will have their picture on the practicecard hall of fame and their name will be noted in the winter and springprogram. Students can receive a secondprize at the end of the year if they are able to complete the practicechallenge by filling in allslots by the end of the school year without missing one week of checkedpractice cards. (It would be greatlyappreciated if you could donate anitem for the gift box. When you visitthe dollar store please pick a pack of pencils, toys, stickers or anything thata student might enjoy for a prize. Thanks in advanced for any donations you give.) ADDITIONAL MATERIALS - Some students this year bought ashoulder rest or a stand with their rental instrument. These are fantastic tools to help studentswith their playing position. If you didnot get a shoulder rest, a sponge will be provided to pad the bottom of theinstrument.
How can I find information aboutconcerts and what is going on in the orchestra?
Each year Icreate an e-mail distribution list for each grade level. I will use it to e-mail concert information,after school rehearsals, progress reports, dates, information on other concertsgoing on around the community and more. I will always use BCC so no one can see your e-mail address. If you are already receiving e-mails thenyou are on the list. Please e-mail me ifyou do not want your name on the list. My web page also contains all of theinformation regarding concerts, videos, pictures, recordings, lesson plans,dates, times and more. You can find it at www.northallegheny.org then click:school, staff, Dennis Morton, and elementary strings.How do I know when my child needs tobring their instrument to school? Thestring schedules will be posted on my web site, inthe homerooms, string room and will be sent home to each studentvia-e-mail. Students will receiveinstruction twice a week– once for asmall group lesson (5 or fewer students of the same instrument) for half anhour and once for orchestra rehearsal (with all the string instrumentstogether) for 45 minutes. Because it isa pull out program students will be responsible to make up missed work in theclassroom. Lessons will rotate throughthe school day with the exception of an hour of Math and CA.
What if my child’s instrument orstring breaks? In most cases an instrument with minor problems or string replacementcan be repaired at school. If aninstrument needs to be repaired, please have your child bring it to the stringroom in the morning. Attach a note tothe case and place it on my desk so I can fix it before their lesson. Allother major repairs should be taken to the rental company. If you call the company that you are rentingfrom they should be able to exchange the damaged instrument for a new one atthe school. With careful treatment mostinstruments will stay in tunebetween lessons and orchestra rehearsals. Only experienced students/parents should attempt to tune the instrument.In the event of a broken string orfraying string you will need to replace the missing or damaged string. Music Innovations sells strings at areasonable price. You can also checkvarious web sites for string prices: http://www.swstrings.com or http://www.sharmusic.com Once you get the string I can put it on foryou. When your child grows, they willneed to exchange instruments. During the school year I will advise you ofthis change. You should call the rentalcompany and they will deliver the new instrument to the school and retrieve theone you are exchanging.What is the cost for my child to participate?There is no fee to participate in the orchestra program. The only costs involved are renting/purchasing an instrument from a vendor, method book, and extra supplies (shoulder rests, rosin, strings....) For any instrument rental/purchase questions, please contact the recommended instrument vendors. You can find their contact info in the Links section.
Will the school provide an instrument?You will need to rent or purchase an instrument for your child. You can rent or purchase an instrument from any of the recommended instrument vendors in the area. Checkout the https://www.northallegheny.org//site/Default.aspx?PageID=11722 section for their contact information. If you would like to purchase an instrument from somewhere else other than a recommended instrument vendor, please contact Mr. Morton first for important information. Once in the middle school and high school students that play the cello or bass can use a school instrument and can leave their rental instrument at home for practice.
Should my child take private lessons in addition to the school lessons?While outside private instruction is not required to participate in our program, it is strongly encouraged. This provides the student with extra one-on-one instruction on their instrument. For suggestions on a private teacher in the area, please feel free to contact Mr. Morton for a recommended list.
Will my child miss classroom instruction?Students participating in the orchestra program are pulled out of their classrooms on a very limited basis. We currently do not pull students during math, communication arts, GOAL, or other important conflicts unique to an individual student. At Ingomar and McKnight, the students' small group lessons are scheduled on a rotating basis so that ideally they only miss part of a subject once every month and a half. The large ensemble time is a set period during the week that does not conflict with classroom instruction.
Does my child get a grade for orchestra?
Evaluation and assessment are vital parts of our elementary orchestra curriculum in the North Allegheny School District, as well as part of the Pennsylvania Standards for the Arts and Humanities and the MENC National Standards for Music. While the students do not receive a letter grade on their report card for orchestra, they do receive two progress reports during the school year. One is given in January, and the other at the end of the school year. These progress reports allow us to give extensive evaluation of the students' mastery of musical skills, as well as give specific feedback and suggestions for future improvement.