About the Raider Orchestra

Welcome! We are so glad that your student is considering enrolling in the Raider Orchestra Program!

Your child will experience so many amazing opportunities in the wonderful world of orchestra:

  • Learning an instrument
  • Making GREAT friends 
  • Exploring creativity and expression
  • Unique performances 
  • … and so much more!

Students in grades 6-12 also have the opportunity to  participate in:

  • Solo and Ensemble Festivals 
  • Orchestra Festivals 
  • Fun Field Trips 
  • High School Out-of-State Trips 

Our orchestra program includes:

6th grade beginners

3 classes of 7th and 8th grade Orchestras

Middle School Full Symphony Orchestra (Chamber Orchestra students)

3 High School Orchestras

High School Full Symphony Orchestra 

High School Pit Orchestra

Ready to sign up? It’s easy!

  1. Select “Orchestra” on your “Course Selection Form” and return it to your child’s counselor. If you have any questions, please email Mr. Mitchell.
  2. Attend one of the “Meet the Instruments” Events in the Spring.
  3. Wait to hear from an Orchestra Director in late April about how to get supplies and everything else needed for the fall!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does my child need to know how to play their instrument to sign up for Orchestra?

No. Our job as orchestra teachers is to teach your child the skills they need in order to be successful on their instrument. They will learn proper instrument hold and position, how to get a good tone (sound), and how to read music during their first year of playing.

What happens after my child has been confirmed in orchestra?

After a student has attended a “Meet the Instruments” event and has the confirmation from the Orchestra Director what instrument he/she will play, the student will be provided information about how to rent the instrument. We encourage renting since as your student grows in height they may require a different sized instrument.

In August you will receive notification of the new school year parent meeting. We encourage everyone to attend to learn what events are planned from concerts to competitions to socials. Plus, it will give an opportunity to learn about the Raider Orchestra Booster Club (RBOC) along with meet the Orchestra Director.

When and where do classes meet? How do students get there? 

All orchestras meet during the school day with orchestra being a class that appears on the student’s schedule. There will be times students will be asked to stay after school, but that is usually just before a concert. Students participating in competitions are more likely to stay after school to practice.

How many concerts do students have each year?

4. Two in the fall and two in the spring. These can include evening and daytime concerts.

Can my child start Orchestra in the 7th or 8th Grade?

No, unfortunately not. The MIS Bell Schedule and the HPMS Bell Schedule are different in many ways. If students do not try to take orchestra in 6th grade, it is very difficult to join in later years. In reverse, if a student takes orchestra and doesn’t enjoy it, it is easy to find a 7th or 8th grade elective to join.

Instrument FAQs

What instruments can students choose?

Students can choose to play 1 of 5 instruments:  violin, viola, cello, string bass, or harp.  Students will learn basic playing techniques and basic notation reading. No prior musical experience is necessary. They will perform in two concerts during the sixth grade year in addition to some fun in-school performances and field trips!

CLICK HERE to learn more about each instrument.

Do I need to get my child an instrument right now?

No, not without guidance. In May, there will be an instrument round up where your student can go to the middle school and hear all the instruments and learn about them. Once they choose one, you will receive instructions on how to rent one from our local companies. In addition, a small number of school instruments are available for use in cases of need. 

The date of this meeting will be shared in the email we send to you in April or as soon as we can once we receive your registration from the school.

Do we need to purchase an instrument or are there other options?

Most students and parents choose to rent an instrument, rather than purchasing one outright. In our opinion, this is the best way to obtain an instrument.  Many of our students start out on ¾-size instruments (this is based on the size of the student) and move up to a full size as they grow. Students usually move into a full sized instrument toward the end of 6th grade and at that time an upgrade will be necessary. By renting, you do not find yourselves stuck with a small sized instrument and then needing to purchase a full size as well.

Because of the travel implications that go along with playing cello, bass, or harp we do provide instruments for them to play at school. These students will still need to rent an instrument for home practice, but will not have to travel with it back and forth to school.

Be very careful when considering purchasing an instrument on the web. These instruments can be (and usually are) of very low quality and often last only a few months. Reach out to Mr. Mitchell with specific questions about instruments.

Why should my child have two options for instrument choice when joining?

When students register for orchestra in elementary school, we encourage your child to state their top two choices because we need to make sure we have a balanced instrumentation for the new students entering the program. For example, we cannot have 2 violins and 35 cellos. We need a balance between how many students play each instrument.

We try to honor your child’s first choice, but there are times when we have to give them their second choice. If you have any questions about your child’s instrument choice, please contact Mr. Mitchell.

What if my child changes his or her mind about the instrument choice?

Contact your child’s orchestra teacher as soon as possible. String instruments come in different sizes, so it is important that we meet and determine the best size of instrument if your child changes his or her selection.

If my child chooses cello, bass or harp, how do they get it to school?

Students DO NOT have to carry these instruments back and forth every day. Every student has a school instrument to use while at school, their rental instrument will stay at home for practice and will be used for concerts.

If you have any additional questions about orchestra, please email Mr. Mitchell. See you soon!