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:

  • After-school 5th Grade Strings 
  • 6th grade beginners
  • 2 classes of 7th and 8th grade Orchestras
  • 3 High School Orchestras
  • Raider Strings Chamber Ensemble (a select after-school group for advanced middle school students) 
  • 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 Ms. Willson.
  2. Attend one of the “Meet the Instruments” Events. Either day is a come and go event in the band hall.
  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?

We will send you a letter/email in August with your child’s class schedule and information on the parent meeting/instrument rental night. If you have any questions over the summer, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to seeing you in just a few months!

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

All 6th grade orchestra classes meet during the school day, with orchestra being a class that appears on your child’s schedule. 

All incoming 5th grade students will participate in an after-school orchestra class twice a week. This class occurs from 3:50-5:00 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday that school is in session

How many concerts do students have each year?

Typically there are two evening concerts per year, one in the winter and one in the spring. In addition, we have daytime concerts for our school and occasionally special performances like a solo and ensemble festival or a fun field trip.

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, it is not necessary to rent an instrument right now. In August we will have an instrument rental night where we will assist you in every aspect of obtaining an instrument for your child. 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 letter/email we send to you in August. In the event that you want to get your child an instrument before that start of next school year, please contact Ms. Willson for more information.

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 our best to provide these players with an instrument at school AND an instrument that stays at home for practice. However, our supply is limited, so we ask that families rent their home instruments if they are able.

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. Call Ms. Willson 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 your orchestra director.

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 the option of renting two instruments- one that stays at home and one that stays at school!

Fun video about Orchestra at MIS/HPMS:

If you have any additional questions about orchestra, please email Ms. Willson See you soon!