Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Congratulations and Thank You for a Great Job at Weill Hall

Congratulations and Thank you to all of the students and parent volunteers who made our performance at Weill Hall so successful this year!  I truly appreciate the many parent volunteers who made it possible for us to perform at this exciting venue.  I am also grateful for the students who brought their best performance skills and mature behavior to the show.  For me, this year's performance was even better than last year's.  Thanks for everything you do to support music at Windsor Middle School.  I truly believe that students that participate in a performing ensemble are getting something valuable that is not available to them in any other area of the curriculum.  

  • Research made between music and intelligence concluded that music training is far greater than computer instruction in improving children’s abstract reasoning skills. ~ Neurological Research, Vol. 19
  • Arts Education aids students in skills needed in the workplace: flexibility, the ability to solve problems and communicate; the ability to learn new skills, to be creative and innovative, and to strive for excellence.~ Joseph M. Calahan, Director of Corporate Communications, Xerox. Corporation

Thanks again, SM :-)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Windsor @ Weill March 15, 2018!!

Brian Williams, Principal Lisa Joseph, Assistant Principal
Windsor Middle School 9500 Brooks Rd. South
Windsor, CA 95492 Phone: 707.837.7737 Fax 707.837.7743

Dear Parents
Thanks for all that you do to support music at Windsor Middle School. The students and I are very excited about our upcoming performance at Weill Hall on March 15th, 2018. This is an amazing and wonderful opportunity for your child to play at a world class music performance venue! Performers will meet at 6:00 p.m. in the Green Room for Weill Hall. We really need parents to serve as chaperones for the event. If you can help by being a chaperone can you let me know by sending me a message at

All non-performers will need tickets to the event. Tickets and parking are free, but you need to order your tickets before the event. They can be ordered at:

It is really important that all of our band members attend this prestigious event. I have already had to submit a “stage plan” with the exact number of chairs and stands that will be needed. This event is considered a “curricular” activity. A failure to attend will adversely affect a student’s grade, but an academic bonus will be given to all participants. We have rehearsed all year for this concert. Your young musician has a responsibility to the other members of the group to be there and to play their best. This is an experience they may not get again in their lifetime.
Please check our website:, for the latest information. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your questions and concerns.
Steve Mitchell 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

More Windsor @ Weill Information


1.   Teachers will be asking for parent chaperones.   Chaperones are to stay with their student group the entire time including releasing students to parents at the end of the concert.  Chaperones, please monitor your group and kindly but firmly ensure professional behavior. 

2.    Student performers and chaperones do not need a ticket.  Call time is 6:00pm.

3.    Please park in the main lot.  Parking is free for this event.  Student performers (in concert attire) and chaperones are to enter via the GMC Artist’s Entry.  ONLY student performers and chaperones may enter via the Artist’s Entry.  EVERYONE else is to have a ticket and enter GMC through the main doors.

4.    Have dinner before you get to GMC.  There is no food/concessions available this evening.

5.    Bring only what you need for your performance (instrument, music).   Bring as few personal items as possible   (Let your parent keep items or leave them in the car.).  Whatever you bring is at your own risk.  Definitely no back packs.

6.    No gum, food or water.  There are drinking fountains backstage.

7.    Do not touch photos on walls.  Treat the GMC building and furnishings with respect. 

8.    Walk.  Talk quietly in warm-up room.  BE SILENT IN STAGING AREAS.

9.   From Artist’s Entry, you will go to a warm-up room.  Stay in your warm-up room until directed. 

10.    At 6:50, High School students will be led by a docent to the Choral Circle where they will sit and watch the 1st half of the performance.  Middle School students will stay in warm-up rooms until led to staging area to enter stage and perform.

11.  There will be an intermission so that High School groups and Middle School groups can change place.  You are the performers and you must stay with your group backstage.  Middle School groups will be led to Choral Circle for 2nd half.  High School groups will be in warm-up rooms or on stage.  EVERYONE IS EXPECTED TO STAY FOR THE ENTIRE CONCERT.

12.   At the end of the concert, all student performers and chaperones will flow back through their warm-up room to pick up instruments, music and any personal items.  Chaperones will ensure that every student in their group is released to their parent.  Middle School groups will be released via the hallway door nearest to the GMC main doors.  High School groups will be released via the hallway door closest to the box office.

THANK YOU ALL for being good guests while we enjoy this world-class venue.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Yes Indeed! Field Trip 1/30/18

Dear Parents -- Thank you very much for encouraging your child to play music.  It is good for them and our school.  We're excited to be able to attend a show at the Luther Burbank Center called, "Yes Indeed".  Here is a description of the program:

Instill a greater appreciation, awareness, and understanding of the rich history of the blues in your students with this interactive program. Yes Indeed! demonstrates the blues’ roots in work songs, spirituals, hymns, field hollers, and chants of 19th-Century southern U.S. The blues is a distinct sound, but, essentially, it’s a creative expression for coping with hardships, persisting in the face of trouble, and prevailing over adversity. By discovering the blues as a distinct musical style, students will identify the blues as the core element of all indigenous American music, including R&B, funk, gospel, rock, and hip hop.

The program is on January 30.  Students will leave school at 10:30 and return to school at 1:30.  All WMS Band Students are invited to attend.  We are hoping that those who are able will send in a $9 donation.  Clearly, no student will be excluded because of an inability to pay.

Many thanks for encouraging your child.  We appreciate you sending in the permission slip they were given!  Best regards, Steve Mitchell

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Winter Concert Information


Dear Parents

Thanks for encouraging your child to play music!  The students and I are very excited about the upcoming Winter Concert on December 14, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. in the Windsor Middle School Gym.  I am writing to let you know some details about the upcoming activities and to ask for your help. 

The logistics of the evening  are as follows: Beginning Band students will meet in Room K115 at 6:00 p.m. in concert attire:  black long pants or skirts a white shirt and black shoes.  Beginning band members will not take out their instruments until I am in the room.  Beginning band students will have reserved seats in the bleachers closest to the performance area.  We’re glad that they will be able to enjoy the second half of the concert. Honor Band students will meet in the MPR at 6:00 p.m.   We will warm up and tune quickly.  Instruments will then be put away and the Honor Band will go to the gym while the Beginning Band performs.   I’m grateful to all parents who are able to help supervise the groups as they prepare for the performance.

We would also be grateful to any parents who could volunteer to decorate the gym on the day of the performance.  We will have some decorations that you can use.  We are grateful for any loans of Pointsettias that we can use to decorate the gym.  You can take them back right after the concert if you like.   If you can help by supervising students before performance or decorating the gym, please let me know by email or  by phone 837-7737 x8134

After the concert, we will need a crew of parents and students to clean up the gym, stack the chairs, move the instruments back to the band room, take down the decorations and get the gym ready for classes the next day.  The concert will be about an hour long.  If enough people are able to help with the clean up, it will not take too long or keep us out too late. 

Thank you very much for encouraging your child to play in our bands and for supporting music in the Windsor Schools.  Studying music is good for them and good for our school!  We look forward to performing for you.


Steve Mitchell

Windsor MIddle School
9500 Brooks Rd So.
Windsor CA 95492
837-7737 ext 134
  ___________  Please give my student _________________________________
 a 100 pt. bonus for bringing this letter home.

Parent signature.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

6th Grade Music Rotation Syllabus and Rules


6th Grade Music
Rotation Class
 Mr. Mitchell. Ms. Williams

We are very excited to begin our musical exploration with our 6th grade classes!  We will begin by learning to play recorders using the Recorder Karate and Recorder Apprentice programs.  In this portion of the class, students will learn how to read written music notation and apply it to performance on instruments.  After our exploration on recorders, we will take the same music reading skills and apply them to the ukulele.  In 6 weeks, students will be able to play a variety of songs on recorder and ukulele.  We hope to have our keyboard lab ready for the last 3 weeks of the quarter, so that students will be able to extend their abilities and be able to play a song with 2 hands independently on keyboards.  The goal of our course is to give students an opportunity to learn to read music and to play a variety of instruments. 

All instruments will be available for students to use at school.  Students will be assigned an instrument to use during class time, as well as all materials needed to participate in the course.  As in other classes, students should be prepared with their own pencils, agenda, and a notebook or folder to store their materials.  Students will receive group instruction, and coaching and will have an opportunity to work individually, and in small and large groups. 

This class is part of the rotation system.  We may have various levels of skill in each class, beginning with students with no music training or experience to those who read music and play at an advanced level.

Students must be careful with the equipment and treat it with utmost respect. The rules outlined in the 6th grade Rotation Parent contract will be strictly enforced, and the consequences will be serious.


Grades in Rotation are determined by the student’s participation, cooperation and increase of musical knowledge and skill.  

Grades are earned as follows:

Behavior, Attitude, Participation, Citizenship                            50%
Quizzes and Playing Tests or a Written report effort               50%

Rotation classes are counted equal to other classes in grade point averages.

Classroom procedure:

I will be using Class Dojo as a classroom management aid in this year’s Music Rotation classes.  You will receive an invitation to sign up for Class Dojo so that parents can monitor their child’s behavior in the class, and students can modify their avatars if they choose.   In the Class Dojo system, students are awarded positive points for good behavior, and negative points for inappropriate behaviors.   When a student achieves a score of -3 at the end of any day, they will receive a detention.  A weekly percentage of score of 70% or less will result in a detention.  Please see the Rotation Rules sheet for more information. 

Students are expected to:
      enter the room quietly
      be able to work individually without disturbing others
      be able to work in a group without disturbing others
      maintain a positive attitude
      treat all of the equipment with the utmost respect
      bring all of their materials to class each time we meet
      follow all school rules

Thanks, in advance, for your help and support with your child.  I’m really happy to have them as students. 

Music Rotation Rules

Students at Windsor Middle School are asked to be Respectful, Responsible, and Safe.  The MIE Lab Rules reflect that philosophy.

     Enter and Exit the room quietly.
     Respect all of the equipment in the room.
     Do nothing that will interfere with the learning that is taking place.

     Be on time every day.
     Bring a positive attitude and excellent behavior to class every day. 
     Bring all materials every day.

     Food, drinks or gum are NEVER ALLOWED!!!
     Stay in your seat at all times unless otherwise directed. 
     Treat all of the musical instruments with respect.

We will be using the “Class Dojo” system in this course.  Your score on Class Dojo will determine your score for the “behavior” portion of your grade.  A score of -3 in any day will result in a Detention.  A weekly score of less than 70% will result in a detention, as well.  Parents are invited and encouraged to sign up for “Class Dojo”.  Information is attached.

Consequences for severe misbehavior or for tampering with guitars, keyboards, or ukuleles will result in immediate removal from classroom and a referral to the office.  In the past, parents have been billed for repairs required by a student’s willful vandalism of school equipment. 

Please turn paper over to sign.  Thanks!

We have read and understand the Music Rotation classroom procedures.

Student Name (print)


Student signature


Parent Name (print)


Parent signature 



Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Happy Fall!

Dear WMS Band family -- I hope that this message finds you and yours safe and healthy and starting to recover from the devastating fires that we experienced.  My heart goes out to all those who suffered during this horrible time.  We all know many people who have been affected by this tragedy.  We all have done our best to help and support those in need and will continue to do so.  If there is anything I can do to help anyone personally, please let me know.  Our WMS Band instrument collection is fine, but the Music For Schools Instrument Lending Library at the Luther Burbank Center lost hundreds of instruments in the fire.  I know that they will be accepting donations of instruments when they reopen. 

As you now know, The Analy Fall Festival in which our Honor Bands were scheduled to play on October 27th was cancelled.  We were looking forward to this prestigious event as an opportunity to show off the outstanding work that our groups have been doing this year.  If they are able to come up with another day in the Spring and we are able to attend, we will gladly do so.

I've been very gratified for the large numbers of students who have been playing with our Jazz Band on Mondays and Fridays during Flex Time.  Participants receive academic points to apply to their grade in their other band class.  We are very excited that we will be able to have a short 2 song performance before the WUSD school board meeting on Tuesday November 7th from 5:30 - 6:15

Thank you very much for encouraging your child to play music in our bands and thank you for reminding them that studying music is on of the best things they can do for their brains.  Research continues to show that playing a musical instrument opens up pathways and connects different sections of the brain in a way that no other subject or activity does.  A music class should be there 6th class, and an elective should be their 7th class. Thank you for supporting music at Windsor Middle School.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Sonoma Jump Start a Huge Success!!

The Sonoma Jump Start at the Cazadero Performing Arts Camp was a huge success for students in the Windsor Unified School District! This was the 14th year that Windsor students have participated in this amazing weekend event.  22 WMS Honor Band students and 8 WHS Symphonic Band members joined students from other Sonoma county middle and high schools to spend time making music, making new friends, enjoying excellent camp food, sleeping under the stars, singing around a campfire and rehearsing for a special concert on Sunday afternoon.  Many thanks to our parent chaperones, Steven, James and Tara for joining us at CAZ PAC.  We are especially grateful to Emily Brockman from for arranging bus transportation for the students from WUSD and Healdsburg, and providing scholarships that allowed WMS students to attend.  Thanks, also, to Heidi for chaperoning the bus ride for us!  We are so fortunate to live so close to a world class performing arts camp, and to have a thriving community of music and arts in our public schools.

Thank you to all Windsor parents for advocating for the performing arts in Windsor schools.  Your voice is among the most important in the ongoing conversation about high quality VAPA in our public schools!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

We're Going to Have a Great Year

Hello Parents and Students -- Welcome back to another year of Band at Windsor Middle School.  It has been so great seeing our old friends and meeting our new ones!  I am really looking forward to this year and I know that we are going to have one of the best years ever for the Bands at WMS!  Your child should have already received the "Band Room Rules" sheet and asked you to sign it.  They were also given a sheet with information about Class Dojo.  Many thanks to those of you who are willing to follow your children on Class Dojo - it really helps to manage their behavior here at school.  I've told them that they want you to follow them so that they can show you how well they are doing in class!  Thank you very much for supporting music at Windsor Middle School.  As always, feel free to write or call with questions, comments or concerns.  -- Steve Mitchell

WMS Honor Band Syllabus

Dear Students and Parents -- Welcome to another tremendous year for the Windsor Middle School Bands and thank you for being part of our musical community!  I am looking forward to once again achieving our primary goal:   to have as much fun as possible, and to reap the many benefits of music education by creating outstanding performing ensembles!  This document should provide all of the information that you will need to have a rewarding and fantastic year!
What is Honor Band?
Honor is defined as “high respect, as that shown for special merit; esteem.”  We are happy that WMS can offer two sections of “Honor Band” this year.  The Honor Band is a specially selected group of 2nd and 3d year players.  Each group was carefully chosen to blend ability and instrumentation.  A great deal of effort was put into this process which will allow students to play in high quality groups while still taking advantage of the many other outstanding programs and course offerings at our school.  It is an honor for me to have you as students.  I know that you will honor me with your outstanding attitude, behavior and effort!
Attitude is the most important thing in life, and certainly the most important thing in our bands.   Attitudes are contagious:  bad attitudes tend to spread to others and can ruin a group and the experience for every member.  Similarly, good attitudes can sweep through a group creating a feeling of connectedness and loyalty that can make good groups great.  As Charles Swindoll said, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company...a church (a band)... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes.”  Your attitude and your behavior account for 1/2 of your grade in this course.  Please be here because you want to be here and participate in all of the fun things that we will do this year.  Students who develop an unacceptable attitudes or behaviors will be removed.                                                          
Band classes are different from other classes.  In Band, we learn by working together to create something that none of us could create on our own.  Every person in the group affects every other person to a much greater extent than in other types of classes.  Each person’s behavior and performance directly influences both the quality of the music that we produce together, and the amount that we can learn.  Because we perform in public and represent Windsor Middle School, the quality of our work reflects the quality of our WMS community.  Each person in the group has a responsibility to every other person, and to the school at large,  to do their best, in class and in performance.   It is critical that we work together to create the best possible experience for ourselves, and an outstanding impression on the community.  You are a member of our team, and every other member of the team is relying on you to be there and to do your best every time we are together.
Behavior in instrumental music classes presents a unique challenge for both students and teachers.  Think of it this way: the goal of our class is to create sound - beautiful, artistic sound hopefully.  We have large classes full of students who have instruments that can make a great deal of noise.  Because our classes are “electives”, students are more likely to be in groups with their friends.   (This is good, because we are creating a community, as noted above.)  The challenge is to enjoy the company of our friends and to create an environment that allows everyone to learn.  It is imperative that students have outstanding behavior in the classroom and in public performances. Please see the “Rules” sheet for specific rules and consequences. Parents can help by supporting our efforts to maintain high standards for behavior and performance.
Here are the important dates for the 2017/2018 School Year

Sonoma Jump Start   9/29– 10/1 2017

Analy Fall Festival    10/27 or 10/28 2017

Winter Concert      12/14/2017

Windsor at Weill Hall   3/15/18

Discovery Kingdom    5/12/18

Spring Concert        5/24/18

It is my hope that with this advance notice you will be able to keep these dates in mind as you plan your other activities.  The Winter and Spring Concerts and the Fall Festival are curricular events and are considered part of the student’s grade.  Unexcused absences to the Concerts including Windsor @ Weill will cause a student’s final grade to be reduced by one letter grade for that term.  Failure to attend the Fall Festival will result in a 250 pt. fine.  Bonus points will be awarded for attendance at our important co-curricular events that take place outside of school hours.  It is important to remember that our ensembles are communities in which every person contributes to the work that we produce together.
Performance Attire
We ask that students wear black long pants, or skirt a white long sleeve button down shirt or blouse that will be tucked in (for guys), and black shoes.
Fifty percent of a student’s grade is based on behavior, attitude and participation in class.  These will be listed as “Behavior” points.  Fifty percent of their grade is based on work they do outside of class, or on demonstrated service to the group.   These points will be listed as “Academic” points.   Options for earning “Academic” points include documented practice time, written reports on composers and performers, written music theory assignments, musical or concert reviews, directed composition projects, music careers research projects,  solo and small ensemble performance projects, extra or cocurricular performance or fundraising opportunities.  There are points available for playing in extra curricular ensembes, serving as a Band Officer or other service to the “musical community”.  There are 900 points per term available for behavior and participation in class and 900 “Academic” points available for work that is done outside of class, or for extra service to the group.  The final grade is calculated as an average of the two scores described above.  Students who earn less than 540 points in the “Academic” category, can still get a “C” if they have outstanding classroom behavior and participation.  Students who earn more than 900 points in the “Academic” category will not be able to subsidize poor scores in the “behavior and participation” category.  Student scores are posted by “code name” in the room, so students will know how they are doing at all times.  The Academic portion of the course is “self-directed” in the sense that students choose which assignments they would like to do and when they would like to turn them in.  This gives students the freedom
to plan their homework around their individual schedules, but adds the responsibility of making sure that they have the points that they need for the grade that they want to earn by the time the term ends.  The grading rubric is as follows:

Grading for Windsor Middle School Bands
Behavior Points available per quarter:   900
Behavior points available per day:        20
Academic points available per quarter: 900
Your grade will be based on the “Average” of your “Behavior” and your “Academic Points”
       810 - 900             = A          
       720 - 809             = B
       630 - 719             = C
       540 - 629             = D
       below 540 - does not earn a passing grade
Ways to earn points:
  • Practice – 1 hour – 100 points. 
  • Playing tests – 50 – 100 points depending on difficulty.
  • Research papers on Composers or Performers – 50 – 250 points depending on quality
  • Performance Review – 50 – 250 points depending on quality
  • Composition projects – 50 – 250 points depending on quality
  • Music Theory worksheets - 50 points per sheet (4 available per term)
  • Music Careers research projects -50 – 250 points depending on quality
  • Band Officer – 500 points (President, Librarian, Treasurer, Sound Tech)
  • JB or EC ensembles – 50 points per session – 250 pts. per performance
  • Fill an Instrument vacancy (low brass/low winds) – 500 – 750 points
  • Numerous other incentives that make it easy for you to get the "A" such as "signing bonuses", "character bonuses", bonus questions offered. 
If you have less than “540 points” in the “Academic” Category on the last day when the grading period is over, 539 points is added to your “Academic” score.  This will bring your average up.  If you have more than “900 points” in the “Academic” Category, your “average” is calculated based on 900 points and not your actual total.  This keeps well behaved students who have not done enough work outside of class from failing, and poorly behaved students who get a large number of “Academic” points from automatically earning a good grade.
Windsor Middle School has been fortunate to be able to loan instruments to students over the last few years.  As our program grows, though, it has become increasingly difficult to provide instruments for Honor Band students while continuing to supply our Beginning groups with adequate numbers of instruments to play.  It is sometimes possible to buy used instruments at very reasonable rates.  I frequently buy used instruments off of Craigslist to add to the WMS instrument inventory.  In addition, there are reputable dealers who offer good quality refurbished instruments at reasonable rates.  Please be careful about buying poor quality new instruments that are often available at Costco, Sears or online.  If the price seems to good to be true, then the instrument is probably not worth the money you are going to pay for it.  (These cheap instruments have come to be called “Instrument Shaped Objects” by music teachers.  I often ask the repair techs at Stanroy for advice about instrument quality because there are so many instruments out there with so many different names.)  If you have any interest in buying a new or used instrument for your child to use, please let me know.  I can give you more information and suggestions about how to go about it.  Also, if you or anyone you know has an instrument they would like to donate to our program, we are always happy to give generous tax deductible donation letters.

Thanks again for encouraging your child to play music and thank you for supporting music at Windsor Middle School!  As always, you can reach me at 837-7737 ext 8134 or by mail:

Thank you very much for being part of the Windsor Middle School Honor Band!  By participating in our group your are demonstrating that you are a person of character and depth who cares about your education and your future.  Every year, the WMS performing groups draw the finest individuals in the school and this year is no exception.  Thank you.