Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Analy Fall Festival

-->
10/10/14
Dear Parents and Students
Many thanks to everyone for an outstanding start to the school year for the WMS Bands!   The students and I are very excited about our upcoming participation in the Analy Fall Festival at Analy High School in Sebastopol on Friday October 24.   The schedule is as follows:
 7:30 p.m.          Warm up
 8:00 p.m.         Perform
 8:20 p.m.          Clinic
 8:45 p.m.         Photo
We look forward to seeing the students at Analy dressed in their finest concert attire:  black pants (or skirt) and shoes, and a white button down shirt.  Thanks for supporting music at Windsor Middle School!
Sincerely
Steve Mitchell

Camp Caz 2014

Hello everyone!

My name is Abbey Nelson, and I am a percussionist. I am in 8th grade at WMS, and I was honored to be able to go to Camp Caz this year! For those of you who don't know what Caz is, 8th grade students from WMS and other schools in Sonoma County are able to spend 3 days (Friday - Sunday) at this performing arts camp in Cazadero. We learn how to play 7-8 different songs and perform them on Sunday for all of our parents. I enjoyed camp so much and encourage all the 7th and 6th graders to go when they can!





Hello, my name is Max Rosenthal and I am a 7th grade percussionist at WMS. I don't have much to say about camp Caz as I am a 7th grader and only 8th graders go to the camp, but from what I have heard from eighth graders and seen in videos filmed at the camp I am pretty excited to go next year. All the eighth grade students that went to camp Caz have said that they absolutely loved it and that it was a total blast. They all sounded very fervent and enthusiastic about the experience.


Thank you for supporting WMS Bands!

Abbey Nelson and Max Rosenthal

Monday, September 08, 2014

We're Ready for Another Great Year


Important Dates 2014-2015


Important Dates 2014-2015


Sonoma Jump Start        9/26-9/28/14

Analy Fall Festival        10/24 or 10/25/14

Winter Concert       12/18/14

Windsor Day Parade       5/9/15

Discovery Kingdom Trip
                     TBA (5/16/15)

Spring Concert              5/21/15

2014 Beginning Band Syllabus


Dear Students and Parents -- Thank you for being part of the Windsor Middle School Musical Community.  Music enriches our lives in many ways, and the work that we do together enriches the overall climate and culture of Windsor Middle School.  Consequently, we have a responsibility to our selves and to our school to live up to our potential and to create the best bands that we possibly can!  I know that the students in this year’s bands are capable of great things.   I truly believe that we can create some of the best music ever produced at Windsor Middle School, and I look forward to working together, having fun, learning many things and taking advantage of your abundant talent.  This document should provide all of the information that you will need to have a rewarding and fantastic year!
Attitude
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 to participate in all of the fun things that we will do this year.  Students who develop an unacceptable attitude that affects other members of the group will be removed.                                                          
Community
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. 
Behavior
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.  A list of Band Room Rules was sent home with a section to be signed by both the student and the parent.  Please consult the “Rules” sheet for specific rules and consequences.   Parents can help by supporting our efforts to maintain high standards for behavior and performance. Students who develop an unacceptable pattern of behavior that affects other members of the group will be removed.
Calendar
Here are a list of the dates that we have on the calendar for the 2014/2015 school year:
Winter Concert            12/18/14
Windsor Day Parade            5/2/15 or 5/9/15 (The date is deteremined by the Kiwanis Club. I will update the information ASAP if this date changes).
Spring Concert                        5/21/15

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 are considered part of the student’s grade.  Unexcused absences to the Concerts will cause a student’s final grade to be reduced by one letter grade.  Failure to attend the Windsor Parade will result in a 250 pt. fine, but extra credit work will be available for any student who is uanable to attend. 

Performance Attire
We ask that students wear black long pants, or skirts a white shirt or blouse that will be tucked in, and black shoes. 
Grading
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
Daily 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”

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 – 100 – 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)
  • Jazz Band or EC ensembles – 50 points per session – 250 pts. per performance
  • Fill an Instrument vacancy (low brass/low winds) – 500 – 750 points
      (The points awarded for filling instrument vacancies will be negotiable.
      We clearly have a need for some instruments more than others.)

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.
Instrument Selection
It is very important that beginning students select the correct instrument when they are starting out.   A student is much more likely to be successful and reap the benefits of studying music, if they choose an instrument that they are well suited for.  Each person’s body and face is different and most people will find that they have an easier time with some instruments than with others.  Many students already have an idea of  what instrument they would like to play, or the student’s family has an instrument that they can use.  Please keep an open mind about instrument selection.  Our goal is to have everyone be successful in their efforts to play an instrument.   The students in the Beginning classes will soon be trying out the different instruments mouthpieces to see which instruments will suit them.  A letter will be coming home soon letting you know how your child did on the instrument tryouts.
WMS Instruments 
We are fortunate to have a very limited number of schools instruments that we will be able to loan to students for the year.  WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PROVIDE EVERY BEGINNING STUDENT WITH AN INSTRUMENT.    We are happy to loan the WMS instruments that we have for the year, and ask that families who are able donate $50 for  instrument maintenance so that we can insure that all WMS instruments remain in good working condition.  Preference for WMS instruments will be given to families that have a financial need to borrow one from the school.  All other WMS instruments will be distributed by lottery.  “Music for Schools” also has instruments to loan to those families that are unable to rent an instrument.  Once again, preference is given to those families with a financial need.   I have applications available for those interested in pursuing this option.  Rental instruments are available from several shops in the area including Stanroy Music Center and Santa Rosa Music Center in Santa Rosa.  
Percussion
Students who wish to play percussion instruments will be able to apply and audition for one of our percussion positions after our Winter Concert.  Our percussionists must be among the finest musicians in our group.  Not only do they need outstanding music reading and rhythm skills, they need to  be proficient in reading both treble and bass clefs.  They also must have outstanding classroom behavior, a strong work ethic and outstanding musicianship.  For these reasons, we wait until half way through the year to determine which students will be selected to play percussion.  A student who really wants to play percussion will have to demonstrate that they can play all of the material that we are playing on their first instrument.  Parents who would like to help their child become a percussionist can help by making sure their child is successful on their first instrument. 
Practice
 Beginning students will have the best success if they adhere to a regular practice schedule to develop the skills that are taught in class.   1 hour of practice time per week will give a student the 900 points required for an “A” in the “homework” portion of our grading system.  Students are always welcome to practice more than that, and they may need to at the beginning.  Students who do not practice outside of class will have a much harder time being successful in class and will be much more likely to want to quit.  10 - 20 minutes of practice 5 days a week will really help a student to pick up the skills that they need to be successful.  Parents can help by providing a quiet space and time for students to practice.  Listening to your child and providing a few words of encouragement can really help!

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.  It is often easiest for me to communicate via e-mail:  smitchell@wusd.org.  If you prefer to communciate via e-mail please send me a message so that I have your address in my address book.  Thank you !! 

Please sign below to indicate that you have read and understand the terms set forth in this syllabus:


         


  

            

2014 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
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.                                                          
Community
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
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.
Calendar
Here are the important dates for 2014/2015:

Sonoma Jump Start           9/26-9/28/14

Analy Fall Festival             10/24 or 10/25/14

Winter Concert                 12/18/14

Discovery Kingdom Trip
                                        TBA (5/16/15)

Spring Concert                   5/21/15

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 will cause a student’s final grade to be reduced by one letter grade.  Failure to attend the Fall Festival will result in a 250 pt. fine.  Bonus points will be awarded for attendance at our important cocurricular 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,  and black shoes.
Grading
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.
Instruments
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.

Books
This year we will be using Book II of the Standard of Excellence series.  The school has copies of the book for students to use, but it is to the student’s benefit to have their own book that they can write in.  Books are available from Stanroy Music Center in Santa Rosa, or online.

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:  smitchell@wusd.org


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. 





























































Sunday, April 27, 2014

It's on! We will be playing at the Earth Day Celebration Today!!

The Town of Windsor has moved us to the covered part of the stage, so we will be able to play even with the light rain that is falling.  Thanks!!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Earth Day Performance at the Town Green



What:  Earth Day Celebration
When: April 27th 9:45 – 10:30
Who:   Honor Band students attending Discovery Kingdom and any other Honor Band students who want to attend for points. 
We will meet at the stage near the Windsor Public Library at 9:45.  We will play from 10:00 to 10:30.    Students will be dressed in black and white.  There is a chance of rain on Sunday Morning.  If it is raining, we will not be able to play because there is no shelter.  Please write or call with questions.  Thanks!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

WMS Honor Band Visits Sonoma State University

WMS Honor Band students had a chance to visit the Green Center at Sonoma State University to watch the Sonoma State Wind Ensemble perform.  The students were blown away by the quality of the performance.  Interestingly, WMS alumni Rebecca Royer was in the ensemble.  She is finishing up her senior year at SSU with a degree in Music Education. She plans on being a music teacher when she graduates.  The performance was part of the Sonoma State Wind Band Festival.  High school groups from around the state attended and performed at the all day event.  The concert featured a new piece by young composer Viet Cuong, who spoke to the audience before his piece was performed.  Before the concert, students enjoyed lunch in the outdoor amphitheatre:
 It was a wonderful day.  We are so happy we got to see the concert and the Green Center at Sonoma State.
 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

WMS Honor Band to play at Windsor Earth Day Celebration/Visit Discovery Kingdom


3/11/14

Dear Parents
One of the highlights of the year over the past 10 years has been our annual trip to Discovery Kingdom.  In the past, we have performed at Discovery Kingdom and then enjoyed the rest of the day in the park. This year we will be playing at the Windsor Earth Day Celebration on April 27th from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 instead of playing at Discovery Kingdom and taking our trip to Discovery Kingdom on May 17th.  This will be so much easier in many ways.  We eliminate the added expense of attending one of the festivals and we don’t have to deal with the logistical difficulty of playing at Discovery Kingdom.  Playing at the Town Green will give us an opportunity to perform for our community in a much better venue. 
The cost of the trip to Discovery Kingdom will be $50 – 55.00:  $29.50 for the Marine World ticket and $20 - $25 for bus transportation for each student attending.  (We will be able to determine the exact cost of the bus when we have an accurate count of bus riders.)  We are also happy to purchase additional tickets for family members at the reduced group rate.
In order to secure the tickets and bus transportation for the Discovery Kingdom trip, we need to get an accurate count of attendees.  We also need to know whether we can collect enough in “donations” to make the trip, as well as provide opportunities for those who may need to raise funds to attend.  Please fill out the form attached to this letter and return it no later than March 17th, if possible.  Parents, please consider joining us as a chaperone.  It is a really fun day and we will need plenty of help!  We hope you can join us.   Thanks for supporting music at WMS.
Sincerely
Steve Mitchell





My child ___________________________ would like to attend.
We will be able to make a donation for a:

____________ Student Ticket
____________ Bus Transportation
____________ Additional Tickets
____________ Season Pass

My child ________________________would like to attend but we are unable to make a donation.


____________ I would be willing to chaperone.
        
         ________________________ Name
         ________________________ Phone or email address

  ____________ I am fingerprinted and would be willing to drive
                 
         ________________________ Name
         ________________________ Phone or email address


My child ____________________________ will be unable to attend.