Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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:  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. 

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