High School Music Handbook

The primary goal of the Spencer Van Etten high school music program is to teach students about music through performance. In order to achieve that goal, music students should have experience in the three major artistic processes – creating music, performing music, and responding to music.


Policies and Procedures

Rehearsals in School
The daily rehearsal is the "stepping stone" to exciting musical experiences. Peak moments are not limited solely to performances. Sensitivity and awareness of one's artistic surroundings are essential for the benefit of all involved.
In order to achieve a successful rehearsal, students must arrive on time. Students are to warm up quietly, in a manner conducive to appropriate mental and physical preparation for the rehearsal. Students are expected to have their folder/binder at rehearsals. A pencil is required as a part of their daily equipment.
The Senior Band class meets daily during 9th Period.  Jazz Ensemble rehearsals are held before school and begin at 7:30am. 
Class cuts of rehearsals scheduled during the school day will be treated in a consistent manner with the regular high school attendance policy.
Concert Dress
Unless otherwise announced, the concert uniform for all music department performances is as follows:
            FEMALE – Black dress or black skirt/pants, black blouse and black footwear
            MALE – Black pants, white shirt, and black footwear
The jazz ensembles and jazz singers sometimes replace the white shirt or blouse with red S-VE music shirts. The same shirt is used from year to year and may be purchased for $15 from a music teacher.
Music Lessons are treated as the “lab” for the Senior Band.  Each student will have an individual or small group lesson weekly and the lessons are arranged according to a rotating schedule, so that no pupil misses the same class each week.  Weekly lessons are required of all instrumental major ensemble members.   Each student will be given a copy of their schedule and/or it will be posted in the music area.  For more information, please see the lesson achievement and effort grading policy below.
? When a student has a lesson, he/she must inform the classroom teacher the day before the lesson. If the student fails to do this, he/she is required to report to class first and inform his teacher.
? A student is required to take any of the period long exams or 20-week exams. As these are announced in advance (at least three days), it becomes the student’s responsibility to make alternate arrangements with his/her music teacher and classroom teacher.
? The student should not miss any one class more than twice in a ten-week rotation.
This policy is printed in the student and faculty handbooks.
The grades given for all major organizations will be included in the student's cumulative academic average.
In its simplest terms, the Band grade comes from
? 50% Band Participation and effort
? 40% Lesson Participation and effort
? 10% Special assessments and performances

The band achievement and effort portion (50%) of the Marking Period Grade will be calculated from a bi-weekly grade entered for each student. The band grade will always start at “100” - Deductions are only taken when problematic behaviors are observable during daily class periods. Deductions are commonly recorded for disruptions, inattentiveness, missing music/pencil/equipment, repeated tardiness, gum-chewing and other such behaviors which affect the entire class. These deductions will be able to be viewed by the student at any time.
The lesson achievement and effort portion (40%) of the Marking Period Grade will be calculated as follows. Each lesson is graded on a 100 point scale based on a combination of effort, achievement, and participation. The following criteria detail the expectations associated with each level of achievement.
Superior (100) = Student performs the lesson material at a technically flawless level, with a clear sense of artistic musicianship. This seems to be the student’s 100% best effort. A grade of 100 may also be rewarded for extraordinary progress since the previous lesson.
Outstanding (96-98) = The student demonstrates a full grasp of any assigned material, performs with confidence, and takes the personal initiative to learn and improve skills, both during preparation (practice) and during the lesson itself. 98 may also be awarded for superior progress.
Excellent (90-95) = The student is competent in all assigned material and demonstrates observable improvement. Although some areas may still need review, the student demonstrates consistent effort and attentiveness during the lesson.
Average (82-88) = The student is competent in most assigned material and demonstrates some signs of improvement. Concepts require review, but the student is attentive.
Below Average (75-80) = The student is unsure of the basic assigned material, requires significant review, and demonstrates below average progress since the previous lesson. Further, the student appears to give less than a best effort during the lesson.
Missed Lessons
Students are expected to attend all of their assigned lessons when school is in session.  Students will be given 1 FREE lesson each marking period which can take the place of 1 missed lesson.  EACH missed lesson beyond the 1 FREE lesson will result in a deduction of the lesson grade.  Missed lessons can be made up any time before the end of the marking period in which the lesson was missed.  Students who do not miss a lesson in the marking period can use the FREE lesson to replace the lowest lesson grade in the gradebook for that marking period. 
The special assessments and performances portion (10%) of the Marking Period Grade will be calculated from a combination of Concert/Performance Event participation and special assignments and assessments. 
Concerts and Performance Events

  • Attendance at all after-school concerts and performances is required as a part of the course.
  • Missing scheduled concerts, performances and/or pre-scheduled after school rehearsals will affect a student's ability to successfully fulfill the requirements of the course. Sudden illness or family emergencies are understandably beyond the control of the individual. In such instances, a phone call by the parent to notify the director followed by a written excuse are both expected and appreciated.
  • Students who miss a performance with a legal excuse will be given the opportunity to complete a make-up assignment as assigned by the teacher. This assignment may include, but is not limited to, a written paper on a musical topic, or a solo performance of excerpts from the concert music. Students who miss a performance with an unapproved absence will be given a zero for the event.
Examples of unapproved absences include the following:
· "I had to work" (Make arrangements with your employer early.)
· "I couldn't get a ride" (Be responsible. Check with other members of the group or with the director to arrange for a ride.)
· "I didn't know about it" (Be responsible. You've been given several types of advance notice.)
· "My parents made me stay home to work or study" (Attendance is an expected part of membership in any performance group. Budget your time accordingly.)
Failure to attend a required performance will have significant impact on the marking period grade. Concerts are viewed as “Outcome Based Assessments” of the assigned/prepared curricular materials and are graded similar to a quarterly unit test.
Special assignments and assessments
            -May include (but not limited to)
  • Music Vocabulary quizzes (drawn from band music)
  • Written critiques of live performances (examples will be provided)
  • Playing Exams
Extra credit in band may be earned for the following
  • Auditioning for All-County Band or Choir
  • Performing with All-County Band Choir
  • Performing with a NYSSMA Area All-State or All-State Ensemble
  • Attendance at a “qualified” performance
  • Other activates as decided by the director
Ensemble Honors Credit
Students enrolling in band or chorus at the high school can elect to take the ensemble for honors credit. This is intended as a reward for extra musical activities and as an incentive for students to consider a higher level of participation in music.   Students must complete an honors application by the last school day of September and must maintain an average of 90 or above in band/chorus for the entire school year.  In addition to all standard ensemble requirements as outlined in the course syllabus, honors students must complete the following:
Part 1:  TCMEA Audition
  • Audition for TCMEA All County Band/Choir in January
Part 2:  NYSSMA Solo Evaluation
  • Prepare a solo and successfully participate in NYSSMA Solo/Ensemble Festival at level IV, V or VI (on the instrument you play in band/voice part you sing in choir)
Part 3:  Concert attendance (2 per year, one each semester)
  • Students will attend ONE concert or clinic, EACH SEMESTER outside of the school day that is presented by either a professional, military, collegiate, or adult ensemble (DOES NOT INCLUDE HIGH SCHOOL HONOR BAND PERFORMANCES, or high school and middle school concerts.) and turn in a copy of the program.
Part 4:  Music Service (choose 1 of the following)
  • Assist in auditorium/music room set-up tear down for a concert
  • Rehearsal set-up crew for at least 1 marking period (daily as needed)
  • Sort/stamp/file music
  • Participate in 1 shift at the Friends of Music Ice Cream Booth at the Spencer Picnic
  • Other task as approved by the director
Part 5:  Additional Requirements (Choose 2 of the following)
  • Participate in a director approved regularly meeting ensemble outside of the school district
  • Take at least 10 private lessons with an approved private lesson teacher and turn in the private lesson report
  • Participate in Jazz Band or another regularly meeting school small ensemble
  • Enroll in ACE music theory and earn a grade of B or higher
  • Perform as a member of an honors band/choir (All County, Area-All State, All-State, Roberts Wesleyan Honors Choir, etc…)
  • Write a research paper on a topic pre-approved by director
  • Write program notes for a concert by your ensemble
  • Arrange or compose a piece of music for your instrument/voice or for a small group (Must meet pre-approved criteria)
  • Perform at the year-end honors recital

All State and All County Music Festivals
We strongly encourage participation in county and state festivals. The district is a full member of the Tioga County Music Educators Association and New York State School Music Association which provides the opportunity for our students to participate in these events. The district also provides transportation for these events, in support of our belief that students can benefit from these unique experiences.
Acceptance into a festival is a significant musical achievement and one of which both student and teacher can be proud. However, it is only the first step. Next must come the responsibility of thorough preparation of all parts. Students should seek help from their teacher. Students should participate with the proper attitude; they should be in a frame of mind that permits them to learn and grow as a musician, not worrying about their status or individual recognition.
Finally, if a student is unable to attend all or part of the festival due to illness, emergency, etc., they must contact a Spencer-Van Etten music teacher at once. As a general rule the department does not allow a student to participate who must miss any rehearsal time. The festival dates must be cleared from job, family or personal commitments before a student auditions.
Pass Policy
Pre-signed passes may be given from music teachers only to practice in the music area. A student may sign-out of study hall and come to the music room if he/she intends to practice and has obtained a pre-signed pass.
C-pass students are allowed the music area to practice or use the computers while on C-pass. Students must have permission from a music teacher to use the computers in the Music Tech area. Students working on Music Technology projects have first right to the use of the computers.
Pass privileges will be revoked if they are abused.
School Instruments and Equipment
All items that are the property of the Spencer-Van Etten Schools - i.e., instruments, music, lockers, etc. - are the direct responsibility of the user. Any damage or loss of these materials should be immediately reported to the teacher involved. It is the job of the student to be sure that any and all school property is treated with respect and care. We are dealing with thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment and must rely upon you to be certain it is taken care of as if it were your own.
No sound system or PA equipment may be used without permission from the Mr. Miller.