Fall 2020 CSHS Orchestra Back to School FAQ’S

CSISD families must inform the district by July 30, 2020, whether their students will be in-person learners or virtual learners for the first grading period of the school year. ENCORE wants to assist our families making this decision regarding orchestra by gathering some Frequently Asked Questions which Mr. Hooper has provided answers to as best he can. Please keep in mind that things are sometimes changing day to day and may need to be altered if the district, local health department, TEA, or state have guideline changes.

A note from Mr. Hooper:

I am going to be flexible anywhere I can be. If parents have concerns or suggestions, please contact me directly and I will work with you to the best of my ability. I know that people are making difficult decisions, and I want to try and make parents and students as comfortable as possible whether you choose virtual or in person. I want all parents to know that I am open to all suggestions and recommendations from students and parents as far as safety and better methods for instruction.

Q: Will CSHS Orchestra have an in-person and a virtual option?

A: Things are still a little unsettled, and I will of course, pay attention to the recommendations of the local health officials, but I am planning to record our rehearsals each day and post them online. For the virtual learners, they will play along with the videos as if they were on site. My goal is to create uniform content so that students who are in person, or students who are taking the course virtually will have a similar experience. All students will be taking Charms assessments each week which will be recorded at home regardless of their in-person, or virtual choice. 

If the students choose virtual learning, they may even be able to come to school just for the orchestra classes if they should choose. If this is the case, we need to account for those students to make sure that we have at least six feet in between each student and do not go over the capacity of our rehearsal location set by the district.

Q: Will there be a varsity and non-varsity option for both the in-person and virtual learners?

A: Yes. The varsity students will learn the varsity level music, and the non-varsity will learn non-varsity music.

Q: Will you be teaching both the in-person and virtual courses for CSHS students?

A: Yes. With recording the rehearsals, I am hoping that we can make the virtual learning as close to in-person as possible using our technology.

Q: May virtual learners attend rehearsals?

A: As of now, the district is telling me that virtual students could potentially attend rehearsals if they feel comfortable doing so, and the same will probably go for concerts, if in fact, we find a safe way to perform as a group. I also believe that, as of now, students may switch to in person, or virtual at every six-week grading period. 

Q: How will All-Region and All-State auditions be handled?

A: TMEA All-Region and All-State auditions will be on-line this year. Students will be given the final cuts and have five (5) days to make a quality recording in a piece of software called MusicFirst. No auditions will be done in person. I feel that this will be advantageous to our students because they are used to making Charms recordings. Our solo competition will also be done in a similar fashion

Q: Do we anticipate having concerts this year?

A: I am hoping to have concerts this year, but I am not sure what they will look like. Maybe they will be outside without an audience, I don’t know. If we have concerts, the virtual students may have the option to play with the group.

Q: Will there be any time when virtual learners need to come in-person?

A: No. Virtual learners may participate 100% online. TMEA all-state/all-region auditions will be online, solo and ensemble will be online, and if we have concerts they will be recorded and put online for students to play along with. Each class period will be recorded and posted online so that the virtual students can participate, learn the music and technique exercises, and record their weekly Charms assessments.

Q: Where will class be held, how many students will be in the room, and how many class periods will there be?

A: At this time, we are planning to hold class in the orchestra hall and we are putting safety measures in place such as cleaning supplies and routing the orchestra room to minimize contact. Fortunately, we are able to wear masks and play our instruments. The number of students in the room and number of class periods depends upon the capacity of the room and the number of students who choose the “in person” option. Parents have until 30 July to make the best decision for their student(s), and then we will get a list and go from there.

Q: What will be the shared instrument policy?

A: The school district will not allow the use of shared instruments for the in-person learners. Some students may opt to bring their home instruments to school. We may need to rent others if we don’t have enough to cover everyone. I’m going to need to work out a plan to make sure that everyone is covered.

Q: What is the plan if people switch from virtual to in-person or vice versa?

A: We are going to try and keep the content the same between both in-person and virtual.  Other than changing our seating in class, the transition should be pretty seamless.

Q: When will the students find out their orchestra placements, understanding that some shifting may occur after people receive their placements/choose in-person vs virtual?

A: They will find out when they pick up their schedules, and if we need to make adjustments, we will work with our counselors to make the necessary accommodations.

Q: When will orchestra uniforms be passed out?

A: We are not planning on using uniforms this year so we will not be checking out uniforms.