•  Orchestra FAQs


    Q: What’s the difference between band and orchestra?

    A: In orchestra, students learn instruments from the string family: violin, viola, cello, and bass. In band, students learn wind, brass, and percussion instruments.


    Q: How do I sign my child up for orchestra?

    A: Your student will receive a Choice Card from their elementary school. Please list “Orchestra” as your first elective choice, then email Mrs. Garcia.


    Q: How can we decide which instrument to pick? How do we order it?

    A: In the spring semester, there is an Orchestra Night at Riverwood. We have an “instrument petting zoo” for students to try out the different instruments, followed by a parent meeting. Rental companies will be present to help you set up rental agreements and purchase supplies. 


    Q: How much does orchestra cost?

    A: On average, most families pay $20-30 a month for instrument rentals; there are also two yearly orchestra trips that total about $65. We understand that families have different levels of financial responsibility, so we work with our booster club and other sponsors to make sure that students can participate in all orchestra activities. If you feel finances may be a barrier to participation, please let us know.


    Q: Should I buy an instrument? 

    A: No. Because the instruments come in different sizes, we advise beginners to rent their instruments at the start and “size-up” as they grow; our instrument vendors work with you on this and have rental programs that allow you to keep the instrument once you have reached full-size. 


    Q: What about buying an instrument online?

    A: As the adage goes, you get what you pay for. Instruments purchased online might be cheaper, but quality varies, and you may not get the correct instrument size for your student. It’s important for beginners to learn on quality instruments, so we highly encourage you to rent through our instrument vendors.


    Q: Does my student need to have any musical experience? 

    A: No! We will teach everything from the very beginning.


    Q: Does my student need to be tall in order to play the bass, cello, etc.?

    A: No, all the orchestra instruments come in many sizes. There is an instrument perfectly sized for YOU. You can play whichever instrument you like.


    Q: Will my student have to take my instrument back and forth from home to school every day?

    A: Violin and viola - Yes. You will carry your instrument to home every day to practice, and bring it with you every morning. We have lockers where they can be stored during the day when not in use.

    Cello and bass - No. Cello students will have a rental they keep at home, and a school instrument they use during class. Bass students will be issued a school instrument to keep at home, and they will use a school instrument during class.


    Q: How important is practicing at home?

    A: In order to have a reasonable chance to succeed in learning to play, your child will need to practice at home. It is important to have a quiet place to practice and a music stand. We ask that you purchase a portable wire music stand for home use. The amount of time necessary for practice will vary from student to student. It is important for you to encourage practice and praise the results.


    Q: Can my child participate in sports and orchestra?

    A: The administration, coaches and directors make every effort to avoid conflicts in scheduling so that students who wish to participate in both activities may do so. We have many students that participate within our school athletic programs - Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Soccer, Track and Field, etc.


    Q: When will my child need the instrument?

    A: Please make arrangements for your child to have the instrument on the first day of class. In order that we start on an equal basis, this is very important.


    Q: What if my student already has playing experience on their instrument?

    A: Great! Email the director to schedule an audition so you can be placed in an appropriate group.


    Q: Should my student start private lessons over the summer to get a head start?

    A: Private lessons can be a great start for many students! Contact the director to see if this is a good fit for you and your student.