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FAQ

Q: What are the pre-requisites for music classes*?  

A: INTERMEDIATE ORCHESTRA (Orchestra I)

Open to Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors

Prerequisite:  Previous orchestra experience; Approval of instructor


ADVANCED ORCHESTRA (Orchestra II)

Open to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors

Prerequisite:  Completion of Intermediate Orchestra in good standing; Approval of instructor


INTERMEDIATE JAZZ BAND (Jazz Band I)

Open to Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors

Prerequisite:  Previous band experience; Approval of instructor


ADVANCED JAZZ BAND (Jazz Band II)

Open to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors

Prerequisite:  Completion of Intermediate Jazz Band in good standing; Approval of instructor


JAZZ IMPROVISATION 

Open to Juniors, and Seniors

Prerequisite:  Completion of Advanced Jazz Band in good standing; Approval of instructor


CHORUS

Prerequisite:  Music reading skills are recommended


INTEGRATED MUSIC THEORY I and II (VCU MHIS 145 & 146: Theory and Aural Skills I and II)

Prerequisite:  None


* The prerequisites appearing here accurately reflect current content updated after the 2016-17 course catalogue went to print. 



Q:  I play an instrument that is eligible for both Jazz Band and Orchestra.  Which should I choose?

A:   Most 9th grade wind, brass, and percussion students enroll in Intermediate Jazz Band (Jazz Band I). It fits well with students who have had prior experience in Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, or Jazz Ensemble and have interest in jazz and improvisation. The ensemble typically combines with the other jazz classes to perform a concert band arrangement at the winter and spring concerts. Wind, brass, and percussion students that have a greater interest in orchestral music than jazz and improvisation are also welcomed into Orchestra classes with the understanding that they may be playing transposed parts (provided). Strings players are also welcomed into Jazz classes with the understanding that violins and violas will be playing transposed parts (provided). 

Students are encouraged to pursue (but not limit!) their predominant musical interest.

Q:  I am an advanced player on my instrument and/or have scheduling conflicts.  Can I enroll in a course not open to my class year and/or without having met the prerequisite and/or through audition? 

A:  All incoming ninth grade instrumental music students are enrolled together in either Orchestra I (listed as Intermediate Orchestra in the course catalog) or Jazz Band I (listed as Intermediate Jazz Band) in order to promote the maturation process and healthy transition into Maggie Walker's unique learning environment. The music experience at Maggie Walker will be different from middle school. There are no exemptions to course enrollment eligibility based on scheduling conflicts or alternative routes to enrollment through audition. Prerequisites also function to balance enrollment to allow a wider variety of music courses to be offeredMeasures to accommodate students of different playing levels enrolled in the same class include, but are not limited to:  1) the opportunity to serve as section leaders through audition or appointment, 2) volunteering (or accepting the assignment) to play solo parts, 3) breaking into smaller ensembles of students with similar ability, 4) students selecting music of difficulty level of their choosing, 5) being invited to perform for various special community and/or school sponsored events, and 6) meeting the requirements to gain eligibility for induction and continued participation in Tri-M Music Honors Society, and/or to earn a National Music Award, Director bestowed Merit or Musician Award, or Tri-M Music Honors Society Scholarship.

Q:  What is the piano experience like in Orchestra? 

A:  When a piano player is enrolled in Orchestra, effort is made to select arrangements that include a piano part.  If a piano part is not included, piano players play string parts or percussion instrument parts (after all, the piano is a member of the percussion family).   

Q: Can there be more than one piano player in Orchestra? 

A:  Yes.  Students are asked to exercise flexibility and fairness to share playing time on the piano and play percussion instrument parts (after all, the piano is a member of the percussion family) when not playing the piano.  With cooperation, we have accommodated 5 piano players in the same Orchestra class before!

Q:  Can there be duplicate rhythm section instruments (piano/drummer/guitar/bass) in Jazz Band?

A:  Yes.  Students are asked to exert flexibility and fairness to share playing time on their principle instrument.  If it doesn’t work musically to double one of these instrument parts, students are asked to play other percussion parts at times(after all, they are members of the rhythm section).  In general, it poses little challenge if there are no greater than 2 players on any one of these instruments.  If there are greater than 2, we just have to get more creative and be more flexible.  We have accommodated up to 5 guitarists, 5 piano players, and 5 percussionists before!

Q:  May I participate in extracurricular music ensembles that require enrollment or participation in my school’s music program if I am not currently enrolled in a curricular music class at Maggie Walker?

A:  Extracurricular programs and curricular music classes at Maggie Walker both require enrollment to exist. To that end, they partner to promote participation in each other’s programs. Maggie Walker Governor’s School supports the eligibility policies generated by the sponsors of extracurricular ensembles that require participation in the school music program when instruction on the same instrument is offered. At Maggie Walker, participation in the school music program constitutes being fully and currently enrolled in a curricular music class. There are no exclusions or alternative provisions for partial participation shy of full and current enrollment to gain extracurricular eligibility. In the rare event a course required for graduation prevents enrollment in a music class due to an unavoidable schedule conflict, verification is required from the students' counselor with this form.

Q:  If I don’t have prior curricular ensemble experience, how do I gain approval to enroll?  

A:  Arrange a meeting with the instructor (contacts listed above) prior to the start of school to demonstrate your playing skills.  Be prepared to play the major scales you know (rudiments and basic beat patterns for percussionists), a chromatic scale to demonstrate your pitch range (not applicable for strings and percussion players), a prepared piece of your choosing that best represents your current playing level, and a short sight-reading excerpt to demonstrate your ability to read standard music notation (administered by instructor at meeting).  Maturity, self-discipline, a positive attitude, and a sense of humor are important components used to evaluate readiness for enrollment.  Evaluation includes a ratio of potential to performance and reflects the importance of both process and product. Regular individual practice and private instruction (see Mr. von Klein for a reference to an excellent private teacher) are recommended to establish ensemble readiness.   

The following standards are detailed to provide a guide of what constitutes “intermediate level playing skills.”  They should be considered goals to shoot for in preparation for the meeting, but their execution shy of mastery not necessarily preventative to enrollment.

Read standard music notation (bass players and guitarists:  TAB notation does not count) at an intermediate level (recognition and execution of whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, and dotted notes/rests, recognition and execution of pitch notation by name and ability to play on instrument throughout the staff and up to 2 ledger lines above and below the staff, recognition and execution of simple meter signatures, recognition and execution of major key signatures up to 3 flats and sharps, and recognition and execution of basic tempo and dynamic markings). 

Play major scales by memory up to 3 flats and sharps (this includes drummers on a mallet percussion instrument). 

Play a chromatic scale by memory at least one octave.

Sight-read an excerpt of intermediate difficulty.

Perform a prepared piece of intermediate difficulty.

Drummers should be prepared to demonstrate 10 basic rudiments of their choosing, a swing beat, a Latin beat, and a rock beat.  

Guitarists should be prepared to demonstrate basic open string chords (C, D, E, G, A, F, and B in major, minor, and dominant 7), barre chords (major, minor, and dominant 7 shapes) on 6th and 5th string roots, and be able to read chord diagrams. 

Q:  Why does the Course Catalogue list more music courses than the Master Schedule?

A: Based on historical enrollment and current student interest, the Fine Arts Department selects which courses described in the Course Catalogue are offered to existing students on the preliminary course survey completed in February.   Students may also write in courses not appearing on the preliminary survey.  If the courses on the preliminary survey (or a write-in course) receive enough enrollment interest, the course appears on the Master Schedule. 

Q:  Are there any beginning level instrumental ensembles?

A:  At this time, there are no beginning level instrumental ensembles offered.  You are encouraged to practice and seek private instruction (see Mr. von Klein for a reference to an excellent private teacher).  If, after you’ve advanced to an intermediate playing level, you’d like to enroll in an instrumental ensemble, please consult with Mr. von Klein.

CHORUS: For additional questions please feel free to contact Mr. James directly at fjames@gsgis.k12.va.us, (804) 354-6800 x1185.

Q: I am new to singing but would love to join, would there be a place for me in MLWGS Chorus? 

A: Yes, MLWGS Chorus has beginning to advanced students. After first of the year assessment, grading is determined with consideration to individual skill levels. 

Q: I have a lot of previous Choral/vocal experience would MLWGS Chorus be right for me?

A: Certainly, our advanced Choral students have additional opportunities as section leaders, soloists, working on vocal arrangements, and participation in District and All-State Chorus. Meeting the requirements to gain eligibility for induction and continued participation in Tri-M Music Honors Society, and/or to earn a National Music Award, Director bestowed Merit or Vocalist Award, or Tri-M Music Honors Society Scholarship as well as audition for Governor’s Summer Scholarship programs. Outside performance opportunities as soloists, duets, quartets are also available for school and community sponsored events such as; Squirrels Games, Fall Festival, Jefferson Hotel, and Baccalaureate.  

Q: Would there be opportunity to join MLWGS Chorus as a pianist?

A: MLWGS Chorus welcomes and encourages pianists who are interested in accompanying. Please notify Mr. James to discuss possibilities.

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