Building Classroom Autonomy
The beginning of the class used to be the most stressful part of rehearsal for me, now it is easy! A smooth start sets the tone for the day, gives me time to take care of business, and gives the students ownership over the class period.

Students will do attendance, put their backpacks on the shelves, uncase their instruments, and be in their seat ready to check tuning 2 minutes after the bell.




ATTENDANCE: (Smart Board File)

  • Students use the mouse and put their name in the “door”
  • One student at a time
  • You may ONLY touch ONLY your name
  • Any names left outside the door are absent
  • If a student fails to take care of attendance they are counted tardy


  • Students will put their backpacks on the shelf neatly, like parked cars
  • If a backpack is on the ground, one of us puts it in our office. The student thinks someone stole their backpack…


  • Only instrument, bow, binder and pencil are allowed at your seat
  • Cases must stay in the lockers
  • Put your tuner on at your seat, check tuning individually



  • Choose a responsible and assertive student to start the metronome
  • Instruments Up! 1,2, ready, go…begin tuning with tuner
  • Talking, not being ready, etc. will result in a tardy
  • If you need help, raise your hand! Do not get out of your seat or follow around a director.


  • Student leader changes tempo and leads students through finger patterns, scales, or whatever the warm up is for the day .


This process gives the director time to take care of attendance, help with tuning, and put out any other fires that may come up at the beginning of class.


  • Students put their instrument by their seat and grab a stand (Amanda video)
  • Students uncase and violin/viola put their closed cases on the left side of their chair, cello cases under chairs, bass cases against the wall.
  • Page 17 of essential elements is playing while teacher tunes the instruments
  • Students study flashcards until their instrument has been tuned (link to flashcards)
  • Students join in on playing page 17 after their instrument has been tuned



  • After attendance has been taken, we switch the screen to the agenda
  • We include a different orchestra meme everyday, the students look forward to seeing what is on the screen everyday
  • Announcements are on the screen, and so is the plan for the day
  • Students are quiet and focused since they have just completed the warm up.
  • This is the only time students may ask a question that is not about the music.


















  • Korg PC-2
  • When there is a problem with a tuner, the student puts it next to the tuner bag and gets another tuner from the bag. No need to ask for permission.
  • During homeroom a student will check and replace batteries as necessary (same student everyday)






  • At the beginning of the month we ask who will have a birthday
  • Those students write ONLY their name and class period on the calendar
  • Student in charge of birthdays gets the birthday bear from our office, and gives it to the birthday student to put on their stand.
  • Bear is returned to the student in charge, and they put it back in our office
  • Our kids (even 8th graders) LOVE the birthday bear!





  • PDF .   Microsoft Word
  • Due on Mondays
  • Folders is left on the concert master’s chair before class.
  • The folder is passed around the classroom, students do not need to wait for a prompt from me.
  • Students put their practice record in the folder in order
  • The last person who gets the practice record folder leaves it on my desk.
  • Whoever is not lead teaching grades practice records immediately, or you have time to grade them later without interruption to your class.
  • When the practice records are handed back, I leave the folder in the chair of the last student who put them on my desk, and the students pass the folder around; the practice records should be in order.




  • Figure out which class is the biggest, build a seating chart based on that class
  • Build seating charts for your other classes built on that seating chart
  • Seating charts are posted on the wall
  • Students look and count to find where their seat is (row/seat number)
  • They may get an extra minute before tuning on days where there is a new seating chart.







  • Students must mark their music when asked, this is not optional
  • Music will be taken up for a major grade to check for markings
  • Music will be returned to the students after it has been graded
  • Student leader is in charge of lost music
  • There is an extra music binder for each class, no one is to touch the binder except for student leaders.
  • When music or handouts are passed out, they must immediately go in their binders
  • If any pieces of music or handouts left on the floor, stands, or anywhere in the room after class; this will result in a supply/music check the next day.


  • Student led warm-ups transitions well into having a sub!
  • Try one maybe two ideas the first year












Orchestra Directors

About Allen



Vertical Alignment  – 6th Grade

Starts in 6th grade – 3 concerts (Oct., Feb., May) – Essential Elements & some supplemental materials

October – up to pizz and bow hold…demonstration concert (tuners are used – see materials)

February – in AHS Gym w/all 6th grade students. Up to Tribal Lament & supp. materials. W/top HS groups. Recruiting.

April (late)6th grade Festival.  We host at PAC – Dave & Busters afterwards.  Have done Sandy Lake. .5 level. No EE. May – 6th graders perform w/MS students at their Middle School Spring Concert. Play Same music as Festival.


Vertical Alignment  – Middle School

MS Warmups . 1 Octave Scales   2 Octave Scales

Method Book – Orchestra Expressions 1 – 7th  Orchestra Expressions 2 – 8th  Essential Elements Book 3 – Adv. (chamber)

4 orchestras at each MS
bottom 2 or 3 (Sub NV) – mainly 7th graders – grades 1-2
2nd orchestra (NV) – mainly 8th graders and adv. 7th. grades 2-3
top orchestra (V) – advanced students – grade 3…maybe 4/5

Oct. Fall Concert (only 2 pieces – take pictures for yearbooks)
December – Holiday/Mall Concerts…prepare for UIL
March – UIL
May – Spring Concerts & Festivals (perform String Pops & Full Orch)


Vertical Alignment  – High School

HS Warmups2 Octave Scales   3 Octave Scales

Lowery FC Camerata  Orchestra (Sub NV-H)  Sound Innovations – Book 2 – Grade 2 to 3
Lowery FC Concert Orchestra (Sub NV-E) Sound Innovations – Book 2 & 3 – Grades 2 & 3
Lowery FC Sinfonia Orchestra (Sub NV-C) – Sound Innovations – Sound Development 3 – Grade 3 to 4
Lowery FC Chamber Orchestra (Sub-NV A)      Sound Innovations – Advanced 4- Grade 4 & 5
Lowery FC Symphony Orchestra (Chamber & Winds) (NV) – Grade 4

Allen HS Concert II Orchestra  (Sub-NV G )  – String Basics Book 2 – Grade 2 to 3
Allen HS Concert I Orchestra  (Sub-NV F )  – String Basics Book 2 – Grade Grades 2 & 3
Allen HS Sinfonia I Orchestra (Sub-NV D) – String Basics – Book 3 – Grades 3 to 4
Allen HS Sinfonia II Orchestra (Sub-NV B) – String Basics – Book 3– Grade 3 & 4
Allen HS Chamber II Orchestra (NV) – High Tech for Strings   Sound Innovations – AdvancedHabits of a Successful String Musician –  Grades 4 to 5
Allen HS Chamber I Orchestra (V) – High Tech for Strings   Sound Innovations – AdvancedHabits of a Successful String Musician – Grade 5
Allen HS Symphony Orchestra (Chamber & Sinfonia) (V) – Grade 5

Position/Warmup Packets instead of books

All HS Students may participate in the Spring Trip

All HS Students may participate in the end-of-year Banquet (at PAC)



Calendar         Instrument Shops (Dallas Strings)

Private Lessons     Chamber Festival     Online Store



Assessment (Smartmusic) Rubric


Rhythm Assignment  – Theory Books

Theory AssignmentTheory Books

Video Multiple Choice Quiz

Anonymous Peer Review



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iPad (Charms, Attendance, Smartmusic, ForScore, Metronome, NotateMe, TE Tuner, Music Studio)