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Frequently Asked Questions

My child is an upcoming 6th grader, how does the music selection process work?


During the first 7 days of classes, students will rotate through each of the music programs (Band, Chorus, and Orchestra) and experience each class. At the end of the "trial" period, students will select which music class they would like to join by submitting a form.


This form will only be distributed at the end of the process, and all students are encouraged to keep an open mind and try all the programs even if they believe they have already come to a decision or if they had previous experience in a particular discipline. This process exists so that students can make an informed decision on which program they will find most success and joy.


Do I need to buy/ rent an instrument?


Violin and viola students - Yes.

Cello and Bass students - No. 

Violin and viola students are required to rent an instrument from a local music shop for their daily use in class and at home. Instruments are expected at school every orchestra day unless told otherwise. We maintain a small inventory of violins and violas to be used in class if a student instrument breaks and is being repaired. Students repeatedly missing their instrument will receive deductions from their "rehearsal skills" grade.

Cello and bass students use school instruments during class. These instruments stay at school for all classes and do not go home to be used for practice. Students should rent an instrument from a local music shop to practice at home.

My child changes their mind about their music class, can they switch to orchestra?

No. There is a no-switch policy between band, chorus, and orchestra classes. This is why the music trial period at the start of 6th grade is crucial.


Can my child be in orchestra and another music class?

Yes. Students are able to participate in Chorus in addition to Orchestra or Band. Students may not participate in both Orchestra *and* Band. In other words, students can be one instrumental class (band/ orchestra) as well as chorus. This would eliminate another connections class (health, PE, business).


Can my child change music class choice during the school year or between grades?

No. Students learn an entire year of material, and it is nearly impossible to “catch-up” enough to jump in at a 7th or 8th grade level (even with private lessons during the summer).


What instruments can I learn to play in orchestra?

Violin, viola, cello and double bass. There are no courses at Dickerson Middle School that teach piano, guitar, harp, etc. There may be opportunities for a student to play piano or guitar with the orchestra on a special occasion, but these are not part of any music curriculum at Dickerson.

My child has an injury, can they be excused from playing their instrument?

We permit students two days of not playing with a parent note defining injury. After that, a Dr.’s note is required stating how long the student should refrain from playing. We are happy to help modify work as well (ex: plucking instead of bowing).


My child has to miss a concert, can they make up the grade?

While there is no replacement for the concert experience, students have the chance to receive a grade. Students have two weeks from the date of the concert to record the entire concert alone on our orchestra iPad during class time. 


What is the policy for my child to use a school instrument?

Violin/Viola: Students may borrow one for the day (forgotten instrument or without it due to repairs). Students are expected to sign it out and return it properly. After one day, points will be deducted from rehearsal skills.

Cello/Bass: Students have the chance to sign out a school instrument during breaks. A Cobb County form is required, completed by a parent at least a week in advance of the borrowing. You must also have an appropriate vehicle to transport the instrument to and from school (absolutely no bus!). Instruments must be returned to school the first day following the break as other students are assigned to the instrument. Please see a director for the form.


What is the concert uniform policy?

6th Grade:  All 6th graders in all music programs wear the program t-shirt and jeans. No hoodies are permitted on stage. We highly encourage dark jean or pants (no white jeans, khakis, or shorts). Minimal jewelry and no large headbands. Please wear sensible shoes (sneakers or flats), nothing that sparkles, no flip-flops or boots. The goal is for the audience to focus on our sound as an ensemble and not on a sparkling individual.

7/8 Grades and Chamber: Once students have made it to a 7th music program, formal uniforms are required. Ladies are to wear the designated dress, hemmed appropriately with nude or black flats. Please be aware of the appropriate undergarments on top, please no straps showing. Gentlemen are issues adjustable tux pants (you are responsible for hemming), and black dress shirt. Boys are expected to wear a black t-shirt under, leaving top button open to expose shirt. Black dress socks (thing and tall), and black dress shoes are also required. 

*At the 7th grade level and above, students attend performance evaluation where attire and presentation matter a great deal. 


Are classes based on ability? Is there an on-level and AC orchestra?

Orchestra classes are created to meet the needs of students the best we can within the scheduled grade level limitations. For this reason, we have created the Chamber Orchestra to meet the needs of our highest achievers. Within the scheduled school day, we do our best to meet the needs of all of our learning levels, giving addition time and resources to students as much as possible. On occasion, we are able to offer more challenging music to classes as they need, including full orchestra opportunities. 

Chamber Orchestra Basics

The Chamber Orchestra was created to meet the needs of our most advanced and motivated learners. It is an extracurricular ensemble that typically meets before school on Mondays and Fridays. Typically, this ensemble is aimed at students who enter Dickerson with extensive musical experience, or upper level middle school musicians. Students are expected to take private lessons and will also be expected to a level of commitment to the ensemble. Auditions are held ONCE a school year, at the start of school. After initial auditions, students will have to wait until the next year to audition. The ensemble needs to be set and remain the same for students to grow together. For more information, please e-mail Ms. Hardy.


Why is the quality of my child’s instrument so important?

From Ms. Hardy: As I tell our beginners, could you run a race in flip-flops? Sure. How well would you do and would it be a decent experience? NOPE. We set our students up for the best chance at success and with as little frustration as possible. Think how challenging learning something new can be already, even more so with a mediocre piece of equipment. We stress sound production, tone, and playing in tune: all major components of the quality of an instrument. We do not support purchasing any instrument from the internet, no matter what a “great deal” it might be. Please take it from the experts, students cannot reach their full potential when playing on an instrument of poor quality. We also do not have the resources or time to deal with a junky instrument when trying to educate and create musicians. Also consider, 97% of our students stay in our orchestra program from 6th-8th grade. This is a worthwhile investment to all involved. Our best recommendation is to visit a music store that specializes in strings (string or string instrument in their name). Oftentimes, “non-string” music stores have to ship string instruments away for repairs, taking an extended amount of time that your child would not have an instrument on which to learn. Finally, most students do not begin in the largest size instrument. Renting is encouraged for students to trade up sizes as they grow. Feel free to reach out to a director for more information. 

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