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2014 – 2015


Karen Jordan, Director of Vocal Music

Susan O’Daniel, Director of Instrumental Music




This handbook has been designed to answer most questions regarding the guidelines, procedures and expectations of the Vergennes Union High School Music Department. Music students and their parent/ guardian should read the handbook, and become familiar with student responsibilities to their respective music ensembles. This will insure a successful program and a meaningful group relationship. Certain responsibilities on the part of each student, with the help and guidance of the parent/ guardian, are necessary. Attention to the details in this handbook will pave the way for creating wonderful music in every VUHS 

music ensemble.


The instrumental and vocal music classes at Vergennes Union High School are performance based. Every rehearsal is important. Warm ups, technique exercises, and performance literature are experienced daily, building a knowledge of music, skills and endurance. Cooperative, attentive and courteous behavior is expected during all rehearsals, including those that occur before and after school. Every student has the right to create music in a supportive atmosphere. A positive attitude from every student will guarantee musical success in performance. Give your personal best at each rehearsal and strive to improve every day.


Tools for musical success!

v      Have your instrument, music and pencil at every rehearsal.

v      Sit or stand at rehearsals with good posture, and support your music breathing muscles.

v      Be at rehearsals on time. If you are late, have a pass.

v      Time out of class must be minimal for call back, and should only occur when another work session cannot be arranged. The music director makes the decisions.

v      Keep your band instrument clean, and in good working condition.

v      Instrumental music students must have a music stand for practice at home.

v      Practice your music and turn in your practice log consistently.

v      Attend all of the performances of your ensemble(s). Every musician in every ensemble is important to the musical success of the concert.



The culmination of all instrumental and vocal ensembles is demonstrated to the public through concerts, parades, recitals, etc.  The absence of even one musician hinders the entire performance, whether it is a concert or a parade. ALL PERFORMANCES ARE MANDATORY.  Failure to attend a performance without an excuse will result in a lowered grade.  The yearly schedule lists all of the performances during the school year for family planning. In emergencies, the director should be contacted by the parent/guardian as soon as possible or given a note. An absence will not be accepted without a note, e-mail or telephone call.  If a student does not participate in a performance, he/she will be expected to perform the concert music for the director or complete an alternate assignment at the director’s discretion. If a student does not participate in a parade, he/ she will make up the time (1 hour per parade) in band service after school, at the convenience of the band director. In some circumstances the performance grade will be lowered, if the reason for missing the concert/ parade is not considered valid by the director.



Each music student is expected to practice every week in order to progress as an individual, and for the ensemble to improve. Practicing is your homework for band and choir! The practice record is accepted in good faith. The performance assessments will demonstrate whether or not personal practice occurred.

High School Musicians

You are expected to continue your personal practice as in the past.  However, weekly practice records will not be required.  There may be instances where paper practice records or SmartMusic practice sessions are assigned.


Middle School Musicians

Practice records will be filled out by each student, and collected every Monday. There will be a music theory worksheet to complete with each practice record. Students are expected to practice scales/ rudiments, lesson music, and band or choir music each week.




The VUHS Music Department will use SmartMusic as a practice and assessment tool in the 2014 – 2015 school year. This is a marvelous program for individual practice. Performance literature, sight reading, ear training, scales, exercises and improvisation tools are available on the program. The program is on all VUHS Music Department desktop computers as well as on five laptops, that can be signed out for use within the building. Times are available before, after school, and during free blocks to practice with SmartMusic.

All students are encouraged to purchase the program for their use at home. SmartMusic may be purchased for your personal computer in order to practice, and complete assignments at home. More information about SmartMusic can be found at




General assessment components for performance ensembles. More specific information will be provided for students in the course syllabus.


v      Daily rehearsal attendance and participation (behavior, equipment)         

v      Performances                                                                                                       

v      SmartMusic assignments, assessments                                                          

v      Quizzes, Written Work                                                                                       

v      Practice Logs                                                                                                       

v      Lessons, Sectionals                                                                                            

v      Performance Tests/ Exams                                                                                 


Grades can be viewed on Power School. Every effort will be made by the directors to have grades updated on Monday mornings.




Music students should check their VUHS e-mail daily. SmartMusic assignments, notices and reminders will be sent by the directors in an effort to minimize the use of paper. E-mail will  be used to communicate with music parents/ guardians. Information can be accessed through the Music Department link on the VUHS web site, at  Families that do not have e-mail will receive information in writing via their music student or the postal service.




Members of these high school ensembles are selected by audition, and receive .5 credit for their participation in these performance classes for the full year. Commodore Singers rehearse Monday and Wednesday at 7:00 AM and the Jazz Ensemble rehearses Tuesday and Thursday at 7:00 AM.Additional rehearsals may occur on Friday mornings, evenings or Saturdays, depending on performance demands. Each student’s attendance at each rehearsal is extremely important to the success of the ensemble, and schedules may need to be adjusted in order to accommodate additional rehearsals. These are participation based classes, and a high percentage of the grade is based on rehearsal attendance. Tardiness will be dealt with as needed by the director. An excessive number of absences will need to be made up, which will be arranged with the director. Students should call the director at VUHS if they know ahead of time that they will be late or miss a rehearsal in order to be excused, unless there are extenuating circumstances. An absence from school is automatically excused. Students should inform the director ahead of time if they know they will have a late arrival to school, or be absent for the day for an excused absence. The manager of the ensemble will take attendance at each rehearsal. All performances of the Commodore Singers and Jazz Ensemble are mandatory for the members of those select ensembles.



 Students participating in school sports, clubs, etc. are encouraged to do so, as it is as much a part of their education and mental and physical well being as are the music ensembles.  They are to attend all performances and rehearsals until such time as a conflict arises between the two.  If a conflict does happen, the director, student and third party will confer to resolve the situation in the best interest of the student and program.


SEATING (Band only)

 Students will be seated and assigned parts in band according to their abilities on their instrument.  Students will be assigned placement by Mrs. O’Daniel in September by audition, or based on their performance during the previous year, or on their age and experience. Performance tests may be given in October, January, March or June. 


CONCERT UNIFORM (Concert uniform for all concerts except the Pops Concert)

 The directors have chosen a concert uniform that is standard dress for musicians of all ages and abilities. The concert uniform is an important visual aspect to any performance.


High School Band and Chorus

Ladies                    Black blouse, Long black skirt, Black hose and shoes

Gentlemen             White tux shirt, Black Bow tie, Black pants, Black socks and shoes


* Pants are not appropriate performance attire for the ladies, unless they play an instrument where pants would facilitate performance. Those ladies should confirm their attire with the band director. Some exceptions are made regarding black pants for band performances outside of school, and will be announced.

 Middle School Band and Chorus

Ladies                White Blouse, Long Black Skirt, Appropriate hose and black shoes

Gentlemen         White Shirt, Long black tie, Black pants, Black socks and shoes 

Concert Clothing may be purchased locally or at the following websites: - Boys tux shirts, bow ties  - Girls long skirts


* A student who is not wearing the correct concert attire will be in danger of losing points from the performance grade. A school ensemble performance is not the place to express your fashion identity. The ensemble needs to look united in appearance. However, it is better to come to the performance in the wrong clothes if there was no opportunity to get the exact clothing. Any student who cannot afford concert clothes shouldspeak to the instructor well in advance of the concert day. There are sources for clothing that can be easily accessed by the director. THE SUBJECT WILL BE CONFIDENTIAL.



Commodore Jazz Ensemble may also wear a blue jazz polo shirt and black pants for casual concerts, or black shirt and black pants (with a long white tie for the gentlemen). Students in the CJE will decide on the attire.



 VUHS Concerts are free of charge, with the exception being the POPS CONCERT and the Black and White Cabaret. The suggested donation for the Pops Concert is $5.00. The ticket price for the Black and White Cabaret is $5.00. The profit made from these concerts benefits the VUHS Music Department scholarship fund for out of state adjudication festivals for the High School and Middle School.



*All band students are expected to wear sneakers or shoes for marching band practices. NO FLIP-FLOPS OR SANDALS. This is for safety purposes. Failure to wear the proper shoes at marching band practice will lower the participation grade.


High School Band

Each student is asked to provide their own black shoes/ sneakers. The marching band uniform is provided by VUHS. Students are asked to wear shorts and a t-shirt under the uniform.


Middle School Band

Each student is asked to provide his/her own BLACK SHOES/ SNEAKERS and BLACK PANTS.  Students will need to purchase a Middle School Marching Band shirt at the cost of $12. VUHS will provide the Middle School Marching Band sweatshirt.


******Any student who cannot afford to provide shirt, shoes, pants for marching band should contact Mrs. O’Daniel.


*If a student chooses to not wear the required footwear for the parades, points will be deducted from the marching band performance grade for eachparade. Marching Band footwear and pants are expected to be COMPLETELY BLACK.



VUHS stocks emergency supplies for your instrument, i.e. reeds, lesson books, valve & key oil, slide grease and drum sticks.  WOODWIND PLAYERS SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST 2 GOOD REEDS AT ALL TIMES.  IOUs will not be accepted, except in the case of emergency as determined by the director or by a band officer. All students in band should have a lyre for marching band by April 1st. Trumpet, horn and trombone students must have a straight mute.  Jazz Band trumpets need straight, cup and Harmon mutes. Jazz band trombonists need straight and cup mutes. Woodwind players should have reed savers and pad savers for their instruments. All students should have a polishing cloth for their instrument.


*Supplies should be ordered directly by a parent/ guardian from the Ellis Music Company. Supplies can also be purchased from Vermont Musical Instrument Repair (Middlesex, VT) or Advance Music Center (Burlington).  Instrument rental should be arranged by a parent/ guardian with an instrument rental company. The Ellis Music Company is the company recommended by the director.



 Periodic maintenance is necessary on all instruments.  Pads and corks wear down, and brass instruments get dirty.  The director will review maintenance procedures. In the event that an instrument does not work, the student must fill out an INSTRUMENT REPAIR FORM (found on the band bulletin board near the stage) and leave it on the director's desk.  After looking at the instrument, the director will determine whether the instrument can be repaired at VUHS, or needs to be sent to an expert.


Parents/ Guardians may contact the Ellis Music Company directly for repair service. The Ellis Music Co. has loaner instruments for use during repairs. They will pick up and deliver instruments to VUHS. Any Ellis instruments that are still on an Ellis lease/ purchase plan must be repaired by the Ellis Company (234-6400).


There are several other instrument repair shops in the area that are very reliable.

                Advance Music (Burlington) – 863-8652

                Vermont Musical Instrument and Repair (Middlesex) – 229-4416



 Every student will receive a folder and large quantities of music.  The student is responsible for this music, and should have it at every rehearsal. If original copies of music are lost or damaged, the student must reimburse the music department for replacement. It will be the responsibility of the Librarians to check in the music. If you need music, tell your section leader or librarian. 



 Each student will be assigned an instrument storage locker or shelf area for their use during the school year.  The name of the student is expected to be on the instrument case. A chart will be posted of the assigned spaces. Do not switch your area without permission from the director.  Do not keep food in your space.  ALWAYS KEEP YOUR INSTRUMENT IN THE CASE WITH THE LATCHES SHUT WHILE IN THE STORAGE AREA.  Keep the storage area neat and organized. It is expected that each student keep his/her instrument in the lockers or shelves provided in the instrument locker room or band room. There are no exceptions. It is recommended that a student's instrument(s) should be on a rider on the parents' Homeowners Insurance Policy.



A school owned instrument will be provided to those students who double on instruments that cannot be rented, or for certain reasons cannot rent an instrument.  Those instruments include the piccolo, alto clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor or baritone saxophone, bassoon, french horn, trombone, valve trombone, baritone or tuba. In order for the student to use a school horn, the parent/guardian must sign an inventory/responsibility sheet first. A yearly rental fee of $75.00 for the year may be asked of the student in the first quarter (or when the instrument is issued) to help defray the cost of repairs. Please communicate any difficulties with the payment of this fee to the director. There may be situations where a user fee is not required of a student. This decision is at the discretion of the director. The school will assume full responsibility for annual repair.  In the event that the student abuses the horn intentionally, or if it is stolen/ruined while the student is using the instrument, it is the parent’s/guardian’s responsibility to repair or replace the damaged horn. Students using school instruments are expected to close and latch the case daily. Failure to do so will result in the loss of the privilege to use the instrument.



All students will travel to and from the prescribed activity by school transportation.  If a parent wishes to take a child at the completion of an activity, the student should present a note from the parent to the music director well in advance of the trip AND the parent/guardian MUST communicate directly with the music director upon taking the child when departing.


When riding school buses, sit in the seat facing forward. Do not play your instrument on the bus.  Do not be loud and boisterous.  Be polite to the bus drivers.  Conduct yourselves like ladies and gentlemen.  The rules   regarding alcohol, drugs and smoking, found in the VUHS Handbook, will be followed at all times on all trips sponsored by the Music Department. Students are expected to behave as ladies and gentlemen at restaurants and quick stops.  Do not be loud or boisterous, and always be polite.  Clean up after yourself. 


The VUHS Music Department travel/ medical form will serve as a permission slip for some activities.  Other trips will necessitate an additional permission slip.



The awards listed below will be awarded/ announced at the Pops Concert.


High School:                                                                            Middle School:                                                        

John Phillip Sousa Band Award                                                 Directors Award for Band

Patrick Gilmore Band Award                                                     Directors Award for Chorus

Sempre Fidelis Band Award                                                      

Louis Armstrong Jazz Award                                                   

Benny Goodman Jazz Award

Ed Porter Band & Chorus Award

Commodore Singers Award                                                     

National School Choral Awards                                                               

Commodore Jazz Ensemble Award




The High School officers are, according to rank: President, Band/ Chorus President, Secretary/Treasurer, Librarians (2), Drum Majors (2) (band only). Elections are held in September.


The Middle School officers are, according to rank: President, Vice-President/Treasurer, and Librarians (2).  All officers are held by 8th grade students. Elections are held in September.  


The officers are elected by their peers and are generally respected by the ensembles, and therefore, are expected to set the finest possible example. They also serve the director in a supportive capacity.



Music students are encouraged to participate in the following music activities, which primarily rehearse before or after school.

                Annual Musical Production

                Varsity Pep Band

                Music Festivals - Districts, All State, New Englands, Plymouth

                Black and White Cabaret (Grades 7 - 12)

                Jazz Jammers (primarily grades 7 – 10)



VUHS participates in the following music festivals:  Green Mountain Music District, Vermont All State and New England Music Festival Association. Students who have the necessary musicianship required for each audition will be encouraged to participate. Audition fees and parent/ guardian permission forms are required for these auditions. The fees must be paid by the date requested by the director in order to participate in the audition. Evaluation of qualifications is the decision of the music director. All festival participation fees will be paid by the parent/ guardian, unless not affordable.



Students who have jobs and take part in music ensembles must arrange with their employers to be present for all music department functions.  A calendar of events will be given to students during September so students can plan their work.  Students must give a copy of the calendar to their employers.



Scholarships are available to students from the Friends of the Arts for music camps, and private lessons.  Requests must be made in writing, and first discussed with the music director.


The following music scholarships are available to graduating seniors: VUHS Friends of the Arts, VUHS Music Scholarship, LC Jazz Scholarship. There is no application process. Students who are majoring in music at college are eligible for these scholarships. In the event that there are less than three students attending music school, then the scholarships will be awarded to students who have shown a strong interest in music throughout high school.



The Friends of Music serves all music and dramatic endeavors at VUHS.  This support organization is a meaningful part of the Music Department, providing financial and moral support.  Parents/guardians and students are urged to attend meetings and assist at functions. Meetings will be held on the 1st Monday of each month at 6:00 PM in the VUHS Chorus Room, unless otherwise announced. Contact Carol Kauffman for more details!



A calendar of events will be published in September.  An updated calendar will be published in each concert program and is posted on the VUHS web site.  The calendar will only be changed if school conflicts arise.  If a concert is cancelled due to bad weather it will be rescheduled to the earliest date possible.


Students and their parent/ guardian should review the calendar in September, and mark performances on a calendar at home in order to avoid conflicts with activities or jobs. Please contact the music director as early as possible if you have a conflict with a performance.



The music area is available for practice before school (Tuesday – Friday), during free periods or after school until 3:15pm. The VUHS Music Department laptops may be used to practice with SmartMusic in the band, chorus and auditorium areas. It is every student’s responsibility to keep the music area neat.  Pick up after yourself, always keep your instrument in its proper storage area and return stands and chairs to the stage or practice areas. All instruments are to be stored in your assigned storage area.



If a student is in violation of any school or music department policies while on a school trip, he/she will be dismissed from the event and the parent/guardian will be contacted and expected to pick his/her child up and return them home.  In the event the parent/guardian cannot be contacted, the alternate adult will be contacted and asked to do the same.  If either cannot be contacted, the student will be separated from his/her peers and remain with a chaperon or the director until he/she returns to the parent/guardian.  Disciplinary actions will be determined by the director and school administrators, and the parent/guardian and student will be informed of the decision.  For school policies, refer to the Vergennes Union High School Handbook.  School policies are always in force and take precedent over all other policies on any activity in and out of school.