Orchestra Handbook


Welcome and hello to all students and parents involved in the Victoria West High School Orchestra Program. The Victoria West Orchestra (VWO) is a tight-knit family and is dependent upon the participation of its students and their parents. Your time and participation will help build a strong, quality program we all can be proud of

This handbook will serve as an outline to answer questions as well as provide a few guidelines. It is important that students and parents read through this handbook COMPLETELY and sign and return the required forms at the back. This will indicate your notification and acceptance of the policies of our high school orchestra. Please retain the remainder of the handbook at home so that you may refer to it when necessary.

We look forward to a great and successful with you!


Justin Balli
Head Orchestra Director, West HS / East HS

Erin Griffard
Assistant Orchestra Director, Patti Welder MS / Cade MS




Justin Balli

Head Orchestra Director



7:00 – 7:45

7:45 – 8:40

8:45 – 9:30

9:40 - 10:35

10:35 - 11:05

11:10 – 12:05

12:10 – 1:05

MW: 1:36 – 2:29

MW: 2:29 - 3:00

MW: 3:00 - 3:45


West HS – Morning practice

West HS – Camerata Orchestra

West HS – Sinfonia Orchestra

East HS - Conference

East HS - Lunch

East HS - Philharmonic Orchestra

East HS - Camerata Orchestra 

Cade MS – Advanced Orchestra

Cade MS – First-Year Orchestra

West HS - Afternoon practice

TR: 1:45 - 2:34

TR:: 2:34 - 2:45

TR: 3:00 - 3:45

Howell MS - Advanced Orchestra

East HS

East HS - Afternoon practice

Erin Griffard

Assistant Orchestra Director


7:00 – 7:45

7:45 – 8:40

8:45 – 9:35

10:02 – 10:51

11:59 – 12:48

1:36 – 2:29

2:33 - 3:35

3:35 – 4:05


West HS – Morning practice

West HS – Sinfonia Orchestra

West HS – Camerata Orchestra

Patti Welder MS - Advanced Orchestra



Patti Welder MS - First-Year Orchestra

Cade MS - Advanced Orchestra

Cade MS - First-Year Orchestra

Cade MS - Afternoon practice


Sinfonia Orchestra
The Sinfonia Orchestra is an AUDITIONING group. This means that for a student to be in this orchestra, he/she must audition. Please be aware than an audition does not guarantee automatic admission. The student must be able to perform the audition material at a high quality with proper technique and tone. Sinfonia meets during 1st period and the class takes place in the Choir Room. The students in this orchestra are required to audition for the Region XIV Orchestra, participate in UIL Solo and Ensemble, UIL Concert and Sight Reading, perform four concerts a year and participate in any other event related to the orchestra.

 Camerata Orchestra
The Camerata Orchestra is not an auditioning group, but students must have at least one year of playing experience in an orchestra class to join. Camerata meets during 2nd period in the Choir Room. Students in this orchestra have the option to audition for the Region XIV Orchestra and Solo and Ensemble. All students passing must participate in UIL Concert and Sight-Reading, perform four concerts a year and participate in any other event related to the orchestra. If a student chooses to audition for the Region XIV Orchestra or participate in Solo and Ensemble, he/she MUST attend before or after school rehearsals and demonstrate commitment to individual practice 


  • Correct size instrument in good working condition. No colored instruments.

  • Pencil EVERY day in class

  • Cleaning cloth kept in your case. (A piece of an old t-shirt works great!)

  • Rosin

  • Shoulder rest (for Violins and Violas)

  • Rock stop/straps (for Cellos and Basses)

  • Orchestra activity fee $40 (binders, sheet protectors, social events, any materials used during class, and includes orchestra t-shirt)

You may purchase or rent an instrument as well as supplies at any reputable music vendor.  Consult your teacher if you are not sure:

Collins Music Store              Tee’s House of Music           Terra Nova Violins

3112 N Navarro St                  906 E Red River St                 7795 Burnet Rd,

Victoria, TX 77901                 Victoria, TX 77901                 Austin, TX 78757

(361) 582-0357                       (361) 575-0204                       (512) 640-4072


SHAR Music (online)           Terra Nova Violins               Katy Violin Shop

www.sharmusic.com 6983 Blanco Rd. 5131 S Fry Rd #500

(800) 248-7427                       San Antonio, TX 78216          Katy, TX 77450

sharserv@sharmusic.com (210) 349-4700 (281) 769-1778


General Classroom Rules

  1. No gum, candy, food or drinks allowed in the classroom.

  2. Respect all students, teachers and property. Derogatory and negative comments will not be tolerated.

  3. Be in your seat with all materials (instrument, music, and pencil) by the time the tardy bell rings.

  4. Electronic devices will not be allowed in class unless permitted by teacher for assignment. If a student is caught with an electronic device, it will be confiscated. Headphones/ear buds put away before class.

  5. Stay in your seat during class and refrain from distracting others.

  6. Be attentive and ready to work with musically focused participation. (If the student is too ill to participate in orchestra activities, he or she should study and follow with the group.)

  7. Long fingernails are NOT permitted. Proper finger placement is only possible with trimmed nails. Students will be asked to trim nails with provided clipper if nails are too long.

Rehearsal Rules

  1. Place belongings in designated areas and retrieve all materials needed for class (instrument, music, pencil, etc.)

  2. Tune BEFORE rehearsal starts. Ask section leader or teacher for help.

  3. Students will stop warming up/playing/tuning when concert master stands up. Concert master will lead open string tuning and start warmups.

  4. Students are to remain active and attentive throughout the rehearsal. If the teacher is working with another section you are expected to shadow bow/study your own music.



  1. Verbal warning

  2. Conference after class/Phone call to parent

  3. Detention

  4. ISS/Referral

Severe disruptions will result in the student being sent immediately to the office


Tardy Policy

  1. Class starts when the bell rings. Classroom doors will be locked.

  2. Students must get a tardy slip to enter classroom.

  3. If a student is not ready when the concert master stands it will count as a tardy. Student will be sent to retrieve a tardy slip.

  4. Tardy procedures will be conducted according to school wide policy.


  1. Students must present ID Badge with sticker for restroom use.

  2. An email, phone call or signed hall pass must be presented in order to go to another class/counselor/ap etc.

  3. Students must present FINE ARTS HALLWAY PASS to hall monitor for morning/afternoon access.

  4. Students will not be permitted to leave during the first and last 10 minutes of class


Daily grade – 40%

  • Playing assignments - Bringing all materials to class every day

  • Sectionals - Correct position and posture

  • Written assignments

  • Unannounced materials check

Tests – 30%

  • Chair Tests - Written Tests

  • Playing Tests

Performance – 30%

  • Concerts

  • Contests and Competitions

Playing tests: There will be a playing test every week starting on the 2nd week of school. Playing tests will usually be a brief 2-4 measures and will be taken during class time. Students will play their tests in front of their fellow students.

Playing tests may be made up any time before the 9 weeks is over. A student will have unlimited amount of tries to try and get the grade they want. Make-ups will not occur during class and will have to be scheduled either before or after school.

 Chair tests: There will be one chair test at the beginning of every 9 weeks. Chair tests will usually consist of an 8-12 measure excerpt. Students will play their chair tests in front of fellow students. Chair tests may not be made up. If a student has an excused absence results won’t be posted until that student is able to perform the test.



Orchestra is a performing class. Class time is used for rehearsal for these performances and it is of utmost importance that the orchestra performs with the same number of musicians as it rehearses with. You will be given plenty of notice for scheduled concerts. It is your responsibility to make arrangements for arriving at the concert site at the correct time. 

Excused Absence

  1. You will be excused for personal illness and family emergencies.

  2. A written/emailed notice from a parent/guardian OR a doctor’s excuse is required within 3 school days.

  3. Conflicts with another school activity must be worked out between the two teachers at least one week prior to the concert.

  4. Notice of prior commitments should be given to teacher at least one week prior to concert.

  5. Student will perform concert material for teacher as an alternate assignment for full credit.

 Unexcused Absence

  1. “I did not have a ride” will result in an unexcused absence.

  2. “I did not take off for work” will result in an unexcused absence.

  3. If student fails to provide a notice within 3 school days, the student will receive an unexcused absence.

  4. Student will perform concert material for teacher and/or class as an alternate assignment for up to 70 percent of the grade.


Concert Attire and Uniforms

It is important for our orchestras to look professional while on stage. There will be two attire options throughout the year for our concerts. Students are expected to follow the attire/uniform guidelines as listed below. No variations will be allowed. Jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes are NEVER allowed on stage. A student may be asked to sit the concert out if not properly dressed.

All Black

Students must follow the guidelines below in order to fulfill this attire choice and all articles of clothing must be all black.

 Men                                                                 Women

- Long-sleeve button down shirt (tucked in)  - Dress shirt/blouse w/ dress slacks or skirt

- Dress slacks                                                  - Long dress

- Belt                                                               - Short dress (below the knee) w/ leggings

- Dress socks and dress shoes                         - Dress shoes

Formal Attire

Orchestra tuxedos and dresses to be provided by your school. Please be aware we will try our best to provide the student with the best size match based on availability:

Men                                                                 Women

- White tuxedo shirt                                        - Black dress

- Black bow tie                                               - Black dress shoes

- Black tuxedo coat                                         - Black stockings

- Black tuxedo pants

- Black socks

- Black dress shoes

The attire for our events this year will be the following:

October Concert: All Black                         Region Auditions: Casual

December Concert: Formal Attire               Region Concert: Formal Attire

Pre-UIL Concert/UIL: Formal Attire          Solo & Ensemble: All Black

May Concert: All Black


Care of your instrument

  1. Keep your hands washed and cleaned before handling.

  2. Wipe your instrument down with your cloth after every use.

  3. Be careful self-tuning your instrument. Do not use pegs unless taught how to use them.

  4. Never allow others to play your instrument.

  5. Never attempt to repair your instrument by yourself.

Care of your bow

  1. Do not touch the hair of the bow.

  2. Tighten the bow before use. Loosen the bow after use.

  3. Wipe the stick of the bow to avoid rosin build-up.

District Owned Instruments

The district owns a limited number of violin, violas, cellos and basses for student rental. There is an annual VISD instrument fee of $80 for high school. This money is used to help cover repair expenses caused by normal wear and tear. It is not designed to cover cost from damage or loss of the instrument due to theft/misplacement or neglect. This type of repair is the responsibility of the student who is using the instrument.

Please ask your director for the Instrument Loan Agreement Form if you are needing to use a district instrument. 

If a district owned instrument is damaged beyond repair, the student is responsible for replacing it and will not receive another instrument from the district until it is replaced.


It is recommended that you purchase or rent your own instrument from one of the music stores listed above. Having your own instrument, either renting or owning guarantees that you will not have to share a district owned instrument with another member of the orchestra


When possible, we try to provide a school instrument. It is recommended that you rent or buy your own so that you may practice at home.



To participate in any extra-curricular activity, students must pass all classes the grading period prior to the event. If a student earns a grade lower than a 70 in any class, state law prohibits participation in any extra-curricular event.

Extra-curricular events:                              Curricular events:

(Eligibility rules apply)                                  (Eligibility does not apply)

- Region auditions                                          - Extra rehearsals (before or after school)

- Region concert                                             - Concerts

- UIL Solo and Ensemble contest                  - Social events

- UIL Concert and Sight-Reading Contest

- Field trips

There are multiple ways you can obtain help on campus if you are struggling in a class.

West Homework Center

Monday           7:30 - 8:30 & 4:30 - 6:00

Tuesday          7:30 - 8:30 & 4:30 - 8:00

Wednesday     7:30 - 8:30

Thursday         7:30 - 8:30  & 4:30 - 8:00

Thursday         7:30 - 8:30 


The orchestra does two fundraisers a year. 

Money raised by students from these two events goes towards the orchestra’s sundry account which pays for social events, supplies, music, instruments etc.

In addition, fundraising through our Booster Club goes towards trip payments and banquet.


In order to receive an Orchestra Letterman, a student must complete the following requirements. 

  1. Enroll in orchestra in high school for at least 3 semesters.

  2. Maintain an A average in orchestra class for those 3 semesters.

  3. Have achieved total 20 points for extracurricular orchestra activities.

2 points for Region Orchestra audition

5 points for Region Orchestra participation

2 points for All-State Orchestra audition

6 points for All-State Orchestra participation

1 point for Solo & Ensemble participation

1 point for 1st division on a class 3 solo or ensemble

2 points for 1st division on a class 2 solo or ensemble

3 points for 1st division on a class 1 solo or ensemble

2 points for State Solo & Ensemble participation

4 points for 1st division on state solo or ensemble 

2 points for participating in orchestra fundraisers; 4 points max per year

1 point for participating regularly in outside school performing ensembles (community

orchestra, district musicals, summer music camps, etc.) 4 points max per year

1 point for being a section leader/principle. 4 points max per year

1 point for attending concerts (Victoria symphony, crossroads strings, or high school.

Bring back the concert program.) 4 points max per year

1 point for participating in set-up crew for concerts and other orchestra events; 2 points per year


It is beneficial for both parents and students to sign up for our REMIND classes because of the many concerts, rehearsals and contests that involve this class. REMIND allows the director to send text and email messages directly to those signed up for quick and convenient reminders for events.

Please sign up for either Text or Email or both. To sign up for a remind class follow these instructions:

1st Period                                                        2nd Period      
Sinfonia Orchestra                                       Camerata Orchestra           

Text message:                                                 Text message:

Enter this number: 81010                               Enter this number: 81010

Text this message: @vwosorch                     Text this message: @vwocorch

Send                                                                Send 

Email:                                                             Email:

Enter this address:                                          Enter this address:
vwosorch@mail.remind.com vwocorch@mail.remind.com

Send (no subject required)                             Send (no subject required)

OR use this Link:                                            OR use this Link:

https://www.remind.com/join/vwosorch https://www.remind.com/join/vwocorch