• Champlin Park High School Music Department

    Orchestra Hand Book

    The Champlin Park Orchestra Program is a dynamic team of young musicians who play great music together. Through participation in a musical ensemble, we grow as leaders, artists and scholars. By practicing, performing, and learning the language of music, we become lifelong musicians.

    Mr. Levi Comstock





    Varsity Orchestra (Hour 4)

    Open to all incoming freshmen, the Varsity Orchestra performs string orchestra repertoire from a variety of cultures and genres. Varsity musicians learn advanced techniques, including shifting and vibrato, become more independent musicians through an emphasis on theory and note reading, and learn to use the bow in more nuanced and expressive ways. 

    Philharmonia Orchestra (Hours 2 and 3)

    Philharmonia is open to students who have completed a year in Varsity Orchestra and demonstrate competence in the basic skills taught in that class. The orchestra performs a wide variety of repertoire, including American and popular styles, frequently featuring a drum set or rhythm section. Students begin to explore improvisation, extended techniques, and more advanced shifting. 

    Concert Orchestra (Hour 1)

    Concert Orchestra performs repertoire from a variety of styles, with an emphasis on symphonic masterworks, joined by selected wind players from Concert Band. Acceptance into Concert Orchestra is by audition only. Students must demonstrate mastery of the technical and musical skills addressed in Philharmonia and Varsity Orchestras. 

    Chamber Orchestra (7am-7:30am, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Sept, Oct, Jan, Feb, Apr, May)

    Chamber Orchestra is Champlin Park’s elite, auditioned extracurricular string ensemble, performing for contests and gigs. Rehearses Tuesdays and Thursdays in September, January, and February.

    Caroling Strings and Fiddle Club (7am-7:30am Tues, Thurs in Nov, Dec, Apr, May)

    Open to all, these fun extracurricular ensembles rehearse in the winter and spring and perform holiday and fiddle music for gigs and the school coffee house.

    Concerts and Events 2017-2018








    Orchestra Picnic

    Sept 5,4-7pm





    Fall Concert

    Oct 22, 7:30pm





    Winter Concert

    Dec 17, 7:30pm





    NWSC Preview Concert

    Feb 6, 7:30pm




    NWSC Festival

    Feb 10, 1-5:30pm




    Stringsation Concert

    Feb 25, 7:30pm





    Solo and Ensemble Contest

    Feb 29, TBD






    String Fling

    Mar 31, 7:30pm





    Large Group Contest

    April 2, School hours





    Lullaby Concert

    Apr 14, 5:30-6:30pm





    Spring Concert

    May 21, 7:30pm






    Concert Attire

    Our clothing sends a message about who we are and what we do. On stage, we dress to look like a team and we dress to convey the pride we have in our music and in each other. Whatever your uniform, wear it well. Keep it clean and neat, see that it fits well, and tuck in what should be tucked in, so that every time you take the stage, you look and feel professional.


    Philharmonia and Varsity Orchestra: All Black

    Women may wear black skirts, dresses, or dress pants with a black dress shirt or blouse. Skirts must be below the knee while sitting, and tops cannot be strapless or low cut. Students are responsible for purchasing these items on their own. If a student cannot purchase these items, please see the director to make other arrangements.

    Men wear black dress shirts and black dress pants with a black belt, black socks, and black shoes. A black tie and black suit coat are optional.

    Students are responsible for purchasing these items on their own. If a student cannot purchase these items, please see the director to make other arrangements.


    Concert Orchestra: Tuxedos and Dresses

    Concert orchestra wears tuxedos and dresses, provided by the school. Students will be fitted for these at the beginning of the year and are responsible for returning them in good condition. Men will need to purchase a tux shirt through Ms. Grivna.

    Grading Policy

    Learning Targets

    Your orchestra grade describes the skills and knowledge you have shown in five categories:


    Left Hand Skills (Finger patterns, intonation, shifting, Vibrato) - 20%

    Right Hand Skills (Tone, bowing, articulation, dynamics) - 20%

    Rhythmic and tonal Literacy (Reading, writing, composing, improvising) – 20%

    Ensemble Skills (Collaboration, concert performance, rehearsal skills) - 15%

    Musicianship (Reflection, critical thinking, analysis) - 15%

    Common Summative Assessment (CSA) - 10%


    Assignment types

    Performance Tests demonstrate skills in one or more of the five categories and will receive separate grades in each. For example, tests over concert music may receive a separate grade in each category, while a scale test may assess only pitch. Think of this as spreading the rubric out into separate grading categories.


    Written Work will typically assess knowledge in just one of the five categories. For example, a test over key signatures would fall under the category of “Musical Literacy”


    Classwork will be assessed through skill checks, such as “perform correct bow directions for these measures.” Students will always be aware of which skills are being checked during class, but students may not always be told exactly when the check is taking place. Students may also be asked to self-assess their work in class.


    Concert Performance and Reflection will be assessed based on on-stage observations and self reflections. Each musician will receive a score for demonstrating musical proficiency in a concert setting. Students will also complete a self-evaluation of their concert performance. These will fall under the category of Expression/Musicianship.


    Late work

    Work is due on the due date. If students have not completed a recorded test, they will need to do it in class, and they will be given only one take. Recorded tests can be completed in class using school equipment if needed, but it is the student’s responsibility to request any accommodations that are needed. In the case of absence, illness, or technology issues, it is the student’s responsibility to communicate early if an extension is needed. Students are responsible for checking Google Classroom for any missing assignments.



    All work can be resubmitted until one week before the end of the trimester. For every assignment except the CSA, students can receive up to full credit on any assignment if they choose to resubmit.


    Concert Makeup

    If a student misses a concert, it can be made up through a two-part assignment: 

    The student must perform their music for a live audience and watch/reflect upon a concert of at least 40 minutes in length. The live performance must be completed within one week of the student’s first day back.

    Materials and Equipment

    Daily Materials

    Each day, students are responsible for bringing to class:


    • Instrument in excellent working condition (violins and violas must have a shoulder rest)
    • Pencil
    • Music folder with music
    • Orchestra notebook


    Instrument Rental

    Each student must have an instrument to use. School cellos and basses are available for use during class. For the use of these instruments, students pay $50 toward the cost of annual maintenance and must return a signed contract certifying responsibility for daily care and protection of the instrument. A limited number of school-owned instruments are available for home use. Students with financial need should contact Mr. Comstock early to arrange rental of these instruments, at a cost of an additional $25 for the year.  For those renting an instrument for home and using a school cello or bass, the cost is $75 for both. Rental fees are due by the end of Trimester 1 in order to receive grades.


    Music Supplies

    Schmitt Music comes once a week to take and deliver orders. Students may place an order through this company by filling out an order form and placing it, with payment, in the folder by Mr. Johnson’s desk. For any questions about orders, please contact Schmitt Music directly: 1 (877) 724-6488.


    Instrument Storage and Security

    Violin and viola students will be assigned a locker, and are responsible for securing their instrument each day. Every instrument must have a tag, labeled with the owners name and contact information. It is unacceptable to use another student’s instrument without permission.


    Classroom Website: http://anokahennepin.schoolwires.net/Page/23873

    For all handbook information and resource links 

    Google Classroom: Through this site students can upload and receive feedback on playing tests. It can be accessed using a student’s AHApps login. It is a student’s responsibility to check Google Classroom regularly for assignments.

    E-mail: levi.comstock@ahschools.us

    Preferred way to reach me with questions and concerns. I will send out updates and reminders to the e-mails listed in Synergy, the school database.

    Phone: My Google Voice number is 612-460-7074. This is preferable to the number listed in the school directory. Its voicemail is checked often during school hours and can be routed through my cell phone for occasions such as field trips and festival days.

    Remind: Students are encouraged to sign up for the class Remind list in order to receive Text Message alerts and reminders for class.



    Music letter awards recognize excellence, leadership, and service through the orchestra program. Points carry over from year to year, and students can earn one additional letter each year by accumulating the following cumulative total number of points:


    Lettering points will be submitted via Google Form in April


    Level 1 (15 points): Academic Letter, Letter Jacket Chevron

    Level 2 (30 points): Orchestra Achievement Award

    Level 3 (45 points): Certificate of Distinction

    Level 4 (60 points): Maestro's Circle Award


    1 point per trimester:

    -Private lessons on any instrument

    -Participation in chamber orchestra, Caroling Strings, or Fiddle Club

    -Participation in pit orchestra

    -Participation in an outside group (ex: GTCYS, MYS, church praise band)

    -Volunteering as orchestra librarian

    -Serving on orchestra council or as a section leader


    1 point per activity:

    -Auditioning for an outside group (including All State, GTCYS, MYS, National Youth Orchestra)

    -Performance with All State Orchestra

    -Performance in Solo/Ensemble contest

    -Receiving a Superior rating in Solo/Ensemble contest

    -Other solo or small group performance

    -Volunteering at an orchestra event

    -Volunteering at JMS string help sessions (up to 2 per trimester) 

    -Attending a live concert with orchestral instruments (must turn in program and a brief summary)


    5 points per year:

    -Attending all concerts* and passing all trimesters of orchestra


    *If an absence is excused, points can be earned if makeup assignment is completed and turned in on time.


    -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -


    Orchestra Placement and Auditions


    In order to perform in Concert Orchestra, students must demonstrate the skills needed to master the repertoire. These include solid note reading skills, comfort in shifting, a basic vibrato, a characteristic tone, command of several distinct bow strokes, and good intonation in two octave scales up to three sharps and flats. A demonstrated ability to work productively in student led sectionals, learn music independently, and contribute positively to a large group rehearsal are also essential prerequisites.


    Placement in Concert Orchestra can be competitive. While it is possible to enter Concert Orchestra as a sophomore, the majority of students will join in their Junior or Senior year.  The skills learned in Philharmonia are foundational to success in Concert and beyond.


    Audition material for Concert Orchestra will be available in January. Auditions will be held in March, and students will be notified in April of their orchestra placement for next year. In addition to the audition, students’ initiative and accomplishments throughout the school year will be considered. 


    Classroom Leadership



    We are one orchestra, and each member of each section has an equal part to play in performance. This year, students will choose their stand partner at the beginning of a new concert cycle. Every week, the section will rotate by one stand. Mr. Comstock will ensure that for each concert the rotation is set to give each musician the experience of performing in different parts of the section. There is no hierarchy within the section.


    Section Leaders and Assistant Section Leaders

    Section leaders will be chosen by application and demonstration of playing ability. Qualifications include strong performance and reading skills, an ability to lead and cue the section, and a willingness to lead sectionals. Section leaders will serve for one concert cycle at a time, but there is no limit to the number of times a student could serve.


    The duties of a section leader are:

    -Take attendance for your section at top of each hour

    -Learn the music early, and know it well enough to teach it

    -Lead sectional rehearsals

    -Lead your section during rehearsals

    -Help establish a culture of excellence

    -Ensure that your section has the correct bowings and fingerings

    -Arrive to concerts in time to make sure everyone has adequate space


    The duties of an assistant section leader are:

    -Support the section leader in their duties and assume them in their absence

    -Keep all music and extra pencils (Mr. Comstock can provide these initially). Make copies when needed and make sure everyone gets the markings.

    -Collect the extra copies of music and collect one for anyone absent

    -Help to ensure that garbage is not left in your section


    Orchestra Council
    The Orchestra Council will consist of two representatives from each orchestra, elected for a one-year term by popular vote at the beginning of the school year. The job of the council is to ensure that every orchestra member feels valued and welcomed as part of a team and a community. The council will meet at least once a month to plan social events, organize branding efforts (ie Orchestra Swag), birthday recognitions, etc.



    Each trimester, one or more students may volunteer as orchestra librarian, tasked with copying and refilling music to help keep our space organized. This may be a student who is serving as a TA, or a student who volunteers after or before school. This position is eligible for lettering points as well as service hours.


    Classroom Procedures & Expectations

    • Class begins two minutes after the bell. Students must be in their seat with their instrument and necessary equipment (i.e. all music, supplies, and a pencil) at that time.


    • With the exception of sealable water bottles, no food or drink is to be brought into the classroom. This includes gum. If you see garbage in the classroom, please dispose of it to help keep our rehearsal space clean.


    • Students will actively work to make orchestra a safe, welcoming, and fun environment for all. Challenge yourself to learn the name of and at least one cool thing about each person in your ensemble. Shut down gossip when you hear it. 


    • Practice professionalism and courtesy. Choose appropriate language and topics of discussion.


    • Take care of all the equipment. Use only your own instrument unless given specific permission. When using school instruments, put the end pin back when you are done, loosen the bow, and wipe down the strings.


    • Cell phones are not allowed during rehearsals except when instructed to use them for course-related purposes. If a cell phone is deemed a distraction, it will be confiscated according to CPHS policy.


    • Students are expected to follow school behavior expectations including policies on hats, headphones and appropriate dress.


    -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -


    At Champlin Park High School we celebrate our differences and recognize the benefits of a diverse student body.  For this reason we must take a stand against offensive language and hate speech. Racially offensive and/or homophobic language as well as any other derogatory slur towards a specific group has no place in our school or this classroom.  We will document and report language that is hateful and hurtful and leads to feelings of being ostracized (not accepted) from the Champlin Park family.