String Orchestra Grading

General Concept

Your grade will be based upon two categories: Teacher Assigned Grades (TAG) and Student Choice Grades (SCG).

TAGs make up 90% of your grade while the SCGs account for the remaining 10%.

TAGs: You will have a variety of required teacher assigned projects, rehearsals, performances, etc. that will each have assigned point values and are considered mandatory for the course. In addition to these teacher assigned grades, there will be an additional category of grade where the STUDENT will choose from a selection of assignment possibilities to earn the remaining points that are available in the marking period.

SCGs: By giving you choice as to which assignments (and how many assignments) you complete, it is my hope that you can choose the options which best fit with your personal strengths and weaknesses as a musician and potentially fit into your personal schedules with greater ease for you.

Every semester (2MPs) will have 150 possible points. The student choice portion will be out of 15 points. The students will choose which assignments (and how many assignments) they will need to complete to earn as many of the 15 points as they need to earn their semester grade of choice. Earning the top grade of an ‘A’ in Orchestra should not be difficult for most orchestra students.


It is essential to me that students understand two aspects about this grading policy this year: 

  1. This grading system is designed as a framework for the student to develop their skills as a musician, without regard to their current ability level. It is designed in a way that allows students to choose and personalize a portion of the grading path which they are going to follow to make that progress. In other words, I have created choices of assignments which will allow the basic, proficient, and advanced orchestra student to challenge themselves towards personal improvement.

  2. This grading system is designed as a way to better align the grading systems and evaluations in Orchestra with what students are typically seeing and using in other academic courses. Please consider the student choice assignments in a similar way to how other courses require homework and projects which are intended to occur outside of the school day. In some cases it will only require 2 or 3 SCG assignments to earn enough points to reach the exceptional grade of an “A” in Orchestra. For some others, they may choose to do 4-5 smaller assignments to earn the same grade. The path you choose to follow is up to the student, but allows ALL students to earn the grade they wish to receive.

Teacher Assigned Grades

135 points

135 possible points. Below is the breakdown of these 135 points.

50pts - Orchestra Concert or Assigned Graded Performance

25pts - Required Dress Rehearsal

25pts - Assigned Whitesheets

10pts - In Class Assignment

25pts - CLASS ROOM ENGAGEMENT GRADE:  (including preparation and participation)

Student Choice Grades

15 points

15 possible points.  Students will select the assignments they wish to complete in this section to earn points for this grade category each marking period.

A. ETUDE:   (requires a minimum of ONE FULL WEEK of practice time). Student will learn an assigned section of an etude or a piece of music designed to enhance student techniques. The teacher will select/approve the excerpt.  Student will work on the excerpt in their own time and will create and submit  a video performance or will arrange to play the etude live for the teacher.

  • Grade: 5 pts (Grade depends on performance quality/effort towards successful performance)

  • Limit: Max. of 2 per Marking Period

B. Practice EXCERPTS from Performance Music - AT HOME: Each marking period, the teacher will post excerpts from the performance music. These excerpts would be practiced on your own and then recorded and submitted by audio or video recording or arranged to play live for the teacher. EXCERPTS can only be submitted BEFORE the date of the assigned concert that marking period. No excerpts will be accepted after the date of the performance. 

  • Grade: up to 5 pts (Grade depends on performance quality/effort towards successful performance)

  • Limit: 1 submission per MP/Concert (must be submitted before concert)

C. PRACTICE SESSION - at school: Work on the Classroom Orchestra Music or music for private lessons after school. There is no performance requirement for this session. These sessions may only be completed between  2:30-3:15  or 2:45-3:30. Only 1 session can be completed on the same date (i.e.  you may not stay twice as long for more points on a single day)   

  • Grade: 3 pts for a 30 minute session (typically 2:30-3:15 or 2:45-3:30) ·

  • LIMIT: None

D. LARGE ORCHESTRA REHEARSAL/ STUDENT CHOICE REHEARSAL: (THE EASIEST WAY TO EARN POINTS) Attend an after school Orchestra rehearsal scheduled by the director (does not include the required dress rehearsals for performances).   

  • Grade : 7 Pts (Graded on attendance of a 90 minute rehearsal. Pts may be reduced/pro-rated at director discretion for attendance of less than the complete rehearsal time)

  • Limit: Only available when a group rehearsal is scheduled

E. "WHAT DID YOU LEARN?" Whitesheet: Submit via email an additional whitesheet on a topic or subject matter different than the assigned whitesheet. The topic of this type of whitesheet is to be a reflection on something which you learned as a result of your orchestra studies. The purpose of this whitesheet is NOT to simply review a lesson which was taught. The purpose should be a reflection on how something you have learned (connected to music, orchestra, or something related) has impacted on your life and made you experience something in a new way. Whitesheet should demonstrate adequate thought and reflection on the chosen topic to receive credit.

  • Grade: 3 Pts

  • LIMIT: 1 extra whitesheet per Marking Period (you may still submit whitesheets whenever you’d like if you have important things to ask or share).

F. ONLINE Orchestra Quiz: In your time at home (or in study hall, etc) complete an online Music/Orchestra quiz or challenge scoring an acceptable minimum score. 

  • Grade: 3 Pts

  • Limit: Only as many as are offered each Marking Period

G. DESIGN-YOUR-OWN ORCHESTRA SERVICE/PERFORMANCE GRADE: This category will require a student to come up with a proposal which is approved by the director in ADVANCE.  Approval will be given on a case-by-case basis. The student must adequately complete the approved task in the agreed upon manner and timeframe.  

  • Grade: Pt value to be determined by director