Oct. 15 – 19, 2018

PRACTICE RECORDS: This week’s practice record must be submitted online before the start of your band/orchestra class on Friday, October 19th.

FALL CONCERT: The 2018 Fall Concert is next week, on the evening of Thursday, October 25th!  Please see the post below for further details.

FALL CONCERT CONCESSIONS: We are in need of donations of food and drinks to be sold at the concessions table before and after the Fall Concert on October 25th.  Please see the post below for further details.

FULL ORCHESTRA REHEARSAL: Advanced Band and Orchestra will rehearse together for their Fall Concert full orchestra finale after school on Tuesday, October 16th from 2:30 to 3:00 PM.  The second and final full orchestra rehearsal will be after school on Wednesday, October 24th, also from 2:30 to 3:00 PM.

ADVANCED Q1PA: Advanced Band and Orchestra will be taking their Quarter 1 Performance Assessment starting Monday.  These classes will resume regular rehearsals once the entire class has completed all four components of the assessment.  See all pertinent details for the assessment in the post below.

INTERMEDIATE Q1PA: Intermediate classes will be taking their Quarter 1 Performance Assessment next week starting on Monday, October 22.  Testing will occur during class through the week until the entire class has completed all three components of the assessment.  Please see the post below for all pertinent details relating to the test.

CHAMBER MUSIC: Established groups should begin rehearsing immediately.  Incomplete groups and “free agents” must find themselves in a fully established group no later than the end of the school day on Friday, October 19th.  If you are an incomplete group or “free agent,” please see the Chamber Group “Classified Ads” on the Chamber Ensembles class page for details and contact information.  Once a group is formed, they should begin rehearsing immediately.

SSC: SSC will on Tuesday and Thursday at lunch as normal.

PRACTICE RECORD/PROGRESS REPORT CONCERNS: Please see the message below if you have concerns about the practice record submission process, progress reports, or your overall grade in your band/orchestra class.


Fall Concert

Our 2018 Fall Concert will be held on Thursday, October 25, 2018!  This year’s twist on the concert is that it will feature both Advanced Band and Advanced Orchestra – two groups that rarely share the stage!  As always, admission is free, student call time is 6:30 PM, and the concert will begin at 7:00 PM.  If you are new to the program, or just need a refresher on concert attire, please visit page 2 of the syllabus on the Documents/Forms page.

Intermediate classes are not performing in this concert, but if you are in Intermediate Band or Intermediate Orchestra, you can earn a free full-credit practice record by attending the 2018 Fall Concert!  Make sure to have your program stamped by Mr. Brown, Mr. Scharf, or Mr. Leak after the concert.  Turn in your stamped program with your name written on it in class on Friday, October 26th or Monday, October 29th to receive your free full-credit practice record.  Details on how this will be implemented will be shared in class.

Finally, please support the MMS Instrumental Music program by purchasing concessions at the concert, or donating food or drink items to be sold at the concessions table!  Please bring cash for purchases.  Details on donating items to be sold can be found in the post below.

Fall Concert Concessions

Dear MMS Instrumental Music students and families,

Our Fall Concert is fast approaching!  Advanced Band and Orchestra will be performing on Thursday, October 25 at 7:00 PM in the Marshall Middle School theater.  We are pleased to offer snacks and drinks for sale before and after the concert at our concessions stand.  We rely on donations from families in order to stock our concessions.  All proceeds from concessions sales go directly to the Marshall Instrumental Music Program.

Click here to sign up to donate food or drinks.  Drinks and factory-sealed, non-perishable food items can be sent in through your student in their band/orchestra class during the week of the concert.  Please wait to drop off perishable or non-factory-sealed items at our concessions table in front of the theater between 6:00 – 6:30 pm the night of the concert.

Thank you,

Mare Mountain
Concessions coordinator
Advanced Orchestra mom

Oct. 8 – 12, 2018

PRACTICE RECORDS: This week’s practice record must be submitted online before the start of your band/orchestra class on Friday, October 12th.

QUARTER 1 PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT: Advanced classes will be taking their first playing test of the year during classes next week (Oct. 15 – 19).  Intermediate classes will be receiving their testing materials early this week and will take their test during the week of October 22 – 26.  Please see the post below for all pertinent details relating to these tests.  Links to the intermediate testing materials in the post below will go live after students have received explanations and physical copies of the materials.

CHAMBER MUSIC PROGRAM MEETING: Students who signed up to learn about the chamber music program should check their email inboxes to learn about the date, time, and place of the informational meeting.

PRACTICE RECORD/PROGRESS REPORT CONCERNS: Please see the message below if you have concerns about the practice record submission process, progress reports, or your overall grade in your band/orchestra class.

Progress Reports and Practice Records

Dear MMS Instrumental Music students and families,

I have recently received a large amount of emails from students and parents regarding both the online practice record submission process as well as concern over their student’s current overall grade appearing on their progress report in my class.  Because these emails have been so many in number, I will no longer be responding individually to parents or students with questions about these three topics for the time being.  My statements pertaining to these issues are below.

Please understand that progress reports are unofficial grades that document a student’s progress in each of their classes at that moment in time.  Progress report grades are not recorded into student transcripts.  Only semester grades are final and permanent.  Everyone can easily monitor student grades using PowerSchool throughout the entire school year.  Progress reports are simply the periodically-printed reports of what can be viewed in PowerSchool.

MMS distributes grade reports every six weeks.  The first two reports of a semester are progress reports, and the third report are the student’s final grades for the semester.  For further details about progress reports and grading periods, please see the opening pages of the MMS student planner.

There are many students that currently have an overall academic grade of “D” in band/orchestra classes.  These are students who currently have a zero score for the practice record due on September 28th.  I completely understand the level of shock and disappointment that can result from seeing that grade on a progress report.  Please do not take this personally, and understand that this is simply an unfortunate and temporary mathematical circumstance, and not a punishment or consequence directed at the student.

The 2018 – 2019 school year is still very young, and only a small number of point-earning opportunities have presented themselves thus far.  There are typically over 500 points available for MMS Instrumental Music classes in a semester, and on this first progress report, only 77 points will have been assessed.  With so few possible points at the moment, lost points represent a much larger percentage of the overall grade than they will when semester grades are finalized.  For example, the 10 points of the practice record in question represents just 2% of 500 points, and a whopping 13% of 77 points.  The question then becomes, “Why isn’t the grade a ‘B’?”  The answer is that I weight the categories of grades in my class.  Participation points make up 50% of the overall grade, practice records are 30%, and performance assessments (playing tests) represent 20%.  Once the semester comes to a close, these categories and scores will all come into perspective.  In the early stages of a school year, though, weighted grade categories like this can blow small blemishes out of proportion.

The bottom line of this issue is this: If you are currently seeing a surprisingly low academic grade for this class, please do not panic.  Progress reports are not official grades, and the grade will rise naturally as more and more points are given for participation week after week, and point-earning opportunities like weekly practice records and performance assessments come to pass.

In regards to the weekly practice record submission process, please see the following points:

  1. The process for submitting weekly practice records online was explained and demonstrated on the big screen to all classes
  2. The final step of the submission process should be to check your email inbox for the email report of the submission (which also serves as a confirmation of successful submission)
    • You may need to check your junk/spam folder or adjust your email settings in order for these reports to be received in your regular inbox
  3. I will not be changing any grades from zero to half or full credit unless the student can produce a report/confirmation email to back up their claim
  4. If you do not receive a report within a few minutes of submission, go back and submit your information again
    • Keep submitting until you receive a report/confirmation email
    • If you submit three or more times without getting a report/confirmation email, check your junk/spam folder and/or your email’s settings
    • I can easily delete multiple entries, so don’t worry about submitting more than one
  5. Google Forms is an extremely reliable system, the submission form is very simple and straightforward, and I tested it with several different email services with 100% success
    • It is unreasonable for me to be held responsible for user error or the countless variables outside of my control that can cause an unsuccessful submission or unreceived email report/confirmation

Thank you for reading through my statements on the issues that are applicable to you.  I hope that they provide some clarity and/or comfort in regards to each situation if needed.  If you have further questions about one or more of these issues, please wait a few weeks for the situation to play out before emailing me about them.


Cameron Brown
Director of Instrumental Music
Thurgood Marshall Middle School

Quarter 1 Performance Assessment

Advanced Band and Advanced Orchestra have been given the details for their Quarter 1 Performance Assessment (Q1PA).  They will be taking their first playing test during the week of October 15 – 19.  All testing details are available below.

Intermediate Band and Intermediate Orchestra will receive their test details early next week.  Their testing window will be October 22 – 26.  Links to their testing details will go live after they’ve been distributed in class.

Advanced Band/Orchestra
Test assignment sheet: Adv. Band     Adv. Orch.
Grading rubrics: Selections     Scales
Selections for percussionists

Intermediate Band/Orchestra
Test assignment sheet: Int. Band     Int. Orch.
Grading rubrics: Int. Band (winds)     Int. Band (percussion)     Int. Orch (all)

Adv. Band/Orch. Rehearsals

The Advanced Band and Advanced Orchestra are working on something special for their Fall Concert on Thursday, October 25th.  For the finale of the concert, they will perform a piece together as a full orchestra!  In order to have a cohesive and high-quality performance of the finale piece, we will need to rehearse together.

I have scheduled two after-school rehearsals for the groups.  They will both be short and should not interfere much, or at all, with anyone’s extra curricular activities.  The rehearsals are scheduled as follows:

  • Tuesday, October 16th, 2:30 – 3:00 PM
    • Advanced Orchestra students need to bring instruments on a non-orchestra day
  • Wednesday, October 24th, 2:30 – 3:00 PM
    • Advanced Band students need to bring instruments on a non-band day

Please do what you can to make these rehearsals.  If you have any questions, feel free to email Mr. Brown.