Orchestra FAQ

Answers to frequently asked questions about orchestra. 

When do I need to bring my instrument?

Violin and viola students need to bring their instruments and music to all lessons, rehearsals and performances. Check your orchestra page for a more specific schedule. If you play double bass or a full size cello, you will be able to use a school instrument for lessons and rehearsals, but depending on the performance, you may need to bring your "home" instrument. Students who play 3/4 size cellos, will probably have to bring their home instrument for lessons, rehearsals and performances, unless some other arrangement has been made with Mr. Mish


Does the school have orchestra instruments available?

There are a limited number of school orchestra instruments available. We have cellos, basses and a very few violins and violas available for students to use. The user or rental fee is $100/year and it includes routine maintenance (i.e. broken strings, bow rehair). It does not cover repairs needed to do abuse or failure to follow normal procedures for care of the instrument and bow (see Care of Instrument and Bow). School instruments may be used at no charge on a short term (less than a month) basis while a student's instrument is in the shop for repairs.


Do I really need to practice everyday?

That depends on how good you want to be at playing your instrument. The best results are obtained by playing every day. In 5th grade this should mean 10-20 minutes per day. In 6th grade the best results are obtained by playing 20-30 minutes per day. In the older grades students should be able to practice for a longer amount of time, especially on the days when they do not have a orchestra or a group lesson. Practice outside of class is expected by all orchestra students. Most students will need encouragement and support to develop regular, solid practice habits (see the Practice for suggestions).


Should I buy an instrument on the internet?

There are much better ways to shop for an instrument. Music stores and shops that specialize in school instruments are the best place to start. The good deals on the internet are almost always too good to be true. There are no quality violin outfits available for less than $100. There are reputable sources of instruments on the internet (see the Orchestra Links section), but it is never the same as playing an instrument, especially for older and more advanced students.


What are bows made from, does it make a difference?

There are four types of bows for string instruments. The least expensive is a fiberglass bow (less that $100). They are fine for beginners, but they get in the way of more advanced playing (they are too heavy and not flexible enough). The most expensive bows are made from an increasing rare Brazillian wood called Pernambuco. These bows range from student to artist quality. They range in price from $200 up to a million dollars. In between there are carbon fiber or composite bows which are relatively new and some approach and exceed the quality of more expensive Pernambuco bows. They usually a great value of cost v. quality for most students. There are also less expensive wood bows, they vary greatly in quality and cost. It takes some playing and a bit of a trained eye to figure out which are a good deal and what is not.

If you can't find the answer here, contact Mr. Mish by e-mail.

Contact: Joseph Mish