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How are music classes scheduled at the high school?

In order to provide opportunities for students to experience a well-rounded performing arts curriculum, courses are offered as single courses (1.0 credit) as well as in combination (.5 + .5 credit). Students must be enrolled in 1.0 credit total.             


Freshman Full-time Classes

            Freshman Band                                             1.0 credit

            Freshman Orchestra                                     1.0 credit

            Treble Chorus                                                1.0 credit

            Anima Cantorum (Tenor/Bass voices)        1.0 credit


 Freshman Shared Classes

            Freshman Band – Shared                              .5 credit

            Freshman Orchestra - Shared                      .5 credit

            Treble Chorus - Shared                                  .5 credit

            Anima Cantorum – Shared                            .5 credit

            Theater 1: Acting Fundamentals                   .5 credit


          *Students are required to be in two of the above Freshman’s Shared Classes to total 1.0 credit.


What are the expectations for students enrolled in shared classes?

Students enrolled in shared classes must prepare for both equally. Performance and practice expectations are comparable for both full-time and shared students.


Are there any other musical opportunities for my child to participate in?

Yes. In order to audition and/or participate in the co-curricular program, students must be enrolled in a core ensemble offered during the school day. The delivery of instruction in music skills and concepts occur in the core curricular ensemble program. The co-curricular ensembles are idiomatic and performance-based.






         Rehearsal Information for Co-curricular performing groups:

         • Jazz Ensemble – (Big band instrumentation) Full year, Thursday afternoon

         • Chamber Orchestra – (Strings) Full year, Monday evening & Wednesday afternoon

         • Orphenians – (Vocal) Full year, Tuesday afternoon

         • Pit Orchestra – (Strings, winds, brass and percussion) Fall and/or Spring semester, Tuesday early evening

         • Chamber Music Groups – various groupings, scheduled as necessary


What other music electives are offered at Staples High School?

• Beginning Piano (Fall Semester only)

• Music Technology (Either semester)

• AP Music Theory (Full Year- Open to students, Grades 10-12)


         Scheduling General Information:

         • All freshman music ensembles meet at the same time, allowing flexibility to participate in multiple                                  freshman ensembles to fulfill the 1 credit.

         • There are 8 periods in each student schedule

         • All students take Math, Science, Global Studies, English, PE and Foreign Language

            (fills 6 of 8 periods – leaving 2 for other choices)

Who can I contact for additional information?

Please contact any of the following high school music staff found on SHS Faculty


What is the concert dress for Grade 9 Band, Orchestra and Choruses?

All Staples Music Department Ensembles wear black attire for most performances. Refer to the SHS Music Department Handbook for more details.


How many concerts are there?

Chorus/Band/Orchestra - There are three formal school concerts scheduled each year: in the fall, December and in May. Band members will also march in the Memorial Day Parade.

How much should my child practice?

It is our expectation that your child plays their instrument and/or sings at least five days per week in order for them to have a positive experience in the Staples Music program. If your child is interested in auditioning for Regionals, we would recommend individual, at home practice for a minimum of five times per week for at least thirty minutes each day.


Should my child take private lessons?

Music is, by nature, an art form which requires much rigorous study and students are encouraged to study with a qualified private teacher whenever possible.  A number of quality private teachers are available in the area. The Westport Public Schools does not endorse any particular private teacher.


Are there any student fees to be enrolled in the music program?

No. Student fees are limited to Western Regional Festival fees (Regional is approx. $35). All music students will purchase their formal concert attire through the school.


Instrumental Music  

Is my instrument all right to use in high school?


Strings: Your child may be ready for upgraded strings, bows and instruments. At the high school level,  many of the viola/cello/bass students are ready for full size instruments. The next size models also can dramatically improve tone production.


Woodwinds/ Brass: While the instrument your child has played since fifth grade is certainly still usable, we recommend that certain upgrades in mouthpieces and reeds be made. As your child gets older, they tend to outgrow these first. Single reed instruments (clarinet and saxophone) should purchase at least one box of good quality reeds to begin the school year. Double reed musicians should own at least three functioning reeds at all times. See your music teacher for recommendations of brand and correct strength.


The following information should serve as guides. Please consult your child’s music teacher before purchasing any equipment. Your child can try out some of these prior to purchasing.


         Recommended Mouthpieces/Reeds

Clarinet – Vandoren B45 dot mouthpiece with Luyben or Rovner inverted ligature, Vandoren or comparable reeds. Please ask us to advise you as to which strength reed is best suited to your child.

Saxophone – Meyer 5 or 6 with Rovner inverted ligature, Vandoren or comparable reeds. Please ask us to advise you as to which strength reed is best suited to your child.

Trumpet – Bach 5C; Schilke 11

Trombone – 6 ½ AL; Schilke 51D; Yamaha 48

Tuba - Conn Helleberg Series Standard Model    


What will a percussionist need for equipment?

Percussionists will need a stick bag and begin to add various mallets to their collection of sticks. These will be purchased over the next 3 to 4 years as they continue to working on various instruments. The school supplies percussion instruments and certain mallets, but items listed below are the responsibility of each percussion student, much like having to purchase reeds for a woodwind instrument. All students should have a percussion kit including bells and a practice pad for home practice.























         All of the above percussion materials may be purchased from area music stores or through mail order. Please             select from the recommended manufacturer’s list. If you have any other questions or would like further                         recommendations, please email Ms. Mary Gardner at


Does my instrument need periodic maintenance?

Your instrument may be in need of some maintenance work especially if it has not received any in the past 2-3 years. Most of this work can be done in a week or two. Expense varies, but generally is in the $50 - $100 range depending on the general condition of the instrument. In addition, the instrument should never sit for more than a week without being played or having all parts moved. This will lead to frozen slides, keys and valves that will require repairs at the beginning of the school year.



- Have your instruments checked for worn pads and slightly bent keys. Pads that do not seat properly over the tone holes lead to slow or no response.

- Flutes should also have their head joint cork checked and replaced if necessary.



- After 2-3 years, even with regular home cleanings, it is a good idea to have your instrument cleaned professionally. This will help to eliminate the build-up of oxidation inherent in brass.

- The repair technician should also make sure that all of the corks and felts are checked and replaced where necessary. Minor dents should be removed.

- Have all slides moving freely. They are used to keep the instrument in tune.

- Purchase a cleaning kit that includes slide grease and brushes. Clean monthly.


What School-Owned Instruments are available?

Generally, instruments supplied by the school system fall under three categories: 1. low brass (tuba, baritone, etc.); 2. low woodwinds (bassoon, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone); 3. required orchestral instruments (including oboe, French horn).  These instruments are necessary in both band and symphony orchestra. We are only able to offer lessons on these specific instruments if the student is transferring from another instrument.


What is the Staples Music Parents Association?

The Staples Music Parents Association (SMPA) serves as both advocates and financial supporters of our K-12 Music Department. While membership is not required, we urge you to consider helping out. Currently, the SMPA helps to fund many initiatives including our musical gifts to the community, Candlelight and Westport Pops at the Levitt Pavilion; visiting artists partnerships; and also helps to subsidize music trips. Recently, donors funded a significant lighting purchase for the high school auditorium. For more information, please see:

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