Instrumental Music Handbook
Thomas Jefferson High School2017 - 2018
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Music Director - Robin JohnsonContact Information
email: robin_johnson@dpsk12.orgwebsite: 720-423-7071room/office: 148
office hours:M, T, Th, F 7:30-8:20W 7:30-8:15 & 2:14-2:55

Print version format of handbook can be obtained by clicking here.

Table of Contents

Vision & Missions Statements

Course offerings

Calendar of performances

Policies and procedure

Extra-curricular opportunities

SYLLABI (print versions)

Advanced Band

Honors Orchestra

Concert Band & Concert Orchestra

Piano (level 1)
Piano (level 2)


The music program at Thomas Jefferson High School will foster an atmosphere in which students of all ability levels can:
  • develop their musical skills
  • develop the 21st Century Skills inherent in the study of music - collaboration, self-direction, critical thinking and inventiveness
  • develop their humanity - compassion, sensitivity, hope, trust
  • make connections with and develop deeper understandings of the varied aspects of their lives, including but not limited to their academic studies:
by providing a variety of musical experiences that are desirable to TJ students, their families, and the TJ community.

The music instrumental music program at Thomas Jefferson High School strives to serve as a musical hub in southeast Denver, by fostering a program that offers a variety of musical experiences that engage and challenge students of all abilities, working to the student musicians within the school catchment area, and to serve as an ambassador for our school.


I believe music is intrinsic to all people, and every student has the capacity to develop a sense of musicianship. The Ancient Greeks considered music part of the more advanced division of the liberal arts, the "quadrivium", or "the four ways". In music we apply mathematical and scientific principles, to communicate with and connect to the world around us, in a language that can be simultaneously individual, yet universally understood.

I have never had a student who I couldn't teach, if he/she wanted to learn. The operative phrase being, "he/she wanted to learn". The successes my students and I have experienced have been due to their willingness to try new things and practice; my ability to draw upon a wide array of teaching strategies; and our combined persistence. I believe all students have a right to study music, and I strive to provide a learning environment that fosters mutual respect, trust, honesty and a joy of learning.

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  • Specific courses offered will vary year to year, depending upon the number of registered students.

Advanced Ensembles (Band & Orchestra) – These classes are for experienced players; members of these ensemble must be able to read music, perform 2 major scales, 2 minor scales, and a chromatic scale (wind & percussion), prior to admittance into the class. These groups have several performances throughout the year., including 4 formal evening concerts, the CHSAA small ensemble festival, visits to area elementary and middle schools, and the graduation exercises. They serve as ambassadors for our school, and may be called upon on fairly short notice to perform at community events.

Concert Band & Concert Orchestra - These classes are for players, who have less experience or who don’t have the time to commit to the performance schedule of the advanced ensembles. These ensembles are responsible for two formal performances and the graduation ceremony. Members of these ensembles are encouraged to participate in the CHSAA small ensemble festival and other performances, as their skills allow.

Keyboarding I – This classes is geared towards the novice pianist. Students will begin by playing from memory, practicing scales and finger patterns, and improvising. Students will perform in 6 studio recitals throughout the year, each given towards the end of each semester. 4 of those recitals will be in-class recitals; 2 recitals will be formal evening performances. The 2 formal evenings recitals are given at the end of the semester.

Keyboarding II - This class is for the advanced beginner-intermediate pianists. Students will develop a repertoire that is representative of the various eras of western music - baroque, classical, transitional, romantic, and 20th century. Students need to be able to read and perform keyboard music at a level 1 or above, prior to enrolling in this class.
Students will perform 6 studio recitals throughout the year, each given towards the end of each grading period. 4 of the recitals will be in-class recitals; 2 recitals will be formal evening performances. The formal evening recitals are given at the end of the semester.

Guitar - This class is for the beginning guitarist. Students will develop classical guitar techniques and learn to read music written in manuscript form. Students will learn simple melodies the first semester and progress to dyads and triads, and self-accompanied melodies the second semester. Students will perform 6 studio recitals throughout the year, each given towards the end of each grading period. 4 of the recitals will be in-class recitals; 2 recitals will be formal evening performances. The formal evening recitals are given at the end of the semester.

AP Music Theory - This course is for experienced music students, wishing to delve into their music. Focus will be on music of the Western civilizations. Students will learn to analyze scores, sight sing melodies, harmonize melodies on a keyboard, and write music.
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More specific information about each class can be found in the course syllabus.
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Drums Along the Rockies

Percussion/Drumline Camp
9am - noon

31 - Aug 4
Band Camp

31 - Aug 4
Strings Camp


Western State Orchestra - auditions due

pep band

Dress Rehearsal
3-5:30 pm
adv. band & honors orch.
7 pm
adv. band & honors orch.
Trick-or-treat street

adv. band & honors orch.

Colorado All State Orchestra - auditions due

adv. band & honors orch.
27- Dec. 1
All State Band Auditions

adv. band

Dress Rehearsal
3-5:30 pm
ALL Bands and Orchestras
Dress Rehearsal
3-5:30 pm
ALL Bands and Orchestras
Winter Concert - "All Men Should Be Brothers"
7 pm
ALL Bands and Orchestras



All State Orchestra

by audition only
Dress Rehearsal

adv. band & honors orch.
concert band & orch. (opt.)
Mid-Winter Concert - Chamber Music

adv. band & honors orch.
concert band & orch. (opt.)

by audition only

Chamber Music Festival at MSU


All State Band

by audition only
DPS Shakespeare Festival

Adv. Orchestra

Dress Rehearsal
3-5:30 pm
ALL Bands and Orchestras
Dress Rehearsal
3-5:30 pm
ALL Bands and Orchestras
7 pm
ALL Bands and Orchestras
TJ Graduation

Adv. Band & Orchestras

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A. Required materials
Students need to daily bring the following to class:
  • school ID
  • 1-2 sharpened pencils
  • day planner
  • instrument & materials needed
    • e.g. reeds, valve oil, extra strings, snare sticks and/or mallets
  • music
  • journal (1/2" 3-ring binder)
Each student will be issued sheet music which is to be returned in good condition after the last concert or performance in which the music was used. If music is damaged or lost, the student will need to pay for replacement.

String players should consider Whistler’s position pieces and Melodious double stops.
Wind players should consider an appropriate Rubank Intermediate book for their instruments .

We will be using GoogleDocs within these courses. Students be required to use their DPS Gmail, in order to access and submit some assignments.
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B. Equipment usage

Students needing to borrow an instrument may check them out. It is expected that all equipment is treated with care. Basic guidelines for equipment are as follows:
  • If it's not yours, DON'T touch it
  • If you take it out, put is away
  • If you break it (even accidentally), you must pay for repairs, and those repairs MUST be made by a music technician (not your uncle or grandma)
  • When an instrument is not being used, it is to be stored properly, in an assigned location
  • Music stands are made to hold music - NOT notebooks, textbooks, etc. They are also, NOT to be used as a resting place for heads, arms, feet, etc.
  • Computers are to be used in accordance with school policies. Students may not change the backgrounds or change the settings. Students are encouraged to have a thumbdrive, to store files.
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C. Assignments (types)
Formal public performances
Rehearsals - appropriate participation (5 pnt/day)
Quizzes - scales, exercises & excerpts
Private lessons (optional)

KNOWLEDGE BASED (non-performance)
Essays, evaluations, critiques
Theoretical understanding
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D. Grading policy
A = 90% - 100%
B = 80% - 89%
C = 70% - 79%
D – 60% - 69%
F = 0% - 59%

SEMESTER GRADES – continuous grading
75% - course work
  • Public performances
  • Rehearsals
  • Spot checks & performance quizzes
  • Weekly sectionals
  • Evaluations and critiques
  • Theory
  • Arrangement and composition

25 % - final
  • Winter or Spring Concert
  • Written final

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E. Learning Needs and Styles

At Thomas Jefferson High School we strive to meet the learning needs and styles of each of our students. Our special education team and social service providers work with classroom teachers to develop viable learning plans. If there is a learning need not covered by a formal IEP, or that is unknown to the social service providers, please alert me in writing as soon as the need is known. Sometimes, these needs may be temporary, e.g. injury that prevents practice or family event that causes distress.
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F. Attendance policy

In the event of excused absence, students may make up any missed class work.

If a student thinks he/she will miss a performance, a letter of explanation must be submitted to the band director at least one month prior to the performance. This does NOT, though, guarantee that the absence will be excused. The band director will determine whether an absence from a performance is to be excused. The student will receive an answer within one week on the receipt of the letter.
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G. Makeup work
Wednesday office hours are the preferred time to make up performance work. Because this is a performance based class make up assignments are performance based. A student may schedule a private lesson for each missed rehearsal. Though Wednesday office hours are preferred, these private lessons can be scheduled during lunch, or after school as well. Make up work does not count as points towards lettering.

Since written assignments will be posted on the teacher's Wikispace, it is the students’ responsibility to check for assignments and to submit work within 3 days of their return to school, for full credit. Late work will receive half-credit.

The make up assignment for a missed performance will be to prepare, schedule, and present a performance outside of school. The student will be required to perform at least 4 pieces, one being a solo, create a program with program notes about the songs being performed, and record the event for the teacher to evaluate. A "make-up" performance does not count as points towards lettering.
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H. Academic Integrity
The work a student submits must be his/her own. When recording excerpts or pieces, a student may have help with the recording equipment, but the performance MUST be his/her own. Dubbing and overdubbing are not acceptable, unless specified in the assignment. Plagiarism and copying other students' work are also unacceptable. If work is submitted that is not the student's own, that work will receive a zero. If there is a second offense by the same student, the building administration will be informed.
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I. Performance dress
Formal Performances --
  • Concert Band, Concert Orchestra & Piano Classes –
    • Formal dress clothes for studio recitals
    • women – dress or skirt below the knees; or nice slacks with a collared shirt
    • men – suit with a tie
    • (NO jeans, NO t-shirts, and NO tennis shoes)

  • Advanced Band and Orchestra - purchased outfit (if possible?)
    • women - black skirt or dress (can be purchased for <$70)
    • men - black slacks, white shirt, black sock, black shoes (can be purchased for <$100)
    • ( NO jeans, NO t-shirts, and NO tennis shoes )

Informal Performances – ADV. BAND and ORCHESTRA
    • yellow polo (purchased for $32)
    • fitted, dark-blue jeans (no holes or sagging)
    • plain, white tennis shoes
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H. Behavioral expectations
  • WATCH – watch the music, observe peers, watch the teacher
  • LISTEN - to yourself, to other students, to the teacher, to visitors in our classroom
  • PERFORM – play with intensity at all times; sit up and put your entire energy into the music at hand, whether it be a scale, etude, concerto, or symphony
    • ALL people who work in and visit our classroom
    • The music - you may not like all of the music we play, but you need to engage with the music fully regardless of your preferences
    • Our rehearsal spaces & equipment
      • Food, drink, or gum are NOT allowed during rehearsals - if see it will be immediately thrown away
      • Treat equipment with care
    • Our rehearsal time
      • Come prepared with instrument, music, pencil, notebook
      • Set-up quickly
      • Stay on task the entire time
      • Electronics (phones, etc.) MUST be silenced, NOT on vibrate, and MUST be stored out of sight – If seen they will be taken and given to the dean of students

All Thomas Jefferson and DPS policies are enforced in this classroom and during field trips, including tardy, attendance, electronic devices, dress code, and wearing of name badges. (See student planner or TJ website.)
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Student Leaders in Instrumental Music
This organization is comprised of students wishing to take part in the planning, development and organization of both curricular and extra-curricular activities that involve the instrumental music and theory classes. All instrumental music students are welcome to join.

This group meets Fridays at lunch in the band room. Meetings are open to all students, and provide an opportunity for students to share input.
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Jazz Band

The jazz band is open to all interested students, who have previous instrumental music experience, including violin, cello, oboe, etc. The music played by this group ranges from early jazz to modern rock. Our music selections will depend on the playing abilities and interests of the members. Improvisation is part of every rehearsal. Advanced students will be encouraged to arrange and compose. This group meets outside of school hours.
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Drumline/Percussion Ensemble
The drumline/percussion ensemble meets after school. During rehearsals the students spend time learning and practicing rudiments, developing basic skills on the mallets, learning basic techniques on auxiliary equipment, reading and rehearsing music, and composing and improvising. This group performs at home football and basketball games, pep assemblies, and community events (as requested).
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Pep Band
The pep band is open to all members of the Thomas Jefferson High School community, who have previous music experience, including students, parents, faculty and staff. This group performs in the stands at home football games. Depending on interest and availability, the group will also perform at other home sporting events. (Must buy band t-shirt for games.)
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DPS Citywide Ensembles
Citywide Marching Band
The DPS Citywide Marching Band is open to all DPS middle and high school students. Students without previous instrumental experience can join in the fun as flag and rifle twirlers. This group marches in several parades, including the Denver Parade of Lights. Rehearsals are held at another high school once or twice a week, in the late afternoons/early evenings; transportation to and from TJ is provided free of charge. Students who participate in this group will receive credit on their transcripts, and can select to use this activity in place of the required high school gym credit.

Citywide Concert Band and Orchestra

Denver Public Schools hosts a Citywide Concert Band and a Citywide Orchestra. These groups are by audition only. Auditions are held in the autumn. Each group has three rehearsals, followed by a public concert. The first rehearsal is a two-hour, after school sectional. The other two rehearsals held all-day on a Friday and Saturday, with the concert following the Saturday rehearsal.
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Lettering Policy
Students in the advanced band and honors orchestra may earn a letter for work associated with their classes. Lettering is NOT a course requirement; it is an additional honor a student may work towards. The requirements to earn this honor are as follow:
  • Maintain an A both semesters
  • Maintain participation is at least 1 music ensemble throughout the entire year
  • Participate in all required performances
  • Earn 75 points during the school year
  • Perform 6 major & 6 minor scales from memory - 1 oct. each
  • Perform chromatic scale - 2 oct. (winds & percussion only)

Points for lettering are earned through various channels, and can be earned through some of the following activities:
  • Membership in the music leadership group
  • Membership in pep band, drumline, jazz band, or one of the choirs
  • Participation in the school musical
  • Participation in a district or state honor band
  • Auditioning for an honor band or orchestra
  • Auditioning for college
  • Attendance at live performances
  • Performing the Nat'l Anthem at home sporting events
  • Performance in the community
  • Volunteer work or fund raising for the instrumental music program
  • Other related activity (see teacher)

Performance is the top priority in these groups. Performances take place throughout the year, and most are scheduled well in advance. A few performances opportunities may arise, with a smaller amount of notice. We will attend the ones that make educational sense, and that support our TJ community.

The performances given by these groups need to be polished. In order to best support the development of techniques needed, sectional rehearsals will be held once a week. These are NOT optional rehearsals.

Advanced ensembles will be learning some basic music theory, which will help us perform more understandingly. They will be evaluating and critiquing performances, their own and those of others. Finally, we will try some composing and arranging of their own.

  • To perform accurately and expressively, music at a grade level of 3 on the difficulty scale
  • To sight read accurately and expressively, music at a grade level of 2 on the difficulty scale
  • To play 8 major and 8 minor scales and their arpeggios
  • To aurally and visually identify the elements of music, and recognize the roles that they play
  • To analyze and critique with understanding performances by ourselves & others, thus helping us improve our musicianship
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Skill development is the top priority of this band. Students will work on music literacy, technical fluidity, and musicality. Performance is important, but limited to 2 formal performances and graduation. Additional performance opportunities exist for those students who are interested.

  • To perform accurately and expressively music at a grade level of 2 on the difficulty scale
  • To sight read accurately and expressively music at a grade level of 1 on the difficulty scale
  • To play 4 major and 4 minor scales and their arpeggios
  • To label parts in the score
  • To analyze and critique with understanding, performances by ourselves and others

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Skill development and music literacy are top priorities in this class. We will be using an eclectic approach, combining traditional instruction with the Suzuki method. Students will learn songs by rote, and develop their fluidity. Students will also be introduced to music in written form, and will learn to recognize symbols used to write music. Students will demonstrate their achievements each 6 weeks in studio recitals,2 of which will be performed after school.

  • To accurately echo rhythms and melodies
  • To identify parts of the score
  • To read and perform accurately and expressively music of the difficulty level 1
  • To perform simple songs and their accompaniments by memory
  • To compose and improvise melodic phrases with a simple accompaniment

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Skill development continues to be the top priority. Students will learn music from various historical eras, and be able to describe the distinguishing characteristics of music from each era. Students will participate in studio recitals each 6 weeks.
  • To identify elements of music in written form
  • To read and perform music of a level 2
  • To add simple accompaniment patterns to melodies
  • To improvise over a given chord progression
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