Due to the performance nature of music and the team effort required to perform with an ensemble, it is imperative that students and their families recognize that music performance is a commitment of time, effort, energy, and emotion.  Each and every member of the ensemble is crucial to the success of the ensemble!


A performing ensemble is a collective endeavor; therefore we need everyone to be present at all sectionals, rehearsals and performances.  Unlike other classes in which one’s presence affects only him/herself, attendance profoundly affects the entire musical group.  For this reason, attendance at all sectionals, rehearsals and performances is mandatory.

NOTE: Students involved in a performing ensemble recognize that they are making a primary commitment for the entire school year!

*HCPSS Policy 8090: Non-School Hour Participation Requirements for Elementary and Secondary Curricular Programs states that rehearsals and performances scheduled before/during/after-shool/evening are required of the student participant and may be graded by the instructor.

The HCPSS recognizes the following as excused absences:

  1. Serious Illness

  2. Death in the Family

  3. Required Court Appearance

  4. School Visitation

  5. Religious Observance

All other absences will be considered unexcused.


SECTIONALS (Ability-Based Instrument Groups) - The small group "sectional" is a vital component of the performing ensembles at Ellicott Mills Middle School.  The sectional provides an opportunity for the directors to assess individual student performance levels, deliver instrument-specific content knowledge, complete performance evaluations (quizzes), and track individual improvement in a setting that would otherwise be impossible in the larger ensembles.

The faculty at EMMS has always been supportive of our student musicians and works closely with the music staff to ensure that our students are successful in all areas.  In an effort to provide support to students and deliver consistent instruction and assessment in academic and performance areas, the following guidelines have been established.

  • Sectionals are scheduled on a pull-out rotation. This schedule rotates so that students are not pulled from the same class more than twice every 8 - 10 weeks, or roughly twice each quarter.

  • Students are expected to attend sectionals as scheduled. This is an excused absence from class.

  • Students are responsible for all work and material presented in their academic class while attending sectionals.

  • Sectionals will begin sometime during the 2nd week of school and continue into June.

  • Students should report to their regularly scheduled class first to submit homework/assignments and collect any materials/notes from that days lesson. Students then report to the rehearsal room for their sectional. The EMMS staff is very supportive in helping student make up required work.

  • We encourage students to stay in class when they have a scheduled test or lab. Students are then required to make up any work that was missed during their sectional.

  • Sectionals will last approximately 40 minutes, beginning after students arrive from throughout the building. A sectional schedule is distributed quarterly, highlighting each group and class period. A detailed sectional schedule will be available on our website once we get the schedule organized.

  • Sectionals are an assessed component of the EMMS Music Program.

Please help us support your students interests by making sure that:

  • your student knows when to attend sectionals

  • your student has made up any missed work or assignments

  • your student maintains high performance standards in every class

Working together we can make sure that student achievement in academics, related arts, and performance classes remains high and that our students have the necessary support to help them to be successful in all of the areas of interest.


The success of the ensemble depends on the work and dedication of each and every member. We have established the following expectations in order to maintain discipline and achieve a quality that will reflect positively on every member of the ensemble, the music program as a whole, and the Ellicott Mills community.

What you can expect of us:

  • We will be prepared for each class.

  • We will arrive on time, and cover all material thoroughly.

  • We will display professionalism and enthusiasm for teaching and music.

  • We will reinforce basic through advanced skills required to be an outstanding musician.

  • We will assist you in learning all aspects of music, including appreciation.

What we expect from you:

  • You will adhere to all school guidelines as outlined in the HCPSS Student Handbook.

  • You will be prepared for each class, having practiced your music at home. Class should be review and application of what has been worked on at home - not a substitute for practicing.

  • Number all measures and mark your music using the system of notation presented at the beginning of the year.

  • We will warm-up as an ensemble. Once you are seated, put music in order, work on breathing, and get mentally focused for rehearsal.

  • Sit or stand as appropriate with good posture at all times.

  • PODIUM PROTOCOL! - Do not talk while the conductor is on the podium unless instructed to do so.

  • Stop playing immediately after a cut off and listen attentively for congratulations, corrections, or instructions.

  • Be on time for every rehearsal/performance. (In your seat, mentally focused when class begins!) This include all materials as outlined in this handbook. “To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, to be late is to be a disruption!!”

  • Instruments and music go home every day!

  • It is ultimately your responsibility to master the music. We will assist you, but mastery will involve true effort on your part. Do not settle for “good enough!”

  • Respect your classmates and their belongings. Education is about teamwork. Do Not touch any equipment other than your own.

  • Display professional behavior and dress in appropriate attire at all times.

  • Act in a safe and respectful manner. Condescending or derogatory comments towards anyone in the program will not be tolerated.

  • Bring a Great Attitude to class EVERY DAY!

  • No food, drinks, or gum in the rehearsal rooms or performance spaces.

  • No Cell Phone /iPad/iPod use during rehearsal. Exceptions will be made for the Tonal Energy App or Tempo App if we are working on this as an ensemble.

  • The Rehearsal Room is not a locker room. Please keep all jackets, gym bags, lunches, etc. out of the Rehearsal Room.

  • Never assume a rehearsal or performance is canceled due to poor weather. If you do not hear from us, please report as scheduled.

  • Play your best and actively participate in rehearsal. Always.


Ensembles are performance based classes, as such, students will be required to perform in concerts throughout the year. All evening activities are announced well in advance and in writing.  Attendance at ALL sectionals, rehearsals and performances is mandatory.  A musical ensemble is a team and a team is at its strongest when everyone is working together.  Attendance is required not only to prepare each individual member of the ensemble, but to blend the individual sounds into a cohesive whole.  Even if you feel you do not need the rehearsal, the ensemble needs you!


  • Allow plenty of time when attending concerts. Students will need to arrive well before the concert begins to set-up and tune. Typically, students should expect to arrive 60 minutes prior to the beginning of a concert. The audience will usually not be allowed into the performance space until 30 minutes prior.

  • Please plan to stay for the entire concert, even if your student is done performing. We want to teach our students to be courteous and respectful and this includes supporting our fellow musicians by being a great audience.

  • Concert Etiquette requires that no one enter or leave the concert hall while a performance is in progress.

  • So that others might enjoy the concert without distractions, there should be no flash photography, talking, eating, drinking, smoking or excessive movement while a performance is taking place. Cell phones should be turned off!

  • Dismissal after a concert may take some time as we must clean the performance area and reset. We will dismiss the students as an ensemble once everything is in order. Please do not ask for special arrangements or put your student in the middle by asking them to ask us for special permission. We must approach this as a team...everyone working together for the good of the ensemble.


Many hours of hard work and preparation precede each performance.  It is very distracting to the concert musicians when the doors to the concert hall are constantly opening and closing.  Therefore, out of respect for the musicians as well as other concertgoers, please help keep distractions to a minimum by following these guidelines.

  • Please remain seated, and exit only between groups or during the applause between selections.

  • Please do not talk or text during a performance

  • Please do not use flashes while students are performing.

  • Please make sure that all cell phones and beepers are turned off.

  • Please do not carry on loudly in the lobby while the groups are performing. The sound will carry into the auditorium.

  • Food, drinks and gum are not allowed in the auditorium at any time.

  • Applause is appropriate at the end of the performance of the entire piece of music. If you are uncertain as to whether it is appropriate to applaud, watch the arms of the conductor; when the conductor lowers his arms to his sides, the piece is complete and it is time to applaud heartily.

  • Recognize the concerts for the events they are by dressing for the occasion and observing concert etiquette. The price of the concert does not always reflect the concert’s artistic value.

  • Please make sure your student performer arrives on time, dressed properly.

  • Please support all members of the Music Department by remaining until the end of the concert.

Please support our student musicians by attending concerts, bringing friends and relatives, and encouraging your children to prepare for all of their musical endeavors.