Video Assignments and
Google Classroom Assignments
All Orchestra students will be required to submit Video Assignments on Google Classroom on most weeks throughout the year. These video assignments are usually very short and simple and are a check of the students' progress on their instrument.
Google Classroom videos are considered assessments or a 'quiz'. Because of JCPS's new grading policy, assessments are worth 70% of the students' grade. So, failure to submit these assignments can result in a very poor grade in orchestra.
I do not grade these assignments harshly. I am mainly looking for progress as the year goes on. If I feel the submission is very poor, I will ask the student to re-submit to bring the grade up. I have over 200 kids in orchestra, so there are a lot of videos to view.
The great thing about these videos is that they can be used in the students' backpack of skills at the end of the year!
If any student does not have the appropriate technology to complete these assignments, please contact Mr. Zilisch to make arrangements. We have iPads and Chrome books at Westport that students can use for things just like this.
The importance of daily practice when playing any instrument cannot be overstated!! Just as athletes train regularly to be successful in a game, musicians also need to practice their instruments regularly to maintain a level of proficiency and to progress to a higher level.
I require that each student practice at least 5 days a week for a minimum of 20 minutes each time. The frequency of practice is more important than the number of minutes practiced. If each student practice 5 days of the week for 20 minutes that would fulfill the recommended time. It is much more efficient to break up the practice times over a period of days rather than cram them all into one practice session.
Parents, I need your help with this! Your kid will not always feel like practicing. I'll be honest, there are days that I practice my own instrument when I don't really want to. It's just a necessary evil to being successful on a musical instrument.
If your kid is not practicing, they are probably not doing well in orchestra!
Mr. Z's 10 Practice Tips
1. Practice more days for less time: It is better to do 10 minutes several times a week
rather than 1 hour once a week
2. Practice makes permanent: The way you practice is the way you will play. So if you
make a mistake go back to an earlier spot and fix your mistake. Don’t just patch the
mistake and continue playing. Once you have made the correction repeat several times to
make sure you have learned the correct habit.
3. Practice slow: Start out at a slow tempo using a metronome (http://
When you can play the music accurately increase the
speed. Or download a metronome app on your smartphone/ipod touch.
4. Practice with background music: It is normally better and more engaging to practice
with a CD, DVD, like the one that comes with our Essential Elements books.
5. Practice with others: Sometimes the best way to practice is to get together with
someone in your class and play with them
6. Focus on sections that need the most work: It is fun to practice easy music, but make
sure you focus on those sections that are most difficult
7. Play through once: Once you get better at a piece try to play from beginning to end
without stopping no matter what!
8. End on a happy note: End your practice sessions by playing something you enjoy. Go
out to the music stores and find some books at your level that have music that you know
9. Use a tuner! Find a tuner on your smartphone/ipod touch. Or buy a tuner from your
local music store. Playing in tune is an essential skill on a string instrument. If you are
out of tune, it’s a wrong note.
10. Find a quiet place where your siblings and dog aren’t going to bother you
*Parents: Student may sometimes need reminders to practice, just as they need reminders
to do homework. It is not bad if student needs to be reminded to practice, in fact that is
perfectly normal. Hopefully, these strategies will make practicing more productive and