About Mr. Somerville
All-County Honor Orchestra
Course Selection
How to Care for your Stringed Instrument
Orchestra Summer Camps
Practice Resources
Quizzes & Tests
Staff Wars
Tri-County Honors Orchestra

Welcome to Orchestra!
We welcome all players of violin, viola, cello, or string bass. Previous experience playing a string instrument is required. Instructor permisson is required for this course.

The Mattawoman Orchestras perform several times each year for Winter and Spring concerts, awards assemblies, District Festival Assessment, and end-of-the-year trips, to name a few.

There are several additional performance opportunities for interested students including All-County, Tri-County, and All-State Orchestra, as well as district and state Solo & Ensemble Festivals.

Interested students/parents should review the syllabus (located to the left on this page) to see if Orchestra is a good fit.

Contact Mr. Somerville with any questions!

About Mr. Somerville

Mr. Somerville earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Education, summa cum laude, from The College of New Jersey, where he studied clarinet with Roger McKinney. While at the College, Mr. Somerville played with the Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra, earning principal chairs in both groups. As a member of the TCNJ Woodwind Quintet, Mr. Somerville had the opportunity to participate in a masterclass with the Philharmonic Quintet of NY. He was also an active member of the Contemporary Music Ensemble.
Mr. Somerville is currently pursuing his Master of Music in Music Education at the University of Maryland and will finish in Fall of 2016.
Mr. Somerville currently teaches orchestra at Mattawoman Middle School in Charles County, Maryland. Before moving to Maryland, Mr. Somerville taught band and orchestra at MaST Charter School in Philadelphia. He has also taught band, orchestra, general music, and guitar in the Hopewell Valley and Evesham school districts in New Jersey. Mr. Somerville was the Assistant Conductor of the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County Wind Ensemble from 2006-2011 and is currently a member of the Charles County Youth Orchestra Board of Directors.
An active performer, Mr. Somerville currently performs with the Southern Maryland Concert Band, and has performed with the Chesapeake Symphonic Winds, the Eastern Wind Symphony, the Delaware Valley Wind Symphony, the Doylestown Symphonic Winds, and the Bucks County Symphony Orchestra. In his "spare" time, Mr. Somerville enjoys whittling, hiking, backpacking, and spending time with his wife (also a music teacher) and cats Sabrina and Simon.
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All-County Honor Orchesta

You must be prepared to play ALL of the following:

Scales: C, G, D, A, F, Bb Major, g melodic minor
1 octave in quarter notes (1 note per bow) at quarter = 120

Solo: See excerpts for each instrument. Both excerpts are required.

Sight-reading will be required from everyone. You will have up to 60 seconds to study the piece, after which you must play it without stopping.

If you are accepted into the All-County Orchestra, YOU MAY BE ASKED TO RE-AUDITION ON THE ORCHESTRA MUSIC AT THE FIRST REHEARSAL for seating.

Any questions, please see Mr. Somerville.

All-County Audition Music- Bass
All-County Audition Music- Cello
All-County Audition Music- Viola
All-County Audition Music- Violin
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Course Selection

I am so glad that you are interested in taking Strings! In order to be placed in Strings class, I need you to audition for me on your instrument. If you do not currently have an instrument, I can let you use one of the school’s for your audition. Please play me something that demonstrates your current skill level on your instrument. If your skill level matches the level of the course, I will sign your course selection sheet.

**Incoming 6th graders should be able to play a D major scale, up and down, with the bow. They should also be comfortable reading/playing notes on the D, A, and G strings.

**Incoming 7th graders should be able to play D, G, and C major scales. They should also be comfortable reading/playing notes on all 4 strings.

**Incoming 8th graders should be able to play D, G, C, A, F, and B-flat major scales. They should also be comfortable reading/playing notes on all 4 strings, including all sharps, flats, and naturals.

If you have never played before, or your skill level is below that of the course, please have your parent/guardian contact me. I will not sign your course selection sheet unless arrangements have been made with your parent/guardian for summer lessons and a re-audition in the fall.
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After School Note
Before School Note
Orchestra Syllabus and Policies
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How to Care for your Stringed Instrument

Storing and Resting the Instrument

The best way to prevent an expensive repair is to always remember that your instrument is made of very thin wood. A good case will give your instrument some protection when it is being carried or transported. When you aren’t playing your instrument, keep it in its case and make sure that the latches are securely fastened. The best way to leave a cello case is on its side.

Be very careful to avoid extreme temperatures and humidity. In summer a car can get very hot very quickly. The trunk of a car can get hot enough in summer to melt the varnish, crack the top, or loosen the glue that holds the instrument together. In winter, dry cold air can cause cracks.

Do not cram music into your instrument case. The pressure from papers can damage the instrument. Several times a year vacuum out your case. Keeping the case dust free will help keep the dust out of your instrument.

Cleaning the Instrument

Each time you play, use a soft cloth to wipe off rosin dust from the strings, fingerboard, and the top of the instrument.

The Bow

The bow hair should be clean and fresh. Always keep your fingers off of the bow hair. The bow hair should be tightened when the bow is being used. Always loosen the bow hair when it isn’t being used.

- DO NOT let others handle your instrument.
- DO NOT turn the pegs. Strings are broken this way.
- Never touch the hair of the bow with your hands.
- Be sure your case is securely locked before picking it up.
- Be sure to loosen the hair on your bow EVERY time you put it away.
- Keep your instrument in a place that is neither too hot nor too cold.
- Always carry a soft clean cloth in your case to wipe off rosin and finger marks.

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Be Part of the Orchestra!
Charles County Youth Orchestra

For Parents
    4 Ways Parents Can Ensure Their Child Sticks with Instrumental Music
    Help Your Child to Practice Music
    How to Create the Perfect Practice Session for Your Child

Free Music Apps
    Accurate Tuner Free
    Band Tools
    Bandmate Tuner
   Beat On-Advanced Metronome
    gStrings Free
    Mobile Metronome
    Tuner Lite by plusadd
    Mattawoman Orchestra Music Library

Neat music stuff
    Cello Talks
    Free Music Notation Software
    How Playing an Instrument Benefits the Brain
    String Technique
    Toby Rush Music Theory Pages
    Violin Master Class

Orchestra Etiquette/Orchestra Discipline

Practice Resources
    Free Online Metronome
    Sight-Reading Factory
    Tuning Drones-Java
    Violin Master Class
    Wynton Marsalis' Twelve Ways to Practice

Professional Orchestras
    Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
    Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
    Philadelphia Orchestra
    The "President's Own" Marine Band and Orchestra

QuizletShops and Repairs
String Skills- Songs on One String
Vibrato Video
    Cello Vibrato Video
    String Bass Vibrato Videos
    Violin/Viola Vibrato Videos

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Orchestra Summer Camps

There are several opportunities for your student to participate in summer music camps. This is a great way for your students to keep improving their playing over the summer and have a lot of fun doing it.Several Mattawoman students have participated in these camps and they loved it. The links are below. There is also a summer camp run by the county; Information will be provided as soon as it is received.



Please contact Mr. Somerville with any questions or concerns.

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Practice Resources

25 Crucial Bowings
Blank Staff Paper
Longy Rhythm System
Note Reading Flashcards
    Alto Clef Flashcards
    Bass Clef Flashcards
    Treble Clef Flashcards
Online Note-Reading Flashcards
    Alto Clef Note Names
    Bass Clef Note Names
    Treble Clef Note Names
Practice Journal
    I am checking for the following items:  dates, what was practiced (with SPECIFICS), minutes, reflection
   Students should aim to practice 5 days per week, 20-30 minutes per day in order to make sufficient progress in Orchestra.

Practice Strategies

Count and clap
Slow it down
Sing/hum/whistle it
Use a metronome
Pluck it
Bow on open strings
Finger/Shadow bow
Tap your foot
Work backwards
Record yourself
Chunk it
Adding on


    Bass scales
    Cello scales
    Viola scales
    Violin scales

Solfege Syllables and Hand Signs

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Quizzes and Tests


Grading Rubric:

TONE (5 points)
The student’s tone quality:
5 is full and rich in the majority of ranges and registers
4 is full and rich, but distorts in occasional passages
3 has some flaws in basic tone production
2 has several major flaws in basic tone production
1 is not characteristic of these instruments

NOTE ACCURACY (10 points)
The student plays:
10 all correct notes
8 nearly all correct notes
6 the majority of the correct notes
4 many incorrect notes
2 so many incorrect notes that the melody is unrecognizable

INTONATION (5 points)
The student’s intonation:
5 is accurate throughout the majority of ranges and registers
4 is accurate, but fails to adjust on isolated pitches
3 is mostly accurate, but includes out of tune notes. Problem pitches are not adjusted to an acceptable standard
2 exhibits a basic sense of intonation yet has significant problems; student makes no apparent attempt to adjust problem pitches
1 is not accurate. Performance was consistently out of tune

The student’s rhythm:
10 is accurate throughout
8 is nearly accurate but lacked precise interpretation of some rhythmic patterns
6 lacks accuracy on many patterns
4 is inconsistent in most rhythmic patterns
2 is not accurate

TEMPO (5 points)
The student’s tempo:
5 is accurate and consistent with the printed tempo marking
4 approaches the printed tempo marking, yet the performed tempo does not significantly detract from the performance
3 is at a different tempo than the printed tempo marking, resulting in an inappropriate tempo for the selection
2 is performed with inconsistencies (rushing, dragging, etc.)
1 is not accurate or consistent, contains major flaws including rushing, dragging, etc.

The student demonstrates:
5 the highest level of musicality including well-shaped phrases and dynamics
4 a high level of musicality, but some phrases or dynamics were not consistent with the overall level of expression
3 a moderate level of musicality and musical expression
2 a limited amount of musicality and expression
1 a lack of musical understanding and expression

SCALE (10 points)
The student performs:
5 all pitches/notes accurately
4 nearly all pitches accurately
3 many pitches accurately
2 a number of incorrect notes
1 a large number of incorrect notes

Steady tempo:
5   4   3   2   1

TOTAL SCORE ______/50

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Staff Wars
A fun way to practice note reading for violin, viola, and cello
This is a fun way to practice note reading. It works on any computer with a microphone. The computer version is free. There is also an app version for iOS and Android devices, which costs $0.99.
For the computer version:
Go here: http://www.themusicinteractive.com/downloads.html
Download Staff Wars V2.1 for either Mac or Windows.
When you open the folder, click on StaffWars 2.exe.
The game should start. There is a small window that will open along with the game, which is to adjust the microphone. Play into the microphone, and adjust the gain slider until the sound meter on the right hand side picks up your instrument.
In the main game window, select your instrument from the list. Then, drag the green notes to select the range of notes to choose from. Select the key from the list (stick with D, G, or C major to start, as this affects which notes will be sharp or flat). Select the number of notes and the speed, then click Start. Click start on the next screen to begin the game.
A note will scroll across the screen. Play the note into the microphone to destroy it. If it doesn't seem to be working, make sure that the microphone is picking up your instrument and that your instrument is in tune. It will only work if the note is played in tune!
Let me know how you do!

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Tri-County Honors Orchestra

You must be prepared to play ALL of the following:

Scales: C, G, D, A, F, Bb Major, g melodic minor
1 octave in quarter notes (1 note per bow) at quarter = 120

Solo: See excerpts for each instrument. Both excerpts are required.

Sight-reading will be required from everyone. You will have up to 60 seconds to study the piece, after which you must play it without stopping.

Here are the dates for rehearsals and performance. If you miss ANY of the rehearsals, you will be dismissed from the ensemble.

If you are accepted into the Tri-County Orchestra, YOU MAY BE ASKED TO RE-AUDITION ON THE ORCHESTRA MUSIC AT THE FIRST REHEARSAL for seating.

Any questions, please see Mr. Somerville.

MS TCO Audition Year 1 BASS
MS TCI Audition Year 1 CELLO
MS TCO Audition Year 1 VIOLA
MS TCO Audition year 1 VIOLIN

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