FAQ's & Info for Parents

FAQ's and Information for Parents

What does "Superior, Excellent, etc." mean?

A Superior (also refereed to as a "I" or "One") is the highest possible rating at a VBODA sponsored event. An Excellent is a II, a Good is a III, and a Fair is a IV. Ratings are given out at certain band events, such as Band Assessment, Spring Trip, and Solo & Ensemble Festival.

What is "VBODA Band Assessment (formerly festival)"?

VBODA Band Assessment is the most highly regarded and respected band concert event in Virginia. The concert which covers the district in which Freedom Middle School participates takes place at Brooke Point High School annually in March. Please see the calendar for specific dates. The band(s) will receive a rating based on the judges' opinion on the band's overall performance quality. This rating is published throughout the state of Virginia and on VBODA.org.

What about attendance at band events?

Attendance is critical for any organization's success. Concerts and rehearsals after school are required (please refer to the calendar online for dates and times). Please refer to the handbook online for specifics about attendance.


What is a "Festival"?

A Festival (now called “Assessment”) is a VBODA sponsored band contest, or a band contest associated with a "Spring Trip" event. 

How do I know rehearsal and performance times, dates, etc.?

A reminder is handed out before each performance to indicate the estimated details such as travel times and directions. The calendar is updated constantly, so please check the website calendar about once a week for updates. 

What is "District Band"?, What is "All County Band"?; What are the differences?

All County Band is comprised of 7th and 8th Grade Middle School Band students who tried out for the band (see calendar for date and time) and were among the highest scores in conjunction with all Spotsylvania County Middle School bands.

The All District Band is comprised of middle school students not only from Spotsylvania County, but also Stafford, King George, and Caroline Counties. It is quite an honor to be accepted into the All District Band!

These are two completely different bands. The county band is held at a different time than the district band and are composed of different students. Some students may make the county band, but not the district band and vice-versa.  

What is "Solo and Ensemble"?; How do I prepare?

Solo and Ensemble is an event where the students work on a piece of music independently outside of band class. This can be a solo or an ensemble (group of two or more musicians). Mr. Hoovler will help them choose a piece, and will need to approve it. Students should plan at least three months ahead and purchase the music they wish to play from J.W. Pepper. Students may also utilize the "SmartMusic" software included with their method books (additional fee may be required). There are a very limited amount of available music to borrow from the school on a "first com, first served" basis. 

Am I required to participate in "Solo and Ensemble" and "District" or "County" Band?

Students enrolled in band are not required, but STRONGLY encouraged to participate in Solo and Ensemble Festival, District and County Band. Extra credit will be awarded to participating students, as well as special recognition at the end of the year for successful participation in the try-out AND event. 

How do I prepare for "District/County Band" tryouts?; Who can try out?

7th and 8th grade students may try out for "All County" or "All District" band. In order to have a successful audition, students will need to have several scales memorized (the chromatic scale, Concert F, Bb, Eb, Ab, C, and G Major), and expect to "sight read" music. Percussionists will need to know their rudiments (for snare drum), the same scales (for mallets), and sight read.

Should I take private lessons?

Yes. Private lessons will help you improve dramatically with the individual attention you will receive. Please call Roberson's Music at 373-3775.

What is a chair challenge?

Chair challenges take place throughout the school year. You will be asked to perform major scales, perhaps your chromatic scale, and typically sight read a portion of a piece of music you have been working on in band class.

What does it mean when music is graded “1, 2, 3, 4, etc. ”?

The state organization (VBODA) decides how difficult a particular piece of music is and assigns a grade based on several factors. A grade “1” is a beginning band level, grade “2” is typically young middle school band, grade “3” is advanced middle school, grade “4” is young high school , grade “5” is advanced high school and college, and grade “6” is professional level.

Does Freedom Middle School loan out instruments?

Yes, but only if they are in stock.

Does Freedom Middle School provide mouthpieces or reeds?

No. All band members must furnish his/her own mouthpiece and reed for sanitary purposes.

What is VBODA?

It stands for Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors' Association. It is the governing body for all official band contests in Virginia including Marching Assessment, Band Assessment, District Band, All-VA Band, and Solo & Ensemble Festival. Their web address is www.vboda.org 

Are there costs involved for tryout/participation in All County/All District?

Trying out for District and County Band costs nothing (the fundraisers, etc. pay for this).  If you are chosen to participate in All District Band there is a fee.  All County Band is free. Solo and Ensemble is TBA.

Why Should Your Children Stay In Music?

Consider these statistics:

• College-bound seniors with coursework in performance music scored 52 points higher on the SAT Verbal and 37 points higher on SAT Math (The College Board, September 1997).

• Scientific studies indicate that music strengthens academic performance in Reading and Math (from Gardiner et al., Nature, May 23, 1996).

• One in three school children will eventually work in an arts-related job at some time in their career (Education Commission on the States).

• Over 90% of students who participate in high school music and attend college complete their degree (Music Advocacy's Top Ten for Students - Selmer Music Co., Elkhart, IN).

• There is a very high correlation between positive self-perception, high competence scores, healthy self-esteem, total interest and school involvement and the study of music (O.F. Lillemyr, Achievement Motivation as a Factor in Self-Perception, Norwegian Research Council for Science and the Humanities).

• "Successful music students tend to possess the qualities and skills that are considered essential to employers in business, education and service organizations. They are ahead of others in writing, communication skills, and analytical skills (Rees, M.A., Instrumentalist, November 1988).

• "The study of music is where we may learn commitment to quality and excellence in our work and where we can explore the inseparable relationship of mind and body (Hollander, F. The Educational Forum, Vol. 55, Winter 1991).

If your child is enrolled in music, studies have shown that keeping them involved throughout school will earn them significantly higher results on standardized testing and grade point averages.

If your child is not involved, the best thing you can do is get them involved in music now and KEEP THEM INVOLVED!

More music facts are available from the National Coalition for Music Education at menc.org

Is there a time commitment?

To be successful at just about anything, time must be invested. Band class is no different. Twenty minutes of home practice per day is recommended. Students depend on one another to meet this commitment, and we need EVERYONE at EVERY practice and performance in order to do our best.

What about parent involvement?

Parent involvement is essential to your child's success. Keep track of your child's progress by simply listening to them practice once in a while. Remind them of the importance of practice! Enjoy music with your child!