Welcome to Lawler Orchestra

2019 - 2020

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Getting an Instrument

When to Rent: If you have not yet rented an instrument for the fall, it is time to get that done! You can visit www.dallasstrings.com to get your rental set up. Please do not wait any longer to get this done. The music store needs time to get instruments rented and delivered to Lawler.

An Important Note: Instruments should be sent to Lawler to be set up and ready for your student. Unless your student is already enrolled in private lessons, instruments should not be used before the school year begins. Please do not let your student get started on their own. Beginning position set-up and technique is crucial to a successful future on the instrument. Bad habits formed without proper instruction can lead to a long struggle of breaking bad habits instead of developing a strong foundation from the start.

Sizing: Getting your student on the correct size instrument is so important for good technique. You should have received your student's instrument size when you tried instruments out last spring. If you aren't sure which size to rent, just send me an email at lalondec@friscoisd.org. I either have a form that was completed at sizing night last spring, or we can set up an appointment to figure out what size instrument your student will need.

Supplies: Dallas Strings offers a 'beginner kit' with each rental. Please get the beginner kit for your student. This will include a method book and other required supplies for beginner orchestra. Dallas Strings also offers the option to buy your student a clip on tuner. Every student will need a tuner so please also purchase the tuner. Many students use tuner apps on their phones at home, but phones and apps do not work as well in the orchestra classroom setting.

Once you've completed your rental...

You're ready! Your instrument and supplies will be sent to Lawler. Mrs. LaLonde and Mr. Sluder will get your instrument tuned, taped, and ready for the first week of school. Instruments will remain at school for a few weeks while students learn basic instrument care and practice techniques. Communication will be sent home to notify parents when to expect students to begin bringing instruments home to practice.

*An exception to this would be if your student has already started taking private lessons and will need to take their instrument home to attend their lessons.

Beware of big box stores, online retailers, and hand-me-downs

The quality of stringed instruments can vary greatly and the quality of your student's instrument will have a huge impact on their success when it comes to making beautiful sounds and being able to learn advanced techniques. We recommend renting from Dallas Strings because your student is guaranteed a high-quality instrument. If you are looking at getting your instrument elsewhere, please contact me first. I would be happy to play on the instrument and give you my honest feedback on whether you are getting an instrument that will allow your student to be successful.

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Private Lessons

It is recommended that all students sign up for private instruction on their instrument. Lessons give students one-on-one feedback that can challenge the excelling student or greatly help a student that is struggling.

Private Lessons are available as pull-outs during orchestra class once a week or outside of the school day. Lessons before/after school can take place at Lawler or at a teacher's studio depending on availability.

If you are getting your student signed up for private lessons, it is important to get paired with a recommended teacher. There are many teachers in the area - some are more qualified than others. Guarantee you are getting a high quality lesson teacher by filling out the form below to get connected with a recommended teacher.

Lesson availability goes quickly, so if you are interested in lessons, please fill out the form as soon as possible and we will get you connected with a lesson teacher first-come, first-serve.

If you have already filled out this form on our website, you do not need to fill it out again. You will hear from us soon.

Important Dates & Performances

Students have multiple performance and social opportunities in their first year of orchestra. Listed below is a quick summary of the big events already scheduled on our calendar for this year. The best way to keep up with our calendar of events is to subscribe to our Google Calendar. You can find it on our website by clicking HERE

Beginner Informance - October 1st - This is a required event for beginner orchestra students. We call it the "informance" because it is both a performance and informative meeting for our orchestra parents. Students will perform some basic skills and songs that they have mastered, and parents will have the opportunity to learn how to help their student find success through quality practice at home.

Winter Concert - December 11th - This is a required event for all orchestra students. Our winter concert will be held at Centennial HS

Solo & Ensemble Contest - April 4th, 2020 - This is an optional event for all students, but is highly recommended. This is your student's opportunity to display their solo abilities and their highest levels of musicianship.

Spring Concert - May - This is a required event for all orchestra students.

*** The above dates are not all the orchestra events for the school year or all of the details. Please make sure to check our calendar for all of our scheduled events. Some dates on our orchestra calendar are only for advanced students. Make sure to click on events to see who they apply to.

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Orchestra Homework

Many parents ask about how much practice to expect their student to be doing outside of the school day. This is a question we will address in great detail at our beginner informance on Oct. 1st, but I always stress "quality over quantity". More practice does not make a student better unless they are using that practice time wisely. In fact, a student can get worse by practicing for too long with bad technique and building tension.

Students will have weekly practice expectations, goals, and assignments that will increase in duration over the school year as they become more capable of the endurance it takes to play properly for longer amounts of time and as the material they are working on becomes more detailed. Our first goal in orchestra is correct and consistent position and technique. This is something best practiced in small, quality sessions.

Practice assignments will cycle between practice logs, goal-oriented practice assignments, practice videos, and theory assignments through Canvas.

Get to Know Your Orchestra Directors

Mrs. LaLonde directed the Lawler orchestras in their inaugural year. The program got off to a great start with our students receiving superior ratings at all contests. The Lawler orchestras are poised to have another great year in 2020!

A little about Mrs. LaLonde: She grew up in the Chicago Suburbs where she started piano at age five and viola at age nine. She moved to the Houston area during her last two years of high school which allowed her to be part of the award winning orchestra programs at both Neuqua Valley HS in Naperville, IL and Cinco Ranch HS in Katy, TX. She attended the University of North Texas and graduated with a Bachelor in Music Education in 2009 with a concentration in viola.

A Note from Mrs. LaLonde:

I absolutely love what I do. Helping students to discover their talents and a passion for music brings me joy each day. I cannot wait to get started working with our Lawler Orchestras again this fall.

When I'm not teaching music, I'm spending time with my husband (who is also an orchestra teacher!), my son Declan, and my two cats.

With the orchestra growing to 220 students this year, we were in great need of a second director. Mr. Sluder will be joining the Lawler orchestra team as associate director this fall.

A Little about Mr. Sluder: He grew up in the DFW area and attended UNT for his bachelor in music education. He began teaching in Lewisville ISD as a middle school director for five years and then spent seven years as the head director of the Lewisville HS orchestras. Mr. Sluder specializes in lower strings teaching and has a passion for composing and arranging music. He is excited to be joining the Lawler Orchestra team this fall.

A Note from Mr. Sluder: I am so fortunate to be spending my life teaching, playing, and writing music. I'm pumped to now share part of that life with the Lawler Orchestra! In my personal life, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Rebecca, and my three dogs, Toby, Benny, and Mjoll. I also co-host an orchestra teaching podcast and write/record music in my small home studio.