Joining Dowell Orchestra:
Thank you for your interest in the Dowell Orchestra program! Dowell Orchestra is like a big family, in which you’ll make friends and share experiences that will last through middle school and even into high school. Our students learn to be very high achieving in their orchestra classes, and learning an instrument positively impacts their other classes. Plus, it’s fun!
Current brain research indicates that many people naturally think musically – especially as young children. As parents and educators it is imperative that we value creative thinking in children and ensure that their capacities for learning music are as fully developed as possible. In order to achieve this goal, music classes taught by specialists should be part of every student’s school day.
Texas ASCD, Fine Arts Network Chair
Learning an orchestra instrument not only increases hand/eye motor coordination that positively impacts cognitive skills and tasks, but teaches the necessary discipline that will carry throughout their entire lives. Students who participate in the TMEA All State Orchestras in high school are some of the highest achieving students in the state. See their average 2019 SAT scores below.
Sinfonietta Orchestra: 1405
Philharmonic Orchestra: 1433
Symphony Orchestra: 1446
We do many things outside of the classroom, including field trips, host roller skating nights, go to competitions and theme parks (including Six Flags and NRH20), and so much more. Plus, our students find the orchestra to be a home away from home, and often center their friends and activities around orchestra.
Instruments We Offer:
Important Elective Info
- Orchestra students can only start in the 6th grade due to scheduling conflicts with 7th and 8th grade schedules. Other non-instrument electives can be joined later.
- 6th grade students may choose only 1 elective. Please note that Athletics, Cheerleading, and Drama are not offered in the 6th grade, and can be taken later.
- When students reach 7th grade, they can take both athletics, other electives, and orchestra. Our orchestra students are very involved in other electives and athletics in 7th and 8th grade.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What instruments are in the orchestra?
A: The orchestra is composed of stringed instruments such as violin, viola, cello, and bass. When we do “Full Orchestra” we combine with members from the band.
Q: I play the piano, is that a good thing?
A: YES! Actually, if you have music experience you would be great in the orchestra program. Not only would it be easy for you to learn your new instrument, but you will have opportunities to perform on the piano with the orchestra or as a soloist; however, NO prior musical experience or music reading is required to be in orchestra–95% of our students have never played an instrument before and started in the 6th grade learning how to hold the instrument and read music.
Q: Is string double bass the same as an electric bass?
A: Yes it is! In fact, the string bass and electric bass have the same strings and note names. The only difference is that an electric bass has frets and you hold it horizontally, while the string bass is played sitting or standing vertically, or upright and is played with the bow.
Q: Why should I choose to be in orchestra in the 6th grade and not another elective?
A: Great Question! Stringed instruments are played with a bow (the long wooden stick thing). The bow is our special voice and we can play lots of cool techniques with it. Starting orchestra in the sixth grade will better prepare you for all the fun and cool pieces you want to play later. If you know you want to play an instrument, play in the orchestra your sixth grade year, then in your seventh grade you can choose another elective to add.
Q: Does the orchestra participate in fun activities outside of school?
A: Yes!! We love to reward the orchestras by taking them to various contests such as The NRH20 Water Park Festival, PEAK Contest and UIL. We also go on field trips to the Dallas Symphony and Dallas Strings as well as go to Six Flags at the end of the year! We have lots of fun parties (pizza parties, roller skating, movie nights, etc) throughout the year as well.
Q: I am involved in lots of activities outside of school and I don’t think I will have time to practice, what should I do?
A: Practice time is important, but it doesn’t matter what elective you choose, you will need to put in some homework time for every class anyways and the nice part about orchestra is practicing is your homework!
Q: I’m pretty small right now. How can I possibly play those big instruments?
A: Orchestra instruments are perfect for young students because they are made of wood and can fit any size person. They make small versions of every instrument so you don’t have to worry about orchestra instruments being to big. As you grow, you can get your instrument exchanged for a bigger one.
Q: Is orchestra expensive? I don’t think I can afford it
A: Most students rent their instruments from area music stores. There are very affordable options for every instrument. Do NOT let cost stop you from playing. We will help every student/family find an instrument that fits their budget.
Q: Is their orchestra in high school?
A: Yes, all of the McKinney high schools have great orchestra programs, but you have to have already been playing in middle school to be able to play in high school, so make sure to sign up in 6th grade!