Future Orchestra Members

Welcome 5th Graders!

We are so excited to have you at Killian next year!  KMS students get two elective choices so make sure to select orchestra as one of your top two choices.

Everyone is welcome in orchestra. No experience is necessary.  We hope to see you there!

Instruments in the Orchestra


The violin is the highest sounding instrument in the string family. It is also the biggest section in the symphony orchestra with around 32-40 members in a professional symphony.  Whether you want to “fiddle” around or play some virtuosic Sarasate pieces, the violin is a wonderful versatile instrument that is sure to be enjoyed.


Often mistaken as a violin because of its uncanny resemblance to it, the viola is the second-highest sounding instrument in the orchestra family. It is slightly bigger than its violin cousin ranging from 13 inches to upwards of 15 inches in size. If you prefer playing on an instrument that plays a lower pitch and has a deeper tone, then the viola is perfect for you.


A bigger instrument, has a rich, velvety sound, and you get to play on it while comfortably sitting down? Then the cello is the instrument for you. The cello is the 2nd lowest sounding instrument in the string family and has a definitive sound that is sure to leave a lasting impression to its listeners.


Jazzy, funky, and powerful, this instrument serves as the foundation of the string orchestra. The reason why the double bass has the word “double” in it is because it plays the same low notes of the cello, only it plays the pitches an octave lower. Because of its sheer size and low frequency, a single or a pair of bassists can envelop an entire 30-piece orchestra in its sound. Its size may be daunting to some but do not worry, the double bass comes in different sizes and is sure to fit anyone who wants to play it


Do I have to know anything about music to join Orchestra?
No, everything you need to know to play an instrument and read music will be taught in your Orchestra class. Any training in music you already have will be very helpful, but it is not required. All students are welcome in orchestra and NO PRIOR MUSIC EXPERIENCE IS REQUIRED! Learning any instrument takes practice, and by taking small steps in class every day and practicing daily at home, you will be amazed by your progress at the end of the year!

If I join Orchestra, can I still be in Athletics, Band, Choir, Theater, and other sports/clubs?
Yes! We work closely with the coaches/directors to allow our students to participate in everything without having conflicts. The Killian Orchestras also have many academic leaders, talented athletes, singers, actors, NJHS members, cheerleaders, and more!

I’m left-handed…can I still play in the Orchestra?
Of course you can! It doesn’t matter what hand you write with – everyone holds the instrument in the left hand and bows with the right hand. In fact, we have many left-handed students who believe playing a stringed instrument helped improve their dexterity!

How many performances will I be involved in?
The Beginner Orchestra performs at our annual Demonstration Concert, Fall Cluster Concert, Winter Holiday Concert and Spring Concert. Private lessons are also strongly encouraged for all students and can provide more playing opportunities such as recitals and the annual LISD Solo & Ensemble Contest.

How much time do I need to practice?
Students are expected to practice an average of 20 minutes daily; this is the musician’s homework, just like you will have homework in every other academic class.

Should I purchase or rent an instrument?
Most families rent an instrument on a rental/purchase plan at a low monthly cost. Students can exchange their instrument for a bigger one as they grow, and once students reach a full-sized instrument, your accumulated rental credit can be used to purchase a quality step-up instrument.

For your convenience, the other required musical supplies are available for purchase with your rental package: the package includes a music stand for home practice, music book, rockstop for Cello/Bass students, shoulder rest for Violin/Viola students, and a soft cleaning cloth. Other required supplies that can be purchased at any school supply store include a 1 inch black binder, pencil bag, pencils, and highlighter.

Will I have to carry my instrument back and forth to school every day?
Typically, only violin and viola students bring their instruments back and forth to school everyday. Cello and Bass students do not need to carry their instruments back and forth to school every day. Families will rent one instrument to practice at home, and the school district provides instruments for students to use at school for a low yearly maintenance fee. 

What do I do if we already own an instrument?
Please bring the instrument to your Instrument Selection appointment so Mrs. John can check to make sure it is in good working condition. It is essential that the instrument is the proper size, so you do not experience discomfort while practicing from an instrument that is too small or too large. If you are a student with previous playing experience or who is currently taking private lessons, please contact Mrs. John for audition information so that you may be placed into the best Orchestra class for you.

Can I start learning my instrument over the summer?
While it might seem like a good idea to find a private teacher and start learning now, you will be bored in class when school starts! All students are strongly encouraged to sign up for private lessons once school starts. Mrs. John works closely with these private teachers to ensure that you are successful in Orchestra.

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