This page is being developed regarding certain policies that apply to seniors, or in some cases juniors taking AP courses.  It also includes compliance policies for enrollment/good standing policies found in youth orchestras, CMEA, and other organizations that partner with school music programs.  

Fantastic Festivals Exemption

If this year's traveling experience is a success, we will attend Fantastic Festivals and one other special performance on alternating years from our trips.  Fantastic Festivals sometimes occurs on the last day of AP testing due to festival availability.  For 2016-17, we will not be attending Fantastic Festivals.  However, for the years that we are, the following provisions have been made for AP Students and Seniors, who may experience some difficulty in attending.  

AP Students

We try our best to avoid conflicts, but very typically this trip will fall on the last day of AP exams.  It has to be on a Friday because that is the only day the company does the trip.  The rest of May is usually blacked out by RHS for running field trips.  

However, the last day of AP exams is typically in courses that do not have high enrollment and affects a minimal amount of students.  Past precedent and an understanding with guidance has made for an allowance of making up an AP exam if you have one on that day.  

Senior Internships

We are highly encouraging seniors to attend the trip.  If you are on your internship already, your expected hours for the week will be reduced by 6 hours so you can attend the trip at no penalty to you.  All you have to do is let your internship know.  No permission is required.  Remember that your internships are not paid and you are only required to put in 6 hours a day or 30 hours a week.  You can attend this trip at no hassle to you.

Changing of the Spring Concert and Senior Internships

Beginning in 2017, the spring concert will take place after AP exams and thus during senior internships.  As a requirement of the course, seniors will be expected to attend the co-curricular evening rehearsals during your internship (though you won't have to attend class as you will be on your internships).  Students will NOT have to attend class as they will be on their internships.  I have spoken with the assistant principal in charge of internships and scheduling and have received support on this matter.  It will be a change from what we are used to, but it was made with the well being of all students in mind.  Things can not continue as they have been.  

Rehearsals will be kept to one night a week for each ensemble (2 nights if you are a wind player in orchestra).  Structure your 30 hours in a way that will allow you to attend the rehearsals.  You DO have a say in this process with your sponsor.  If your internship is in the city, make sure you hop the train early enough to get back on that particular day, or put in a longer day to compensate for the hours lost, or structure the 30 hours so you have the day off.  Remember, you are only required to put in 30 hours a week.  Four 7.5 hour days will get the job done.  It is doable and just requires a little planning on your part.  Don't get an internship in Tennessee, and talk about these rehearsal dates, the concert, and the field trip with your internship sponsor at your preliminary meeting to make them aware of your availability.  You won't receive any pushback at all.  

Why are we changing when the spring concert takes place?

This was decided on by majority during a student leadership meeting and unanimously by Ridgefield Music Matters.  It is simply too much stress on all involved to have a concert in late April or before April break for many reasons.  

  • The concert is historically the week before AP exams.  Conflicts with review sessions as well as the time commitments of attending the review sessions AND the co-curricular rehearsals causes too much stress on the students.
  • Having the last concert of the year for a performing group before 4th quarter even begins is absurd, and that is what we are now being forced to do.  Performance ensembles perform.  There is not a whole lot of meaning to our goals after our last concert.
  • The spring concert cycle is only 3 months, severely hindering the level of repertoire and preparedness our groups are deserving of for their concerts. 

Enrollment and Good Standing Compliance policy

Most outside music organizations require students to be “in good standing” with their school’s music program.  Such policies exist to protect the symbiotic relationship between school music programs and extra-curricular music groups.  CMEA events and Youth Orchestras are meant to be supplements to a comprehensive music education, not substitutes.  As such, they create these policies to protect that relationship.  On our end, we encourage our advanced students to participate in these organizations as a means of supplementing the education they receive in school.  

These organizations may require a teacher and/or administrator’s signature. At RHS, we define “good standing” to mean you are enrolled in a performance ensemble at RHS.  If you are not enrolled in a performance ensemble course at RHS, we will not authorize your participation for such opportunities.  Enrolling in ensembles do not include clubs such as Pep Band, Chamber Orchestra, or Symphonic Winds.  

Exceptions are made if a student CAN’T work out an alternative to a scheduling alternative:

  • A drop or increase in course level would be the only alternative against a required singleton and tracked course (i.e. a student wishing to take AP English as a senior would instead have to take English Honors because AP English meets at the only time the other class does)

    • Note:  this does not apply to a 4th year of World Language or Social Studies courses as these are optional.

  • A student is auditing a music course.  Course audits are approved by the director on a case by case basis and consider the student’s musical ability and prior achievement as well as sense of personal responsibility.  

  • Sometimes there are other anomalies; these are just the most common.  Exceptions are handled on a case by case basis and at the sole discretion of the director.  Decisions made in this regard do not establish precedents of any kind.

Exceptions are NOT made for the following circumstances:

  • A student elects to double another core course, such as taking two sciences or maths in the same year, or taking a second world language.

  • A student chooses a different elective for “career” reasons or “college entry” advantages.  Colleges do not require elective courses in high school as prerequisites for admittance into their programs, and it doesn’t necessarily give students an edge.  MIT will not care about your Intro to Engineering class, or accept your AP Computer Science course as part of your major in college (they will make you retake it).  


Western Regionals/All State

These events are festivals for serious music students.  Students are expected to be enrolled in their school program, taking private lessons, and must audition for participation.  

A student is only eligible to audition for All State if they pass a Western Regional audition and participate in the festival.  

The events are run by the Connecticut Music Educators Association (CMEA), which is a professional organization for music teachers and their students.  Therefore, students must be in good standing with their sponsoring school music teacher.  

Youth Orchestras

Youth Orchestras are privately run groups that require auditions for membership.  It allows for homogeneous grouping of serious music students in a regional capacity.  They typically rehearse once a week and do around 3 concert cycles a year.   

The RHS music program receives an active list of participants from all surrounding youth orchestras in Fairfield and Westchester County, including Norwalk, Greenwich, GBYO, and WCYO.  If a student is found to be on a Youth Orchestra roster and not enrolled in the RHS program, this will be reported to the Youth Orchestra.  Your membership in that group may be terminated.  

Director’s Note

Youth Orchestras and organizations like CMEA are dependent on school music programs for a number of reasons, and school music programs greatly value the contributions these organizations make to our own students.  School programs offer most kids’ first exposure to learning their instrument.  Schools also focus on theory, technique, exercises, and build the ensemble skills for students that a Youth Orchestra will later capitalize upon once a student reaches an advanced enough level.  They also rely on school programs for advertising and getting the word out so they can draw their clientele.  Many times, it is because a music teacher recommends a kid join a more advanced group at school, take private lessons, audition for festivals, or join a youth orchestra that students become parts of these addition to providing the quality music education that helped them to become the players they are.  To strip the school music programs of their leading players only would undermine the programs where they get their students, and offer a disincentive to music teachers encouraging students to participate in these types of organizations.  As a result, you will find that most organizations have a policy that students must participate in or be in good standing with their school program.  We all benefit when we collaborate rather than compete, and we work together to enforce those policies and help one another.  

We may all agree that student choices are limited due to the recent update in graduation requirements imposed by the state, the Wellness requirement unique to Ridgefield, and the short supply of available open credits for students within our schedule.  I agree that it is unfortunate that sometimes students have to choose...but they do have to choose.  Sometimes that choice is between music and other things, and those choices have consequences.  The unfortunate nature of the choice is brought on by things out of the control of Ridgefield High School as they are Ridgefield Board of Education or state requirements.  Becoming involved in local or state politics and communication with administration is the only way to move towards changing this situation.  This is not a situation where you can control your options; you must choose between being in good standing or not being in good standing.  You simply have to do what is right for you, but we must be consistent with our application of this policy.

RHS’ stance on this important and sometimes divisive issue has been thoroughly discussed with administration and consensus has been reached on how we treat eligibility as a school, resulting in this policy.  This is not something that I have contrived as the Instrumental Music Director.  

Please do not hesitate to contact me about scheduling conflicts, as I have been known to be able to work miracles from time to time for students.