6th Grade Orchestra Information

  •  General Information

    6th Grade Orchestra is open to students with previous experience. Emphasis is on the continuing development of instrumental playing skills, music reading, listening skills, and ensemble performance technique. In addition, there are many indirect benefits which result from this musical training, including:

    • development of cognitive abilities and listening skills
    • creative self-expression and confidence through musical performance
    • intrinsic motivation, self-discipline, and responsibility
    • social skills and character building
    • time management and learning to set practice goals
    • aesthetic appreciation and the ability to evaluate quality
    • reasoning and creative thinking
    • problem-solving and decision-making
    • working with a group, personal contributions to a shared goal, and the importance of unity. 

    Students will advance in ability and technique as they progress in their string classes. Listening skills, improved tone production, posture, personal playing technique and ensemble skills are expanded. Increased music reading skills are gained through challenging repertoire. 

    Educational research suggests increased learning ability results from playing a musical instrument over time and the development of self-expression and positive self-esteem occur. Students become more confident and collaborative learners through these experiences.
    It is well known that participating in an Orchestra program can motivate, inspire, and encourage learners of every level. Research has shown that students with four or more years of instrumental music training tend to score above average on standardized tests, such as the S.A.T. 

    Orchestra is a unique program that fosters friendships based on the important values of trust, cooperation, unity, and shared goals. Making music with friends is emotionally satisfying and helps create successful students that know how to succeed and work in a group. Consider the many valuable experiences and skills your student will gain continuing in Orchestra. Parkway’s string program extends from grade 3 through 12th grade. 


    What Instrument Should My Student Play?

     This is a very important decision that should be discussed thoroughly with your student and the orchestra teacher. It is always best that you play the instrument you have the most experience with, this will give your student the foundation they need to be successful and experience the full value of the orchestra. It is not recommended that you switch your instrument between 5th and 6th grade but there are exceptions. After meeting with you and your student individually, the orchestra teacher can recommend a switch of an instrument based on the following criteria: 

    • Will the Student be taking private lessons on the new instrument?
    • Will the student attend the Parkway Strings Camp this Summer?
    • his/her physical characteristics
    • need for balanced instrumentation (Bass and Viola are usually in need)

    As orchestra directors, we do recommend instrument choices from time to time that has proved to bring students success and a feeling of fulfillment in the program. If you would like to talk about your student's options please contact your orchestra director. 


    Instruments in Middle School Orchestra:

    Instruments are not provided by the district, families must provide their own instruments for class, at-home practice, and performances. Whenever possible, please RENT an instrument until your student stops growing. There are several reasons renting makes more sense for a middle school student!

    • As your student gets bigger, they will need bigger sizes. It is much easier to swap out a rental for the next size up than it is to sell a too-small instrument and purchase a new one.
    • Rental contracts typically come with a repair clause! If you buy, especially sight-unseen off the internet, it’s possible that your purchase could require significant work in order to be playable, meaning you’ll end up paying much more in the long run. 
    • Each instrument is just a little bit different, even if they’re the same size. If your student is uncomfortable with their rental, you can swap it out for one that feels better to your student.
    • With rental instruments, you can rest assured that you are providing a quality instrument for your student.
    • Rental shops are great about measuring your student (arm length, height, hand size, etc) to find the right fit. Buying an instrument without knowing what size to get can result in an instrument that is unplayable for your student.

    If you do want to buy and manage to find a great deal online, beware! You usually end up getting exactly what you pay for. Budget-friendly instruments may look great on the website but usually, come with major problems that make it difficult for your student to play. Because of the skills we’re learning, a high-quality instrument is important….and your ears will thank you!  If you have any questions or would like a second opinion prior to purchasing, don’t hesitate to reach out to your middle school orchestra teacher. We are here to help and would love to assist you in finding something of good quality in your budget.

    ***If you are unable to obtain an instrument and your child wishes to participate in the string program, please discuss this with your string teacher.***


    VIOLIN & VIOLA instrument outfits should have:

    • Ebony pegs
    • Functional fine tuners on all 4 strings
    • Good quality violin/viola strings
    • Properly adjusted and fitted bridge set up by a local professional
    • Bow (wood or fiberglass) with real horsehair, in good condition, with a screw that turns easily
    • Rosin for bow
    • Hard shell case
    • Shoulder rest or sponge 

    CELLO & BASS instrument outfits should have:

    • Ebony pegs
    • Fine tuners on all 4 strings
    • Good quality cell/bass strings
    • Bow (wood or fiberglass) with real horsehair, in good condition, with a screw that turns easily
    • Rosin for bow
    • Adjustable end pin
    • Zipper case preferred
    • Rock-stop



    • Method books and/or online resources as recommended by your string teacher
    • A folding metal music stand for home practice (optional but highly recommended)
    • A folder or binder to keep sheet music organized and together
    • Pencils, to be used in class and while students are practicing at home
    • Metronome - optional but highly recommended
    • Tuner - optional but highly recommended



    We have found the following dealers to issue acceptable instruments and service them when necessary.

    ***Some stores offer contactless service. Prices vary. Call stores directly for more information*** 

    Bearden Violin Shop
    8787 Lackland Rd., 63114

    Ernie Williamson Music
    15440 Manchester Rd., 63011 

    Music and Arts
    6161 Mid Rivers Mall Dr., 63376 

    Music and Arts
    1236 Town and Country Crossing Dr., 63017 

    Music and Arts
    12292 Saint Charles Rock Road, 63044 

    Manchester Music
    102 Holloway Rd., 63011 

    Palen Music Center
    4689 State Hwy K., 63368 

    St. Louis Strings
    6331 Clayton Ave., 63139 

    St. Louis Strings
    17269 Wild Horse Creek Rd., 63005

    Top Notch Strings
    3109 Sutton Blvd., 63143

    Top Notch Strings
    2614 Metro Blvd, 63043


    Frequently Asked Questions?

    Do I need to already play an orchestra instrument?

    Yes, this will provide the best experience in orchestra but there are exceptions so speak to your teacher if you are interested in orchestra and do not already play an orchestra instrument. 


    My student has experience but we are new to Parkway, can my student participate?

    Yes! We look forward to having you join the program! Talk with your orchestra teacher about next steps. Your student should have something ready to play that they have been working on either in orchestra or lessons if applicable. Your student may be asked to send a video of their playing or play live for the teacher. This is NOT an audition, it is only for informational purposes.  


    Are students pulled out for this?

    No, orchestra is a course that is part of your regular schedule


    Are private lessons required?

    No, but they are recommended, please see your teacher for private lessons teacher recommendations.


    Are performances required?

    YES! This is a performance-based class and the concert performance is the culmination of our learning together.


    Do I need to own an instrument?

    No, see the rental and instrument information above for recommendations on obtaining an instrument. 


    Are there field trips in Orchestra?

    Yes!! There are several learning experiences throughout the year that give students the opportunity to perform in other venues. Talk to your orchestra teacher about specific opportunities.