Les Sellers & Jesse Samaripa - Orchestra Directors 

Kara Miller -Principal



The Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District takes great pride in being able to offer Orchestra classes at Ted Polk Middle School as part of a well-rounded educational experience. Although we consider participation in instrumental music programs a right of all students, we do expect certain standards of each student enrolled in our classes: Responsibility, Dependability, Dedication, and Musical Excellence.


We work to make the Ted Polk Orchestra a safe and inclusive place for those from all backgrounds, and celebrate the visible and invisible qualities that make each person unique. These qualities include but are not limited to race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, physical capability, family background, socioeconomic status, national origin, etc. In our class, we will not tolerate the harassment of another person for any reason. Students can be certain that Mr. Samaripa and Mr. Sellers will serve as supportive adults, and work to ensure that all of our students are treated fairly, justly, and inclusively.


It is our goal to produce outstanding orchestras and outstanding musicians. It is our belief that students learn more and develop better self-discipline, responsibility, knowledge, and take more pride in superior orchestras than in poor ones. To produce an outstanding orchestra requires that each student accepts certain responsibilities.


The following pages will outline the basic requirements for the Polk Orchestra. PLEASE RETURN THE LAST PAGE OF THIS HANDBOOK TO THE SCHOOL ORCHESTRA DIRECTOR WITH ALL THE REQUESTED INFORMATION COMPLETED AND SIGNED - OR - SIGN THE ACCEPTANCE FORM FROM THE PARENTSQUARE POST. This will indicate your notification and acceptance of the policies of the Polk Orchestra program. In an effort to save district money and protect the environment, we are not printing off the handbook. Please bookmark our website so that you can refer back to the handbook if you have any questions.


As the Polk Orchestra begins its 25th year of musical excellence, we are very excited about the musical learning and performance opportunities this year will present. We plan on making it a great experience for everyone, and a fun year to be in orchestra! We hope that each of you will feel pride in being part of the orchestra family. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us!


Here are the ways you can contact the Polk Orchestra and the directors: 

Mr. Sellers sellersl@cfbisd.edu

Mrs. Lyons: samaripaj@cfbisd.edu


TPMS Orchestra Web Page:



Phone Numbers

Orchestra Office 972.968.4636

Polk Fax 972.968.4610

Polk Main 972.968.4600



The Polk Orchestra is a year-long credit course that meets regularly during the school day. It is a performance-based class, with emphasis on class performance, teamwork, and effort. The nature of this class requires the development of skills, concepts and the mastering of string playing objectives. These must also be demonstrated outside of the classroom in rehearsals and performances.


The primary objective of each student in school should be to obtain the highest quality overall education possible. Academic performance and success goes hand in hand with musical success. We take pride in knowing that orchestra students are among the highest achieving students in the school and are also among the most active in other organizations. Educational research has shown that students who are involved in extra and co-curricular activities perform at a consistently higher academic level and have higher levels of self esteem. 





Beginner Orchestra is made up of 1st year orchestra students, mostly 6th graders. All Beginner Orchestra members are invited to Beginner Orchestra social events, as well as other events throughout the school year. This ensemble will have 3 concerts, and go to a music festival in the spring.  The goals and objectives of this course will include improving musicianship, technique, motor skills and musical language and vocabulary.



This orchestra is made up of 7th  and 8th graders. The focus for this class is to review and improve the orchestra skills that were taught in the beginner year. All Camarata members are invited to all orchestra social events. This ensemble will perform at concerts, go to the UIL Contest in the spring, and compete at a music festival. The goals and objectives of this course will be improving ensemble playing, learning new bow styles, musicality, performance etiquette, and musical vocabulary. 


Philharmonic ORCHESTRA

This orchestra is made up of advanced 7th and 8th graders. The focus for this ensemble is to go to the next level after the beginner year and prepare students form the symphonic orchestra and/or high school orchestra. All 8th grade Orchestra members are invited to all orchestra social events. This ensemble will perform at all concerts, go to the UIL Contest in the spring, and compete at a music festival. The goals and objectives of this course will be improving ensemble playing, learning new bow styles, musicality, performance etiquette, and musical vocabulary. 



The Symphonic Orchestra is made up of VERY advanced 7th and 8th graders with a desire to excel on their instrument. This is the elite performing group at Polk Middle School. This group will have sectionals before school once a week, starting promptly at 7:15 am. This group will perform throughout the community, go to the UIL Contest in the spring, compete at a music festival, and will be responsible for attending assigned before school  sectionals throughout the year. Each member of the Symphonic Orchestra will be required to audition for the All Region Orchestra. This group will be highly respected and will be asked to perform often. Individual responsibility and leadership is paramount for students at this level. The goals and objectives of this course will be advanced musicianship, ensemble playing, upper position work, leadership, excellence, dedication, and the will to succeed at anything attempted.



All Region Orchestra is a highly competitive orchestra made up of musicians from CFBISD, HEBISD, and LISD selected by an audition process. To be eligible for the All Region Orchestra, a student must have passed all subjects with a grade of at least 70 during the 3-week period before the audition date. All members of the Polk Symphonic Honors Orchestra are required to audition for the All Region Orchestra.


The competition to get into the all region orchestra is extremely stiff.  Only the very best players achieve this honor. Traditionally, musicians from the Ted Polk Orchestra have done VERY well…but it wasn’t without lots of practice and effort put in by the students. There will be sectionals available to help you. We encourage you to take private lessons, come to every sectional, and to put in lots of time in a practice room.  Students who do make an All-Region Orchestra have their names put on a banner and hung on our Wall of Fame in the Orchestra room.



Contests and competitions are a big part of what we do in Orchestra. Our students set high goals for their orchestras and work incredibly hard to attain those goals. We also believe that they learn very important lessons through the strains of competing. In the spring semester, our Symphonic, 7th, and 8th grade Orchestras will perform at the state UIL Contest. The UIL Contest is a very big event in our school year. It is the orchestra equivalent to the academic classes’ STAAR test. There will be lots of intense rehearsals and sectionals in the spring semester leading up to our contest. UIL is not a competition against the other orchestras in our area. Rather, it is a competition against a standard of excellence and perfection. An Orchestra’s performance is judged by a panel of 3 judges on a scale of I (Superior) to V (Poor). All of our Orchestras, including our Beginner Orchestra, will also attend an additional music festival competition in the spring!



A simple failing grade in any class on a report card will deny you many performance and field trip privileges (you do not need to be academically eligible for concerts) Becoming academically ineligible for a contest can virtually destroy all of our hard work, both individually and as an orchestra. Students’ grades have a direct effect on every other student in their orchestra. The team work needed for a successful performance is based on the responsibility of each student to pass his/her own classes. Students who do not pass either a progress report, or report card grading period with at least a 70 in all classes, will not be able to participate in All Region auditions, UIL Contest, or any winter or spring performances we do outside of school. Please, pass your classes so you can participate in all of the super fun activities we have planned for this school year. 



A student’s grade for each grading period is calculated as follows:

Formative (25%): Daily music theory work, class performance grades, sectional attendance

Summative (75%): Playing tests, specified sectionals, concerts/performances, written tests

PRACTICING REQUIREMENT: Everyday outside of class!!!


Make it MESSY

Make it FUN

Put in the REPS!!!


CONCERT ATTENDANCE:  Concert attendance is counted for 2 MAJOR (SUMMATIVE) GRADES: one for concert performance, the other for concert audience etiquette. Our concerts are the equivalent in Orchestra to a unit test in another class – it is the sum of all we have been working on in class.   


*NO DOCTOR/DENTIST APPOINTMENT EXCUSE*: Doctor/dental appointments are scheduled events and can be scheduled around sectionals, rehearsals, and concerts. Therefore, we will not excuse any absences for non-emergency doctor/dental/orthodontic appointments. This also includes any appointment such as a hair salon, nail, etc… i.e. anything that can be scheduled, needs to be scheduled around orchestra events. 


Conflicts with concerts (Polk sports games, Polk fine arts performances, etc.) should be worked out in advance with the orchestra directors and Polk coaches. Students may only be excused from Polk Orchestra concerts because of Polk Middle School athletic/fine arts events – not activities students attend outside of school. Polk teachers are very good about working with each other in advance to avoid such conflicts, but in the case that something overlaps, please talk with the associated teachers as soon as the conflict is found so that we can help you find a suitable solution. We are very easy to work with, especially when we have advanced notice of possible conflicts. We love that our students are involved in many different activities at Polk – in fact, we encourage it! So please give us as much time as possible to help solve scheduling conflicts so that students may participate in as many activities as possible. In the rare occasion a concert must be missed (i.e. sickness or death of a relative), parents must contact the director.



The conduct of Orchestra students reflects not only on themselves, but also reflects the Orchestra as a whole, their teachers, and their school and community. The Orchestra will be following the same discipline plan as the rest of Ted Polk Middle School. We hold our students to a very high standard of behavior because we believe that our students are the best students at TPMS.  


If students fail to meet the TPMS conduct requirements, they may lose the privilege of participating in performance, field trip, and social activities with the rest of the Orchestra. 



Students who take private lessons have greater mastery of the music and material. One-on-one instruction is very beneficial and can help students achieve greater goals in orchestra. Private lessons are not really like a tutorial – they are to help a child advance faster than the class, and achieve at a higher level. The more students we have involved in private lessons, the higher our orchestras can achieve. 

Sign up here: https://tinyurl.com/polkprivatelessons



Beginner Orchestra:

Beginner orchestra students will wear the Polk Orchestra t-shirt, blue jeans, and plain closed-toe shoes for their uniform. This t-shirt/jeans uniform is required at every concert and performance. The t-shirt/jeans combo is also the informal uniform used for certain performances throughout the year for the 7th and 8th graders. Flip-flops, sandals, shorts, and short skirts are NOT ALLOWED for concerts. The t-shirts are included in the orchestra fees and are also available for sale throughout the year should you have to purchase a replacement.  

7th/8th Graders (not beginners):  

You will need to purchase or acquire the following uniform items (see image below). Whichever option you pick is fine but you have to choose one or the other (not a combination of the two).  Our orchestra boosters will provide a green tie for those option #1 and a green headband for those that choose option #2. 



All instruments are to be in good playing condition at all times. Proper care and maintenance is required. Students are expected to have rosin, shoulder rests, rock stops, mutes, a method book, working strings, and a cleaning cloth. Cost for these items is included in the orchestra fees and these items will be delivered to the students by the teacher. Please check out our website for advice on purchasing an instrument. 


PLEASE: Do not buy an instrument online! 

We are happy to assist in the buying process when students are ready, but we encourage you to buy one from a reputable music store when students are entering or in 8th grade. If you do really want to buy one online let us know what you are thinking about buying first and we will help you determine if it will work in class or if it’s a complete waste of money. We don’t want anyone wasting their hard earned dollars! 

ORCHESTRA SUPPLY FEE - $50  (DUE: September 2nd)

This supply fee includes: 

Binder and Dividers

Binder stickers

Classroom Kleenex supply

Unlimited Pencils

Unlimited Rosin

Unlimited Cleaning Cloths

Orchestra earbuds

Orchestra Books

Smart Music Subscriptions

Orchestra T-Shirt

Bus Fees


THIS IS NOT A FEE TO BE IN ORCHESTRA. This money pays for things you would normally have to send money in for separately but we put it altogether for you in one spot for your convenience. We accept cash, checks made out to TPMS Orchestra, and online payments using our orchestra website. Fee balances will be sent home with students on a regular basis. Also, feel free to email/call to request information on student accounts.

SPECIAL TRIPS FEE – $30 to $80 (Due as needed throughout the year)

Throughout the year we will take special trips that will cost an additional amount. Some of these trips will be totally optional and fun, like our end of the year trip to six flags. Some of these trips will be a performance or contest festival and, just like a sports team, we will need the whole team in order to compete at a high level. 



If you rent your instrument from Music and Arts and you break a string or your instrument needs repair, you will bring the instrument to Mr. Sellers or Mr. Samaripa and we will send it to Music and Arts for you, and they will repair it for no extra charge. If you are borrowing a Ted Polk Middle School instrument and you break a string or your instrument needs repair, you will bring the instrument to Mr. Sellers or Mrs. Lyons and we will have it repaired for no extra charge.  



Playing a string instrument with long nails is exactly equivalent to trying to play soccer or football in high heels. IT JUST DOESN’T WORK! All fingernails are required to be trimmed below the fingertip line (or lower depending on the shape of the nail/fingertip). If a student shows up to a class/rehearsal/concert with long nails they will be asked to trim their nails with clippers before they are allowed to play. This is required EVERY DAY.. Failure to conform to this policy may result in loss of trip privileges, ineligibility to perform at concerts, or removal from the TPMS orchestra program. This is the same treatment an athlete would receive for refusing to wear the appropriate footwear to practices or games. 

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Orchestra Website: https://polk.cfbisd.edu/student-life/fine-arts/orchestra

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