Hopkins School Instrumental Music

Welcome to the Hopkins School Instrumental Music Program! Here you can find information about lessons, rehearsals, performances, practice assignments and strategies, and much more. Always feel free to contact me via email with questions and concerns at cmacdonald@hopkinton.k12.ma.us.

I am looking forward to a great year!

Mrs. MacDonald

Congratulations on a wonderful June concert! Here is a link to the video edited):


Summer Practice Suggestions

Have your child stop by and see me for some extra music. I also very highly recommend a subscription to Smartmusic; for 40 dollars a year, your child will have a huge library of music to download, including their method books and most of the music they played for their concerts. Here is a basic outline of an effective practice session. Just 20 minutes 2-3 times per week will help your musician spend less time backtracking in the fall!

A Full-Course Meal

  • Veggies: 5 minutes of "the boring stuff"-- see below for more specific suggestions.
  • Main Course: 10 minutes of "meaty music"-- songs from the method books, etudes, Smartmusic
  • Dessert: Greatest Hits, pop tunes (check out Sheet Music Plus-- an affordable and legal online source-- and Dr. Selfridge on youtube, who teaches popular tunes by rote)

Brass Veggies: lip slurs and flexibility, scales (starting on page 43 in the red book) long tones, articulation exercises

Woodwind Veggies: working with a tuner, scales (starting on page 43 in the red book), articulation exercises

Percussion Veggies: Vic Firth Percussion 101 lessons online (vicfirth.com); scales on mallets, warm-up exercise on drum pad, rudiments on drum pad, especially flam taps and paradiddles (pg. 47-48 in red book)

String Veggies: scales (D and G major) on a variety of rhythms and bowings, slurs

Upcoming Events

Please inform French Music if you plan to return an instrument before turning it in by the last day of school. Lessons continue until the last day of school. If your child is continuing with their instrument next year, they should keep it over the summer so they can continue practicing!

Percussion Schedule

Links to some of June's Concert Tunes:


Character, https://www.jwpepper.com/Character/2464725.item#/

Land of the Lost Zombies, https://www.jwpepper.com/sheet-music/search.jsp?keywords=land+of+lost+zombies


Practice Strategies!

Our fine young instrumentalists should be practicing 4 days a week.


Black Belt testing is open! Julia H. rocked Can-Can!

A link to our March concert video:

Important Reminders

Students are expected to bring their instruments back and forth to school for each lesson and ensemble rehearsal, with the exception of percussion and orchestra members with lessons on Wednesdays.

Students who forget their instruments are still required to come to ensemble rehearsals. They will be asked to complete a writing assignment and help with set-up and clean-up.

All Belt testing through Black Belt is currently open.

Black Belt: Wind instrument students: Line 72 from the red book, Theme from the Nutcracker in the character of the piece. Percussion, line 71, snare drum part. Orchestra students: Can-Can, line 68 in the Sound Innovations book.

Bronze Belt: Sightreading a new piece. 50 percent correct.

Green Belt: Band students: Line 47, Baja Breeze. Percussion on mallets. Accurate rhythm and smooth transition to the second ending. Orchestra students: Rachel's Repeat, Line 66. Smooth repeat transitions, accurate rhythm.

Orange Belt: Band students: Line 39, Russian Folk Song. Pick your part. Articulation must be accurate, no note names written underneath. Percussion: SD part. Orchestra students: Line 41. Waffle Creek; on the bow, bow lifts at every rest.

Yellow Belt: Band students: Line 27. Good King Wenceslas. (Percussion: bells). Orchestra: D major scale on Mississippi Hot Dog (bow).

White Belt: Band and Orchestra: Hot Cross Buns.

Concert Dates: December 5th, March 12th, June 3rd

*Please note: All concerts are mandatory.*

About our Karate Belt Program:

Students in band and orchestra are invited to participate in our karate belt program, where they prepare a pre-selected song and perform it for me in order to earn a karate belt. The songs increase in technical difficulty as the year progresses, and students are often given suggestions on what to improve and practice methods before earning the belt. This gives me a chance to hear them play individually and assess their progress.

Here is a YouTube clip on how to tune a violin with a Snark (can be ordered through French Music or online). This video applies to a viola and cello also, with the strings being C-G-D-A from lowest to highest.

Instruments We Teach At The Hopkins School

Band Instruments: Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Trumpet, French horn, Trombone, Euphonium, Percussion

Orchestra Instruments: Violin, Viola, Cello

Check out Alan Smith's demonstrations on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC74fTkZdG26Nrr5W6KRPqVw