Friday, December 1, 2017

Playing Tests and Upcoming Concerts!

We are busy preparing for our concerts! Every grade level has a current playing test to work on. 

8th Grade Playing Test (due Thurs Dec 7)1st Violins on Trepak- measures (mm) 57-end
1st Violins on African Bell Carol- mm. 89-end
Violas- African Bell Carol mm. 41-56
Cellos and Basses- Trepak mm. 17-30

7th Grade Playing Test (due Fri Dec 8)1st Violins on Santa Plays the Viola- mm. 12-27
1st Violins on Holly Jolly Medley- Letter C to 4 measures before E
Violas- Santa Plays the Viola mm. 32-43 (include pickup notes)
Cellos- Santa mm. 24-29
Basses- Hanukkah Song mm. 21-28

6th Grade Playing Test (due Mon Dec 11)All students play measures from Snowflakes
Violins- mm. 9-24
Violas and Cellos- mm. 25-32
Basses- mm. 17-32

All playing tests will be recorded on the Charms app. Here's how to log in:

School Code: DurhamOrch (caps do matter!)password/id: first 5 letters of their last name, followed by the first 5 letters of their first name. ex. Bailey Johnson would be johnsbaile

After they log in the first time, it will prompt them to change their password to something they will remember. After they change their password, they tap on the three lines in the top right hand corner and tap "Recording Studio" then tap the sheet of paper icon on the bottom and tap on the assignment to record. When they are finished recording, they can listen to what they have played and then submit it by pressing the checkmark. If they want to re-record it, they can exit out of that recording and redo it!

Here are all the details on our upcoming concerts:

6th Grade, Fiddlers, and Cello Choir Concert
Wednesday, December 13
Durham Theater
Students arrive by 6:30pm in the Orchestra room for tuning, Concert Starts at 7pm
Uniforms: 6th Grade- White Durham polo, black dress pants, black dress shoes (no tennis shoes or black jeans please!)
Cello Choir and Fiddlers wear their small group t-shirts and jeans

7th and 8th Grade Concert
Thursday, December 14th
Durham Theater
Students arrive by 6:30pm in the Orchestra room for tuning, concert starts at 7pm
All students wear their formal uniform (Girls black dresses, boys tux shirt, black tie, black pants) with black dress shoes (NO TENNIS SHOES!!!)

I will need parent volunteers for both concerts and will send out a sign-up for that soon. 

Thank you all SO much for your support of the Orchestra Program!! I'm looking forward to their concerts! :)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Concert Cancelled

Tonight's concert at Allatoona is cancelled and will be rescheduled. I will let you know as soon as I know a rescheduled date. Thank you,

Jennifer Aikey

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fall Concert and Fiddlers Performance

For ALL Orchestra Students:

The 10th Annual TV/Movie Fall Concert!
When:  Thursday, 10/26/17.  Students report at 7:00 PM.  Concert starts at 7:30PM.
Where:  Allatoona High School GymWho:  All members of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade orchestras.  Plus AHS orchestras!
What:  Our first concert of the year! We will perform themes from TV and the Movies.
Costume:  To fit the theme of the concert, orchestra members are invited to wear a costume (a favorite TV or movie character, or something just plain fun).  Otherwise, regular casual school outfits will be fine for this concert.
*Please avoid costumes that might be considered offensive, unpatriotic, or otherwise scary for children in the audience!Arrival:  Middle school students should be at Allatoona at 7:00 PM, in order to tune and be set up.
Music Stand:  If you have your own portable music stand, please bring it to the concert.

Fiddlers Performance this weekend, for 7th and 8th Grade FIDDLERS ONLY:

Saturday, October 21st at the McKenna Farms Festival in Dallas, GA. McKenna Farms is an amazing therapy center that helps children with disabilities. (More info available here:
There is NO entry fee or parking fee for students who are performing or for their parents; just let them know at the front gate that your child is performing. If you and your family wish to stay and participate in the festival and games after the performance, you would need to pay the $10 entry fee then.
We need Fiddlers to arrive by 1:15pm on Saturday, Oct 21 for tuning and set-up, wearing their Fiddlers shirts and jeans. The performance starts promptly at 2pm. The performance should last about 30 minutes. If your child is unable to come and perform due to a prior commitment, please let me know so we can make arrangements. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

October Updates

Hello Durham Orchestra Families,

Tomorrow, your child will receive a practice log. This practice log is due on Friday, October 21. They should practice for 20 minutes 5 times between tomorrow and next Friday in order to receive a 100. The Orchestra room is open for Early Morning Practice every day from 8:15-8:50 if they need to practice at school.

The first concert of the year for all grade levels is the TV/Movie Music Concert on Thursday, October 26th at Allatoona High School in the gym. This is a fun combined concert with all grade levels from 6th-12th grade and all the levels of Orchestra at Durham and AHS! Each Orchestra will play 1-2 pieces each. All students should arrive by 7pm, with the concert starting at 7:30pm. Students are encouraged to wear costumes. If they do not have a costume, school clothes are fine for them to wear. We hope to see you there!

All 8th Graders attending the Disney trip and chaperones should have already paid $300 up to this point, between the $100 deposit and the $200 payment due last week. Please let me know if you have any questions about payment!

Thank you all again for your contributions to the Yankee Candle fundraiser! We will let you know as soon as we find out when the items will ship. We will need a lot of volunteer help the day of the fundraiser delivery.

Here's what each grade level is working on:

8th: We are rehearsing Colors of the Wind from Pocahontas, The National Anthem, and Somewhere Out There. The 8th Graders are doing very well! We are working on polishing our music and "thinking outside the box" to make the music more exciting!

7th: We are rehearsing Beauty and the Beast and Somewhere Out There. The 7th graders are making great progress, and we are working on improving our tone/sound and our intonation (playing in tune). They have awesome, positive attitudes!

6th: I'm sure 6th grade parents know now that we have taken out the bows and we are really working on getting a good sound on our instruments! They are learning Jaws and Middle School Story for their upcoming concert. Hopefully, you should be hearing them play some songs out of their book as well, as they have already played quite a few! (Hot Cross Buns, Twinkle, Jingle Bells, etc) They have been very eager and excited about Orchestra! Yay!

The Fiddlers have their first concert on October 21. If your child is in Fiddlers and you did not receive an email with information, PLEASE let me know immediately!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

Thank you!

Mrs. Aikey and Mrs. Sanchez

Thursday, August 31, 2017

August/September Updates

Hello Parents,

The Charms system is now working. If you tried to login before unsuccessfully, everything should be working now. Charms is an amazing app for music teachers, as it allows our students to record playing tests, log their practice time, submit some forms, etc. through the app! Our 7th Grade students will be turning in a playing test on Charms that is due by the end of next week, and our 8th Graders completed a playing test in class today. Please have your child login to Charms and change their password if they have not already. Here are the login instructions:

Download the charms (blue student) app (if this has not been done already) or go to The app works on all iPhone, iPad, and Android/Google devices.

School Code: DurhamOrch
Password/ID: the first five letters of your child's last name, followed by the first five letters of their first name with no capitalization, dashes, or special characters. If their name is less than five letters, just enter their full name. (Ex: John King would be kingjohn, Jennifer Parker would be parkejenni)

After this, they would change their password to something they can remember. 

For 7th Graders recording their playing tests: 
1. Once you are logged into the app, tap the top right hand corner where the three lines are.
2. Tap "recording studio"
3. On the bottom, press the icon that looks like a sheet of paper, second from the left.
4. Press the red button next to 47- Rondeau Playing Test.
5. Press the big red button when ready to record.
6. Say ok to access the microphone
7. Record the playing test after the countdown, press the stop button when finished.
8. Students can play it back to listen before submitting by pressing the play button. If satisfied, they can press the check mark to send it to me. Press the check mark for the file name. If your child wants to re-record it, they can press the red button again to do it over again. 

If you have any questions about Charms, please let us know. Thank you!

All students should have turned in their blanket permission forms, handbook agreement, and instrument check out form. If you need one of those forms, they are available on the right hand side of this blog. Thank you!

Jennifer Aikey and Selena Sanchez

Friday, August 4, 2017

7th and 8th Grade

Hello 7th and 8th Grade Parents,

Please make sure your students have turned in the handbook form, blanket permission forms, and an instrument check out form (for school instruments) if they have not already! Also, all students should have a binder and instrument, and the 7th graders should also have Essential Elements book 2 by Monday. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Welcome Back!

Hello Durham Orchestra Parents and Students! We are so excited to welcome you all back this year! I am so thrilled that Selena Sanchez will be joining us this year. She will be mostly working with 6th Grade, but hopefully the rest of the Orchestra will get a chance to know her as well. Here is some important beginning of the year info:

8th Grade: Please plan to bring your instruments on the second day of school. We want to get started right away so we can review some concepts and get started on new techniques with FUN music! You do not need to order any method books this year, as we have class sets of a couple of different 8th grade books. Please make sure your parents fill out and sign the last page of the new handbook AND the Blanket permission forms and please turn it in by August 4. PLEASE try on your Orchestra uniforms and make sure they fit so we can get you resized if a new uniform is needed!

7th Grade: Everyone in 7th Grade should have their Essential Elements Book 2 by Monday, August 7. Please call ahead to music shops before going to a store to obtain the books. We will be working on note reading review and are getting started with the books in class!  Please make sure your parents fill out and sign the last page of the new handbook AND the Blanket permission forms and please turn it in by August 4. We will be handing out information about Formal Uniforms within the first two weeks, and boys will be fitted for their uniforms at school during the second week of school. Please be on the lookout for those forms, as they will be due soon. Boys uniforms will be a little different than in the past, with the students wearing black pants, a black shirt, and a black tie. Girls uniforms will be the same as previous years (a black dress), so if you have obtained an Orchestra dress through a neighbor or friend, then you are good to go. Boys uniforms will be $68 and Girls uniforms are $64. Students must order through us so they will have matching uniforms. Please keep their 6th Grade polo shirt as it may be needed for other events.

6th Grade: Please come to the Music Night Open House on Thursday, August 10 from 7-8:30; this is a drop-in event, so come anytime that is convenient for you in that period to meet the music teachers and for your child to try the instruments one more time! We will get everyone signed up for classes on Friday, August 11.

Fiddlers and Cello Choir: Cello Choir will have its' first official rehearsal on Tuesday, August 8 and Fiddlers will have a rehearsal for new and returning members Thursday, August 10. Returning members from Fiddlers have a meeting Thursday, August 3 at 8:15am.

Please email us if you have any questions! Thank you!

---Jennifer Aikey and Selena Sanchez

Monday, May 1, 2017

Concert Mania!

Ford Evening in the Garden (fiddlers only)
Tuesday, May 2
Students stay after school and are transported by bus to Ford Elementary. We perform from 5:45-6:15pm. The Fiddlers will come back to Durham via bus. Students must have a ride back at Durham by 6:25pm.

6th Grade Orchestra, Fiddlers, and Cello Choir
When: Wednesday, May 3
Time: Students Report by 6:30 PM, Concert is at 7:00 PM
Where: Durham TheaterUniform for 6th Grade: DMS White Polo shirt, Black Dress Pants/Floor Length Skirt, Black Dress ShoesFiddlers: Green Fiddlers shirt, Jeans (no shorts!!)

Cello Choir: Blue Cello Choir shirts, Jeans (no shorts!!)

7th Grade Orchestra and 8th Grade Orchestra
When: Thursday, May 4
Time: Students Report by 6:30 PM, Concert is at 7:00 PM
Where: Durham Theater

Uniform: Tuxedos and Black Gowns, Black Dress Shoes

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Last Minute Disney Reminders

Last Minute Reminders for the Disney Trip

REPORT TO DURHAM NO LATER THAN 5:30 AM, PREFERABLY ARRIVING AT 5AM.  Chaperones MUST be at Durham by 5am. The sooner we get on the road, the sooner you get into the park.  Put luggage/instruments/case and water in designated areas outside. Go into theater and sit in chaperone groups. (Parents, this is a good time to meet your child's chaperone if you have not already.) Students, use the restroom before we leave.  The buses depart at 6:00 am sharp! Set multiple alarms if needed and pack EVERYTHING you can tonight!!

MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD BRINGS ANY NEEDED MEDICATIONS!! We will not have their medicines from school. so PLEASE make sure they bring their medicines, ESPECIALLY rescue items such as Epi-pens or inhalers. Please make sure to bring any needed medical forms as well. I have attached all forms in case you need another.

(The rest of this email was sent in a handout to students)

We are going immediately to Hollywood Studios when we arrive in Orlando. All items going into park, including money, sunscreen, etc., need to be on the bus with you.  You will not have access to suitcases when we arrive. We will give you the string bag Wednesday before departure so that you may organize your items.  

No pajamas are allowed on bus or public areas. Do not come to breakfast in the motel in your pajamas.

Always be quiet and listen when an adult is speaking.

No gum is allowed on bus. We keep our own buses clean, therefore, if you make a mess, you clean it up.

Remember to drink, drink, drink, water. You do not want to get dehydrated and get sick.

No flip flops are allowed in the park.  This is a safety issue.

Rest area stops are for restrooms ONLY. Do NOT go to concessions. Bring your snacks/drinks with you.

Band and orchestra students only need their instruments/supplies. No music or stands are needed.

Due to federal regulations for bus drivers, once you get off the bus at night, the buses are unavailable.  Please make sure you have everything.

Please bring only one small suitcase and one carry on bag per student.

Please bring G or PG DVD’s for bus.

We need one case of water per family. Just bring it tomorrow morning. Thank you!!

Please do not bring iPads, computers, or any device larger than a phone or mp3 player.

Bring a portable cell phone charger/cords for the park. Keep your phones charged!!

Please eat healthy while at the hotel and at the park.

Go to bed early and get plenty of sleep tonight!!

You are required to HAVE FUN!!

If you have any additional questions or concerns, PLEASE contact me today. We will be extremely busy in the morning loading buses and taking care of items. Thank you,

Jennifer Aikey

Monday, March 20, 2017

8th Grade Night at Harrison

Dear 8th Grade Parents,

8th Grade Night at Harrison will be on Thursday, March 30th at 7:00pm. Students will need to get a ride to Harrison after school at 5 if possible and will need to be picked up by 8pm. Please attend the concert if you can. This concert is graded but is NOT a part of the Disney contract since the date was changed for this concert. Students will be fed a FREE pizza dinner. Thank you,

Jennifer Aikey

Friday, March 17, 2017

Jamboree Info

Hello 6th Grade Orchestra Parents,

Your child’s next concert is the 6th Grade String Jamboree District 12 West. Your child will perform alongside other 6th Grade Orchestra students from Lost Mountain, McClure, and Lovinggood. This concert takes place at Harrison High School on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. We are requesting that all students bring in $13 for a pizza dinner and for transportation costs. They will come down to the theater that day during 7th Period and will bring their belongings on the bus with them to Harrison. Chaperones will meet us at Durham at 3:30pm. The itinerary is listed below. The concert starts promptly at 7:30 pm. We encourage all parents to come listen to their child perform; it will be a fun concert to watch! If you cannot attend the concert, please make arrangements to be sure that your child is picked up by 8pm.

Jamboree Itinerary:

5:00-5:15 - Set-up/Schools begin arriving at Harrison
5:15-5:30 - Tuning
5:30-6:30 - Rehearsal (approx.7 minutes/piece)
6:30-7:20 - Pizza/Dinner break
7:20-7:25 - Students back in place
7:28-7:30 - Welcome to audience
7:30-8:00 - Concert
8:00 - Concert ends/clean-up

Students will also need to bring the following items to school that day:

  1. A folding music stand--Labeled with their name!
  2. Instrument, shoulder rest/rock stop--Labeled with their name!
  3. Music
  4. Durham Music Department polo & nice jeans (please wear this to school!)

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Hello 7th and 8th Grade Parents,

I have some important information to share with your for LGPE (Large Group Performance Evaluation)! While 7th Grade will be able to take their normal mode of transportation home on March 13, please note we will need all 8th Grade students to have a ride at Durham at 5:30pm on Tuesday, March 14! I still am in need of chaperones for LGPE on March 13 (7th Grade) and March 14 (8th Grade). I would need these chaperones to assist students getting on the bus at Durham, getting off the bus at McEachern, and helping students unpack and prepare for LGPE. Note that we arrive at McEachern very early in case LGPE times are running early, which frequently happens. Students will need to bring their formal uniforms (including dress shoes/socks) to school on their designated day. 

Also, parents are more than welcome to come and attend the performances. Please join us for the performance at McEachern if you can! 

The day of your LGPE during Homeroom: Bring instrument and Formal Uniform to school. (Remember to label)
Things to consider:
1.  Students should get a good night of sleep the night before evaluations.
2.  Make sure instrument cases and uniforms/garment bags are labeled. Keep a record of your instrument’s serial number (located on the inside of the instrument).
3.  Encourage your child to practice at home!  We are counting on every member of the orchestra to do his or her part in being prepared for our evaluation.

March 13th Itinerary (7th Grade)
10:15am- chaperones arrive at Durham
10:30am- students eat lunch
11:15am- students change into formal uniform
11:30am- students leave DMS for McEachern
12:00pm- students arrive at McEachern, unload, tune
1:30pm- official warm up time begins
2:00pm- performance
2:30pm- Sight-reading
3:00pm- leave McEachern for Durham
3:30pm- arrive back at Durham

March 14th Itinerary (8th Grade)
1:00pm- chaperones arrive at Durham
1:15pm- students change into uniforms
1:30pm- students leave Durham for McEachern
2:00pm- students arrive at MHS, unpack, and tune
3:00pm- official warm up time begins
3:30pm- performance
4:00pm- sight-reading
4:30pm- students watch a performance (Lovinggood MS)
5:00pm- Students leave MHS for Durham
5:30pm- students arrive at Durham, picked up by parents

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

3rd Quarter Practice Logs

Today, all Orchestra students received a practice log. This log must be completed on or before next Friday, February 17. In order to receive a 100, you must practice 5 separate times/days for at least 20 minutes, with confirmation initialed by parents. If you play cello or bass, you are welcome to take an instrument home over the weekend, and all students are welcome to come to Early Morning practice at 8:15 every day. If you need an after school time to practice with me, let me know and we can arrange that. Thank you!

-Mrs. Aikey

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Disney Update for 8th Grade

8th Grade Parents,

There has been a slight change in the Disney payment amount. We will unfortunately not be able to take the group photo as we were planning to do, as Disney has a strict uniform policy with the photos. (everyone has to have the same shirt, same exact pants, same belt, etc.) Since the photo has been eliminated, you only need to pay $175 for the last payment due on Friday, February 17 (right before the Winter Break). If you have already paid the $840 Disney balance in full, which included the $15 for the group photo, please respond to this email so we can get you th $15 refund. We must have all refund requests in writing. 

If you have any questions about how much you owe, please respond to this email and I will let you know your balance as soon as the bookkeeper sends me the report. By February 17, you should have paid a total of $825 for the trip, or $1650 if you are chaperoning. 

If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact me at or . Thank you!