Syllabus (revised 9/23/18)

Conductor/Professor:  Dr. David Jacobs

Office:  110- Music, hours are MW afternoon by appointment

Phone:  541-346-5685

E-mail (preferred):

Class Meeting:  MW 3:00-5:20pm and F 3:00-4:00pm in Aasen-Hull Hall (190)

Pre-requisite:  Audition during WOW or by appointment in subsequent terms

Orchestra Website:



The following positions have been established to help the orchestra run in an efficient and professional manner.  It is expected that you show respect to these student leaders who have been given authority on a variety of issues related to the daily operations of the orchestra (i.e. if the personnel manager alerts you that you are late, rolling your eyes or back talking will not tolerated, -likewise- if the operations manager asks you to move in order to accommodate everyone on the stage, please do as you are requested.  If there is an unresolvable issue, the staff member will alert the conductor at an appropriate time.)  In short, be polite, professional, and respectful to these important folks.


  • General Manager/Personnel Manager/Assistant Conductor – Nicholas Sharma
  • Assistant Conductor – Jonathan DeBruyn
  • Librarian – Forrest Walker
  • Operations Manager – Simeon Brown
  • Operations Assistant – TBD



It is not enough just to show up and play your part.  The following goals will help focus our purpose as a training orchestra of future professionals.

  1. Develop an increasing appreciation and passion for performance in a symphony orchestra.
  2. Critically hear yourself and others, analyze problems, and create ways to fix them.
  3. Operate effectively within the hierarchy of an orchestra.
  4. Execute a performance that is informed by stylistic paradigms (articulation, note duration, dynamics, color, composer aesthetics).
  5. Become increasingly familiar with a body of standard orchestral repertoire through our own performances, readings and outside listening.
  6. Give performances that are artistically satisfying to orchestra musicians and audiences.
  7. Understand the music we perform through articles, recordings, books, etc.
  8. Experience working under a variety of conductors so that you can practice reacting to various gestures and styles of beat.



In order to build and maintain an excellent university symphony, there must be a rather robust set of expectations.  When properly put into practice, these expectations form habits that will help prepare your career as a professional musician.  The field of “classical music” has a rather rigid and institutionalized set of expectations for orchestra musicians.  No matter what part of the western world you find yourself in, these habits will serve you well.

  1. Arrive early to every rehearsal and concert (without exception); this includes sectionals and dress rehearsals that may occur outside of our regular class time.
  2. Bring everything the music requires (instrument, reeds, mutes, pencil, music, etc).
  3. Prepare music prior to the first rehearsal. Focus on technical aspects, drill passagework, work out awkward leaps, work toward excellent intonation, etc.  Continue to work on perfecting the technical and stylistic aspects of your part throughout the rehearsal cycle.
  4. During rehearsal, mark suggestions made by section leaders and conductor, and bracket passages that caused you trouble to work on during your personal practice. Mark whom you play significant passages with or whom you should be listening to at any given time.
  5. Before rehearsal, during breaks, and after rehearsal, seek out and collaborate with other musicians that you share a line with to work out intonation and articulation matching.
  6. Demonstrate a spirit of cooperation with other members of the orchestra, encouraging each other to create meaningful music experiences.
  7. “Consume” the music we are rehearsing. Go to concerts, listen to recordings, watch YouTube, read articles, watch documentaries, etc.
  8. Discuss issues with the appropriate staff member and/or the conductor.



You will be graded by your performance in the following categories.

  1. *Attendance- 50%
  2. Musical Preparation- 35%
  3. Academic Preparation- 15%



Consistent attendance is absolutely essential to the success of any orchestra.  Every part must be covered at every rehearsal in order to truly hear the piece and make proper adjustments.  Furthermore, students who miss rehearsal, also miss valuable insight to the piece and our interpretation of it.  The entire orchestra suffers when members are absent.  Therefore, there will be no unexcused absences without significant academic penalty (5 points deducted from a total of 30). Tardies will also not be tolerated.  Each tardy will result in the deduction of 2 points from a total of 30.  Furthermore, an unexcused absence from a dress rehearsal or concert constitutes an automatic failing grade.  Plan to meet during every class time, unless specifically released.  When not specifically rehearsing for a concert, we often do composition readings, orchestral readings, and readings for conductors (see Goal #8).  The following represents examples of excused and unexcused absences.




  • Excused Absences- All absence requests must be made both verbally and in writing (e-mail to both personnel mgr. and conductor).
    • Emergencies

If a true emergency does arise, make every effort to contact someone, whether it is Dr. Jacobs, the personnel manager, or another orchestra member to relay the message.  In the event you cannot reach anyone, be sure to contact the conductor and personnel manager as soon as you return.

  • Auditions, Competitions, Festivals, etc.

Activities such as auditions, competitions, professional conferences, field trips, etc., represent important educational opportunities and should be available to the student.  However, in order to intelligently plan rehearsals, performances and part rotation, it is essential that you make your request to miss a rehearsal well in advance of any such off-campus plans.  Therefore, you should notify the conductor at least one week prior to the beginning of the rehearsal cycle in which the activity will take place. *Rehearsal cycles are the period from the first rehearsal to the final concert of each set of new repertoire.

  • Documented Illness requiring home stay

Must provide a doctor’s note

  • Gig Pass

You may miss one rehearsal each term (not per cycle) for an approved gig.  To gain approval to use your pass, you must contact both the UOSO personnel manager and conductor in writing at least one week before the proposed absence.  The gig must have educational value as determined by the conductor and you must submit either a program with your name, a contract, or a letter from management confirming your involvement.  Gig passes cannot be used on dress rehearsals or performances.

  • Other Reasons

If you feel you have a valid reason for missing a rehearsal, speak to the conductor prior to the anticipated absence.  Your request must be approved in order for it to be considered “excused.”


*The conductor may excuse any student for personal or professional reasons on a case-by-case basis.  If you anticipate chronic absences for a given term, there is a waiver process available through either the undergraduate or graduate dean.


  • Unexcused Absences
    • An “unexcused” absence is an absence, which has been taken without the approval of the conductor. This means that students’ absences will be considered unexcused if either they 1) “cut” a rehearsal or 2) miss a rehearsal after seeking the conductor’s approval but approval was denied.  Each unexcused absence will result in the loss of 5 points out of 30 from the attendance category.  An unexcused absence from a dress rehearsal will result in the loss of 10 points, and an unexcused absence from a performance will result in a loss of 20 points from the attendance category.
    • It is further understood that each player will be present for each and every dress rehearsal and performance, which may occur outside of regular class time. Do not even consider taking on any other commitments during a scheduled performance.  While at the University of Oregon, your commitment to your personal study and to your fellow student musicians come before all else—even professional “gigs”
    • If you experience an illness or injury that does not force you to stay at home, you will be expected to be at rehearsal. If the nature of the injury or illness is such that you cannot play your instrument, you will still be expected to sit without playing for the entire rehearsal.
    • Leaving early for (or returning late from) scheduled University of Oregon breaks (e.g. Thanksgiving) will not be honored as a valid excuse. You are expected to be at each and every rehearsal.  It is your responsibility to design your travel plans around rehearsals.  Do not purchase airline/bus/train tickets for early travel dates unless the conductor has told you expressly that you will not be needed at the rehearsal.  Making assumptions may cost you additional money!


  • Substitutes

It is expected that you send a substitute for any missed service (wind, brass and percussion only).  It is your responsibility to give your sub music and alert them to the most difficult passages so that they can be prepared.  If you fail to secure an acceptable sub for your excused absence, you will lose three points from the attendance category.  *Never send a sub in lieu of getting the conductor’s approval for an absence.



Musical Preparation

For the orchestra to function at its optimal level and maximize each student’s experience, regular practice outside of rehearsal is essential.  Once you show up, your personal technical and stylistic preparation is the most significant factor in our success as an orchestra.  You must come to the first rehearsal having practiced the most demanding licks and able to immediately contribute to the ensemble, not detract from it.  It is expected in the professional world that the first reading be free of technical imperfections.  While that ideal may not be entirely possible at the university level, most issues can be mitigated with preparation prior to the first rehearsal.


  • Playing tests-  This will be an individual test.  The rubric for evaluation can be found at the end of the syllabus.  Please come well prepared.  I will be stricter in terms of grading playing tests.  Grades will be posted on Canvas immediately after your test.  If you want the opportunity to raise your earned grade, you can come in for an additional coaching with me and earn up to a letter grade higher based on your preparation for the scheduled coaching.  Remember, I want you to succeed!
  • Pop-quiz- The conductor may request that you play a passage for assessment without notice. You will be evaluated on how well you execute the passage, and/or how you might “rewrite” the passage in order to play it at the tempo we are rehearsing as to not detract from the ensemble.


*If you do not do at least C level work for either a pop-quiz or coaching, you may be asked to play again, usually the following week.  While you cannot earn an A at this point, you can bring any grade to a B.  Furthermore, you can receive extra credit in the preparation category by coming to see me for an additional coaching.


  • Materials- Bring music, pencil, mutes, and other necessary equipment.
  • Sheet music- You are responsible for marking your own bowings from the pdf master online. If you lose your music, you will be charged a fine based on the replacement cost which could be anywhere from $5 to $40 for expensive rentals.
  • Concert Dress- Women: Floor length black dress, -or- black skirt, black pants and a modest black blouse, black hose and black dress shoes. No bare shoulders or low neck lines, flip-flops, or distracting jewelry.  Men: Black slacks, black shirt, black socks and black dress shoes (black tie or jacket is optional).



Academic Preparation – Due week 3 and week 6

From time to time, I will ask you to do a very short research project.  This is directly related to our goal to “consume” the music we play.  More importantly, these are things that professional musicians do when preparing a piece.  These assignments will be presented orally during your playing exam.  You will read one scholarly article on a piece we are performing and give me a synopsis of what you learned during you playing exam.  Bring a sheet of paper with proper bibliographical sourcing in MLA, APA, or Chicago style.  Consult scholarly sources such as JSTOR, Oxford, Grove, etc. not NPR, program notes, etc.



Students should be aware that the School of Music and Dance desires to discourage any sort of action that makes an individual feel uncomfortable or unwelcome.  Students with concerns related to discrimination, bias, or sexual harassment are encouraged to contact the following office or offices should you wish to report such an incident and get help in resolving the incident.

  • Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Office, 474 Oregon Hall, (541) 346-3123
  • Bias Response Team, 164 Oregon Hall, (541) 346-1139
  • Conflict Resolution Services, 164 Oregon Hall, (541) 346-0617
  • Counseling Center, 210 Health and Counseling Center, (541) 346-3227
  • Student Advocacy, 334 EMU, (541) 346-1141

If you are registered with the Office of Disability Services, you should make an appointment with the instructor as soon as possible to discuss any course accommodations that may be necessary.  To request disability accommodations, register for services at the Office of Disability Services.

  • Office of Disability Services, 164 Oregon Hall, (541) 346-1155
  • The professor reserves the right to make changes to this syllabus by giving written notice.


*By registering in this course, you agree to have your name listed on all performance programs, images of you in the ensemble used for promotional purposes, etc., unless you notify the instructor in writing by week 2 of the term.




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