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Orchestra News

It is not too late to join the orchestra! Students can join the Turtle Lake Orchestra team even if they didn’t participate in summer orchestra. 5th grade students are invited to join the orchestra even if they didn’t participate last year. Don’t miss out on this enriching opportunity!

Click here for the current orchestra calendar.

Orchestra Lessons 

While during the day lessons began the week of September 16, BEFORE SCHOOL REHEARSALS DO NOT BEGIN UNTIL THE WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 30. 

The Mounds View Elementary Orchestra Program is structured with weekly large-group rehearsals (before school), and small group lessons by instrument (during the school day). Families are responsible for providing transportation to the 8:05am large group rehearsals.

  • 5th Grade Rehearsal - Mondays from 8:05-9:05a
  • 4th Grade Violin Rehearsal - Tuesdays from 8:05-9:05am
  • 4th Grade Viola and Cello Rehearsal - Wednesdays from 8:05-9:05am 

4th grade students who play the viola or cello and are also members of the Turtle Lake African Music Ensemble (AME) may attend large group rehearsals on Tuesdays.

If your child is entering 5th grade and does not have previous orchestra experience, they might begin large-group instruction with the 4th grade students for the first part of the year.

Along with orchestra lessons and rehearsals, there are required evening and school day concerts. These performances highlight the growth of the students in the winter and spring of each year, and they are a wonderful celebration of everyone’s hard work. Please mark these events on your family calendars as soon as possible.

Attendance is key to a student’s success in orchestra. All rehearsals and lessons are required. If a student needs to miss a rehearsal for some reason, please contact me in advance.


Students may choose to play the violin, viola, or cello. The bass is an option for students in 5th grade.  Instruments may be rented or purchased from any music store, but the two listed below service our district and deliver the instruments right to our school. They also provide a rental discount to families in our district.  Some school instruments are available for families in financial need - contact Ms. Kelly as soon as possible if you are interested.  

Contact the stores listed below for information on rental costs, and let them know that you are from ISD 621. These stores completed a rigorous application process in order to be selected as vendors for our district string students, and we are proud to partner with them:

  • All Strings Attached  (763) 542-9542
  • House of Note  (952) 929-0026

A WORD OF CAUTION: There has been a recent outbreak in instrument sales from non-music vendors (department store catalogs, discount membership warehouses, online purchases, and private party sales) or discount music vendors. These instruments are often inexpensive and poorly constructed. These instruments generally require frequent repairs that cannot be corrected and we encourage you to stay clear of these options. Reputable music dealers are the best resource for renting or purchasing a stringed instrument. Please see your school orchestra director if you have questions about purchasing an instrument.

Please note this information from the district:

"It is district policy that band/orchestra instruments that will be allowed on the bus are those that can be safely carried in a bag and/or are small enough to be held on the student’s lap. Instruments may not block the aisle; nor interfere with the space or take the place of another student.  While a flute or violin is small enough to fit these guidelines, a Cello or French horn will not. Some other examples of instruments considered too large to transport include (but not limited to): drums, tuba, bass, trombones, guitars, etc.

Parents are encouraged to transport larger items in their own vehicles.  If the above guidelines for transporting musical instruments create a hardship for your family, please contact the Transportation Office at (651) 621-6027."

Contact me directly with any concerns related to instrument transportation and we will work out a solution. The orchestra room (217) is accessible in the mornings from 6:30am-school start, and in the afternoons from school end - 6:00pm via the Y Care/community education door (door #13).


Home Practice

Practicing at home is also an essential component of learning an instrument. Students should practice most days (5 is a good goal) of the week, even if it’s only for 5-10 minutes a day. The ideal minimum amount of time is 15 minutes, but 5 minutes are better than nothing! The most important thing is to establish the routine of practicing. Families can support their young musician by providing a quiet place to practice that is free from distractions (TV, tablets, etc.). If you don’t already own a music stand, please order one. Practicing with a music stand encourages good posture and technique.

Establish the expectation that practicing is simply part of your child’s daily routine. Try practicing before completing other tasks, or you might never get to it. Some good times to practice are right after school, before or after dinner, or before or after breakfast. Student who practice consistently will amaze you with their great progress during the year! It is fun and rewarding to be prepared for orchestra lessons. 

Students will receive monthly practice charts and assignment guides. These will be due with a parent signature by the end of the month. Please check for these in your child’s binder. You can choose to track minutes or simply indicate the number of days practiced. 

Again, we are trying to establish the routine of practicing. Some students will happily practice on their own without any reminders, but this is rare. Your child will most likely need frequent reminders and encouragement, just like you provide for their other homework and activities.


All orchestra students need the following supplies: 

  • White 3-ring 1” “view” binder (the one you used in summer orchestra is fine!)
  • Pencil
  • Instrument, bow, case 
  • Name tag on case
  • Clip-on keychain toy or colorful ribbons tied to handle of case - this helps you find YOUR case in a sea of cases that all look the same! This is especially important for cellos.
  • Cellos - rock stop (Xeros strap recommended)
  • Violins/Violas - shoulder rest (Everest or Lake brand recommended)
  • Music stand for home practice, concerts, tours, and other events as announced.
  • Book - provided by the school. 4th grade will use the Essential Elements book you received in the summer.
  • Optional - digital tuner or tuning app on your phone/tablet. We use Snark or Korg tuners in our class.


Orchestra is a year-long commitment. Students will often experience peaks and valleys as they tackle a new skill - this is natural and expected.  Family support is crucial. If you have any concerns, contact me as soon as possible. 

To register your child, simply fill out and return the registration form (last page of this packet) by MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9. Save the rest of this packet for your own reference. If you have any questions, please contact me and I will get back to you as soon as possible. We are going to have a great year!



Ms. Patricia Kelly


A google turtle lake orchestra site is currently being built.