The information below is the syllabus for MUS 154. These policies will be strictly enforced. The director retains the right to make changes and updates to this syllabus at any time.

The printed syllabus is linked to the LCCB Moodle page: that document represents the official course syllabus.

Course Registration

All students are strongly encouraged to register for MUS 154. Exceptions can be made for first-semester students who are not allowed to register for more than 4.5 credits and for students who have conflicts that result in them being forced to miss one rehearsal each week. Otherwise, all students should register for the course.


  • To make music at the highest possible level, and to derive satisfaction from the attempt and results
  • To introduce the students to a wide range of music for band/wind ensemble, including transcriptions of orchestral repertoire, new commissioned works, student compositions, and pieces for chamber ensembles; all from composers of diverse backgrounds and aesthetics
  • To simultaneously develop teamwork skills and personal accountability
  • To serve the Lafayette College community with art of the highest possible caliber
  • To build a community of musicians that works for the benefit of all of its members and for the advancement of music and the arts on and off campus

Intended Outcomes

In achieving these objectives, students will have, by the end of the semester:

  • Increased their capacities for artistic expression
  • Successfully performed music that was challenging, and possibly new or stylistically uncomfortable
  • Improved teamwork skills and personal accountability
  • Increased their technical capabilities on their instruments
  • Enriched their understandings of the historical context in which these works were created
  • Enriched their understandings of the mechanics, architecture, and aesthetics used in the creation of the piece

Course Policies

I. Attendance

Attendance at all band functions by all members is necessary for the success of the ensemble. Each individual player is an invaluable and irreplaceable part of the whole, and if even one player is missing, the sound changes. Every member of the ensemble is dependent upon everyone else to be there and to have their parts learned.

Students who need to miss a rehearsal should contact the Director and their principal as soon as possible before the rehearsal begins. Failure to do so will result in an unexcused absence. The Director has sole authority in deciding what constitutes an unexcused absence, and will evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis.

Attendance is required at all LCCB functions and events: performances, meetings, and rehearsals (sectional and full).

If a student misses 10 rehearsals in one semester they will be dropped from the performance and, if registered for the course, will receive a failing grade.


1) Unexcused Absences: For play rehearsals (if not affiliated with the Department of Theater or other academic department), study time, sorority/fraternity events, athletic events, meetings with professors that could be scheduled at a different time, club events, etc.

2) Excused Absences: For illness, family emergencies, religious holidays acknowledged by the College, housing lottery, or academic conflicts that are approved in the first two weeks of the semester. Dean’s Excuses are required.

3) Late: Being “late” to rehearsal will be defined as missing between five and 45 minutes of rehearsal time at any point during the scheduled rehearsal. This includes arriving late or leaving early. Exceptions can be made in extraordinary circumstances and only in advance. After 46 minutes, the student is considered to be absent, even if they arrive before rehearsal ends.

If you are running late, text your principal, a member of your section, a friend who is in the band, the LCCB President, or the Assistant Conductor. 

See “Grading” below for an explanation of how attendance factors into the semester grade.

Other conflicts:

Occasionally other professors, Res Life, or other entities schedule events during LCCB rehearsals. Because LCCB is an academic course, whether you are registered or not, your first priority is to be at LCCB rehearsals.  College policy prohibits faculty from scheduling exams or other class meetings during times that are not a regular part of the class structure. If such a conflict arises, you should (politely and professionally) inform the professor that you have a class during that time. The professor should contact Dr. O’Riordan directly if there are any issues.

Recreational events, such as the Activities Fair, Marquis Players rehearsals, club activities, etc., will not be grounds for excused absences. If you choose to miss LCCB for any of these reasons, your scores in the Attendance, Attitude, and Preparation categories of your grade will be affected.

Class field trips must be cleared in advance with a notice from the professor and/or a Dean’s Excuse.

Religious Holidays recognized by the College are considered Excused Absences.

All other instances must be approved by the Director in advance.

II. Grading

The grade for Concert Band will be determined by a combination of the factors listed below. All students will be graded, whether or not they are registered for the course.

Attendance (see above) 40%

Each rehearsal is worth 10 points. Students lose one point for every eight minutes of rehearsal time missed. After 45 minutes of missed rehearsal time, the student receives a “0.” Unexcused Absences receive “0”; Excused Absences receive “10.” This includes sectional rehearsals.  

Improving Musicianship (getting better, from wherever one starts) 15%

Preparation (being prepared for each rehearsal—practicing!) 15%

Attitude (self-explanatory) 15%

The Overall Quality of the Concert and General Full Band Improvement (my observations and assessment of the band’s work over the course of the semester plus the students’ individual assessment of same) 15%

Students will be asked to evaluate their own performance in the Improving Musicianship, Preparation, and Overall Quality categories. The students will be given a link to a survey which they will use to make these evaluations. This will be done twice a semester—at the mid-term break and during finals week. These self-evaluations will have equal weight with the Director’s evaluation. If a student does not submit a self-evaluation, the Director’s grade will be used in its place.

Students will complete the self evaluation using a survey linked in the LCCB Moodle page.

III. Cell Phone/Electronic Devices

Cell phones may only be used only if they are running tuner apps, and then, only in Airplane Mode. Otherwise, phones must be  left in your locker, case, or hand bag. There is to be no texting, internet usage, recording, or other activity on phones, tablets, or computers during rehearsals without permission of the conductor. Violators will be dismissed from rehearsal.

IV. Practice

Rehearsals are for learning everyone else’s part, not for learning your own part. This includes sectional rehearsals. In addition to the regularly scheduled rehearsals, each member of the band will be strongly encouraged to add one 60-minute rehearsal each week on their own. This rehearsal may be done all at once, ten minutes each day, or any combination in between. This time will allow the students to prepare individually for rehearsals, so that collective time is not spent on individual issues. Additionally, this rehearsal may be with one or more other members of the ensemble.

You are expected to learn your individual parts outside of rehearsal in the first month of classes. Please contact Dr. O’Riordan, the Assistant Conductor, or your principal if you have difficulty with any of your parts.

Score study is an important part of preparation. Practice counting your rhythms and rests with (good) recordings (provided on the LCCB Moodle page, or from streaming services or YouTube), and learn who is playing with you and right before your entrances. Full scores are available from the Director or the Assistant Conductor if needed.

Practicing should include: long tones with a tuner; scales with a metronome; score study; learning notes and rhythms. Your practice routine should touch on all of these areas every week (not necessarily every day). Like any other course, LCCB has homework: this assignment (your daily practice) is due every rehearsal.

While not required for LCCB, taking lessons is strongly encouraged. Practice time used for lesson preparation counts for LCCB.

V. Auditions / Seating Policies

Students perform one seating audition during the first semester. Requirements for the seating audition can be found on the LCCB Website.

As a general rule, LCCB does not audition for participation: that is, if someone wants to perform with the band, there will be a place for them. With that said, the music we perform is often very difficult, and beginner-level players often struggle to the point where they either do not enjoy being in the band, or their mistakes have an audibly negative impact on the band’s sound. In these cases, the director may ask the student to take lessons for a few semesters (and/or play with Pep Band) before trying again.

Seating in larger sections (clarinets, flutes, etc. ) is assigned to students based on depth: third clarinet parts, for example, are extremely important to the overall balance, and therefore strong players are needed on that part. There is no ranking within parts (other than a designated principal player for each section). In other words, 2nd chair is not necessarily a “better” player or “higher rank” than 3rd chair. 

Sections with a predetermined number of players (two bassoons, four horns, etc.) should rotate through the various parts as appropriate for the skills of the players. The principal of each section may determine those rotations.

Seating decisions are final. There are no challenges. Seating decisions are reconsidered every semester based on the needs of the repertoire and the students’ performance. This goes for students who play secondary instruments as well: the director has sole discretion on which instrument is needed.

VI. Rehearsals

The LCCB will rehearse on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:15-5:45 pm. Sectional rehearsals will be held regularly. The Director and Assistant Conductor will hear each section in turn. During the sectionals in which the Director will be with another section, the rehearsal will be led by the section principal. Keep in mind that due to limited space, sectional rehearsals may need to be scheduled on a day or time that is different from the standard LCCB rehearsal times.

Rehearsals will begin precisely at 4:15 pm. In order to begin on time, you will need to arrive at least ten minutes early (ca. 4:05 pm) to allow for you to warm up individually. If you are going to be late, it is your responsibility to contact me in advance.

Warm-ups: Each rehearsal will begin with a series of warm-up exercises. These exercises are intended to: a) help transition the students into the mindset of a musician; b) teach the fundamentals of wind ensemble playing (intonation, balance, tone quality, ensemble precision, etc.) in a more general way, allowing the players to focus solely on those issues.  Rehearsals, generally speaking, are structured in a “crawl, walk, run” format: warm-ups are the “crawl” component.

The warm-up section of the rehearsal may be brief, or it may last upwards of 30 minutes. The amount of time needed will be determined by the complexity of the issues that need to be addressed, by the performance level of the ensemble on that day, or both. This period of rehearsal may (and often is) run by the Assistant Conductor, which gives that person time to practice conducting a live ensemble.

Warm-ups are an incredibly important aspect of developing the quality of the ensemble, and as such they should be taken seriously.

After rehearsals, students should return their stand to the rack and put their chair back into its default location in the room.

Dress Rehearsals / On-stage Rehearsals: Rehearsals that take place on the main stage will be announced in advance. Students should plan to be there as early as possible to help the Percussion section move equipment onto the stage: this needs to be completed before 4:10 pm on rehearsal days so that we can begin on time.

In most cases, we will need to clear the stage after our rehearsal. This means removing all chairs and stands and placing them on the appropriate racks and returning all percussion equipment to WCA 123.

VII. Team Work

All members of the ensemble are expected to be supportive and encouraging of one another, inside and outside of rehearsal.  Accordingly, bigotry of any kind will not be tolerated, nor will any kind of abusive behavior.

Stronger, more experienced players will be asked to help less experienced players with their parts; less experienced players will be asked to request help with passages that are difficult–that help is available from the Director, the Assistant Conductor,  the LCCB President, section principals, or friends.

Students are strongly encouraged to discuss areas of concern with any member of the LCCB leadership team. Often these issues can be addressed when they are small, but they cannot be addressed at all if the leadership team does not know about them.

VIII. Concert Dress

For all concerts, all players:

Black dress pants, shoes, socks; black long-sleeved dress shirt/blouse. Shirts should have either a traditional or mandarin collar; blouses may be without a collar, but must have a tasteful neckline. All (visible) jewelry (including piercings) should be tasteful, and should not be easily seen from the audience. Members of the ensemble should not visually or otherwise call attention to themselves.

Perfumes and colognes should be used sparingly.