Special COVID arrangements

No indoor rehearsals or concerts are currently planned for Fall 2020.
(That is, however, subject to change if circumstances and legal restrictions relating to the current pandemic permit.)

Students and community players will be organized into small ensembles, such as small chamber orchestras, string quartets, wind and brass ensembles, duets and trios, and even solo work.  Performance pieces will be chosen by ensemble members in consultation with Mr. Johnston.

Ensembles may use any or all of the following methods to rehearse and perform:

  • Outdoors.  Musicians meet in a suitable outdoor setting with distancing and masking as appropriate.
  • JamKazam. Each musician plays at home and the ensemble connects via audio in real time on JamKazam.
  • Asynchronous.  A guide/foundation track is prepared. Musicians separately record themselves.  A composite performance is assembled from the recordings (audio or video).

Class will meet every Wednesday evening at 7:30 on Zoom.

  • 7:30: Check-in meeting on Zoom.  All MUS 148/248 students must attend; all ensemble leaders who are not students are strongly encouraged to attend.
  • 7:45 – 9:30: Ensembles rehearse. (They may rehearse at any other time, if agreed.)  This time may also be used for music theory, ear training, and other topics at the discretion of the instructor.
  • 9:30 – 10:00: Wrap-up meeting on Zoom.

Roles and Responsibilities

We have more than 35 players in 12+ ensembles!  Here’s how we organize ourselves to keep everything straight.

Ensemble Leader.  Each ensemble will have one designated leader who:

  • Plays in the ensemble
  • Works with the players, coach, Librarians, and Music Director to select the program. Pieces must be properly licensed.
  • Ensures everyone has music; works with the Librarians.
  • Gets agreement on what mode the ensemble will work in (outdoors, JamKazam, async, or combination)
  • Organizes regular rehearsal times and places
  • Checks in to the Wednesday Zoom call to report on how the ensemble is doing
  • Responds to Music Director’s questions. Updates MD on rehearsal schedule.
  • Works with performance organizers to coordinate performance (recording, livestream, or live)

Ensemble Coach. Each ensemble will be assigned a coach who:

  • Is typically an orchestral section leader or principal
  • Advises on music selection
  • Listens to or attends rehearsals from time to time and gives musical feedback
  • Generally does not play in that ensemble (but may play in others)
  • Advises the ensemble leader on administrative questions

If you are registered in MUS 148/248 you must:

  • Attend Wednesday Zoom 7:30 check-ins
  • Attend Wednesday Zoom evening wrap-up at 9:30 (unless excused by Music Director)


  • Help Ensemble Leaders choose program
  • Work with RMS to ensure music is licensed for distribution, performance, and streaming
  • Help Ensemble Leaders and players get parts

And finally, all players should:

  • Attend all ensemble rehearsals and performances. Let your ensemble leader know if you can’t make it or will be late joining.
  • Practice parts
  • Maintain contact with Ensemble Leader
  • Monitor email daily
  • Monitor For Our Musicians web page
  • And most importantly, have fun!

Schedule – Fall 2020

  • Wednesday 26 Aug 2020, 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm: First class meeting (Zoom).  Watch your email for a meeting invitation.
  • TBD, October 2020: Livestream and/or premier streaming of ensemble performances.
  • TBD, December 2020: Livestream and/or premier streaming of ensemble performances.


  • If you are not a MUS 148 or 248 student, please email your Section Leader and Mr. Johnston to confirm that you want to participate in ensembles.
  • If you have never submitted a Player Information Form, please do so, even if you have played with the orchestra before.
  • Make sure you check your email regularly for updates. If you are not getting invitations to the Zoom meetings every Wednesday evening, it may be because we are not using your preferred email address!  Make sure you tell your Section Leader your preferred email.
  • Use the Musicians’ Forum for discussions!  It is private to people on the orchestra roster.  If you don’t have an account, contact ralph@satprof.com.

Section Leader Contacts

  • Music Director and class instructor: Mr. Christopher Johnston, mrcejmus@hotmail.com
  • First Violins: Brendan Slocumb (Concertmaster), brendanslocumb@gmail.com
  • Second Violins: Sachi Rosenbaum, baranoki3@gmail.com
  • Violas: Margie Bassman, AltoClef@bassman.info
  • Cellos: Ralph Brooker, ralph@satprof.com
  • Basses: Andrew Johnston, mrandrewbas@gmail.com
  • Woodwinds: Mitch Bassman, Mitch@MBassman.net
  • Brass: Lou Brundidge, lawrence3366@aol.com
  • Percussion: Claiborne Richardson II, Claiborne.Richardson@fairfaxcounty.gov

Equipment you will need

Activity Minimum Preferred
Attend zoom meetings Smartphone with front camera and high speed data Computer with high-speed Internet connection, good speakers or headphones, and microphone
Make asynchronous recordings Independent means to simultaneously listen to an audio file, and to record video and audio of yourself playing. USB interface device with high-quality microphone and closed headphones. Quiet recording environment with good lighting.
Join JamKazam sessions
  • Windows 10 or MacOS computer with high speed Internet connection.
  • Fast, uncongested WiFi to a router close to the computer.
  • Computer standard audio mic/speakers, with drivers that are compatible with JamKazam.
  • Computer with high-speed Internet connection
  • Direct wired (Ethernet) connection from computer to router/modem.
  • Good speakers or headphones.
  • Good-quality microphone.
  • JamKazam-compatible USB interface device.
  • Microphone stand and quiet room.

Note: RMS has a limited number of compatible kits available for free loan to musicians needing financial assistance.