Musicians Handbook

To download a PDF file of the Musicians Handbook, please click here:

Musicians Handbook Booklet with Bylaws and Mission 2019


Musicians Handbook

Approved by a vote of the members October 2017

Condensed by Dick LaForge, December 2017

Revised November 2018


The purpose of this handbook is to articulate expectations for participation of musicians in All Seasons Orchestra, and to provide information necessary to assure that every musician will have a fulfilling and fun experience.


—  All Seasons Orchestra is open to players of all orchestral instruments.  Musicians of all ages and skill levels are welcome and are admitted without audition.  This is an opportunity to practice playing in an orchestra, but, with rare exceptions, we do not teach how to play the instruments.

—  All Seasons Orchestra is an activity of the Division of Parks and Recreation of the City of Arcata.  All musicians must enroll in this activity to participate.  Enrollment occurs twice each year:  in January for the Winter-Spring Season and in September for Fall Season.  There is a fee for each enrollment period:  $25 for Arcata residents, and $31 for non-residents.  Scholarships to pay the fee are available in the case of special need.  The City of Arcata provides our rehearsal space, storage for our instruments and music, insurance for our activities, and some publicity.

—  To join the orchestra, please first contact the Managers.  You may register and pay the fee either online at, or by filling out a form available at rehearsal.

—  ASO members are encouraged to take leadership and support roles, as described below.

ASO Leadership:

—  The Manager(s) deal with enrollment, concert and rehearsal venues, personnel, scheduling, and overall coordination.

—  The Musical Director is an experienced professional who helps with planning the musical program and mentors the conductor(s).

—  The Conductor is the composer’s voice and interpreter.  He/She deals with music selection, interpretation, and rehearsal schedule.  He/She is the captain of the ship during rehearsals.

—  The Concert Master is the Section Leader for the strings.  In addition to mentoring the string musicians, the Concert Master will work with the Librarian to assure that string parts are marked with bowings.  The Concert Master can call for and lead string sectional rehearsals when needed.

—  The Librarian organizes and distributes our sheet music, and deals with program selection and archives.

—  ASO cannot run smoothly without the help of volunteers.  Some of the roles are Publicity Coordinator, Recruitment Coordinator, Equipment Wrangler, Program and Notes Editors, Web Master, Facebook Page Editor, Welcoming Committee.

Contact Information:

—  Managers: Dick and Kathy LaForge:   email, phone 443-2626.

—  Conductor:  Jeremy Cotton:  email, phone 832-8888  (Prefers text messages),

—  Assistant Conductor: Melissa Gussin:  email, phone 498-4238 (Prefers text messages), for issues related to pieces she conducts.

—  Librarian:  Susan Bicknell:  email, phone 768-1975, cell 599-4692.


We rehearse on Saturdays from 10 am to 12 pm at the D Street Neighborhood Center, 1301 D Street, Arcata.

It is important to the entire orchestra that you attend all the rehearsals you can.  If you cannot be a a rehearsal, please email or call the Managers.  Players who are students should give priority to their school activities.

Some things players can do to help the orchestra:

—  Rehearsals start exactly at 10:00.  Please be ready to play, as being late distracts everyone.

—  If you must miss a rehearsal, please be sure that the sheet music for your part is present at the rehearsal to allow someone else to cover your part.

—  It is expected that players will practice their parts at home, so that rehearsals can focus on coordination and interpretation.

—  Always bring a pencil (not a pen) for making notes on your parts.

—  Please refrain from talking or softly practicing while the conductor is working with a section other than yours.

—  If you are a brass player, please bring a towel to clean up condensation produced by your instrument.

—  Please do not use cologne or perfume.

—  Of course, no food or cell phones during active rehearsal time.  Water bottles are OK.  There are usually snacks at break.  Feel free to bring some to share.

—  Volunteers are needed to arrive early to assist in setting up chairs and stands, assembling the percussion section, and to stay to put away all of these and sweep and clean up after we are done.


—  All Seasons Orchestra usually has four concerts each year, in May, July, October, and December.  The May and October concerts are at the D Street Community Center.  The July concert is at the Trinidad Town Hall.  The December concert is usually a set of two concerts, one in McKinleyville (Latter Day Saints Church) and one as part of the Fortuna Music Festival at the River Lodge in Fortuna.

—  If you know you will miss a concert, please notify the Managers, and leave your folder in the folder bin after your last rehearsal.

—  Musicians should arrive at least one half hour before concert time in concert dress, to have time to warm up and relax.

—  Concert dress is usually black bottoms with white tops.  Any changes or variations will be announced.

—  Please leave cases and any personal items “off stage” or in the designated room.

—  Sometimes it is necessary to recruit “ringers” to assist with performances.  Ringers do need to register with the City of Arcata. At minimum, ringer musicians must attend the dress rehearsal.  Ideally, they should attend more rehearsals.

—  Volunteers are needed to arrive extra early to assist in setting up chairs, stands, and percussion instruments, and to bring snacks for the audience. We are responsible for putting everything away and for cleaning the facility after the concert.  For concerts in McKinleyville and Trinidad, volunteers are needed to help to load, unload and transport percussion instruments and music stands.

—  Often there is opportunity for small groups to play at our concerts.  ASO musicians are encouraged to form small groups for this purpose.  If you are in a group that wants to play, talk with the conductor and/or manager.

—  Advertising  of our concerts by our players is very effective.  Please post fliers, put digital copies of our fliers on your social media, encourage people personally, and bring your friends and family.

Sheet Music:

—  All Seasons Orchestra owns all of the sheet music we play so that we can provide our players with the most legible, durable sheet music possible.  We want each player to play up to her or his potential.  For that purpose, we maintain a set of masters for each title, from which under the principle of fair use, new copies are printed for personal study.

—  Sheet music will be provided to you free of charge.  A vinyl folder embossed with All Seasons Orchestra will also be provided so that you can keep your music in good condition.  We expect you to take your folder home with you for practice.  We expect you to return your vinyl folder at the end of a concert set if you will not be playing in the next concert set.  You may make a voluntary donation to ASO to help us replace lost or unreturned folders.

—  Sheet music will be made available for you to pick up at or before the beginning of each rehearsal set. It is your responsibility to assure that you have the sheet music that you need when scheduled for rehearsals and concerts.  Sheet music is distributed by means of accordion files that are available at every rehearsal and concert.

—  If you have extenuating circumstances, a set of sheet music may be compiled for you by the Librarian and mailed to you.

—  If you have issues with vision, the Librarian has the ability to print larger format sheet music.  Just ask.

—  You should consider that the sheet music belongs to you, is your personal study copy, as long as it is needed for rehearsals and concerts.  You are entitled to make any marks you wish on the music, and to arrange it and tape it in any order you wish to facilitate page turns.

—  We ask that you return your music to the accordion files at the end of each concert set.  It is routine to ask that sheet music be returned in the condition it was distributed – that normally means mark only in light pencil and erase your marks before turning in your music.  However, if you make extensive marks on the music, marks other than light pencil (ink, colored pencil), and tape music in an order other than the original to facilitate page turns, we ask you to put your name on your copy.  As long as it is still in good condition, we will keep it in the file for you for the next time we play it.  Only music in good condition will be returned to archives.  Sheet music with extra staples or paper clips or other metal fasteners, or that is excessively taped, or that is tattered, torn or soiled will be discarded.  It is the sole discretion of the librarian to determine if sheet music is retained or discarded.

—  We maintain a web page at  It has a members only section that is password protected.  This section includes digital copies of the music that is currently in rehearsal.  Get the password from the Librarian.  This will enable you to use your music with an electronic music stand or to print your music in your own preferred format.


Brass Section

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