Musicians Handbook

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

Musicians Handbook Booklet with Bylaws and Mission



Approved by a vote of the members October 2017,

Condensed by Dick LaForge, December 2017.

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 $30 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.  This sheet music is very expensive to replace, and very time consuming to maintain.  Some of our sheet music is out of print and therefore extremely difficult to replace should parts become lost or damaged.  You can help keep work and expenses down by handling our sheet music with utmost respect.

—  We expect you to take your sheet music home and practice it.  Please carry sheet music in a stiff folder to protect it from damage.  ASO supplies black vinyl folders.  If you don’t have one, ask the Librarian.

—  Do make notes for yourself on your sheet music if they will help you.  Write very lightly only in soft graphite pencil.  Please use “Magic Tape” (or equivalent) to hold pages together if they come apart. Please use “Post-it Notes” (or equivalent) to make emphatic marks if needed.  Please do not mark sheet music with ink of any kind, with any color of highlighter, or with colored pencils.  Please keep folding or dog-earing to a minimum. Please do not use staples, paper clips or any other kind of metal fasteners, or any kind of tape other than “Magic Tape” (or equivalent).

—  We expect you to return your music in the condition in which you got it.  Please erase your pencil marks when we are finished playing for that concert set.  Nice soft erasers will be provided.

—  Immediately after the final performance of a concert set, erase your pencil marks and return your sheet music in the black ASO folder to the folder bin, or to the Librarian.  If you have a planned absence from rehearsal or concert, return your folder to the folder bin, to allow another player to cover your part.  If you forget to turn in your folder after a concert set, please return it to ASO ASAP, so the Librarian can return all the music to storage in one go.

NOTE:  If you want to make extensive notes on the music, and want to use colored ink and highlighter, staples, paperclips and/or colored or non-permanent tape, please make your own photocopy of your part and return the original to the library.  Please do not turn in your own copy at the end of the concert series.


Brass Section

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