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Orchestra: A Guide for Parents

Welcome to the Mt. Carmel Orchestra program! This nationally recognized program has demonstrated consistent musical excellence throughout its 35+ year history. Mt. Carmel Instrumental Music Department is considered one of the top programs in all of Southern California.

Many of the top academic students at Mt. Carmel participate in our music program and consider it a highlight of their high school experience. These are the best students at Mt. Carmel and the type of students you will want your student to make friends with and be around while at Mt. Carmel.

Looking ahead: Why should my child sign up and stay in orchestra all four high school years?
College admission boards have told us time and time again, that students who stay in their high school music program in classes like the Mt. Carmel Orchestra all four years, have a great advantage for college admission over the typical students who have the same GPA (grade point average). In addition, the statement above is true when comparing students who have taken the same number of AP (advanced placement) classes without being in a four year program like Orchestra. College admissions are actively looking for students who can show a four year commitment to a high school program. College admission boards know the chances of students participating in college campus life, activities and finishing college is much higher in music students than typical students who only take AP classes in high school and never show involvement in anything extra that high school has to offer.

The Mt. Carmel Music Department encourages it’s students to take AP classes and most students also take a few “on-line” courses throughout their tenure at Mt. Carmel so they can stay in music all four years. What is most important to understand is that you do not need to take all AP classes and leave no room for orchestra at Mt. Carmel if you are planning to go to a top tier college. Four years in Orchestra is weighted heavily in college board’s decision process so please consider these facts when planning your student’s four year school schedule. More of our music students are admitted to their first or second choice of college when compared to the average MC student who does not participate in a four year program such as instrumental music.

“Taking music elective courses is a better indicator that a student will stay in college than high SAT scores or high GPA.” – Dr. Denise C. Gardner, Effect of Music Courses On Retention, Georgia Tech, 2000.

“But my student plays with the SDYS or CYO why should they be in Mt. Carmel’s Orchestra?”
Both of these community orchestras are fine programs, but are not a replacement for your student being in their high school program. These programs should be thought of as an “augmentation” for helping your student hone their music skills, and again, not a replacement. In fact, both of these orchestras, highly recommend your student be currently enrolled in their high school Orchestra. A musician needs to play consistently everyday to improve their skills, and nothing is better for your student than to play Monday through Friday in an Orchestra class at Mt. Carmel. As a musician, your student has a responsibility to share their talent with their high school peers and not limit themselves exclusively to one of these community orchestras that only meet once a week.

This guide is designed to give parents of orchestra students an overview of the program. For additional information please explore our website.