Grading System

Grades are recorded for all persons taking Mustang Band, Jazz Bands, Wind Orchestras, Wind Ensemble, Chamber Ensembles and Combos. Conductors will use the following criteria will determine final grades:

  • Musical Improvement
  • Attitude and Cooperation
  • Attendance

Each criterion is equal in value. Strength in one area cannot make up for weakness in another area. A student must be outstanding in all three areas to receive the grade of A. Since the band is always expected to perform in a superior manner, each member is expected to earn an A or, at the lowest, a B.

Musical Improvement

Wind Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, & Mustang Band

Each ensemble member will be expected to show evidence of a satisfactory rate of musical progress and to play his or her assigned part acceptably. The musical grade, however, will be based on improvement rather than actual playing ability. In addition, one must demonstrate the following to receive a musical grade of A:

  1. Individual practice on a regular basis
  2. Individual study/practice sessions with conductor
  3. Attendance at section rehearsals
  4. Attendance at instrumental workshops
  5. Attendance at other concerts

University Jazz Bands

In UJB 1 & 2, each ensemble member will be expected to play his or her part at the highest level of musical proficiency and expressiveness. Occasional midterm exams may be announced during the quarter at which time each member of the ensemble will be expected to perform his or her part at a satisfactory level. For UJB 1 & 2 and the Jazz Combos, each public performance is considered roughly comparable to a final exam.

Attitude & Cooperation

Musicians who have a wholesome attitude and a strong sense of responsibility and cooperation are a great asset to a musical organization. They possess a strong desire to perform at their best, a positive spirit and an enthusiasm to learn, work and contribute. They demonstrate maturity, dependability, honesty, friendliness, dedication and commitment to excellence. These students have a spirit of interest in, and responsibility and loyalty toward, the Mustang Band, Jazz Band and Wind Orchestra programs and their faculty and student administration. Students who have a strong sense of cooperation toward the realization of the best interests of the ensembles and the University will do the following:

  1. Adhere to the Ensemble Deportment and Protocol policy as stated in the Band Handbook.
  2. Develop a “servant’s heart”: I’m here to learn and to help. Sign up to serve on loading crews, publicity crews, etc. Assist the band officers and staff members on a volunteer basis to insure that the band functions smoothly.
  3. Complete the “band service” each quarter (Wind Orchestra & Wind Ensemble). The band service is the required task of assisting a student band officer with such tasks as hauling equipment to the PAC, setting up the stage, putting up posters, etc. One band service is required each quarter. A band service is typically less than one hour; however, the time required varies. Officers usually place sign-up sheets on the bulletin board several days prior to the completion of each task.
  4. Good manners serve the same purpose in a rehearsal (class) as they do at the dinner table or in an office. Good manners have evolved for those who are engaged in civilized professions, and, while the customs differ in different types of work, the proper good manners for each type of work have developed simply because they help achieve the best working conditions and best results for that particular work. So, when in doubt about deportment and protocol in classroom situations, simply ask yourself what deportment would make for the smoothest cooperation and best serve the cause of learning. Inappropriate behavior includes (but is not limited to) the following: arriving late or leaving the rehearsal early, allowing your cell phone to disturb the class, texting, bringing your bicycle into the rehearsal room, leaving the room except when absolutely necessary, reading newspapers or books, doing homework, chatting with neighbors and packing up disruptively before the rehearsal is dismissed. It is important to establish high professional behavior standards now so that it will come natural to you when you enter your profession and begin your career.


The attendance system is maintained in fairness to all those who are regular and punctual in attendance. Any absence, tardiness, or leave-early without a valid excuse mars the efficiency of the entire organization, thereby affecting the genuine musical experience and enjoyment of the individual participant and success of the program. The attendance system applies with equal force to all persons who are band members with or without credit. It is extremely important for a musician to arrive at a rehearsal or performance early in order to make all of the necessary preparations for performance. “If you are early, you are on time; if you are on time, you are late!” is a phrase that will serve students well throughout their musical career. Musicians who arrive late to a rehearsal do a certain amount of damage to themselves and to the entire ensemble causing delays, disorganization and noise. Ensemble members are expected to be in attendance at all rehearsals and performances. An absence from a rehearsal or performance is a very serious matter and should not occur without a valid reason.

An unexcused absence from a performance or an unexcused tardiness to a performance may result in withdrawal and failure.

Rehearsal Attendance: All other criteria being satisfactory, the rehearsal attendance record will affect the final grade as follows:

  • 3 unexcused tardies or early leaves equal one unexcused absence
  • 1 unexcused absence lowers attendance grade from A to B
  • 2 unexcused absences lower attendance grade from B to C
  • 3 unexcused absences lower attendance grade from C to D
  • 4 unexcused absences lower attendance grade from D to F

Special Note: Any unexcused tardy from a final rehearsal (prior to any performance) may result in the lowering of a grade by one letter.


At the beginning of each quarter, and periodically throughout the quarter, ensemble members should determine if there are any conflicts with ensemble activities. If conflicts develop, it will be the responsibility of the participant to inform all of the conductors for that ensemble (by e-mail) as soon as possible, stating the reason for the proposed tardy or absence. The reasons for being tardy or absent are private matters between the conductors/directors and the ensemble member. It will be up to the conductors/directors to determine if the reason for being tardy or absent is valid. Therefore, students should explain, in detail, the reason for being tardy or absent thus providing the conductor/director with as much justification as possible. Students should pay special attention to dress rehearsals, sound checks or concerts.

Failure to notify the conductors/directors in advance of a tardy or absence may become the reason for not excusing an otherwise excusable request. If however, it becomes impossible to notify in advance, communication with the conductor/director must take place as soon as possible after the fact.

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All prospective and current Cal Poly students interested in joining the Mustang Band should fill out our Online Interest Form.

We enjoy meeting new students and encourage you to send an email if you have any questions or plan to visit campus. Contact information for directors and all band faculty and staff can be found on our contacts page.