youth playing in concert

BYSO Member Handbook

BYSO members are expected to fulfill the musician and parent responsibilities outlined below regarding commitment level, attendance, practicing expectations, concert etiquette, and more. Please contact the BYSO office with any clarifying questions or concerns.


Musician Responsibilities

BYSO musicians must be on time to rehearsals and concerts, prepare their music as instructed by their conductor and coach, and maintain good standards of behavior and attitude.


We expect that all musicians will make the commitment to remain in the BYSO program for the rest of the year. Rehearsal and concert dates are announced well in advance, to the best of our ability, so that students and parents can arrange their schedules accordingly. See BYSO calendar.

Musicians should contact the BYSO office or their conductor if they need to take a leave of absence for health or other reasons. An approved leave of absence does not require an audition to rejoin the ensemble if the student is rejoining during the same season.

School Program Participation

BYSO musicians are strongly encouraged to participate in their school’s performing arts program (orchestra, band, choir, or theater) in order for us to maintain a system of mutual support for arts education in Washington State. We understand that there are special circumstances in which even the most dedicated students cannot participate in their school’s programs. To those able however, we again press upon the importance of participation and even leadership in these programs.


BYSO musicians are expected to attend all of their ensemble’s rehearsals, retreats, and concerts. The only absences excused are due to illness, a family emergency, a religious holiday, extremely bad weather, or required student participation in a school performance. BYSO must be notified promptly for an absence to be excused.

BYSO follows the Bellevue School District calendar for holiday, mid-winter, and spring breaks. If you have BYSO rehearsal scheduled on a day that your school is on a break, you are still expected to attend.

Absence from a rehearsal

If you are unable to attend a rehearsal, or you will have to arrive late or leave early, you must contact your conductor or the BYSO office before 3:00 pm on the day of the rehearsal for your absence to be considered excused. Just use our online form here.

If neither the BYSO office nor your conductor are informed in advance, missing a rehearsal, arriving late, or leaving early are all considered unexcused absences.

Two unexcused absences within the same concert cycle will be up to the conductor’s discretion of participation in the upcoming concert. A concert cycle is the period from the end of one concert to the end of the next concert.

After three absences, either excused or unexcused, participation in the upcoming concert will be at the discretion of the conductor. You may be required to audition with your ensemble music for your conductor to show that you will be able to perform it in the concert.

Absence from a concert

If you are unable to perform in a concert due to illness, a family emergency, or weather conditions that prevent you from traveling, please contact us as soon as possible through our online form and by calling our office (leave voicemail if necessary).

If you will be unable to perform in a concert due to a religious holiday or a school performance conflict, tell your conductor at rehearsal as soon as you know about the conflict and email the BYSO office.

Any other absence from your performance is considered unexcused. If you miss your concert with no explanation, an audition will be required to rejoin your ensemble at the beginning of the next quarter.

Be Prepared


BYSO musicians are expected to spend a considerable amount of time practicing their music at home. We recommend that you take your BYSO music to one of your private lessons soon after you receive it, to get your instructor’s advice and insights. You can also ask your instrument coach during BYSO sectional rehearsals for tips on how to practice the music most effectively.

Musicians who are consistently unprepared may, at the discretion of the conductor, be placed into a different BYSO ensemble with less challenging music or put on probation until they can demonstrate that they are prepared.

Check for conductors’ messages

BYSO conductors use our website to communicate with their students between rehearsals. Be sure to check your ensemble page each week to see if there is a new message.

Take care of your instrument & music

Keep your instrument clean and maintained in good working order. Promptly take care of any damage and replace any missing parts (tuning peg, mouthpiece, etc.) that make the instrument difficult or impossible to play.

Each musician will be given a folder for their BYSO sheet music at the beginning of the season, and conductors will hand out new music throughout the year. Label your BYSO music folder with your name, ensemble name, and phone number. BYSO musicians are expected to come to rehearsals with their music collected and organized in their folder, with pages taped together, etc., if necessary.

All sheet music must be returned to BYSO after it has been performed. Federal copyright law requires that we destroy music photocopies after our musicians are finished with them.

After Rehearsals

Tidy up

Take a few minutes before leaving to help put away chairs, music stands, and anything else your group used. It is our responsibility to leave all the rehearsal rooms as clean as we found them.

Take what you brought

Check to make sure you have all your belongings. If you later realize you’ve lost something, first contact the school at which you were rehearsing and tell them what room you were in. If they do not have it, contact our office to see if another BYSO member turned it in. Labeling your things gives them the best chance of getting back to you.

Leave on time

Musicians must be picked up by a parent immediately after each rehearsal and concert unless other transportation has been arranged, such as a carpool or the student driving.

At Concerts

Arrive on time

At your last rehearsal before a concert, your conductor will give you a concert “call time.” Call times also will be posted in the  conductor’s messages on each ensemble page. They are generally 1 hour before the concert, but you must check your conductor’s messages for the specific time.

Your call time is your arrival deadline. By this time, you must be at the performance location and in your ensemble’s greenroom (see below).

Find the greenroom for your ensemble

Your greenroom is where you will tune up, warm up, store your jacket and instrument case, and wait your turn to go onstage. Signs and parent volunteers will help direct you to the correct room for your ensemble. Greenrooms are for BYSO musicians and staff only (no parents or visiting friends).

Arrive no more than 10 minutes before your call time since greenrooms may not be available earlier.

Wear the appropriate clothing

Read details on required attire.

Put away cell phones

Cell phones and other devices must be turned completely off and left in your bag or case during your warm-up and performance. Nothing leaves the greenroom with you except your instrument and music.

Be respectful while others are performing

BYSO musicians stay for the entire concert in which they play.

Listening to other musicians perform is an important part of your music education, and it’s also important to support your fellow BYSO musicians in this way. You may not leave early when your own ensemble is finished. If you will need an exemption to this rule, talk to your conductor ahead of time.

Sit quietly with your ensemble in the audience as you listen. Do not bring your cell phone. Do not exit or enter the performance hall while music is being played. Wait for a break between movements or pieces. Then walk quietly, with no talking.

Take care of bathroom and drinking fountain needs before you enter the performance hall. Moving and talking during a performance are very distracting to everyone, both in the audience and on stage.

After Concerts

Return music

All sheet music must be returned to BYSO after it has been performed. We must destroy all photocopied music to comply with federal copyright law. Boxes to collect students’ music will be available in the greenrooms or you may give it to your conductor.

Take what you brought

Your family will wait for you in the lobby while you pack up your instrument and collect your things.

Please make sure you have all your belongings before you leave your greenroom.

Leave on time

Musicians must be picked up by a parent immediately after each rehearsal and concert unless other transportation has been arranged, such as a carpool or the student driving.

Fall & Winter Retreats

Retreats are special events that occur twice a year, at the beginning of the fall and winter cycles, combining fun and bonding with intensive sectional work, full rehearsals, and seating auditions.

Retreats are on Saturdays and may involve most of the day, so please mark your calendars early. Find the dates and times of your ensemble’s retreats for this season on our calendar.

BYSO retreats are not optional extras, they are essential elements in your BYSO education. Your attendance is expected, and you will miss important things, such as seating auditions, if you are not there. However, we understand that some conflicts are truly unavoidable. If you will be unable to attend all or part of your retreat (including arriving late or leaving early), please inform your conductor as soon as possible using our online form.

General Safety Rules

Stay with your group

Before and after rehearsals/concerts and during breaks, musicians must stay in approved group areas. We are concerned for the safety of every one of our musicians, and we cannot supervise students who leave rehearsal rooms, greenrooms, or commons/lobby areas without an appropriate chaperone.

Do not leave the school building or performance venue until your parent arrives to pick you up. Your parent (or other authorized adult) must pick you up inside the building in person. For safety reasons, you are not permitted to go out of the building to find them.

Please report any violations of this important rule to BYSO staff.

Zero-tolerance items

BYSO has a zero-tolerance policy toward tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs, firearms and other weapons, and any type of physical violence or harassment. If something is not allowed at your school, you can be sure it is not allowed at BYSO either. Musicians will receive immediate suspension for possession of any of the above controlled items.


Parent Responsibilities

Our behavior rules are designed to foster professionalism, teamwork, and respect for fellow musicians. Please encourage your musician to fulfill their responsibilities.

Stay in Touch

Read our announcements

Every Thursday we send out an e-mail newsletter and post important, time-sensitive announcements on the website. Look for these emails and contact us if you aren’t receiving them.

Support BYSO

Pay tuition promptly

Learn more about tuition and fees. If tuition costs are a hardship for your family, financial assistance is available.

Volunteer at least once during the year

We ask each family contribute 4 volunteer hours per student. Our small staff relies on parent and high school student volunteers to help with auditions, retreats, and concerts. Learn about volunteer opportunities and sign up here. If you cannot volunteer, share your support by donating or sponsoring our programs.

Help us fundraise

To help keep BYSO tuition affordable, we rely on donations and sponsorships from our families. There are opportunities to give throughout the year including our annual Pass the Hat campaign, our Growing Musicians Garden Party fundraiser event, online, or at our concerts. Don’t forget your company match! BYSO is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, so donations are fully tax-deductible. You may learn about our operations by reading our most recent Annual Report.

Like us on Social Media

We use social media to engage our online community. Like our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram – your support of our social pages goes a long way in strengthening our community presence.

Ensure Musician Attendance & Transportation

See pick up and drop off times and locations.

Support prompt and reliable attendance

Musicians are expected to attend all retreats, rehearsals, and concerts listed for their ensemble on our calendar. This includes anything scheduled on holidays or breaks for your school district. If the musician needs to arrive late, leave early, or miss an event altogether, they must notify their conductor ahead of time using the online form.

Drop your musician off at least 15 minutes early for all rehearsals and other events. This allows your musician time to find their seat and unpack their instrument.

Bad weather policy: a rehearsal or concert that is missed by a student due to bad weather will be excused if we are informed promptly. If you cannot get to a rehearsal, retreat, or concert safely, please stay home.

Pick up your musician on time

You must pick up your musician immediately after each rehearsal and concert unless other transportation has been arranged, such as a carpool or the student driving. For safety reasons, waiting students should remain inside the building.

If a parent is late to pick up their BYSO musician, a conductor or another adult will wait with the student until the parent arrives. (For student safety reasons, this is non-negotiable.) These staff members have their own schedules to keep. Therefore, in fairness to all, we cannot accommodate late pick-ups.

We enforce this policy as follows:

  1. The first time a parent is late to pick up their student, they will receive a notification email.
  2. The second time, the parent will be billed $10 per student for every 10 minutes they are late.
  3. Subsequent violations may result in dismissal from the organization.

If you are concerned that your personal or transportation circumstances will make you unable pick up your musician on time each week, please contact the BYSO office ahead of time so that we may help.


You may wish to consider arranging a rehearsal carpool with other parents in your student’s ensemble or an ensemble that rehearses at the same school. You can see where and when all our ensembles rehearse and make arrangements with BYSO parents by joining the BYSO Parent Facebook Group.

BYSO Rehearsals are “Parent Free”

We appreciate parents and other non-participants helping to prepare a room for rehearsal, but they must stay outside the room while the rehearsal is taking place.

Parent observation of rehearsals is extremely distracting both to the students and to the instructors (including observation through door windows). Quiet is essential near all rehearsal rooms.

We encourage parents to leave the building and return for their student promptly at the end of rehearsal. View start and end times for rehearsals.

Parents who choose to wait on-site while their BYSO student is rehearsing must stay in a designated parent waiting area, available at each school where we rehearse. All of our host schools are firm about not allowing “wandering” behavior from either students or parents. This is a legal liability issue for these schools as well as for us, and non-compliance may make BYSO unwelcome to rehearse there.

Attend Concerts

Each concert represents months of dedication and hard work on the part of every musician present. Your musician will be proud of what he or she has accomplished and will want to share it with you! Please note: your musician must stay for the entire concert in which they play. Listening to other students perform is an essential part of their music education. We encourage you to stay for the entire concert as well.

Parents must understand and respect BYSO’s Concert Etiquette guidelines. Personal video recording, sound recording, and photography are not allowed during BYSO concerts. Be respectful and arrive to concerts on time.

BYSO keeps concert ticket prices as low as possible for our member families and offers extra savings through season ticket packages. If ticket costs are a hardship for your family, please contact our office.

Sponsors & Partners