youth playing in concert

BYSO Student Handbook

BYSO members are expected to fulfill the musician and 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 participate in the BYSO program for the full season. 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 and 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. All requests for leaves of absence must be received prior to the first rehearsal of any given quarter. Late requests may not be approved and may require the student to re-audition prior to rejoining their ensemble.

On Leave Policy

Students are permitted to go on leave for one quarter per academic year. If the ensemble in which a student is placed has no waiting list, they may be permitted to take an additional quarter leave of absence. Each quarter in which a student exercises their privilege to go on leave must pay a $50 administrative fee.

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 emphasize 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. For student safety, promptly notify BYSO if an absence is expected using our online form.

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 Rehearsal

Absences impact BYSO in two ways:

  • You are less prepared for the upcoming concert.
  • Your absence results in your fellow musicians becoming less prepared for the upcoming concert, as your part will not be covered if you are not there.

If you are unable to attend a rehearsal, or you will have to arrive late or leave early, you must fill out the online absence form here or on your ensemble page before 4:30 pm on the day of the rehearsal. Arriving late or leaving early may still be considered an absence if the resulting late arrival/early departure results in 20 minutes of missed rehearsal (Cadet & Debut) or 30 minutes of rehearsal (all other ensembles).

If the student is habitually late to rehearsal or leaves early from rehearsal, it is left to the conductor’s discretion to determine whether or not if accrued missed rehearsal time constitutes as an absence.

After two absences within the same quarter, participation in the upcoming concert will be up to the conductor’s discretion. You will be required to perform a music test for your conductor at the next rehearsal with your ensemble music to show that you will be able to perform it in the concert. No more than two absences will be allowed per quarter.

If second absence is on final rehearsal the student will be contacted by conductor to submit a virtual playing test. Participation in the concert is contingent on submitting and passing this music test.

After three absences in a quarter, the student will be placed on leave for the remainder of the quarter and tuition will not be refunded.

If a conductor discerns that a student will not be prepared in time for the concert following the musical test described above, the student will be withdrawn from the quarter and no refunds will be issued. See our “tuition page” for information about our no refund policy.

Absence from a retreat

If a student misses more than half of their ensemble’s retreat, it will be considered an absence.

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.

If you will be unable to perform in a concert due to a scheduling conflict, tell your conductor immediately and email the BYSO office at

If a student in Cadet, Debut, Premiere, Sinfonia, Philharmonia, and Youth Symphony has a scheduling conflict with the concert, they will still be permitted to enroll in BYSO that quarter and attend all rehearsals. Their seating placement will be impacted their inability to play in the concert.

If a student in Flute Choir, Flute Orchestra, and Percussion Ensemble has a scheduling conflict with the concert, they will not be permitted to enroll in BYSO that quarter and attend rehearsals due to the nature of the small ensemble size and part assignments.

Missing a concert without informing the conductor and the BYSO administrative team is considered an egregious infraction. If you miss your concert with no explanation, an audition may 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.

BYSO musicians are expected to come to rehearsals with their music collected and organized in a folder, with pages taped together, if necessary. Label your BYSO music folder with your name, ensemble name, and phone number.

Conductors will provide music throughout the year either via online download or hard copies. Music provided via online download must be printed prior to the next rehearsal. If you do not have access to a printer, email and we will arrange to have parts available for pickup at the BYSO office.

At Rehearsals

BYSO musicians are expected to behave in a manor that is respectful to conductors, coaches, administrative staff, volunteers and fellow students. They are also expected to respect the property and the rules of the venues in which they rehearse and perform. Blatant disrespect that puts themselves, fellow students, volunteers, and/or BYSO staff in danger will not be tolerated and is considered grounds for immediate expulsion. Likewise, damaging the property of our venues and not adhering to stated rules in such venues are considered grounds for immediate expulsion.

Be respectful

BYSO musicians will not disrupt rehearsals. If you are not being asked to play, you will respectfully listen to other musicians who are rehearsing or quietly study your music.

Listening to your conductor and/or coach is very important. Their purpose is to lead you and improve your level of play. When given a musical direction you are expected to follow it. Combative and disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated and may result in a student being withdrawn from BYSO.

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 if the student plans to drive themselves.

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. 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). Call times are different from dress rehearsal times (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.

Dress Rehearsals

At your last rehearsal before a concert, your conductor will give you a “dress rehearsal time” for the concert day.  This will be posted in the conductor’s messages on each ensemble page.

Dress rehearsals are for ensembles to warm up together on stage prior to the concert. You must be on stage with your ensemble ready to play at the beginning of your dress rehearsal time.

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. Take care of bathroom and drinking fountain needs before you enter the performance hall.

After Concerts

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 plans to drive themselves.

Fall & Winter Retreats

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

Retreats are held on Saturdays and are usually 3-5 hours in length. 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. 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. Do not leave the school building or performance venue until your parent arrives to pick you up.

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, it is not allowed at BYSO. Musicians will receive immediate suspension for possession of any of the above controlled items.

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