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Renker, Sophie


Please click on your child's grade level link below to fill out a quick questionnaire to collect your contact information so I can contact you via email and phone.  Your information will be kept confidential and sent to my Google Drive.

For 6th Grade Orchestra students

For 7th Grade Orchestra students

For 8th Grade Orchestra students

Welcome to Rawlinson Patriot Orchestra!!!

First Week Info: Students will not bring thier instruments on the first day of school. If students are assigned an orchestra locker on the first day of school, they will bring their instrument to school on Tuesday.  If students are assigned a locker on Tuesday, they will bring their instrument on Wednesday.  All students will share a locker with another student. After students select their "locker buddy," they will decide who will bring the combination lock.  Cello & bass students will share a school cello/bass with a few students.

Beginners will select what instrument they want to play during the first week of school.  They need to have an instrument rented by Tuesday, September 2.  Beginners can begin bringing their instruments on Tuesday or Wednesday during the first week after they have been assigned an orchestra locker.

Bringing Instruments To School: Students will take their instrument to their assigned grade level courtyard before school.  All Rawlinson students report to their assigned courtyard every morning before school.  At 8:15am, teachers on duty will allow students with Instruments to take their instrument to the Orchestra room to put in their Orchestra locker.

*Students should take instruments home after school to practice at home.  Cellos MIGHT fit on the school bus. You will need to ask your Bus Driver if you can take it on the school bus. String Basses WILL NOT fit on the school bus.  Parents may pick up cellos and basses to take home after school.  Email Mrs. Renker for more information.




For Example, a student who arrives at school at 7:30am must report to their assigned court yard.  At 8am, they may come to the orchestra room with an orchestra pass.  Teachers on duty will allow you to leave the courtyard early if you have an Orchestra Pass.

Morning Practice for Cello/Bass Students who do not have an instrument at home: Students will receive a pass from Mrs. Renker to allow them to come to the orchestra room at 8:00am to practice until 8:20am.  An even better time to practice is during FLEX.

Fall Flex Intervention Days: On the days that the Orchestra Room is open for Intervention, Mrs. Renker will be teaching Region Orchestra sectionals to 7th & 8th students interested in auditioning in November.  

Peer Tutoring "The Buddy System": For Beginning & Intermediate students that would like help with their music or help reading music, they will be able to sign-up to practice before school at 8:00am or during Flex with an advanced 7th or 8th grader who will practice with them in the orchestra room.

Supplies List

Please click on the Supplies List located on the right side of the screen. Please have all supplies purchased by Tuesday, September 2.  Beginners and 6th Grade Intermediate students do not have to have their Uniform black pants and black shoes until October for the Fall Concert.

Rental Instruments

Students must have an instrument by Tuesday, September 2.


Most 6th & 7th graders will begin study on a 1/2 size or 3/4 size instrument.  During the school year, I will notice when students have outgrown a 1/2 size or 3/4 size, and I will tell them when they are ready to upgrade to a Full Size instrument.  

Most 8th graders play a Full Size instrument.

Violin Sizes: 1/2 size, 3/4 size and Full Size. 

Viola Sizes available to students: 12", 13", 14", 15", 15.5", 16", 16.5", 17".  Most 8th graders play a 16" viola.  16" is considered Full Size, but if a student has long arms, there are bigger Full Sizes available.

Cello Sizes: 1/4 size, 1/2, 3/4, or Full Size.

Bass Sizes: 1/4 size, 1/2 size and 3/4 size.  A 3/4 size bass is a Full Size Bass.


Instrument sizes were invented to fit the student's arm, hand and finger length.  Playing on the correct size instrument allows the student to play the instrument IN TUNE with PROPER POSTURE and GOOD TONE to become an excellent player.  If you allow your child to play on an instrument that is too large and too heavy for them, they will play OUT-OF-TUNE, they will show poor, incorrect posture habits, and they will be very uncomfortable holding the instrument.  They may also injure muscles in the neck, shoulders, arms, hand, finger, etc.


Please rent an instrument from one of the Violin Shops listed on the Supplies List.  There are Rent-To-Purchase programs at most Violin Shops.  I do not recommend purchasing an instrument for your child if they are not playing a full size instrument yet.  Here's why:  If you purchase a 1/2 size instrument, you will not be able to trade it in at a violin shop for a 3/4 instrument once your child quickly outgrows the 1/2 size.  You will then have to purchase a 3/4 size, and then eventually purchase a Full Size instrument. *If you rent a 1/2 size instrument, you WILL be able trade it in easily for the next larger size.  

NO COLORED, PAINTED INSTRUMENTS ALLOWED because the paint negatively effects the sound quality of the instrument.  They are also not allowed at UIL Contest for Advanced Orchestras.  If you are a 6th grader, and you played a colored instrument in 5th grade, please let me know.  You will not be able to play it at Pre-UIL or UIL Contest in 7th grade & 8th grade.

COLORED BOWS:  Colored bows (red, blue, etc.) are appropriate for class use and all concerts EXCEPT for Pre-UIL Contest and UIL Contest.  Just make sure the bow sounds good on your instrument before your buy it!


Violin & Viola students will take their instrument to school every day for orchestra class, and take their instrument home after school to practice at home.  (See Supplies List for Orchestra Locker info.)

Cello & Bass students will be able to play on a school instrument every day during class.  Cello and Bass should rent an instrument to practice at home, and bring to all school concerts.  Cello & Bass students who do not have a rental or school instrument at home must practice before school 8:00am-8:20am for their Practice Record grade. They will also have the opportunity to practice during FLEX for their Practice Record Grade.

Concerts - Cello students should bring their rental instrument to concerts.  Bass students may bring their rental bass from home, or use a school bass.

*For information about Orchestra Lockers & Concert Uniforms: See Supplies List




7th & 8th grade orchestra placements were announced to the students during the last week of school when they received their Orchestra Camp flyer.  Students auditioned for their placement.

Incoming 6th Grade Auditions were held in May in the orchestra room.  Students who auditioned for Mrs. Renker already know their orchestra placement.  

If you are a 6th grader who participated in 5th Grade Strings who did not audition in May, please come to the 6th Grade Intermediate camp session.  Mrs. Renker will audition you during camp.

6TH GRADE AUDITIONS: You will play a D Major Scale and a song from the Essential Elements book (or a solo) of your choice.  You will also sight-read a song from the book that you don't know so Mrs. Renker can assess your note-reading level.  

6TH GRADE INTERMEDIATE PREREQUISITES: Students need to be able to play their instrument comfortably with correct posture and a good bow hold.  When playing a song, students need to be able to play in tune without stopping often.  Students need to be able to read music as they play a song at a steady tempo without stopping often.

ORCHESTRA CAMP 2014 for Rawlinson Orchestra Students

Back-To-School Orchestra classes for 6, 7 & 8th grade Orchestra Students will be held August 11-14 in the Orchestra Room.  There will be a Music Department Swim Party on Friday, August 15 for all orchestra students from 11:00am-1:30pm at Woods of Shavano Pool off DeZavala.  Cost is $5 per student.  Permission Slips are due by August 13.


August 11-14:  Please bring your instrument, 1" black music binder, Essential Elements Book from last year, and a pencil to the Orchestra Room at your assigned class time.  Classes are one-hour in length.  Students may only attend class if they have transportation home or if they are allowed to walk home.

6th Grade Interemediate Orchestra 11:00-11:50am (bring Essential Techniques 2000 Book 1 if you have it already.  If you don't have it, we will use the school copies.)

Allegretto & Concertino Orchestra 12:00-12:50pm (bring Essential Elements 2000 Book 1 for review)

Chamber Orchestra 1:00-1:50pm (bring your Essential Elements Book from last year)

Beginning Orchestra 2:00-2:50pm.  You do not need to bring an instrument unless you have already rented one. You will get to try out each instrument that you want to play on a few of the school instruments.  This will be a very small class, as I do not have access to parent email addresses to notify you about camp.

Rawlinson Orchestra Handbook

Parents & Guardians, please read the Orchestra Handbook under Classroom Information to find out about Concerts, Grading, and Class Rules.

Also, I will send home an Emergency Information Form with the Handbook Contract that I will take on all field trips. 


Mrs. Renker is the Orchestra Director at Rawlinson Middle School.   Her primary instrument is the violin.  She has been playing the violin for 21 years.  She also plays the viola, cello and string bass when she is teaching.

Violin studies:  She studied and performed the violin from 4th - 10th grade in the Iowa City Community School District in Iowa.  Go Hawkeyes!  She was a member of the Clark High School Orchestra her Junior & Senior year.  She attended college at The University of Texas at San Antonio with the Clara Freshour Music Scholarship. 

In college, Mrs. Renker studied violin performance with Mary Ellen Goree, Principal 2nd Violinist of the San Antonio Symphony, and Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio, former Concertmaster of the San Antonio Symphony.  She studied Chamber Music with Karen Stiles, Assistant Principal 2nd Violinist of the San Antonio Symphony, and Dr. Jennifer Clark, Professor of Viola.  She studied Viola with Dr. Jennifer Clark, Cello with Dr. Andrea Yun, and String Bass with Steve Zesserman of the San Antonio Symphony.

Music Education history:  Mrs. Renker was a UTSA String Project teacher from 2002-2006 under the direction of Dr. Eugene Dowdy, Dr. Andrea Yun, Dr. Jennifer Clark, and Mrs. Cathy Logan.  She was a chamber coach at UTSA Summer Music Institute.  She was a student teacher at Clark High School in NISD under the direction of Mrs. Teresa Nguyen, and Garner Middle School in NEISD under the direction of Mrs. Phyllis Malone.  She earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Education in 2007.  Her first teaching position was in North East ISD at Nimitz Middle School where the Orchestra earned Superior Ratings at U.I.L. Contest.  As a Northside graduate, she had the desire to return to Northside ISD, and accepted the position as Assistant Orchestra Director at Jefferson Middle School in 2010 where she co-taught and assisted Ms. Majah SpearsBrown, and earned Superior Ratings at U.I.L. Contest.  Mrs. Renker was appointed Orchestra Director at Rawlinson Middle School in 2012.  She lead the Rawlinson Chamber & Allegretto Orchestras in earning U.I.L. Superior Sweepstakes in 2013.  She is VERY PROUD of all of the students in the Rawlinson Orchestra program!

Performance history:  In college, Mrs. Renker enjoyed performing in the UTSA Orchestra as Concertmaster of the first violin section or Principal Second violin.  She also performed in the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra and Kerrville Symphony Orchestra.  She LOVED attending CREDO Chamber Music festival at Oberlin Conservatory in 2004 & 2005.

Fun facts:  Mrs. Renker plays a purple Mark Wood Viper electric violin at church, and in a local band with her husband who plays electric bass.  She also enjoys playing her classical violin at weddings and events, and preparing her students to do the same in the future.  She and her husband have 3 cats: Special Agent Leroy, Oliver and Grapenut.

Class Information

Title Filename Modified
Rawlinson Orchestra Calendar 2013-2014.pdf 8/23/2013
Orchestra Supply List.pdf 8/16/2014
Rawlinson Orchestra Handbook.pdf 9/8/2012

Student Handouts

Title Filename Modified
Practice Record 1st 6-weeksSAMPLE.pdf 8/20/2013


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