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Frequently Asked Questions 


In order to answer the many questions first-time band parents and students often have, please take a few minutes to read through our FAQ’s. If you do not see your question answered below, feel free to contact a Director or Booster Board Member. 

  • What do you do in High School Band? High school band is very similar to middle school band, but there are a few differences.  In High School Band, there are multiple ensembles of which you can be apart. These are: Marching Band, Concert Band, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Chamber Ensemble, and Colorguard/Winterguard. 


  • What do you do in these different Ensembles? 

    • Marching “Topper” Band – Marching Band is a class that takes place in the Fall. Students are taught how to march and play at the same time so that they can perform at Friday Night Football games, Parades, and Marching Competitions! It’s a TON of fun!

    • Concert Band – Concert Band takes place during the 2nd Quarter as well as the Spring Semester. Concert Band is divided into the Wind Ensemble (By audition only) and the Symphonic Band (No audition required). These groups focus on developing playing technique through exciting repertoire!

    • Percussion Ensemble – Percussion Ensemble takes place during the 2nd Quarter as well as the Spring Semester. Percussion Ensemble is divided into Percussion Chamber Ensemble (By audition only) and Large Percussion Ensemble (No audition required).

    • Jazz Ensemble – Jazz Ensemble is an after-school group that takes place during the 2nd Quarter as well as the Spring Semester. Jazz Ensemble allows students the opportunity to explore the fundamentals of Latin, Swing, Bebop, Funk, and Fusion styles as well as Improvisation. Currently, there is no audition to be a part of Jazz Ensemble

    • Chamber Ensemble – Chamber Ensembles meet after-school in the Spring Semester. Chamber Ensemble simply means “Small” Ensemble, and is often comprised of “like instruments” such as Saxophone Ensemble, Flute Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, etc…

    • Colorguard/Winterguard – Colorguard/Winterguard are dance ensembles that use Flags, Rifles, and Sabres to bring music to life. Colorguard joins the Marching Band in the Fall, and Winterguard takes places during the 2nd Quarter and Spring Semester. *Students do not have to know how to play an instrument to be a member of the of the Colorguard/Winterguard.*

  • How much does it cost?  The general band fees vary from year to year and student to student.  Student's Fair Share Obligation (FSO) averages around $400-$500 a year with the boosters providing opportunities for families to raise funds to offset the costs.  Please note, Band is not only a time commitment, it is also a financial commitment. With that said, we never want finances to be the reason a student cannot participate in Band. We at Science Hill are committed to working with families that may have some financial concerns. Do not hesitate to reach out to a director to see how we can help and support!

  • What is the time commitment? As previously mentioned, band is both a time and financial commitment. In the “Topper” Band, excellence is our mission. As such, we will have times throughout the year that we meet outside of the school day so that we can achieve our goals. Currently, the band meets for 2 weeks in the month of July to prepare the Marching Band show for the start of the school year. Then, once the school year gets up and running, we have marching band practices from 1:30-4:30 p.m. on Monday's, Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. Once Marching season (August-October) is over, the outside time commitment relaxes quite a bit. Again, Band is a time commitment, but the results are well worth it! You can find a general overview of the schedule for the year in the calendar portion of the website.

  • What if I think: “I’m not good enough on my instrument to do high school band”? It is not uncommon for up-coming 8th graders to have this thought. However, we want to put these students at ease.  Students join band at a variety of playing levels. No matter where you are muiscally, YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES to be a part of the Topper Band.  The Science Hill Band Directors are committed to helping every student develop the skills they need to be successful!

  • What if I don’t know how to march and play music at the same time? You would be in very good company as almost every student entering band for the first time has very little experience with marching band. DON’T WORRY! All Freshmen will have the opportunity to attend a “Freshmen Band Camp” where we will teach you the basics of marching and playing. Don’t sweat it! You can do this!

  • Can I do sports and be in the band? At Science Hill, we are committed to helping students discover their niche. As such, we believe participating in a variety of activities is essential to this stage of life. With that said, we strive to work with all students that want to participate in band and sports.  Permission to participate in both band and sports is granted at the discretion of the Director of Bands and is considered on a case-by-case basis. If you are interested in doing both band and sports, it is required that you reach out to Dr. Vermillion,, ASAP so that potential scheduling conflicts can be addressed.


  • How many students are in the band? The number of students in the Band is often changing as more students enroll every year. For the past few marching seasons, we have averaged about 160 students in band for 9–12, including color guard. During the spring, the Wind Ensemble typically has about 50 players, and there are around 70 students in the symphonic band.


  • How are students selected for the Wind Ensemble? The Wind Ensemble is reserved for the top performing 60 players. Most are upperclassmen, but if there is an opening, and if a 10th grader is good enough, they will be invited. Typically we average only four or five 10th graders in the Wind Ensemble in any given year.


  • How many marching competitions are there and what do they entail? Typically the Topper Band competes in three or four marching competitions during the fall season. Competitions are held on Saturdays and run from mid September through early November. At these events, the marching band performs the full show and competes with other bands of similar size and skill. Students must attend these competitions, and must travel and remain with the band until the competition is over. Most competitions are day trips no more than a 3 to 5 hour drive, sometimes returning in the wee hours of the morning. Occasionally an overnight trip for a competition will be scheduled.


  • How many concert band competitions are there and what do they entail? Typically the Topper Band competes in one concert band festival each spring season. Each concert band performs three prepared pieces and at least one sight reading piece. Judges score the bands and assign ratings for prepared pieces, sight reading, achieving an overall rating. Students must attend these festivals, and may miss a portion of the school day. Occasionally the bands will remain at the site following their performance to listen to other bands perform. These competitions are usually local or within a 1 to 2 hour drive.


  • What is the Colorguard? The Colorguard is a dance ensemble that uses flags, rifles, and sabres to bring music to life. They are often seen as a part of the marching band, making up approximately 15%-20% of the total marching band. Auditions for colorguard occur in the Winter or early Spring each year. They rehearse, perform, and compete as part of the marching band. 


  • What is the Band Booster organization? Science Hill High School Band Boosters, Inc. is incorporated as a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization, complete with a charter, bylaws, and board of directors. The purpose of the organization is to provide for the needs of the SHHS Topper Band program that are not already provided by the Johnson City School System. Many committees are in place to accomplish the extensive goals of the organization.


  • My child is in 8th grade. Do I need to come to Band Booster meetings? Rising eighth grade parents are strongly encouraged to attend Band Booster meetings. A lot of the information discussed will only affect current marching band members, but you will have an opportunity to hear what events are coming up and to interact with other band parents.


  • How many fundraisers are there? The Band Boosters' main fundraiser is manning the concession stands at all of the home football games (varsity, JV, and middle school).  Additionally, we have an annual raffle where we raffle off a "major cash prize" during the last home game of the regular season.  Other fundraisers are provided to offset the FSO for each family (varies year to year).


  • What other ways does the band raise funds? Trailer ads, grants, sponsorships, and donations.


  • What is the best way to meet other band parents?

    • Come to Band Camp Parents’ Night – Each booster committee will have a current parent member present. This provides a great opportunity to ask questions and find where you fit.

    • Volunteer – A multitude of opportunities exist such as helping in the concession stand (every parent is expected to work at least one home varsity football game in the concession stand each year), assist the field crew with the set-up/take-down of equipment and props for the marching band, chaperoning, and many others.

  • Can you give me information about Band Camp? Band Camp is required for all marching band students, and is typically scheduled a couple of weeks prior to the start of school. During band camp, students learn the sets and music  for the show that is to be featured at halftime during football games and also in the marching competitions. Students spend all day each day from early in the morning through late in the evening learning marching fundamentals, show music, and marching drill. Typically, students must pack a lunch. Dinner is provided for the students by the Band Boosters on certain days. Students do return home each night. Band camp fees are assessed to cover the costs and are paid to the school, not to the band boosters. The Band Camp fee is $125.


  • What is Chaperone Training and when is it offered? Chaperone training includes bus training, which is done by Johnson City Transit, and is typically scheduled for late afternoon on the Friday of band camp. Bus training is required for any adult who will be riding on a Johnson City school bus. Only band students and bus trained adults are allowed to ride school buses to and from a band events. Additional information specific to band chaperoning is also provided by the chair of the chaperone committee at the same time. Bus training is not required for charter buses, but the same pool of chaperones is typically used. Chaperones for major trips are selected based upon their experience and proven chaperone abilities. Chaperones must be parents, grandparents, or guardians of current band students, or otherwise approved by the Band Booster board.


  • When the band makes a big event trip, can I as a parent travel along with the band? On most trips, there are two different opportunities for parents to travel along – as a chaperone or as a “tag-along.” Chaperones are required to attend training at the beginning of the band year and will be responsible for supervising students on the trip. A “tag-along” travels with the band, but is only responsible for him or herself.

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