Middle School
1900 Denton Street | La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601 | 608-789-7670 | Fax: 608-789-7975

Longfellow Orchestras


Our orchestra is a place for students of all abilities who play violin, viola, cello or bass. We play classical music, movie music, folk tunes, multicultural music, blues, rock, and more.  If you love the sound of strings and want to play a variety of music, join our orchestras!



Supplies will be due and are needed by the first week of school (Friday, September 8, 2023):  

♫  Instrument outfit (including instrument, bow, case, & rosin):  store rental, own, or school rental.
♫  Textbook:  Essential Elements interactive for strings ~ Book 1 for 6th grade, Book 2 for 7th grade, Book 2 AND Book 3 for 8th grade.
♫  Instrument support:  shoulder rest (violin/viola) or endpin anchor (cello/bass)
♫  Other supplies needed for shared use in our classroom (drop off in orchestra room):  one box of tissues.
♫  Music stand:  each student will need their own stand for practicing at home (and to bring along for some performances)
♫  Concert attire for performances:  Longfellow Orchestra t-shirt (purchase at the beginning of the school year), black pants, black socks, black shoes (no high heels, please).
♫  Optional, for 7/8th graders at the intermediate level and nominated/participating in Solo & Ensemble Festival: Suzuki Book 2 for violin/viola/cello or 20 Progressive Solos for bass.
Students should plan to bring their instrument outfit, book, instrument support, and other classroom supplies to class for our first week of school on September 1 (#1-4 on the supply list).   Most materials are available at our local music stores here in La Crosse; Leithold Music, Old Towne Strings, or SSE Music.  Each store features easy online or telephone ordering and curbside pickup or delivery to school if desired!





Instrument rentals for our region are covered by our local music stores:  Leithold Music, Old Towne Strings, and SSE Music.  Each store carries a full line of high quality orchestra instruments and accessories that are backed up by a full-service repair department.  Beginning orchestra instruments usually rent from $20-35 a month, with the first year of rent counting towards the purchase price of the instrument.  Be sure to ask about their incentive programs!  

A limited supply of school district instruments are also available (rental agreement form & a nominal rental fee are required at the beginning of each school year term and each summer school term).  These school instruments are available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis to families who qualify for the free/reduced lunch program.

If your family already has an instrument or has purchased one online, we recommend taking it to one of our local music stores to make sure that the instrument is set up (proper bridge & string height/spacing), able to stay in tune and is easily tunable (pegs don’t slip/stick and instrument has four functional fine tuners), the bow tightens/loosens adequately, and that everything is in good condition & working properly.  Instruments that haven’t been set up or that come out of adjustment can make it more difficult or frustrating for a student to play – stop by a local shop to check your instrument’s set up for a great start to the school year!



Orchestra instruments are available in different sizes to best fit our growing students.  If you’re not sure what size you may be needing or what size instrument you currently have, please click here for more information and measuring instructions!




In our Longfellow performing department, each of our rehearsals, small group lessons, and performances are a graded part of our class:

Our orchestra will meet for rehearsal every other day (3 times per cycle) for 45 minutes during the school day as part of your regular school class schedule.  In rehearsal, all of the orchestra instruments combine to work on learning and making music together as a team.

Our orchestra small group lessons meet 1 time per cycle for 20 minutes during the school day.  In small group lessons, students receive individualized instruction specific to their instrument and skill level.

Our orchestras perform in at least three evening concerts each school year:  our Longfellow Orchestra Winter Concert in December at Central HS, the district All City String Festival in March at the La Crosse Center, and our Longfellow Orchestra Spring Concert in May at Central HS (dates for all performances/events will be listed in our orchestra handbook and distributed to students during the first week of school).



At each small group lesson, your teacher will give you an assignment to prepare and practice for next time.  Assignments may include exercises from our textbook, sections of orchestra music, or other studies.  Bring your instrument/folder home for practice at least every other day, as a portion of each lesson grade is based on your skill improvement (preparing and practicing leads to improvement)!  20 minutes of home practice every other day is our goal, although slightly more or less practice may be needed for students to prepare their assignment well.



Mark your family calendars!  Here are our Longfellow Orchestra performance dates for this school year (detailed info for students will be handed out to students in class & also made available on Canvas).  Students should wear concert attire and bring their own folder, instrument, and accessories for all performances (cellos/basses bring your ‘home/practice’ instrument).

  • *Cancelled* November 15, 2023 ~ 8th Grade Large Group Orchestra Festival: graded, daytime field trip & clinic practice performance for 8th grade orchestra students only during the school day, this year’s location TBA.
  • December 12, 2023 ~ Winter Orchestra Concert:  graded, daytime field trip & evening performance for all Longfellow orchestra students.  Students report to CHS warm-up area at 6:30 pm (students, please use CHS Travis Street entrance), concert begins at 7:00 pm in the Central High auditorium.
  • January 20, 2024 – LAMFA 8th Grade Honors Orchestra Festival:  optional, for 8th grade orchestra students at the advanced level by audition (prep starting in October, registration/audition due by December 1).  Schedule TBA, festival usually runs from about 8:00 am and ends with a 4:00 pm concert in the Logan Middle auditorium.
  • January 26, 2024 8th Grade Elementary Tour:  graded, field trip performances during the school day for 8th grade orchestra students only to Spence, Hintgen, and Southern Bluffs Elementary Schools.  Student arrival to Longfellow orchestra room at 7:35 am sharp for attendance/loading.
  • *Cancelled* February TBA, 2024 – 6th Grade Orchestra Festival:  graded, daytime field trip & clinic practice performance for 6th grade orchestra students only during the school day at the Logan Middle School auditorium.
  • February 16, 2024 8th Grade Elementary Tour PART 2:  graded, field trip performances during the school day for 8th grade orchestra students only to State Road & Hamilton/SOTA I elementary schools.  Student arrival to Longfellow orchestra room at 7:35 am sharp for attendance/loading.
  • February 17, 2024 – WSMA Solo & Ensemble Festival:  optional, for 7th & 8th grade students at the intermediate level at Onalaska High School (prep starting in December, registration due by January 13).  Student arrival time, performance time, and room will vary by student – complete schedule will be released from the WSMA office two weeks before the fest.
  • March 19, 2024 – All City String Festival:  graded, daytime field trip & evening performance for all Longfellow orchestra students.  Student arrival at 6:00 pm (use main entrance on 2nd Street S., concert begins at 7:00 pm in the La Crosse Center main arena.
  • May 14, 2024 – Spring Orchestra Concert:  graded, daytime field trip & evening performance for all Longfellow orchestra students.  Students report to warm-up area at 6:30 pm (students, please use CHS Travis Street entrance), concert begins at 7:00 pm in the Central High auditorium.
  • May 29, 2024 – 8th Grade Recognition Ceremony:  graded, daytime rehearsal and evening performance for 8th grade orchestra students.  Students report to Longfellow warm-up area at 5:45 pm, ceremony begins at 6:30 pm in the Longfellow gymnasium.



Your help and time are always greatly appreciated!  Our Longfellow Orchestras are always excited to have more parent/guardian field trip chaperones and concert helpers (video recording, tuning help, and/or help with racking chairs/stands) on board.  If you’d like to volunteer with our orchestras, please email us and be sure to have our district volunteer form completed at least 2 weeks prior.  We also have a Longfellow Orchestra Amazon Wishlist set up to help with replacing old/worn/broken items, things that we go through quite frequently, and some others that would be nice to enliven/enrich our space and time together. Thank you so much for considering our orchestra program for donations and help! 🙂



We are looking forward to meeting you and making music together in our Longfellow Orchestras!  More information about our program will be sent out at the start of the school year (or summer school term if you are signed up) and also will be available on Canvas.  In the meantime, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

Ms. Jessica McDonald ~ 6th & 8th Grade Orchestra~ jmcdonal@lacrossesd.org 

Ms. Margit Speckeen ~ 7th Grade Orchestra ~ mspeckee@lacrossesd.org



In person summer orchestra lessons will be offered through the La Crosse School District once again for 2023!  These individual lessons will meet once each week for 20 minutes for 6 weeks, beginning the week of June 12 and ending the week of July 21 (no lessons on Fridays or on July 4).  Here’s some general information and a timeline – teachers will email complete information to families who registered the week of June 1!

  • March 2023:  Online summer music lesson registration information sent out to families via Skyward/Canvas.
  • March 21-April 14, 2023:  Online summer music lesson registration available.
  • June 1, 2023:  Summer lesson schedule finalized and emailed to families during first week of June.
  • June 12, 2023:  First week of summer lessons (district rental instruments issued)
  • July 20, 2023:  Last week of summer lessons (district rental instruments due back this week)



LINKS (more info will also be made available for students & families on our orchestra’s Canvas page)

Practice Resources:

Instrument & Supply Purchasing Help:

Local Music Stores:

  • Leithold Music ~ 608-784-7555 ~ 726 7th Street South, La Crosse (downtown)
  • Old Towne Strings ~ 608-782-1222 ~ 1218 Caledonia Street, La Crosse (South side)
  • SSE Music ~ 608-781-2850 ~ 2609 George Street North, La Crosse (North side)

School District Related Links:

Local Orchestras & Performance Opportunities:

Summer Orchestra Camp Recommendations:

Cool ‘Just for Fun’ Videos to Explore:

Awesome Artists to Check Out: