We believe that music education benefits all learning and helps students develop habits of mind they can apply successfully across all disciplines. The creative processes of exploration and preparation for performances leads students to a better understanding of themselves as learners while balancing rigor with fun. Students gain skills, confidence, and grit in a supportive group environment, and connect with the joy and unlimited expressive potential in music-making.
The Lower School Music curriculum engages students in a creative exploration of rhythm, pitch, dynamics and deep listening skills. The language of music is experienced joyfully through the media of speech, song, movement, dance and instruments. Children are exposed to many fundamental concepts and styles of music.
Students in Grades 3/4 choose either String Ensemble, where they learn to play the violin, viola, or cello as part of a string orchestra, or Orff Ensemble, which is an exploratory approach to musical learning and creativity that incorporates voice, movement, and various keyboard and percussion instruments. It is intended that students make a two-year commitment to one of these ensembles in order to build skills and performance ethic.
The Middle School Music curriculum consists of two strands: Performance Elective and General Music.
Performance Electives are grouped into grades 5/6 or 7/8 and include Chorus, Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble or Drama. Students prepare a diverse range of repertoire for performances throughout the year. This is a time for students to hone skills or to try something new in a fun yet challenging environment.
General Music courses are designed to help students build creative capacity and start to think about and listen critically to many different styles and genres. Through guided activities students gain literacy, begin composing and notating their own work, and understand the role of music in cultures.
The Upper School Music curriculum includes Instrumental Ensembles and Choir. These groups work daily to prepare three performances a year and are given equal class time to all other academic pursuits. Students build skills and hone effective habits on a daily basis. Performances are exciting celebrations of real achievement, but heavy emphasis is put on student engagement with the long-term process of working productively as individuals and as a group in rehearsal.
Additional electives such as Music Theory or Music History courses are available through yearly curriculum or Independent Studies.
The student body produces several Open Mic Nights during the year which highlight an incredible depth of independent student creativity, musical and otherwise. There are music club opportunities in Upper School as well, which can be fulfilling outlets for students who cannot or do not wish to participate in one of the Ensembles.
The choir performs a wide variety of ensemble literature for the entire community. The class focuses on acquisition and refinement of choral skills including diction, articulation, dynamics and producing a beautiful tone. Emphasis on part-singing and ear training are also part of this class. In addition to providing concerts for the school community during the year, the choir performs locally when opportunities arise.
This group practices and performs a variety of musical pieces drawn from the traditions of classical, jazz, and popular music. Specific pieces are chosen based on students' individual musical proficiency and range of instruments in the group. Some prior instrumental experience is required. Major emphasis is on refining performance, where students develop and enhance their musicianship skills through focused repetition. Skills covered include technical facility, tone production, intonation, and expressiveness. Ear training and music theory are also part of musicianship training in this course. In addition, students develop a knowledge and appreciation of the richness and complexity of music history and possibility through exposure to a diverse repertoire. During the school year the ensemble provides concerts for the school community, and performs locally when opportunities arise.
This group practices, performs, and creates music made solely on percussion instruments. Experience with percussion is a prerequisite. Members of the Instrumental/Percussion Ensemble improve their reading and technique and enjoy the musical forefront through material composed for percussion. Concepts include arrangement, dynamics, texture, and the general nature of rhythm. The ensemble develops knowledge of a variety of musical traditions from around the world as well as contemporary trends. Aside from improving their skills on traditional percussion instruments, the students also sonically explore everyday objects around them or created by them in search of pleasing and unique sound palettes. Students study for two out of the six days each cycle. On the remaining three days, the students join the Instrumental Ensemble class.
In this half-year course we will explore the foundations of Western tonal musical styles across a variety of genres. Students will study the elements of pitch, major and minor keys, intervals, chords, and functional harmony. Elements of rhythm, counterpoint, ear training, keyboard harmony and dictation/transcription will also be part of our study. Though this is an academic course, we will not lose sight of the fact that music is something that brings us joy. No prior musical experience is required, though basic familiarity with a keyboard would be beneficial.
In this half-year course we will explore music through music composition itself. Supported by various in-depth listening assignments, creative musical analysis, and a primer on basic Western Tonality, students will develop a set of tools for dismantling how tension and release are constructed in a composition. They will then explore and exercise some of these concepts by creating their own music using traditional Western notation, DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations), and possibly their own original scoring techniques.