Music

Interior Masthead

students playing instruments in music class

The Music program at Friends Select provides students with opportunities to explore, collaborate, perform, and cultivate technical skills. We seek to ignite curiosity and develop individual musical identities within the practice of music-making and listening. Students listen, sing, play instruments, perform in ensembles, and compose, all while discovering layers of culture, history and expression. They connect to the broader musical community and develop a rich appreciation for a wide variety of genres and styles.

Curriculum

Lower School

Creative Exploration

Music in the Lower School is an opportunity to sing, move, play and explore music from many cultures and genres in a setting that encourages creativity and skill development. Deep listening and an awareness of pitch, dynamics, tempo, and expression are highlighted in every lesson. Our extensive collection of Orff instruments, specially designed xylophones meant for young learners, allows students to explore ensemble playing and improvisation at all age levels. Composers and musicians from every tradition hold an honored place in our curriculum.

Beginning with the earliest steps of singing simple songs and playing small percussion instruments, activities are designed to help students see themselves as music creators, performers, and listeners. In third and fourth grade, students may choose to play in a more advanced Orff Ensemble, including recorders, or to join our String Ensemble, with a choice of violin, viola or cello. Both programs offer twice weekly instruction and performance opportunities.

Middle School

Critical Musicianship

The Middle School Music curriculum consists of two strands: Performance Elective and Music Class.

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.

Upper School

Music Makers

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.
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Music Courses

Choir

The choir performs a wide variety of ensemble literature for the entire community. The class focuses on acquisition and refinement of choral skills including sight-reading, articulation, intonation within the harmonic structure, and learning to sing with healthy vocal technique. Emphasis on aural theory is also part of this class. In addition to providing concerts for the school community during the year, the choir performs locally when opportunities arise.

Instrumental Ensemble

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.

Instrumental/Percussion Ensemble

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.

Music Theory

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.

Contact Us

Heather Fortune

Performing Arts Dept. Chair, Middle/Upper School Music, Grade 11 Lead Advisor


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