The Upper School Music curriculum includes Instrumental Ensembles and Choir, which focus on a broad spectrum of music ranging from classical to pop to world music and more. These groups work to prepare three performances a year while also engaging in creative work and musical exploration. 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 reaching for musical goals.
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 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.
All Upper School Ensemble students choose a small ensemble group to join once a week. Students choose between Percussion Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, or Lab Band. These smaller coached ensembles allow students to explore different styles of music-making as part of their ensemble experience, often blending formal and informal music learning practices. These groups also perform at our 3 concerts per year.
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.