SRDS has a dynamic and diverse instrumental music program that provides a solid foundation of the skills needed to play an instrument and to perform with it in an ensemble. Instruction begins in the Lower School, continues through the Middle School, and culminates with our students participating in our Upper School Band, Jazz Ensemble, String Ensemble, and Guitar Ensemble.
The choral program is designed to provide the opportunity for each student in grades pK-12 to learn the proper vocal techniques and skills needed to perform various vocal repertoire. Special emphasis is placed on learning rudimentary skills such as proper air support, proper resonance, sight-reading, audible acuity, blending, style, and showmanship. Participation in an SRDS choir provides opportunities for the students to express their personal creativity, build their self-esteem, learn self-discipline, and master a variety of skills which can be applied to their lives both on and off the stage.
Upper School Band, Grades 9 – 12
Students who play a woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument may register for Upper School Band. The repertoire of the group includes classic and contemporary works for chamber orchestra and concert band as well as pops and large-ensemble jazz selections. The concert selections include pieces by composers such as James Swearingen, Duke Ellington, and Ludwig van Beethoven. The band performs at least two concerts each school year.
Concert Choir, Grades 9 – 12
In Concert Choir, students develop their own musical potential and the skills necessary to be a vocal musician. Rehearsals focus on vocal technique, musicianship, learning to sing in harmony, and performance practice. The group’s repertoire consists of a variety of styles including arrangements of popular songs, Broadway selections, as well as choral classics. The Choir performs at our Winter and Spring concerts and often at special school events.
US Jazz Ensemble, Grades 9 – 12
Jazz Ensemble is open to students who play any instrument proficiently and wish to learn the art of jazz improvisation. All instruments are welcome, including piano, guitar, bass, drums, and all brass, woodwind and string instruments. The ensemble learns primarily classic jazz tunes by artists such as Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk, Horace Silver and Charlie Parker. Each student learns how to improvise over the chords of the tunes the ensemble learns. The ensemble performs at least two concerts each school year.
US String Ensemble, Grades 9 – 12
Upper School String Ensemble is open to students who play violin, viola, cello, bass, or piano. The ensemble learns repertoire primarily written by pillars of classical music, such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Telemann and Schubert. The ensemble performs at least two concerts each school year.
Vocal Master Class, Grades 9-12
Vocal Master Class is offered to students who are already enrolled in Concert Choir. This advanced group focuses on solo singing in the Master Class style format. Students will learn to perform songs as a soloist in genres such as Musical Theater, Classical, and Pop and they will develop the skills necessary to be an effective, vocally healthy and safe solo singer. Students will perform regularly during class time in front of their peers and teacher as well at public performances. (co-requisite requirement: Concert Choir) Meets 2x per week.
Music Theory I
Students who wish to further their musical education by ensuring their knowledge of the fundamentals of music should register for Music Theory. The topics of the class include note and rhythmic notation, key signatures, time signatures, scales, modes, chords, and elementary musical forms.
Music Theory II
Students who have completed Music Theory I or have passed the SRDS music theory proficiency test may register for Music Theory 2. The topics of the class include harmonic analysis, four-part harmony of melodies, counterpoint, elementary composition and arranging, chord construction and analysis, and chord/scale relationships. The techniques studied are based on the common practice period in classical music as well as those of modern jazz and popular music.
Prerequisite: Completion of Music Theory I, and permission of the department chair.
Music Theory III
Those students who have completed Music Theory II or have passed an advanced music theory placement test may register for Music Theory III. In Music Theory III, the students follow a rigorous course of review of theory fundamentals, and throughout the year they have weekly ear-training assignments. Simultaneously, the students complete a series of projects developed by the teacher while carefully considering each student’s artistic path. Examples of possible projects include in-depth composition, arranging, and orchestration assignments, 18th-century counterpoint studies, and analysis of orchestra compositions. Successful completion of MT3 prepares a student for college music theory entrance examinations for both classical and jazz/pop disciplines.
Prerequisite: Completion of Music Theory II, and permission of the department chair.
Advanced Placement Music Theory
AP Music Theory is an introductory college-level music theory course. Students cultivate their understanding of music theory through analyzing performed and notated music as they explore concepts like pitch, rhythm, form, and musical design. Meets 3x per week.
Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.
Middle School General Music
Those students in grades six, seven, and eight who do not wish to perform in the chorus, band, or string ensemble should register for Middle School General Music. This course meets twice a week and fulfills a student’s Middle School Music Requirement for the year. The curriculum focuses on the growth of American popular music from the years 1900-2023, including the study of notable trends, chart-topping singers of multiple generations, and the effect this music had on historical events of the time and vice versa. The course includes mixed media observations (video, music, internet), as well as group and individual projects focusing on the music of the past and the potential of the future. There is a unit focusing on music theory and how to write out music. Students learn about the progression of music technology, from gramophones to bluetooth speakers, records to streaming services. The course culminates with an in-depth look into the music of today and allows the students a chance to showcase what music makes them tick. Students are permitted to take the course more than once. Students are required to bring their laptop to class to use during individual listening and research times during class, and for use during music technology units that incorporate notation and recording software such as Musescore, Soundtrap, and GarageBand.
Fifth Grade Band and Strings
All fifth grade students learn to play a woodwind, brass, string or percussion instrument which they play in the Fifth Grade Band or String Class. In addition to their ensemble rehearsal, each student receives lessons with other students on the same or similar instruments. The Band and String Class play two concerts each year.
Sixth Grade Band
Woodwind, Brass, and Percussion students in the sixth grade may join the Sixth Grade Band. The group continues the laying of a solid foundation of musical skills that was started in the Fifth Grade Band. More complex pieces of music are explored and the students develop the techniques necessary to play in The Middle School Band (Grades 7-8).
Middle School Band, Grades 7-8
Middle School students who have played a woodwind, brass, string or percussion instrument for at least one year may register for 7th-8th Grade Band. The repertoire of the group includes classic and contemporary music written for middle school students as well as arrangements of popular music and large-ensemble jazz selections. The band performs at least two concerts each school year.
Middle School Strings, Grades 6, 7, and 8
Middle School students who have played the violin, viola, cello, or bass violin for at least one year may join The Middle School Strings. The repertoire is primarily classical music, with some pop/jazz pieces played occasionally.
Middle School Choirs, Grade 5 and Grades 6 - 7 - 8
There are two Middle School choirs: one for students in grades 5 and 6 and one for grades 7 and 8. Rehearsal time is spent learning the different pieces, establishing proper vocal techniques and gaining fundamental musical knowledge. The concert pieces include arrangements of selections from Broadway shows, current popular songs, classical choral pieces and pieces written for student choirs. The students are encouraged to take part in the programming process of performances. The choir performs at least two concerts each year.
The Lower School music program is designed to bring the joy of music to each student and to provide each child with the fundamental musical understanding and skills that will prepare them for more advanced study in the Middle School. PreK3 are taught to control their voices and bodies through song, dance, and percussion instruments. PreK4 and Kindergarten learn musical notes through handbells. First and Second Graders learn Orff instruments. Third Graders have a unit on learning to play recorders. Fourth Graders participate in a ukulele unit. The students are taught proper vocal technique, how to read musical notation, and how to use movement and percussion instruments to understand rhythm. In addition to Music Class, the students attend choir practice once a week, during which the students prepare pieces for concerts that take place in December and June.
The visual arts are a means to gain personal satisfaction through individual accomplishment in the creation of images and forms. The students are taught the basic elements and principles of art throughout their years in the Lower School Art program. Their projects involve the child in imagining, exploring, reasoning, inventing, and selecting; so that the experience will not only be rich in itself, but lead to personal creative growth, assimilation of information, and development of art skills. Students will enjoy creating both two and three-dimensional art pieces using a variety of techniques and materials. The students learn about a number of artists, styles and cultures throughout their art experiences. In addition to traditional studio art, fourth-grade students begin the study of Graphic Design in classes where they learn what defines a graphic composition aimed at conveying a clear message in a powerful way. All students exhibit their artwork in the SRDS art show at the end of the year.
Private lessons are an invaluable resource for any student who wishes to advance their skills on a musical instrument! Greater proficiency with an instrument brings greater enjoyment for students, enables them to become leaders in their school music program, and, with sustained commitment, can enhance their college admissions opportunities. Lessons will be taught by accomplished music professionals (bios below). If you are interested in unlocking your child's maximum musical potential, consider enrolling them in our music lessons. Click below to meet the instructors and to register. Open to non-SRDS students.
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