Middle School music introduces students to new instruments and ways of accessing music. For the Festival of the World celebrating the 6th graders' explorations of global cultures in the spring, students' repertoire is expanded to include material from many continents. All 6th graders learn to play the alto recorder; 7th graders learn to play the mountain dulcimer. In 7th grade, students have an opportunity to learn about Opera, culminating in a field trip to the Metropolitan Opera. All 8th graders will study some basic guitar. Eighth and ninth graders might play in a steel pan band or an English handbell ensemble. There are units in learning blues form and instrumental improvisation, and a pop colloquium in which students bring favorite recordings in order to analyze genre and musical preference.
Students also have many impromptu chances to present their forays into musical expressions through the jazz rock ensemble, chorus, morning meeting presentations, the yearbook assembly and May Day. Movement and traditional dance are woven throughout our program at all levels. There is also an after-school program for private lessons (fee-based), in which students can study violin, guitar, bass, drums, piano, and voice.
For the Festival of the World, celebrating the sixth graders' explorations of global cultures, the students' musical repertoire is expanded to include material from many continents. Songs, dances and traditions from a wide selection of countries are integrated into the curriculum to add cultural knowledge and expand students’ understanding of instrumentation, movement and language. Musical games from around the world, as well as unique vocabulary and accompaniment, add to the lessons. All sixth graders also learn to play the alto recorder.
Seventh grade music is a joyous exploration into different genres, with an emphasis on experiential hands-on activities. All students learn the mountain dulcimer and listen and respond to contemporary recordings suggested by the entire class. They learn to analyze this music with each other, using appropriate musical terminology. An introduction to the 12-bar blues includes listening to exemplary players of this music, learning to identify the form of the music and creating original compositions. Seventh graders take trip to New York City's Metropolitan Opera (pictured). This is a great opportunity to compare and contrast different kinds of musical genres and to discuss the difference between recorded concerts and live performance.
All eighth graders study basic guitar. Eighth graders can also elect to play in a steel pan band or an English handbell ensemble. Classes provide an introduction to the history of English Morris dancing, the viewing of filmed examples of teams of these dancers from all around the world, and discussion about the way some of the dances have changed over the centuries. The role of live musicians and particular folk instruments is also explained.
Ninth graders continue to study basic guitar. They also participate in semester-long instrumental courses, including steel pans, English handbells and world drumming. There are units in learning blues form and instrumental improvisation, and a pop colloquium in which students bring favorite recordings in order to analyze genre and musical preference. Musical genres range from blues to pop, classical, folk and jazz.
The sixth grade Festival of the World caps a yearlong study of global cultures, religions and geography. Each student studies a different country, creating a range of informational and artistic projects, including a model of a famous landmark.