MS Playwriting Festival
All music courses meet two periods per week unless otherwise noted.
Performance Study and Ensembles
The Music Department will offer the following large ensembles based on student needs and interests. It is recommended that students interested in large ensembles choose two. Please consult with your current instrumental teacher if you need to know more about any group. It is strongly encouraged that a student engage in private lessons on his/her instrument. Students must be proficient in reading and sight singing as determined by the department. Please note that all performing ensembles are subject to change from year to year depending on the number and musical level of all participating students.
Brass Choir* – (horns, trombones, trumpets) – Pickering
Chamber Orchestra* – (strings and winds) – Baeza, Midlarsky
Consort* – (bass, cello, viola, violin, winds) – Gilbert
High School Chorus – Asbury
Jazz Performance – Elliott/Coe
Wind Ensemble * – (bassoon, clarinet, flute, horns, oboe, saxophone,trumpets) – Henderson
*requires audition/approval of director
Bach Ensemble: The Study of The Vocal And Instrumental Chamber and Solo Music Of J.s. Bach and His Contemporaries
We will work on many aspects of Baroque interpretation, performance practice, style, ornamentation, tempi, the relationship and interdependence of words and music, and any other topics that come up in the rehearsal and preparation of repertoire. We will explore Bach and his contemporaries from the bottom up, paying close attention to the power and influence of the bass line in these great musical works. Keyboard players will learn how to interpret and realize a figured bass and will learn how to play the portative organ. Limited to advanced vocalists and instrumentalists. Prerequisite: audition.
Pickering—3x per week
The Brass Choir is an ensemble for advanced brass players. Musical and technical skills are cultivated through the study and performance of major brass ensemble compositions representing a wide variety of styles. The Brass Choir will perform in multiple settings during the year including assemblies, choral/instrumental concerts and graduation. Ensemble members are strongly encouraged to take private lessons. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.
For students interested in the challenge of chamber music performance, Chamber Players groups (including piano ensembles) are organized based on enrollment. Duos, trios, and quartets will be coached once a week. Because of the skills required to perform chamber music, students are strongly encouraged to take private lessons. An audition is required for all students who will be participating in the chamber music program for the first time. Students presently participating will be placed at an appropriate level.
Baeza, Midlarsky—3x per week
Chamber Orchestra is a conducted ensemble of string, wind and brass instruments. This ensemble performs repertoire from a variety of musical periods and will participate in concerts throughout the year. Students develop ensemble skills – learning to listen to the whole – while playing independent parts. This group meets for one double period and one sectional period each week. Students in chamber orchestra should be concurrently enrolled in private lessons. An audition is required for any student enrolling in a large ensemble for the first time.
Gilbert—3x per week
The Consort is a group of mixed winds and strings for advanced players. This ensemble performs without a conductor and will participate in all instrumental concerts during the year. The Consort works closely with a director in rehearsal. Students learn the art of section leading and ensemble playing through the study of repertoire that spans all periods. The Consort will rehearse for one double period and one single period each week. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.
High School Chorus
High School Chorus is open to anyone who loves to sing. The chorus sings repertoire from a variety of genres and styles, spanning 500 years of Western music. No previous singing experience is required. The chorus will travel during the February break on an international concert tour. All enrolled singers will be eligible to participate.
Coe, Elliott—3x per week
Students will perform compositions from the huge jazz repertoire, spanning the major styles of jazz from swing to post-bop. Each combo will consist of a rhythm section and front line. All instrumentalists are welcome. There will be opportunities for large group arrangements as well. We will explore approaches to jazz improvisation through the study of harmony, scales, instrumental technique, and arrangement. Combos will have opportunities to perform in our jazz concerts and more informally in assembles throughout the year. Students should demonstrate an ongoing engagement with their instruments, willingness to improvise, good reading ability, and should have taken Jazz Techniques (or the equivalent). Private lessons are strongly encouraged.
A class in jazz improvisation and ensemble playing. Instruction in basic scales and chords provides a vocabulary for improvisation. Students are introduced to the jazz repertoire. All instrumentalists and vocalists are welcome; interested students should prepare an audition demonstrating a grasp of major and minor scales and chords. Students in this class are strongly encouraged to enroll in private lessons.
Jazz Guitar Ensemble
This ensemble performs a variety of music arranged for guitars and percussion. The repertoire includes jazz standards, modern jazz compositions and original music. Ensemble members improve their reading, composing, accompanying, and rhythmic skills. Members should be very comfortable reading music and charts. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.
This ensemble studies and performs twentieth and twenty-first century music specifically composed for percussion instruments. Additionally, pieces transcribed from other sources are studied. Prerequisite: Percussion 2 in middle school, or permission of the instructor.
Vocal Study and Ensembles
Asbury, Clark—3x per week
Vocal study at Saint Ann’s is comprehensive. Our goal is to build better singers, as soloists and choristers. Proper breathing, vowel production, diction and basic singing techniques will be the foundation of our study. Art songs (in English, Italian, French and German) and repertoire from the American musical theater and opera will be studied and performed in solo concerts. Additionally, singers will join together to explore the rich and broad canon of western choral music in various voice combinations. Performance opportunities include choral concerts, the spring voice recital and the musical theater workshop. There is no audition required. Students in Vocal Studies/Ensembles will also participate in High School Chorus.
This course combines the rich sonorities of flutes, clarinets, oboes, saxophones, bassoons, trumpets and French horn to create a diverse and vibrant ensemble. Students are introduced to playing with other instruments in multiple part harmony. The ensemble explores music in various styles and from different time periods. Private lessons are strongly encouraged for students in this class. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.
This course is designed to enhance performing skills on the guitar through the study of popular, jazz and classical pieces. Prerequisite: Guitar 1, or permission of the instructor.
This course is designed for the beginning and intermediate double bass player. The course work focuses on developing performing skills and good double bass playing technique through the study of recognized method books, classical pieces, popular music and jazz. The students are provided an opportunity to focus on skills and repertoire specific to their instrument through the study of solo and ensemble literature with the goal of playing in an ensemble setting. Tone production, technique development, basic bowing technique and how to practice for maximum effectiveness are focused on in the class assignments. Prerequisite: Interested students must gain permission from the instructor. Prior string playing experience is a plus.
Percussion: The Drum Set
This class explores the role of the drummer in popular music. We study and play techniques that helped define this music, and we listen to recordings of the classic drummers.
Advanced Percussion Techniques
This course explores percussion techniques for performing ensembles as well as solo playing. Timpani, 4 mallet vibraphone, drumset, and solo snare drum will be studied. Prerequisite:
permission of the instructor.
Theory, Composition, and Music Technology
Theory & Composition 1
This course offers an exploration of the fundamentals of notation, rhythm, harmony and melody. Students gain a deeper understanding of all musical styles. We train our ears, develop musicianship skills, and study the evolution of the system of tonality used in most musical cultures. Computers and MIDI are used in composition projects.
Advanced Composition/Electronic Composition
This course covers the study of harmony and voice leading, form, counterpoint, notation, style, and instrumentation, including ear training and musicianship. We will analyze the works of the masters to gain understanding of compositional techniques. Students will work on composition projects using notation software. Compositions for acoustic instruments and electronic media are encouraged. Prerequisite: Theory and Composition 1 or equivalent and permission of instructor.
This is a workshop in composition and performance. All participants will compose and perform. You should be open and eager to experiment and engage in collaborative creativity. We will use instruments and our voices. We will take apart the layers of musical language to begin to understand how one can create new sounds and structures. Text, objects, and situations can serve as subject material. We will explore musical masterpieces of past and present for inspiration. Bring your imagination and your instrument! Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
Music & Computers 1
We explore the use of electronic keyboards and computers to compose music for a variety of scoring situations. Our focus is the development of specific sequencing and musical notation skills as related to the fundamentals of music theory, orchestration, and composition. Knowledge of basic notation is preferable. Previous experience with composition is desirable, though not necessary.
Music & Computers 2
This more advanced level continues to explore the ideas covered in Music & Computers 1, while solidifying skills established through previous music lab experience. We explore the use of electronic keyboards and computers to compose music for a variety of scoring situations. Our focus is the development of specific sequencing and musical notation skills as related to the fundamentals of music theory, orchestration, and composition. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor, and Music & Computers 1 or middle school Music Lab experience.
Music & Multimedia
Building on skills developed in the Music & Computers class, this course focuses on using digital media such as MIDI, digital audio and video to explore contemporary musical idioms. A variety of applications are utilized concurrently to develop technical skills to be used as instruments of self-expression. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor, and Music & Computers 1 and 2 or middle school Music Lab experience.
Electronic Music Composition
Open to students with advanced skills, an interest in performance/composition, and a facility with music notation, this workshop/class allows students with experience in MIDI and sound processing to realize their creative ideas using the myriad tools of the music lab. Software technology enables composers to achieve unprecedented variety and richness in manipulating recorded sound to create unique compositions. The possibilities are practically limitless. Much like Music & Multimedia, we learn to use digital audio programs, sequencing, possible notation and sampling technology with an emphasis on recording live audio. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor, music lab experience, and facility on an instrument.
The Broadway Musical*
We will get to know the seminal works of the Broadway canon, looking at the roots and development of this most American of art forms. Class work involves reading the texts, listening to show tunes, and DVD watching. Class participation will include trips, taking advantage of the rich offerings of the New York theater scene.
Schelle-Herring—1x per week
Jazz and blues are among America’s greatest cultural achievements, exports to the world community that give powerful voice to the American experience. Born of multi-hued society, this music unites people across the divides of race, religion and region. Jazz history explores freedom, creativity, and the American identity at home and abroad. In this course, we will learn about the development of jazz since its origins at the turn of the twentieth century. We will encounter colorful personalities and amazing artists, taking a look at their specific contributions to the music, in an effort to understand the stylistic evolution of jazz. Trips to major cultural institutions will complement our extensive listening and learning activities.
The extravagant art. We will look at opera from the ground up, from Monteverdi through contemporary works. Class work involves libretto reading, audio listening and DVD watching. Occasional forays into the scandalous lives of the great composers and opera stars. Class participation includes three daytime trips to the Metropolitan Opera and some written work. Maybe even some HD Broadcasts. There is no need to be afraid of opera anymore!
*These classes are not redundant for students who have previously taken History of Opera and Broadway Musical.
History of Western Ideas from Enlightenment to Romanticism
This is a course in the history of 18th and early 19th-century Western ideas, the ones that belong to what we call “high” culture rather than popular: in particular ideas about fiction, poetry, mathematics, physics, music, painting, biology, philosophy, religion, economics, and politics. For Physics and Mathematics we will contrast Newton with Maxwell and Gauss; for Fiction we will contrast Fielding’s Joseph Andrews and Laclos’s Dangerous Liaisons with M. Shelley’s Frankenstein and Dickens’s Christmas Carol, and for Poetry Alexander Pope with Goethe, P. Shelley and Whitman. Music will try to show how we got from Bach to Wagner; Painting how we got from Watteau to Delacroix, Biology from Linnaeus to Darwin, Economics from Adam Smith to Karl Marx, Philosophy from Hume to Hegel, Religion from Voltaire and the Baal Shem Tov to Nietzsche and Durckheim, and Politics from Enlightenment liberalism (Locke and Jefferson) to nationalism (Mazzini), anarchism (Fourier), conservative reaction (Maistre) and democratic socialism (J.S. Mill). The readings will be in primary sources as well as secondary sources like Richard Holmes’s An Age of Wonder. The writing will be short essays, regularly assigned, with one longer one, which could be either a “term paper” or an imitation, even a pastiche or parody, of a work in the style of one of the two eras. Note: This course can be taken for Interdisciplinary,
Music, or History credit. This course will not meet in period C or D. This course is open to 11th and 12th graders.
History Of Western Music
Through its evolution since the Middle Ages, western art music has established the language of all familiar musical genres from plainchant to popular song. A style emerges, flourishes, grows amazingly complex, and finally topples, rendered obsolete by the genius of the next artistic generation. Students will explore the major forms and genres from the plainchant to Symphony, sonata to opera. We will hear incredible music, find the reflection of the past in the present, and explore new ways to understand musical language. We will take advantage of the exciting musical life of New York City to inspire our journey.
Patterns Through Math and Music
Fefferman—4x per week
At the heart of math and music is an obsession with pattern. Math wears its mechanics on its sleeve, making obvious to any who study it the need logic has of pattern. Music can be a denser forest: the keen-eared listener can discern patterns in sound with focus, but internal logics and structures can often go unnoticed. This course will contemplate patterns and their aesthetics from the vantage point of both the mathematician and the composer – we will discuss their wrangling, their enactment, and their comprehension.
Patterns will be a course run as a studio. There will be presentations and discussions of new points of inspiration, such as the relationship between J. S. Bach’s Art of the Fugue and fractals, and the way we can think of The Velvet Underground’s music in terms of periodic functions. There will also be weekly group sessions where students will share their plans and progress for short and long term projects. To inform these projects, assignments in the class will be given as needed: they will include readings and papers, but also problem sets.