"The characteristics of a good musician are a well-trained ear, a well-trained mind, a well-trained hand, and a well-trained heart. All four must develop together, in constant equilibrium."
–Zoltán Kodály, Hungarian composer and music educator
The Academy's Upper School music program uses music to challenge students to think and feel more deeply about the world around them. When we play or sing a particular piece, we ask: where did this music come from? Why was it made, and by whom? What purpose did it serve then, and what purpose does it serve now? Learning the culturally and historically embedded nature of music, students are encouraged to listen with open ears, minds, and hearts to a global smorgasbord of sounds. Whether they're learning the anti-apartheid songs of South Africa, American protest songs of the 1960s, or the subtly political songs of the deposed Queen Lili'uokalani, students learn about the role of music in social change and political activism. As they learn to pronounce words in unfamiliar languages, play new instruments, and learn about music history on several continents, students' music education keeps pace with their widening understanding of the world and their place in it.
Grade 6 students play ensemble handchimes, a group instrument requiring a high degree of music literacy and strong listening skills. Handchimes lend themselves to a variety of musical styles and highlight the cooperative, interdependent nature of music-making. Students continue playing recorder, mallet percussion, and hand percussion to accompany their singing. They complete Book 2 of Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory, applying their knowledge and musicianship skills to the repertoire they learn. In Grade 7, students complete the Year 1 ukulele curriculum; by the end of the year, students can play and sing intermediate-level folk and pop music, reading from lead sheets and chord diagrams. Seventh graders complete Book 3 of Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory. In Grade 8, students complete the Year 2 ukulele curriculum, learning to read tablature and using the instrument to play music from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods. Eighth graders create a personalized portfolio of songs that represents each student's unique style, skills, and musical interests.