At the Lower School level (grade 6), students are given the opportunity to play one of the following instruments: flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, French horn, baritone or tuba. Students are taught the techniques of playing these instruments as well as how to read musical notation. The class is divided into brass and woodwind sections, taught respectively by two band teachers meeting three times per week. Specialists are sometimes brought in to work with small groups of students, reinforcing techniques specific to each instrument. Students enjoy individual attention within the group setting. Every Friday, both groups combine for a full ensemble experience. A presentation is shared with families in December, and the first formal performance is held in May in conjunction with the Upper School bands.
Skills developed at the Lower School level lay the foundation for advancement into the Upper School Band program. When entering the seventh grade, Beginning Band students are sometimes free to choose a new instrument, or else review the fundamentals on their original instrument chosen in Sixth Grade Band. If students have done exceptionally well in Sixth Grade Band, they may be selected to advance directly to Intermediate Band for their seventh grade year.
All students in the Upper School (grades 7 - 12) may enroll in band class at the Beginning Band level, or may audition for placement in one of the other three levels offered (Intermediate Band, Symphonic Band or Wind Ensemble).
Outstanding students in Intermediate Band, Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble are selected to play with the comparable level orchestras to perform symphonic orchestral music. Outstanding students in Wind Ensemble also may be selected to perform in the pit orchestra for the Performing Arts Department’s spring musical.
The various concert bands' work culminates in various performances and festivals throughout the school year. In recent years, our concert bands have performed in Washington D.C., Carnegie Hall in New York, and the Pacific Western Concert Band Festival in Stockton, Calif.
In addition, to the regular curriculum, opportunities to audition for chamber music ensembles are also available.
Private lessons are strongly encouraged. Lessons may be arranged through the Special Programs Office or by one of the band instructors, who can recommend a teacher for specific instruments.