Lower School music classes meet twice weekly to explore creative expression through movement, singing, and playing instruments. Using the highest quality material from many cultures and traditions, both new and old, our students not only develop a strong appreciation for music but, more importantly, a strong sense of themselves as musicians.
Through a focus on the Orff Schulwerk approach to music education, it is our goal that students will leave the Lower School with a facility in music literacy that extends to performance practices in multiple parts expressed through reading published music, improvisation, and student compositions. For more information, visit the American Orff Schulwerk Association's website.
Our music studio is equipped with a comprehensive collection of barred instruments (xylophones) and world percussion instruments. Beginning in the third grade, students receive instruction on the soprano recorder with some choosing later to extend that discipline to other members of the recorder family: sopranino, alto and tenor. In the fifth grade, students can choose to continue with general music or switch to concert band where they will learn to play a brass or woodwind instrument and participate in the middle school concert band ensemble.
From the earliest school years, children bring a wide range of ability and background experience to music class. Some children receive private music instruction outside of school, while others experience music almost exclusively in the music classroom. Addressing this wide range of abilities with material and instruction that engages and challenges every student appropriately is a priority of our program.
Theater is incorporated into our lower school classes through collaboration with both music and classroom teachers. The integration of physical, dramatic expression to explore and present learned concepts through process drama is an exciting way our students can move beyond the intellectual and into the experiential understanding of material.
In the early elementary classes, our students take pride in presenting school-day performance shares that showcase their talent and also reflect their deeper exploration of classroom curriculum through music and drama.
Our upper elementary students create an original music and theater piece, unique to their interests, which they develop with our music and theater teachers over a series of weeks. The annual Winter Show and Arts Celebration is a highlight of the school year.
Early elementary classes take dance as part of their physical education curriculum. Through a play-centered and non-competitive format, children receive important physical and kinesthetic exercise which serves to both develop dance technique skills as well as facilitate other learning throughout the day.
Interested students can participate in additional dance classes as part of our after-school enrichment program. These mixed-age classes focus on developing polished group repertory pieces for performance.
The middle school music program develops young singers and instrumentalists in ensemble performance practices while also teaching the foundations of sight singing and music theory. In the sixth grade, students choose which ensemble they would like to participate in and new students with no previous experience playing a band instrument are welcome to join the concert band any time during their middle school years. Because our music program includes individualized weekly instruction with small groups in addition to music classes, our flexible pedagogy addresses each child's developing music literacy.
Full ensemble concert performances are presented annually, as well as a coffee house evening of chamber music. In addition, our chorus performs goodwill service concerts and sing-along events for seniors in the local community.
At Bay Ridge Prep, theater production is not an extra-curricular activity, but a curriculum-based class of highly motivated students. Our theater performances are an exciting part of the middle-school calendar, with two fully realized productions each year of material carefully selected to showcase the specific and unique talents and strengths of each semester’s performing cast. Our rehearsal process is grounded in a physical theater approach to performance and a syllabus carefully outlined to ensure that discoveries of character development, narrative structure, historic context and dramaturgic elements, as well as developing performance skills are made throughout the weeks leading up to production.
Theater workshop classes offer a skills-based series of units that expose students to a variety of performance practices in solo, small group and large group work in areas of theater including: mime, improvisation, devised theater, realism, presentational expression and mask work. Students develop a working practice that is built on affirmations and questioning with an emphasis on self-reflection in one’s own work as well as articulating recognition of technique and skills in others. While specific vocal and physical performance skills are taught, each student is assessed individually and is encouraged to identify and make choices about his or her own style of expression. Interpretation and analysis of the elements of drama are an important part of understanding this broad and ancient art form. Each semester ends with a series of repertory scenes the students have prepared.
Because theater is a living art that must be experienced live, students in our theater classes attend a professional theater company performance every year and families are encouraged to take their children to additional performances that are recommended by our theater program director.
Music & Theater
Upper School students have the option to participate in classes and activities such as Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Audio Engineering, Guitar Building, Jazz Band, Percussion and Vocals. Music students who excel often perform in theatrical productions and arts showcases.
Students also have the opportunity to be an integral part in productions behind the scenes by working in the areas of set design, costume design and other areas of production.