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.
Theater courses at the Upper School are centered on a combination of performance and design skills as well as broader theater appreciation using the essential elements of actor, audience, space, and story as a focal point. These classes are designed to be a safe and supportive space to develop the storytelling instincts of our students regardless of talent or past experience level while encouraging them to critically engage in real questions and issues facing the theater world today. Student growth is measured using a variety of performance and project-based assessments. By senior year, students in the Theatrical Portfolio class are able to specialize in their chosen area in either the performance track or production track in order to further hone their skills for use in college or professional theater settings. Students finish the class with an individually tailored portfolio or audition book that they can use after graduation.
Students across grade levels are also highly encouraged to apply the skills they learn in the classroom by getting involved in extracurricular performances as actors, lighting/sound techs, stage crew, and more. Each year we offer two mainstage productions, typically a play in the fall and a musical in the spring. In addition, theater students have the chance to perform in arts department events such as the Winter Arts Festival, Project Inspire, and Fine Arts Fusion as well as through activities sponsored by our chapter of the International Thespian Society.
Intro to Costuming Assessment: Costume Inspiration Board Project Samples
What students experience In the Dance Arts Department goes beyond the floor and mirrors, there is respect for each other and a great appreciation for each dancer’s ability and talent. With positive attitudes students will be enriched with the knowledge and history of Dance while exploring the beginning levels of movement and body awareness. We learn an understanding of the elements involved in order to create our own dance pieces, with an understanding of dance vocabulary and the creativity of each student. Students will leave BRP with a clear understanding of the history of dance and the most famous dance artists who were known for creating a particular genre.
These things will be taught during class time and special projects on particular artists during each term. At the beginning level we explore Ballet and advance through Modern Dance and Jazz, studying the creators and their specific style and body movement. Students will do reports and demonstrations of the artist they chose. We also create pieces that will display a particular form and style of dance that is specific to an artist. Students will also be able to compose their own pieces under teacher guidance to help create a performance piece by their Junior and Senior year. All students will have an opportunity to join the National Dance Honor Society for Dance through their dedication and time put into performing and collaborating in the field of dance.
Music is a part of your everyday life. Whether you realize it or not, you are conditioned by its subtle influence. It can sway your emotions in many directions. TV commercials use music to influence you to buy products. Movies employ music as carefully as script writers use dialogue. Whether online, on the radio, CD’s, instruments, singing, or the musical theater… music surrounds you.
The Bay Ridge Prep Upper School music program is designed so that students experience a broad range of musical styles through the study of Music History, and music performance opportunities with the Instrumental Ensemble, or the Jazz Ensemble.
The music department adheres to national and state curricular standards and is committed to building a “contemporary musician” by introducing the students to music technology/production, composition/songwriting, and a broad range of musical experiences.
National & State Music Learning Standards:
Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
Reading and notating music.
Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
Evaluating music and music performances.
Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.
Understanding music in relation to history and culture.
The music department’s offerings are designed to meet the needs of different students. While specialized courses help prepare students for professional training, the vast majority of students will want to expose their senses to receive deeper benefits. Besides the performing groups (Instrumental Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble), Bay Ridge Prep Upper School offers specialized courses such as Advanced Topics In Music, Music Theory, Aural Skills, Music Appreciation, History of Hip Hop, and Music Production – Technology/Composition/Songwriting.