Our goal is to explore the universality of music and the effect it has on our lives and our culture. We believe that everyone can participate in music, and we honor the value of every music-culture across the world. This philosophy sets the framework of our central academic course, the Foundation Arts: Music program.
In Foundation Arts: Music, students are asked to evaluate the music of their own lives, and explore how their own culture (family, ethnicity, religion, region of origin, generation) affects their own perspectives about the world around them. Then students are given a survey of historical and world music-cultures, including African, Classical, Latin American, Blues, Jazz, Middle Eastern, and more. Students are also taught how to play African drums and ukeleles, and they perform during the Winter Concert. The course finishes with a popular instrument-building program, in which students use our workshop to create their own drums, stringed instruments, and marimbas!
We offer two music performance courses. These are full semester courses that focus on choral singing and instrumental music, respectively, and prepare material for the Winter and Spring Concerts.
A Capella Choir
The choir has performed music of various styles over recent years, including English madrigals, African choral music, American folk music, and Balkan choral music.
The instrumental ensemble has performed jazz, blues, rock and roll, funk, folk, bossanova, and much more. This course is open to all student instrumentalists, regardless of what instrument they play.
We offer two musical history courses. One of our history courses is History of Western Music, which begins with Medieval and Renaissance music and follows European music from the Baroque era through the Classical and Romantic eras, ending with Impressionism and the Avant Garde. Our History of Rock and Roll course follows the birth of contemporary American music, tracing its influence all the way back to American slave music and early blues and gospel, then exploring Elvis, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, and many more artists all the way to the present.
These offerings in the music department are supplemented with Exploratory courses--small, focused classes that are a half-semester in length. Our exploratory classes include:
- Music Theory
- String Beans (a string chamber music ensemble led by violinist Ivy Zenobi)
- Folk Music and Finger-Picking (led by guitarist Jim Sweeny)
- Jazz and Improvisation
- Musical Theater
During Intersession, we regularly offer a Music Production course (led by audio/video engineer Matt Koons) which teaches recording, mixing, mastering, and production techniques. We have also taken students on an intersession field trip to the Mississippi Delta, meeting musicians and exploring studios in Memphis and along the “blues highway.”
Students in our music department graduate having studied music from all around the world, performed in dozens of musical genres in our seasonal concerts, participated in musical theater productions, written their own music, built their own instruments, and recorded songs in our very own on-campus recording studio. We welcome instrumentalists and vocalists of all types here, and our program organically grows to accommodate the interests and needs of our student musicians.