Arts: Performing Arts

The Performing Arts program promotes a balance between process and performance. There is an emphasis on student creativity, but all courses, whether production or process oriented, are designed to include careful attention to technique. The curriculum offers courses in acting, singing, recording, directing, set building, and performing. Opportunities for music performance include choral and instrumental ensembles. Productions typically include a musical on the main stage and a variety of theatrical pieces in the black box theater.

Requirements

Students are required to complete four semesters in the arts, although most take more. Ninth graders select one arts course each semester from foundation electives in music, theater, and the visual arts. They may also join Parksingers, participate in theater productions in winter and spring, and take advanced classes. 

Upperclassmen must complete their arts requirements prior to the second semester of senior year. Independent studies are limited and are only available to students who have fulfilled their arts requirement and wish to pursue advanced work. 

All students should read course descriptions carefully to determine eligibility. Accelerated courses are so designated. Please note that certain elective courses require a materials fee.

Full Year Courses

Eightnotes                   

Grades: 10-12

Pre- or co-requisites:  A foundation music class and an audition.

Eightnotes, Park’s female a cappella group, sing and beatbox a mix of contemporary music and standards at a variety of school and community events. Rehearsals are twice a week during the school day, with additional rehearsals before performances. Students are expected to develop their abilities to arrange songs of their choice that are sung by the group. All Eightnotes must be members of Parksingers, Park Strings, or Wind Ensemble, and complete a foundation music class within their first year of participating in Eightnotes. Year-long participation earns one art credit. (This course may be repeated with permission of the director.)

MADRIGALS

Grades: 10-12

This co-ed a cappella vocal ensemble performs sacred and secular Medieval and Renaissance music. The group rehearses once a week and performs at concerts throughout the year. Students are expected to practice and learn new material on their own. Members must also be in Parksingers. (This course may be repeated with permission of the director.)

Parksingers

Grades: 9-12

Parksingers, a co-ed, un-auditioned, versatile chorus, learns and performs a variety of traditional and contemporary choral music. The group rehearses three times a week and participates in assemblies for each division, evening concerts at Park, community events, and the annual AIMS Choralfest. Students are encouraged to complete one music elective during their first three semesters in Parksingers. Year-long participation earns one credit. (This course may be repeated with permission of the director.)

Park Jazz Collective

Grades: 9-12

Pre- or co-requisites: a foundation music class, ongoing instrumental lessons, an audition, and permission of the department.

Park’s Jazz Collective (PJC) is open to instrumentalists and vocalists familiar with chord symbols and progressions, and interested in learning jazz styles and ensemble playing. Selections are from the jazz canon, world music, fusion and contemporary styles. Students learn the language of jazz theory and work toward improving their improvisation skills. The Park Jazz Collective performs at assemblies and community events. The group meets twice a week after school, with additional rehearsals as needed before performances. All new members must take a foundation music class within their first PJC year. Year-long participation earns one art credit. (This course may be repeated with permission of the director.)

PARK STRINGS

Grades: 9-12

Pre- or co-requisites: a foundation music class, instrumental lessons, and permission of the department.

Park Strings explores a variety of classic and contemporary string orchestra and chamber music repertoire. Students expand their interpretive and technical skills, learn alternative styles, and develop ensemble skills through coaching and rehearsals three times a week. The group performs two concerts a year, as well as at numerous assemblies and the Goldsoundz concert series. New students must complete their foundation music class within the first year of Park Strings. Year-long participation earns one art credit. (This course may be repeated with permission of the director.)

Pep band and wind ensemble

Grades: 9-12

Prerequisites: permission of the department.

This group learns a variety of styles of music to be performed in a traditional setting as well as at sporting events. Students will work on their technique, ensemble playing, and music reading skills. In the Pep Band, students will work on classic American big band, “jock jams,” funk, and pop music. Wind Ensemble students will play more traditional band and orchestra repertoire such as marches, chamber pieces, and classic movie scores. The Wind Ensemble performs two concerts a year. The Pep Band plays at numerous school events. Year-long participation in Pep Band and Wind Ensemble earns one art credit. Students may join Pep Band for no credit.(This course may be repeated with permission of the director.)

Vocal Chords

Grade: 9-12

Pre- or co-requisites: A foundation music class and an audition.

The Vocal Chords, Park’s all-male a cappella vocal ensemble, provide quality entertainment and humor to the Park community and beyond. They are proud of their particular blend of musicianship and wit, singing songs from barbershop to Bach to Beach Boys to Bieber. They each enter the group with different levels of musical and vocal experience but leave with a strong voice, a good ear, and an abiding love of song. The group rehearses twice a week during the school day, with additional practice times required intermittently. Regular performances include assemblies, community events, and the AIMS A Cappella Fest. Vocal Chords must be members of Parksingers, and complete a foundation course within their first year of participation in Vocal Chords. Year-long participation earns one art credit. (This course may be repeated with permission of the director.)

Fall Semester Courses

Acting

Grades: 9-12

Have you ever seen a play or movie and thought, “Hey, I could do that!”? This introductory-level course demystifies the acting process and focuses on basic acting techniques. Students learn the fundamentals of playing truthfully within imaginary circumstances, to develop characters, create circumstances, analyze scenes for actions, play off partners, and personalize work by tapping into their own lives. They present a series of scenes during the course and choose the best work to show on Scene Night at the end of the semester. (This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.)

BEATZ (MUSIC TECH:  ELECTRONIC PRODUCTION)

Grades: 9-12

Students learn to produce Hip Hop beats, soundtracks, dance, or other electronic music using a variety of software, including Abelton Live and Logic. The class focuses on MIDI and controller programming, drum machine sequencing, sampling, loop creation, synthesizer and production tricks, vocal processing, and basic musical harmony and form in the keyboard lab and recording studio. (This class does not qualify as a foundation music elective requirement for Eightnotes, Vocal Chords, Park Jazz Collective, and String Ensemble.)

directing

Grades: 10-12

Prerequisite: An entry-level acting course.

In this course students will learn how to analyze a play, to create a concept and a design for their play, to audition, cast, and set rehearsal schedules, and how to employ the basic tools of directing: composition, picturization, and movement. Students will apply the techniques explored in this course by directing a short play for an audience at the end of the semester and must have taken Directing in order to submit a proposal to direct a main stage student production the following year.

FALL MUSICAL PRODUCTION: hairspray

Grades: 10-12

Prerequisites: entry level class in acting or music and an audition.

This course is devoted to producing the musical Hairspray. Students read, analyze, and rehearse for public performances in November. Actors develop their characters, circumstances, and actions, while learning the music and further expanding their vocal technique. By participating in the production process, students learn the standard practices of theater, to work as an ensemble, and to challenge themselves with the demands of music and performance. This course will have after-school and Saturday rehearsals. (This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.)

FILM

Grades: 10-12

This course is for students who love to watch movies and want to make them. In it, students will study the development of film from its origins in the late nineteenth century (think Hugo!) through the seminal films of the twentieth century, and they will focus on key movements like German Expressionism, Soviet montage, Italian Neo-Realism, the French “New Wave,” classical Hollywood, and late twentieth century indie films. Students will have the chance to respond to what they watch in films of their own making. No prior experience necessary – students will get their hands dirty with the software together — but those students who are experienced in filmmaking will not be bored!

guitar and ukulele

Grades: 9-12

In this course, students will discover their inner Hendrix by learning classic folk, rock, blues, soul, and jazz stylings. They will learn and apply theory concepts to these instruments and develop their own lines and rhythm parts. No previous music experience is necessary to start or improve knowledge of strumming, picking, and wailing on guitar and ukulele. This course meets the foundation music elective requirement for Eightnotes, Vocal Chords, Park Jazz Collective, Park Strings, and Wind Ensemble.

KEYBOARDS

Grades: 9-12

In this class, students develop the skills to get past those keyboard riffs that everyone recognizes and move toward being a player with chops. Core components of this class will be understanding and performing from the rock, pop, R&B, Gospel, folk and jazz canons. Learn music from Beethoven to Bruno Mars. After an introduction to basic keyboard theory, students will learn to incorporate harmonies, bass lines, and improvisation techniques and develop their own accompaniments and grooves. Using the keyboard lab gives students access to unleashing the full capabilities of the digital audio workstation, synthesizer, and sequencing software. No previous keyboard experience is necessary. This course meets the foundation music elective requirement for Eightnotes, Vocal Chords, Park Jazz Collective, Park Strings, and Wind Ensemble.

MODERN MUSIC BAND

Grades: 9-12

In this class, students will be playing and recording modern (pop/rock/r &b) music and will review many aspects of what goes into creating great song arrangements and performing a great show. Students will learn arrangements of songs suggested by the class and also workshop original material. They will also analyze the styles of different bands from the past and present to find out what elements make their songs work well. Students will choose a main instrument of focus and will also spend time working on their theoretical knowledge of music through analysis and critique. A performance is planned for the end of the semester, and there is the possibility of tracking original music in the recording studio. This class is open to anyone interested in developing their musical skills and knowledge; instruments include piano, guitar, bass, drums, vocals, sax, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, flute, violin, viola, and cello.This course meets the foundation music elective requirement for Eightnotes, Vocal Chords, Park Jazz Collective, Park Strings, and Wind Ensemble.

Stage Craft

Grades: 9-12

This class is dedicated to the construction of sets for the Upper School productions. In the first semester students are engaged in building scenery for the fall musical and then helping with the 8th Grade production. In the spring they begin with the 8th Grade production and then support the next three shows in the Macks • Fidler Blackbox Theater. Working backstage involves reading plans, building and painting scenery, as well as hanging and focusing lighting fixtures based on a lighting plot. Students taking this class may work backstage during the show if they wish to do so. (This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.)

Spring Semester Courses 

ACTING

Grades: 9-12

Have you ever seen a play or movie and thought, “Hey, I could do that!”? This introductory-level course demystifies the acting process and focuses on basic acting techniques. Students learn the fundamentals of playing truthfully within imaginary circumstances, to develop characters, create circumstances, analyze scenes for actions, play off partners, and personalize work by tapping into their own lives. They present a series of scenes during the course and choose the best work to show on Scene Night at the end of the semester. (This course may be repeated with permission of instructor.)

Audio production

Grades: 10-12

Prequisite: An entry-level music class or permission of the department.

This course provides hands-on audio engineering and producing experience in the recording studio and keyboard lab. Students will record, compose, arrange, mix, and master a variety of music, including band sessions, original compositions, and scoring to picture. Areas of study include rock and pop, Hip Hop and electronic music, live sound and event production, commercials, voice-over work, and video post-production.

Freshman/Sophomore Play: blue stockings

Grades: 9-10

Prerequisites: an entry-level acting class and an audition.

Freshmen and sophomores read, analyze, rehearse, and produce Blue Stockings to be performed in May. Careful analysis of the play provides a foundation for students to develop their characters, circumstances, and actions for the production. Students explore the world of the play, its cultural contexts, and its particular theatrical style. By doing so, they expand their own aesthetic awareness. Students learn the standard practices of theater, how to work as an ensemble, and how to challenge themselves with the demands of performance. This course has after-school rehearsals. Leads are unable to participate on sports teams or in other after-school activities.

IMPROVISATION FOR THE THEATER

Grades: 9-12

Where does creativity really come from? How do you release your own creative juices? This course will explore improvisation both on stage and in life. Students will train their ability to connect to each other and respond to each other in the moment, without “thinking.” A series of improvised situations and scenes will lead students to better understand how to get out of their own way and free their creative spirits. Students will improvise around objects, activities, places, and people and do comic improvisations as well as dramatic improvisations.

MUSIC TECHNOLOGY

Grades: 9-12

This course is for students interested in learning to write music using hardware and software in the keyboard lab and recording studio. In the lab, students compose, analyze, and perform pop, blues, concert, and world music while studying harmony, form, and how to make a catchy melody. Projects include introductions to synthesizers and sequencing, basic orchestration/ arranging, and scoring to picture. This course meets the foundation music elective requirement for Eightnotes, Vocal Chords, Park Jazz Collective, Park Strings, and Wind Ensemble.

PODCASTing and radio

Grades: 9-12

Are you a podcast junkie? An NPR nerd? Someone who tells a good story? Likes to make and perfect stuff? Then this course is for you. In it, students will start learning to tell stories with sound. They will practice recording and interviewing, get more comfortable with strangers, learn to edit and mix sound, think critically about the media they consume, and contextualize all of this in the history of radio journalism and storytelling. Homework will include listening to great podcasts, including: This American Life, Historically Black, Invisibilia, StoryCorps, Ear Hustle, Radiolab, and Welcome to Nightvale. Students will also make something of their own each week, building up to final audio projects of their choosing. As they do, they will learn the gear and software needed to make their own first podcast.

rhythm workshop

Grades: 9-12

This class will include listening to, analyzing, and practicing drumming music from different cultures. Emphasis will be on familiarizing students with rhythmic cells in various time signatures and strengthening reading/rhythmic feel. Some examples of music we will cover: Afro-Caribbean dance music, West African drumming, Balinese Gamelan, Jazz, Rock, and examples from modern music. Students will also be able to compose and improvise with rhythmic and melodic ideas in group playing activities. This course meets the foundation music elective requirement for Eightnotes, Vocal Chords, Park Jazz Collective, Park Strings, and Wind Ensemble.

people get ready: songs of social justice and protest

Grades: 9-12

Change is constant. People Get Ready takes a close look at how societies have reacted to change and social justice with music. Using recordings, videos, and readings, students will listen, watch, enact, hum, strum, and compose their way through this varied history from Strange Fruit to Formation. People Get Ready will also look at music that reflects international struggle and resistance, and will check out how protest music continues to reflect cultural, economic, and political times. This course meets the foundation music elective requirement for Eightnotes, Vocal Chords, Park Jazz Collective, Park Strings, and Wind Ensemble. Don’t need no baggage, you just get on board.

SPRING PRODUCTION: the laramie project

Grades: 10-12

Prerequisite: Audition

This course will be devoted to producing the play The Laramie Project. Students will read, analyze, and rehearse the play. Careful analysis will provide a foundation for students to develop their characters, circumstances, and actions for the production. Students will explore the world of the play and its cultural contexts, expanding their aesthetic awareness of theater. By participating in the production process, students learn the standard practices of theater, learn to work as an ensemble, and challenge themselves with the demands of performing a full-length play. This production is by audition, but no previous experience is required.

STAGE CRAFT

Grades: 9-12

This class is dedicated to the construction of sets for the Park productions. In the spring, students begin with the 8th Grade production and then support the next three shows in the Macks • Fidler Black Box Theater. Working backstage involves reading plans, building and painting scenery, and hanging and focusing lighting fixtures based on a lighting plot. Students taking this class may work backstage during the show if they wish to do so. (This course may be repeated with the permission of the instructor.)

women in poetry and song

Grades 10-12

This course will focus on women writers who are crucial in our understanding of female empowerment in literature and music. Students will look at poetic and lyric content, different music genres, rhythm, and rhyme. Work by songwriters/poets such as Patti Smith, Neko Case, Maya Angelou, The Indigo Girls, Nikki Giovanni, Amy Winehouse, Adrienne Rich, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, Sylvia Plath, Patsy Cline, Carole King, and Ruth Carter Cash will be ingested. Assignments will include analysis, imitations, arrangements, and original compositions. Students need not be a song writer or a poet to take this course. This course may be taken for either English or Arts credit.