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

Prerequisites:  An entry-level 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 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.)

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.)

Music theory AND COMPOSITION WORKSHOP (ACC)

Grades: 9-12

Prerequisites: an entry-level music class and permission of the department.

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.)

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.)

Park Jazz Collective

Grades: 9-12

Prerequisites: An entry-level music class, an audition, instrumental lessons, 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.)

PARK STRINGS

Grades: 9-12

Prerequisites: 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. Year-long participation earns one art credit. (This course may be repeated.)

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.

Vocal Chords

Grade: 9-12

Pre- or co-requisites: An entry-level music class and an audition.

The Vocal Chords, Park’s all-male a cappella vocal ensemble, have been providing quality a cappella entertainment and humor to the Park community and beyond for nearly 20 years. 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.)

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.)

audio production

Grades: 9-12

Prerequisite: An entry-level music class and an audition. Ninth grade by permission of department only. 

This course provides hands-on audio engineering and producing experience in the recording studio. Students will record, compose, mix, and master a variety of music using hardware and software in the recording studio and the keyboard lab. 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.

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 Reason, Abelton Live, and Logic. The class focuses on MIDI and controller programming, sampling, loop creation, synthesizer and production tricks, and basic musical harmony and form in the keyboard lab and recording studio.

FALL MUSICAL PRODUCTION: WEST SIDE STORY

Grades: 10-12

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

This course is devoted to producing the musical West Side Story. 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. Students need to have taken an introductory music or acting class in order to audition for this production. (This course may be repeated.)

FILM STUDIO

Grades: 9-12

For students who have never made a movie or those who are experienced filmmakers, Film Studio provides the opportunity to exercise cinematic and creative chops. The studio is a place to develop a project, storyboard, write a script, and plan a shoot. Work is done on iMovie or Final Cut, although no experience with either program is necessary. Each student will work on an independent film project, and collaborate on other projects. In the second half of the course students will join students from the Advanced Acting course to film short scenes.

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.

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.

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.)

ACOUSTICS

Grades: 10-12

Prequisite: Physics

Why do different instruments have different voices? How do you shape the sound in a performance hall? How do you build a speaker, microphone, or a guitar pickup? This course will focus on the practical application of the physics of sound through a series of design and construction projects. Areas of study will include musical acoustics, psychoacoustics, and acoustics in electronic and architectural design. Students may take this as a music or a science elective.

Freshman/Sophomore Play: PETER AND THE STAR CATCHER

Grades: 9-10

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

Freshmen and sophomores read, analyze, rehearse, and produce Peter and the Star Catcher 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.

HISTORY OF MUSICAL THEATER

Grades: 9-12

From The Black Crook to The Book of Mormon, from H.M.S. Pinafore to The Lion King to Hamilton, the stage continues to inspire the public to sing. Musicals combine story, lyrics, movement, costumes, set design, and music to produce a unique experience. This class will trace the evolution of this made-in-America art form from 1866 to the present. Through videos, readings, and recordings, students will watch, listen, enact, hum, and tap their way through this varied history. Discover how this aspect of theater reflects the cultural, economic, and political times. No tickets necessary!

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.

RADIO PRODUCTION AND PODCAST CREATION

Grades: 9-12

This course examines the many ways audio content is produced today. Students will examine audio art, entertainment, and informational media and will produce original material in those different modes. They will invite radio journalists, podcasters, and DJs to visit with them on campus. Each student will work on an independent audio project and collaborate on other projects, which will be created around the interests of the class and may be published to share with a wider audience.

SONGWRITING

Grades: 9-12

What is in a song? Is it more than lyrics about love and a catchy hook? Learning about the many ways that words and music intersect to make a song is the foundation of this course. Songwriting students explore and learn the basic elements of music and lyric writing. Students progress to writing in various forms, styles, and learning about songwriters’ habits and lives. A variety of different approaches to music and songwriting is shown and shared as students learn to write, workshop, and witness others’ vocal and lyrical leanings. (No previous music experience is necessary.)

SPRING PRODUCTION: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Grades: 10-12

Prerequisite: Audition

This course will be devoted to producing the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing in a main stage production in the Macks • Fidler Black Box Theater. 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 Elizabethan 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 course is linked with the English course “Shakespeare: Page to Stage,” taught in the same block during fall semester. 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.)

VOICE

Grade 12

Over the course of their high school career, students have studied and analyzed how writers and artists sound on the page, in a song, and on the stage. In this class, students will focus on cultivating their own distinct and authentic voice. Participants will look at the most memorable voices of writing, song, and speech, including Martin Luther King, Jr, Maya Angelou, Tupac Shakur, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Toni Morrison, Nas, and Joan Didion, and will use them as models for developing a voice that carries authority and personality. This seminar will have an emphasis on short works with assignments that include writing essays, monologues, lyrics, songs, and poems. Students will share their work with each other and with a wider audience. This course can be taken for English or performing arts credit.