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 instrumental and choral ensembles, participate in theater productions in winter and spring, and take advanced classes.

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

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

Eightnotes, Park’s soprano and alto a cappella group, sing, beatbox, and arrange a contemporary mix of pop music and standards. Rehearsals are twice a week during the school day, with additional rehearsals before major commitments and performances. Eightnotes represents vocal music at Park in assemblies, bi-annual concerts, public, and community events. Students are expected to strengthen their skills as singers and performers, and work towards developing their abilities to arrange songs of their choice.

Pre-or co-requisites: An audition and a foundation music class

All Eightnotes mustbe members of Parksingers, Park Strings, or Wind Ensemble, and complete a foundation music class within their first Eightnote year.

Year-long participation earns one art credit.

Parksingers

Grades: 9-12

Parksingers, a co-ed, non-auditioned, joyful, and versatile chorus, learns and performs a variety of traditional, and contemporary choral music. The group rehearses three times a week and performs 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 art credit.

Park Jazz Collective

Grades: 9-12

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 towards gaining and improving their improvisation skills. PJC represents jazz at Park in assemblies, bi-annual concerts, as well as public and community events. The group meets twice a week after school, with additional rehearsals as needed before performances.

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

New members of the ensemble must take a foundation music class within their first PJC year.

Year-long participation earns one art credit.

PARK STRINGS

Grades: 9-12

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.

Pre- or co-requisite: A foundation music class, instrumental lessons, and permission of the department

New students must complete their foundation music class within the first year of Park Strings.

Year-long participation earns one art credit.

Vocal Chords

Grade: 9-12

The Vocal Chords, Park’s auditioned Tenor and Bass a cappella vocal ensemble, sing a variety of styles from barbershop to pop music and standards. Vocal Chords 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 set up before major commitments and performances. Strong music reading skills are helpful. Vocal Chords strengthen their skills as singers and performers, and work towards developing their abilities to arrange songs of their choice.

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

All Vocal Chords must be members of Parksingers and complete a foundation music class within their first Vocal Chord year.  Year-long participation earns one art credit.

wind ensemble

Grades: 9-12

The Wind Ensemble is comprised of all brass, woodwind, percussion, string bass and electric bass, and the group plays a variety of musical styles from “classical” to contemporary. As instrumentalists, the class focuses on ensemble skills, technical skills, rhythmic accuracy, intonation, style, tone, blend, and some music theory. The group performs two major concerts a year, and will expand performance opportunities during the 2019-2020 school year.

Pre- or co-requisite: A foundation music class, instrumental lessons, and permission of the department

New students need to complete their foundation music class within the first year of Wind Ensemble.

Year-long participation earns one art credit.

 

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.

Advanced Acting

Grades 9-12

Interested in doing intense acting work? Hone your craft in Advanced Acting through high level technique work. During the first half of the course students will focus on the techniques of Sanford Meisner and the technique known as ‘Practical Aesthetics’ – living truthfully within imaginary circumstances and playing truthfully in-the-moment. The second half of the course will focus on applying these techniques in scenes, film work, and audition pieces. This course is perfect for those students who have taken Acting I or Improvisation. 

Prerequisite: 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 Ableton 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 the recording studio.

This class does not qualify as a foundation music elective.

FALL MUSICAL PRODUCTION: guys and dolls

Grades: 10-12

This course is devoted to producing the musical Guys and Dolls. Students will read, analyze, and rehearse for public performances in late 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.

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

guitar and ukulele

Grades: 9-12

In this course, students will discover their inner Hendrix with 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.

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, Wind Ensemble, or Music Theory.

Music Theory (Accelerated) and Composers’ Workshop 1

Grades 10-12

Students interested in theory and composition explore those passions in this accelerated course. They will strengthen their ability to recognize, utilize, analyze, and evaluate the elements and processes of music presented in a score. This course emphasizes students’ creativity with composition and the connections with Western and world music influences. Compositions will be realized, supported, and shared by fellow musicians. Interested students need a significant background in music, access to a pitched instrument, and solid understandings in ear training and music theory. Students who enroll in bothsemesters of this class will be prepared for the material in the Advanced Placement Music Theory test. 

Music Theory and Composers’ Workshop 2is an in-depth look at musical relationships of keys, scales, forms and harmonies.  Focuses include harmonic analysis including secondary dominants and modulations, and part-writing. 

Prerequisites: Permission of the department and a foundation music class

Stagecraft

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.

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.

Audio production

Grades: 9-12

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.

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

Drumming Workshop

Grades 9-12

This class will include listening to, analyzing, and practicing drumming music from different cultures. Emphasis will be on reviewing combinations of rhythmic cells in various time signatures and strengthening students’ “pocket” or rhythmic feel. Some examples of music to be covered: Afro-Caribbean dance music, West African drumming, Balinese Gamelan, Jazz, Rock and some  modern music. Students will also practice, compose, and improvise with rhythmic and melodic ideas in group playing activities on instruments such as drum set, hand drums, bass, guitar, piano, and other percussion instruments. This course is open to students of varying levels of experience.

This course meets the foundation music elective requirement for Eightnotes, Vocal Chords, Park Jazz Collective, Park Strings, Wind Ensemble, or Music Theory.

Freshman/Sophomore Play

Grades: 9-10

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

Freshmen and sophomores read, analyze, rehearse, and produce a play 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.

Keyboards: Music from Movies, TV, and Video Games

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. Using music from visual media, students will become familiar with understanding and performing in several popular music genres. Learn music from Alicia Keys to Koji Kondo and onto John Williams. After an introduction to basic keyboard theory, students will learn to incorporate harmonies, bass lines, 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, mixing, and sequencing software. No previous music experience is necessary.

This course meets the foundation music elective requirement for Eightnotes, Vocal Chords, Park Jazz Collective, Park Strings, Wind Ensemble, or Music Theory.

Movement Matters: Mapping the Body in Motion

Grades 9-12

How can movement connect us to ourselves, to each other, and to our environment? Can developing movement practices, including mindfulness, improvisation, and different approaches to dance, support us as we "map," share, and express our identities and stories? How can cultivating body-based connections to ourselves and moving intentionally in relationship to others and the space lead us toward the generation of material for original performance?

Open to all skill levels, and working primarily in the dance studio, this course will explore a variety of movement forms, from dance, to somatic relaxation and awareness practices, to ensemble-building improvisational structures and exercises. Students will use movement as a tool to connect more deeply to themselves and their stories, each other, and the world. A range of musical styles, from contemporary music to more experimental approaches to sound, will accompany and inform students’ movement. Specifically, they will consider how music and sound "move" them as they explore their relationship to expressive movement, and will be invited to experiment with contemporary music and other musical forms and styles.

Music Technology

Grades 9-12

This course is for students interested in learning to write music using software in the keyboard lab and the recording studio. In the lab, students compose, analyze, and perform pop, blues, concert, and world music, while studying harmony, form, and how to write 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, Wind Ensemble, or Music Theory.

Music Theory (Accelerated) and Composers’ Workshop 2

Grades 10-12

Students interested in theory and composition explore those passions in this accelerated course. They will strengthen their ability to recognize, utilize, analyze, and evaluate the elements and processes of music presented in a score. This course emphasizes students’ creativity with composition and the connections with Western and world music influences. Compositions will be realized, supported, and shared by fellow musicians. Interested students need a significant background in music, access to a pitched instrument, and solid understandings in ear training and music theory. Students who enroll in both semesters of this class will be prepared for the material in the Advanced Placement Music Theory test. 

Music Theory and Composers’ Workshop 2is an in-depth look at musical relationships of keys, scales, forms and harmonies.  Focuses include harmonic analysis including secondary dominants and modulations, and part-writing. 

Prerequisites: Music Theory and Composers’ Workshop I or permission of the department and a foundation music class

Spring Production

Grades 10-12

This course will be devoted to the production of a play by William Shakespeare as a main stage production in the Macks/Fidler Blackbox 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,” which will analyze the play and meets in the same block during the fall semester.  It is highly recommended, but not required, that students cast in the production also take the English course. Leads, however, willbe required to take the English course and will not be able to participate in other daily after school activities in the spring. Though Spring Production is by audition, students do not need previous experience.

Prerequisite: Audition

After school rehearsals are a part of this course, and students cast as leads will not be able to participate in other after-school activities.

Stagecraft

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.