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.This course may be repeated with permission of the director. 

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

All Eightnotes must be 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, and community and sporting events. Students are encouraged to complete one music elective during their first three semesters in Parksingers. This course may be repeated with permission of the director. 

Year-long participation earns one art credit.

Park Jazz Collective

Grades: 9-12

Park’s Jazz Collective (PJC) is open to instrumentalists who are familiar with chord symbols and progressions and interested in learning jazz styles and ensemble playing. PJC musicians work towards gaining and improving their improvisation skills and learning the language of jazz theory. Selections are from the jazz canon, world music, fusion, traditional, and contemporary styles. PJC represents jazz at Park in assemblies, bi-annual concerts, and public and community events including International Jazz Day (April 30). The group meets twice a week after school, with additional rehearsals as necessary before larger performances or commitments. This course may be repeated with permission of the director. 

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. This course may be repeated with permission of the director. 

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. This course may be repeated with permission of the director. 

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

Wind Ensemble is comprised of all brass, woodwinds, percussion, string bass, and electric bass. The group plays a variety of 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 2020-2021 school year. This course may be repeated with permission of the director. 

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”? Well, now you can. This introductory-level course demystifies the acting process, 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 of their 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 courses 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 students 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. This class is offered in alternate years. 

DIRECTING

Grades: 11-12

In this course, students will learn how to analyze a play; how, through analysis, to create a concept and a design for their play; how 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. Students must have taken Directing in order to submit a proposal to direct a play in the Winter Production of student directed plays.

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

ETHNOMUSICOLOGY/WORLD BEATS

Grades: 11-12

Students will listen, analyze, and practice drumming music from cultures throughout the ancient and modern world. They will be looking at the function of rhythmic group playing, the significance of drumming, rhythmic meditation, and healing, and will develop a personal drumming practice (hand drums). A hand drum and other class supplies will be provided to each student. This course is open to students of varying levels of experience.

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

FALL MUSICAL PRODUCTION: guys and dolls (2019-20 PRODUCTION)

Grades: 10-12

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

Prerequisite: An audition and an entry-level class in acting or music. This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.

guitar and ukulele

Grades: 9-12

In this course, students will discover their inner Hendrix by learning to play classic pop, rock, soul, and jazz guitar and ukulele. They will learn and apply basic theory concepts to these instruments and develop their own strumming patterns and lead parts. No previous music experience is necessary to start or improve knowledge of strumming, picking, and wailing on guitar, ukulele, mandolin, bass, and banjo.

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

IMPROVISATION FOR THE THEATER

Grades: 9-10

Where does creativity really come from? How do you release your own creative juices? This course will explore improvisation both onstage 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 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 abilities to recognize, utilize, analyze, and evaluate the elements and processes of music presented in a score. This course emphasizes students’ creativity with composition, and making 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, solid understandings in ear training and music theory, and access to a pitched instrument. 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 2 is 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. This class is offered in alternate years. It will NOT be offered this year, but will be offered in 2021-2022.

Stagecraft

Grades 9-12

In the past this class has concentrated on building scenery and working from the plans others had made for in-school performances on the Meyerhoff stage. Clearly at the moment this is not possible, so while some on-campus hands-on work is probable, this class will be shifting its focus to designing and planning. Students will be exploring various aspects of a production. Examples of this are: opportunities to study lighting design, scenic design, sound design, and the engineering and building of scenery/props. Students will do a deep dive into two or three of these units of their choosing and finally team up with others as a design team working together to design and present a one act play. This course may be repeated with permission of instructor.

Spring Semester Courses 

ACTING

Grades: 9-12

Have you ever seen a play or movie and thought, “Hey, I could do that”? Well, now you can. This introductory-level course demystifies the acting process, 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 of their 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 and film production

Grades: 9-12

Music videos represent a synthesis of film techniques, music production, and performance, resulting in a condensed piece of promotional art. In this course, students will record, mix, and master original tracks in the studio, and then storyboard, shoot, and edit together music videos. The class will also explore different components of post production, including sound design, lighting, scoring to picture, dialogue replacement, and digital video effects editing. No experience necessary.

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: dracula, the bloody truth (2019-20 PRODUCTION)

Grades: 9-10

Prerequisites: an entry-level acting class and an 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.

Freshmen and sophomores read, analyze, rehearse, and produce Dracula, The Bloody Truth, a very farcical take on Bram Stoker’s tale, 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.

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 onstage 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.

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. This course emphasizes students’ creativity with composition, and making connections with harmony studies, counterpoint, Western, and world music influences. Compositions will be realized, supported, and shared by fellow musicians. Interested students need solid understandings in ear training and music theory, committed music interests and experience, and access to a pitched instrument. Students will be prepared for the material in the Advanced Placement Music Theory test.

Music Theory and Composers’ Workshop 2 is 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. This class is offered in alternate years. It will NOT be offered this year, but will be offered in 2021-2022.

SONGWRITING

Grades 9-12

What’s in a song? Lyrics, beats, and a catchy hook? Songwriting goes about the many ways that words and music and rhyme and reason intersect; learning the basic elements of music and lyric writing. A variety of different approaches to music and songwriting will be shown and shared as students learn to write, workshop, and be witness to others’ vocal and lyrical leanings.

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

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, will be 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. This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor. 

voice–senior seminar

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, participants will focus on cultivating their own distinct and authentic voice. Students 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 Arts credit.