Music

One of the ways you’ll thrive at the Northwest School is through music.  We offer a wide range of options, taught by outstanding musicians and composers with extensive teaching experience.  

Instrumental, choral and jazz ensembles are open to all students. And performance- and compositional-based experiences are available at all grade levels.

In middle school,

  • Sixth graders have the opportunity to participate in band, orchestra or choir with little or no experience.
  • Seventh and eighth graders can audition for the Middle School Band or Orchestra.

In upper school,

  • Skilled musicians can audition for the Jazz Band, Concert Band, Orchestra, House Band (pop music ensemble), Vocal Collective and Varsity Voices.
  • The Upper School Chorus offers the opportunity to perform without having to audition.

Music Department Highlights 

  • Students perform at the Fall, Winter and Spring Music Concerts at venues across the city.
  • The Performing Arts Department joins forces with the Theatre Department to produce a musical.

Music Course Catalog

Middle School

6th Grade

Intro Band

Sixth-graders with limited or no prior experience can choose their instruments from flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, trumpet, trombone, baritone or percussion (drums AND mallet instruments).  

MIDDLE SCHOOL SHOW CHOIRS 

Non-Audition Middle School Choir

The Middle School Choir/Show Choir is a non-auditioned group in Trimester 1 (students joining the choir in Trimester 2 or 3 must audition). Students perform selections ranging from popular songs from television and movies, radio, etc., in addition to choral repertoire in various styles and languages. Trimester 1 focuses on building a foundation of musical terms, solfège, and rhythms. We encourage singers of all abilities in grades 6-8 to join this choir to explore choral music!

Middle School Show Choir

This advanced course promotes singing in a collaborative group. The class emphasizes teamwork, engaged participation and positive attitude, in addition to learning proper vocal technique. The choir will sing songs from a wide variety of styles, eras, and cultures, focusing on singing in two- and three-part music. This choir performs one to two times each trimester. Trimesters 2 and 3 center on more in-depth choral music learning with concentration on singing, choreography, and performance. Students perform in school concerts, with the possibility of travel to festivals or other events. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Trimester 1 Middle School Choir, or by audition and teacher approval.

Middle School Intro to Orchestra

The Middle School Intro to String Orchestra class offers sixth grade students’ instruction on violin, viola, cello, and string bass instruments, with a focus on the skills they need for long-term success. The course stresses musical fundamentals, such as proper posture and playing position, development of characteristic tone quality and training in music literacy. This class is ideal for students who were unable or only partially able to participate in an instrumental music class at a previous school. The Intro to String Orchestra class may also be ideal for those sixth graders with experience who may need a review and reinforcement of music reading, playing fundamentals and technique that are vital for lasting musical development. Students of any grade level are welcome. No audition is required for placement in the Introductory Strings; all that is necessary is the desire and motivation to study a musical instrument! Prerequisite: None; beginners welcome!

7th and 8th Grade

Middle School Band

Intermediate band is for seventh- and eighth-grade students with at least one year of experience. Intro Band students move into this band in Trimester 3. Instrument options include flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, oboe, bassoon, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, trumpet, French horn, trombone, baritone, tuba or percussion.

Prerequisite: At least one year of experience.

Middle School Show Choir

Middle School Choir/Show Choir  - Trimester 1

The Middle School Choir/Show Choir is a non-auditioned group in Trimester 1 (students joining the choir in Trimester 2 or 3 must audition). Students perform selections ranging from popular songs from television and movies, radio, etc., in addition to choral repertoire in various styles and languages. Trimester 1 focuses on building a foundation of musical terms, solfège, and rhythms. We encourage singers of all abilities in grades 6-8 to join this choir to explore choral music!

Middle School Show Choir - Trimesters 2 and 3

This advanced course promotes singing in a collaborative group. The class emphasizes teamwork, engaged participation and positive attitude, in addition to learning proper vocal technique. The choir will sing songs from a wide variety of styles, eras, and cultures, focusing on singing in two- and three-part music. This choir perform one to two times each trimester. Trimesters 2 and 3 center on more in-depth choral music learning with concentration on singing, choreography, and performance. Students perform in school concerts, with the possibility of travel to festivals or other events.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Trimester 1 Middle School Choir, or by audition and teacher approval.

MS Popular Music 

This course focuses on the understanding and history of the multiple genres which encompass “Popular Musics.” We will look at contributing artists and events throughout the 20th century, how creative and socio-economic experiences helped shape modern music, and how those experiences and events got us to the music we listen to on a daily basis today. This class will include reading basic music notation, understanding the architecture of pieces of music, studying what makes great music great, songwriting, attaining basic musical skills, exploring digital audio workstation software, and much more. Active listening, critical thinking, and respectful discussion are key parts of the class. Prior musical experience is helpful but not necessary.

Middle School String Orchestra

This course is for seventh and eighth grade students who already understand basic music reading, instrument assembly and maintenance, correct playing position and sound tone production. Instruction centers on the refinement of tone quality, technique, aural skills and music literacy. Placement in the Middle School String Orchestra is by audition that includes the following requirements:

Prerequisite: Completion of Intro to string Orchestra OR by audition.


Upper School

Band

Upper School Concert Band • Grades 9-12

The Concert Band is a non-auditioned upper school band open to all students grades 9-12. Prior music experience required or teacher approval. Concert Band participates in one concert per term, a field trip to a local university or band festival, and a variety of optional performances throughout the year. Instrument options are as follows: flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, oboe, bassoon, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, bari saxophone, trumpet, french horn, trombone, baritone, tuba, or percussion.

Upper School Jazz Band • Grades 10-12

Auditions are held in the spring of the prior year for the US Jazz Band. There are a limited number of musicians in jazz band to keep the integrity of the ensemble repertoire. Students must have 2 years experience to participate. The jazz band will travel to at least one festival and perform at a public venue each year. Instruments accepted are as follows: alto/tenor/bari saxophone (4-6), trumpet (3-5), trombone (-5), guitar (1-2), bass (1-2), piano (1-2), drum set (1-2). Other instruments allowed with instructor permission.

Choir

Upper School Choir • Grades 9-12 

The Upper School Choir is a non-auditioned group for the full academic year. Students of any ability level are welcome to join. This is open to grades 9-12. Students will perform musical selections in a variety of styles and languages. Students will start to develop and build on a foundation of musical knowledge including recognizing musical symbols and basic notation, easy/intermediate sight reading, rhythm reading, building listening skills, and working on community building within our group. Students will perform at school concerts, with the possibility to travel to perform for festivals or other events. Come explore your voice and music with us!

Varsity Voices • (Intermediate Choir) Grades 9-12

This is an intermediate level ensemble where students will learn music from various styles/genres of choral music (classical; art music; spirituals; Broadway; and current mainstream music). Students will increase their depth of knowledge regarding music theory and develop increasingly complex sight-reading skills. Students will learn about the historical and social context of the music we study so they gain a global perspective. As community is important to the NWS mission, students will also learn the importance and value of working in a performance-based ensemble. Because this is an auditioned-based ensemble, students will learn and perform choral music that is more complex than beginning choir singers. With emphasis on performance-based ensembles, students must participate in multiple performances throughout the school year. Audition or pre-requisites required.

Vocal Collective (Advanced Choir) • Grades 11-12

This is an advanced level ensemble where students will study rigorous and increasingly difficult part music from various styles/genres of choral music (classical; art music; spirituals; Broadway; and current mainstream music). Students will also increase their depth of knowledge in music theory and sight-reading. Because this is an audition-based ensemble, part independence is also required. Students in this ensemble must participate in multiple performances throughout the school year. Audition or pre-requisites required.

Orchestra

Upper School String Orchestra • Grades 9-12

The Upper School String Orchestra is an intermediate to advanced performing instrumental group at The Northwest School. The string orchestra is composed of students on all the major string instruments. Instruction concentrates on advanced technical and expressive skills in an ensemble-focused setting. Membership in this group is selective as advanced reading, musicianship and student responsibility are required. Placement in Concert Orchestra is by audition and at the discretion of the director. Prerequisite: Completion of Middle School String Orchestra OR by audition