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.
- 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.
Eightnotes, Park’s auditioned soprano and alto a cappella group, sing, beatbox, and sing a variety of styles from pop to R&B and classic Jazz. Rehearsals are twice a week concentrating on ensemble skills, mic technique, and vocal stylings; additional practice times are arranged before larger performances and commitments. Strong music reading skills are helpful, but not necessary. 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, a co-ed, non-auditioned, joyful, and versatile chorus, learns and performs a variety of traditional and contemporary choral music. The group rehearses two or 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. Year-long participation earns one art credit.
Park Jazz Collective
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. The group meets twice a week after school, with additional rehearsals as necessary before larger performances or commitments. Pre- or co-requisites: Ongoing instrumental lessons and an audition. Year-long participation earns one arts credit.
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-requisites: Instrumental lessons and permission of the department. Year-long participation earns one arts credit.
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. Strong music reading skills are helpful. The group rehearses twice a week, with additional practice times set up before major commitments and performances. 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: An audition. All Vocal Chords must be members of Parksingers, Park Strings, or Wind Ensemble. Year-long participation earns one arts credit.
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 at least two major concerts a year. Pre- or co-requisite: Instrumental lessons and permission of the department. Year-long participation earns one arts credit.
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. This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.
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. For students who have taken Acting 1 or Improvisation and want to dig deep, this is a great course. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. This class is offered in alternate years and will not be offered this year, but will be offered in 2023-2024.
Beatz: Electronic Production
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.
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. This class is offered in alternate years and will be offered this year.
Fall Production: Little Shop of Horrors
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.
Guitar and Ukulele
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.
Improvisation for the Theater
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. They will improvise around objects, activities, places, and People, as well as comic improvisations and dramatic improvisations.
Modern Music Band
In this class students will play and record modern (pop/rock/R&B) music. They will learn many aspects of what goes into creating great song arrangements and putting on an awesome show. Learning arrangements of songs suggested by the class, students will also have the opportunity to bring in original material to workshop with the group. They will also analyze the styles of different bands from the past and present to find out what elements make their songs work so well. Students will choose a main instrument to focus on and will also spend time working on their theoretical knowledge of their 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.
Music Theory and Composers’ Workshop 1 (Accelerated)
This accelerated course is for students interested in and passionate about theory, composition, and making music. Students will strengthen their abilities to recognize, utilize, analyze, and evaluate the elements and processes of music presented in a score. Emphasis is placed on 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 1 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. This class is offered in alternate years and will not be offered this year, but will be offered in 2023-2024. Prerequisites: Permission of department and a foundational music class.
What’s in a song? Lyrics, beats, and a catchy hook? Songwriting goes into the many ways that words and music and rhyme and reason intersect; combining the elements of music with writing lyrics and music. A variety of different approaches to music and songwriting will be shown and shared as students learn to write, workshop, and witness others’ vocal and lyrical leanings. This course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.
This class is dedicated to the construction of sets for the Upper School productions. In the first semester we will be engaged in building scenery for the fall musical and then helping with the 8th Grade production. In the spring we will begin with the 8th Grade production and then support the next three shows in the Macks-Fidler 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.
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.
Bob Dylan and His Influences: Lyrics in Literary, Historical, and Social Contexts
Bob Dylan said, “I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I’ll die like a poet.” In this course, students will study the poetry and music of Bob Dylan paying special attention to the historical, musical, sociological, and artistic implications of his work. In addition to understanding who Dylan influenced, the class will look at who and what influenced him. From Rimbaud to Kerouac, Leadbelly to Alicia Keys, students will attempt to trace the origins of one artist’s creative work. In assignments, which may include poems, song lyrics, essays, and podcasts, the class will seek to be inspired, too. This course may be taken either for an English or arts credit.
Design for the Performing Arts
How do we conceive, imagine, and plan performing arts events? In this class students will explore the processes of designing scenery, costumes, lighting, and audio for Theater, Dance, and Opera. They will examine script analysis, production objectives, theatrical styles, design research, production organization, and collaborative creation. The elements of design and different methods of visual presentation will be explored. Students will look at the work of significant performing arts designers and create their own designs. This class should provide students with the skills needed to successfully design productions at the school and in the community.
Continue playing guitar with the advanced concepts of fingerpicking, barre chords, jazz and blues chords, percussive strumming, and improvisation. Learn to compose great chord progressions, develop your skills as a soloist and work on accompanying your voice. This is an intermediate to advanced guitar class where students can push themselves to be more musical and riveting guitarists.
Home Studio Production
Professional level music and multimedia production has never been easier to accomplish at home. This course will focus on music production, audio engineering, and content creation specifically for a laptop. Students will record, compose, arrange, mix, and master band sessions and original compositions, learn the basics of producing commercials and short videos, live streaming and virtual event production, and content creation for YouTube and other digital platforms.
Improvisation for Instrumentalists
In this class, instrumentalists will work to develop their voices as improvisers. By studying the musical vocabulary used by jazz, blues, rock, and country soloists, and their use of pentatonic scales, major and minor modes, arpeggios, and chromaticism, students will focus on bringing their techniques into their playing. Additionally, the class will explore the fundamentals of contemporary music theory in order to better understand how to “play through the changes.” Players will become acquainted with improv approaches on different instruments, work with different sized groups, and learn to develop their own background lines, and walking bass lines.
Improvisation for the Theater
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.
Keyboards: Music from Movies, TV, and Video Games
Here’s your chance to learn and play those keyboard riffs that everyone recognizes! Using music from visual mediums students will become familiar with understanding and performing in several popular music genres. Learn music from Billie Eilish, Drake, Rachel Portman, Ludwig Görransson, Christopher Larkin, Koji Kondo, John Williams, and many more. 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. Develop the skills to get past those few riffs and move toward being a player with chops! No previous music experience is necessary.
Music Theory and Composers’ Workshop 2 (Accelerated)
This accelerated course is for music students with strong theory and composition understandings, and those continuing studies from Music Theory and Composers’ Workshop 1 (Accelerated). This course emphasizes students’ creativity with composition, including connections with harmony studies, counterpoint, Western, and world music influences. Interested students need solid advanced comprehension in ear training and music theory, committed music interests and experience, and access to a pitched instrument.This class is offered in alternate years and will not be offered this year, but will be offered in 2023-2024. Prerequisites: Music Theory and Composers’ Workshop 1 or permission of department and a foundational music class.
In this course, 9th and 10th Graders will read, analyze, and rehearse a play. Careful analysis of the play will provide a foundation for students to develop their characters, circumstances, and actions for the production. Students will explore the world of the play, its cultural contexts, and its particular theatrical style and, by doing so, will expand their own aesthetic awareness. 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 rehearsals. The production will be in mid-May. Prerequisites: An entry-level acting class and an audition.
Spring Production: TBD
This course will be devoted to producing 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. 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. Leads will not be able to participate in sports or other 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.