Blake's curriculum provides numerous ways for students to create, perform and experience music. All Lower and Middle School students have regular music classes, and many Upper School students take music courses to fulfill graduation requirements in the arts.
Fostering Success: Grades Pre-K Through 5
Our youngest students engage with music through active exploration of musical concepts and skills. A child-centered approach guides students to create, perform and respond to musical experiences in ways that develop their innate musical potential. Blake instructors believe that all children are musicians and delight in guiding their musical explorations and observing their growth. The Lower School music curriculum includes two components:
- General music instruction for all students, encompassing singing, instrument playing, folk dance and creative movement, improvisation, composition and music literacy.
- An optional Lower School strings program, through which students take weekly violin, viola or cello lessons and participate in performances throughout the year.
In general music classes, students participate in singing, playing instruments, creative movement, and rhythmic or dramatic speech and play. Instructors elicit and guide the creative impulses inherent in each child through collaborative projects with partners or groups. Curriculum also fosters individual skill development, enabling each child to become an independent music-maker.
Kindergarten students may playfully explore musical elements with their voices, instruments and movement. First graders may perform rhythmic speech compositions, while second graders accompany a singing game with xylophones. Third graders may improvise vocal or instrumental melodies, while fourth graders rehearse recorder ensembles, and fifth graders create accompaniments for the annual fifth grade play.
Kindergarteners attend general music classes twice weekly. Second through fourth grade students meet for three music classes per week. Fifth graders meet for two periods of general music and one period of choir per week.
Blake offers optional string instruction on violin, viola and cello for students in Pre-K to fifth grade at no additional cost beyond standard tuition. Families supply instruments, books and other materials.
The Essential Elements methodology helps students in grades 2 through 5 to read music with fluency, while the Suzuki repertoire sharpens skills in all grades. Students experience a variety of genres such as fiddle, mariachi, jazz and world music.
Students are grouped for age and ability for weekly lessons of 30 minutes. Adults are welcome to attend lessons for grades 1 through 5 and required to attend for Pre-K and Kindergarten lessons.
Communicating Through Music: Grades 6 Through 8
Blake helps young adults become accomplished, confident performers. All students participate in band, orchestra or choir throughout Middle School. Students discover the joy of expressing themselves in an ensemble and learn about sharing their artistry with an audience, all while developing their technical skills. Students who enjoy singing may participate in one of five choral ensembles. Instrumentalists play in one of several bands or orchestras. After sixth grade, placement in all choral and instrumental groups is based on student skill level, as determined by assessments assigned throughout the year. Qualified students entering eighth grade may apply to take Integrated Arts in lieu of the typical arts/music course rotation.
Specialized Music Studies: Grades 9 through 12
Upper School students with a special passion for music may pursue advanced artistry and technique through coursework in composition, band, orchestra and chorus. Performing ensembles study and perform high quality and age appropriate repertoire. Non-ensemble music courses like Music Technology: Composition and Production give students solid grounding in music theory, while also teaching them how to use technological tools to compose. Music students may also opt to audition for student-led ensembles, such as Jazz Express, Ursa Major, Blaker's Dozen and Blakers in Treble with concurrent enrollment in curricular ensembles.