COURSE OF STUDY
BMS students collaborate on commissioned pieces with composer, arranger and conductor Sean O'Loughlin during a Skype session in 2017-18.
The Westport Public Schools present an outstanding classroom general music program for children in grades preK - 6th grade. This well-focused curriculum is based heavily on the principles of Orff Schulwerk and also contains aural elements of Zoltan Kodaly and movement concepts research-based upon the work of Phyllis Weikart.
Children in preK and K receive one 30-minute class of music instruction per week; in grades 1-4, two 30-minutes classes per week; in grade 5, one 45 minute class per week (nearly 100% of Westport's 4th and 5th graders receive more music instruction through the instrumental music program).
In grades 6-8 children not in the middle school bands, orchestras, or choruses receive two classes per week in Music Technology. Classes at Staples High School are available in Music Theory, Piano, and Music Technology.
With over 1900 students participating in elective instrumental music in grades 4-12 , this exceptional program attracts national attention. In addition to the offerings described below, an All-City Band/Wind Ensemble and Orchestra program is supplemental, providing additional experiences to recommended students in grades six and seven. Students are also encouraged to participate in area youth orchestra ensembles, and audition for Connecticut Western Region and All-State ensembles.
Taught by artist faculty, string instrument instruction in the Westport schools begins in the fourth grade and includes instrumental lessons throughout the grades and grade level orchestras in each grade up to grade 10. The Symphonic Orchestra serves grades 11 and 12. Lessons are small, like-instrument groups in grades 4-8 * , and at Staples High School become more individualized 15-minute lessons for students who do not study privately with a teacher outside of school. Beginning as only string orchestras, winds, brass, and percussion are added to the experience in the 8th grade and are continued through high school.
Staples High School currently has Freshman, Sophomore, and Symphonic Orchestras. Typical repertoire of the Symphonic Orchestra has recently included works such as Glinka’s Russlan and Ludmilla, portions of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto, and Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise and Waltz from Eugene Onegin. Each middle school and the high school also offer select Chamber Orchestra experiences.
The Band program is also outstanding. With a focus on the finest band literature and best-practice pedagogical techniques, wind, brass, and percussion instruction begins in the fifth grade in each elementary school. Grade-level bands are available up through 10th grade, and are supplemented by small-group, like-instrument lessons in grades 4-8 * . At Staples High School, Freshman, Sophomore, and Symphonic Bands (grades 11 and 12) are offered and lessons for grades 9-12 become more individualized 15-minute sessions for students who do not study privately with a teacher outside of school.
The high school and each middle school offers Jazz Ensemble and Wind Ensemble experiences, and, beginning in 8th grade, outstanding student performers are encouraged to participate in the orchestras, as well. The high school Symphonic Band repertoire has recently included such works as Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque, Holst’s Second Suite for Military Band, Alfred Reed’s A Festival Prelude, and Black Granite, by James Hosay.
* Please Note: Nearly 100% of Westport's 4th and 5th graders participate in band or orchestra; * Students who do not elect to play an instrument during the 5th grade will be placed in an alternate music class during the in-school 5th grade band/orchestra rehearsal time.
The Westport Public Schools offers an outstanding Choral music program in all schools. With a solid foundation provided by the District's exemplary classroom general music program, children begin singing in organized choral ensembles in the 4th and 5th grades in the elementary schools.
In each middle school, grade-level choruses are supplemented by the select Camerata choral groups and opportunities to sing in and around the community abound.
At Staples High School, the Treble Choir, Anima Cantorum, Bella Voce and Choralaires are supplemented by the select Orphenians choir, legendary for its quality of performance. One of the highlights of the high school choral experience continues to be the Candlelight Concerts, a more than seventy year tradition in the Westport community.
Choral students in grades 6-12 are encouraged to audition for Western Region and All-State. The choral groups are also wonderful vocal training for students interested in participating in the many theater opportunities which abound in the schools.