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Organized music had its official start at Pingry with the formation of a few groups in an all-boys’ school: the Band, the Glee Club, the Buttondowns (a small singing group), and the Middle School Chorus. Since those days, the program has expanded to include over a dozen performing groups, extensive girls’ groups, and an Advanced Placement course. The Department now consists of three full-time faculty. In addition, ten adjunct teachers provide private voice and instrumental lessons during the day. The program has been successful — some 300 students are involved, over one half of the Upper School.

Our goal is to provide the opportunity to experience music in many aspects so that students become lifelong appreciators of and participants in music. The program is founded on the belief that human expression is an integral part of life, and experiences in the arts, including music performance, are essential to a holistic education. A high level of performance is expected of all of our performing groups. All instrumentalists, Balladeers, and Buttondowns are expected to be enrolled in private lessons. The Music Department does provide support for students who chose to audition for New Jersey All-State Orchestra and Chorus.

Music Courses

Conference Period Orchestra/ Wind Sinfonia (#14701)

Minor year course. 1 credit. 2 class meetings per week. Graded on a pass/fail basis.

Wind Sinfonia is comprised of all woodwind (flute, clarinet, saxophone, oboe, bassoon, etc.), brass (trumpet, trombone, french horn, tuba, etc.), and percussion (timpani, bass drum, mallets, etc.) instrumentalists of the Upper School. The Wind Sinfonia performs works from various musical periods while focusing on the vast repertoire for symphonic bands. All brass players in Wind Sinfonia are also members of the Brass Choir.

The Upper School Orchestra is comprised of string players. Musical skills are refined by the preparation and performance of challenging repertoire ranging from Baroque through Romantic. The Orchestra and the Wind Sinfonia both perform at all major concerts during the year.

Upper School Glee Club (#14704/14714)

Minor year course. 1 credit. 3 class meetings per cycle, 1 of them during Conference Period. Membership in this group is required for concurrent membership in Balladeers/Buttondowns.

Students in the glee clubs study the master works of the choral-orchestral repertoire as well as music from a variety of periods, cultures, and styles. Through rehearsal and performance, students develop their vocal abilities, sight-singing skills, and sense of ensemble. Study culminates in performances, often with full orchestra and brass choir for the school festivals. There are also many collaborative concerts with other schools. No audition is necessary.

Conference Period Glee Club (#14705/14703)

Minor year course. 1 credit. 2 class meetings per week. Graded on a pass/fail basis.

The mission of the Pingry School Glee Clubs is to experience the joy of making music together. Main goals include training singers to “use their voices with versatility, ease, endurance, and without discomfort in the throat” (from How to Train Singers, 2nd Edition). Vocal techniques are developed through awareness of proper posture, breath management, resonance, all while being free of tension in the body and vocal tract. In addition, stage presence is developed through consistent concert opportunities. Through consistent practice and encounters with varied and substantive repertoire, our students develop their individual potential and self-reliance, all within an atmosphere of trust and support. We strongly believe that through encounters with beautiful music, our students learn to be creators of something beautiful and ultimately become responsible and compassionate citizens. Repertoire in recent years have included selections from both the Western Classical and World traditions.

Jazz Ensemble (#14755)

Minor year course. 1 credit. 4 class meetings per cycle. Prerequisites: Membership in good standing in the Wind Ensemble and permission of the director.

A class for moderate to advanced players comprising a band of saxophones, trumpets, trombones, piano, bass, drums, and guitar. The main emphasis in Jazz Ensemble is on ensemble interpretation and performance. Through rehearsal, performance, and study of various arrangements from the jazz repertoire the student will learn the musical vocabulary necessary to play swing and to improvise. The Ensemble performs for school events and concerts as well as for community service events in and out of school. Previous work in theory is helpful. This is a graded course.

Buttondowns / Balladeers (#14764 / #14774)

Minor year course. 1 credit. 4 class meetings per cycle. Prerequisites: Membership in good standing in the Glee Club and permission of the director.

In this ensemble, students work with equally motivated peers to achieve excellence in the performance of choral music. A wide variety of literature is studied with the aim of learning many styles of music. Through intensive rehearsals and performances, students develop and refine their vocal abilities, sight-singing skills and sense of ensemble. Students in Buttondowns/Balladeers are expected to perform mostly unaccompanied repertoire at the highest artistic level possible. Members study and perform choral-orchestral repertoire through their participation in Glee Club. These are graded courses.

Audition is required.

A.P. Music: Theory (#14919)

Major year course. 3 credits. 4 class meetings per cycle. Forms V-VI. Prerequisites: Basic familiarity with the fundamentals of music notation and permission of instructor.

The goal of this course is to develop a student’s ability to listen and understand the processes of music that are heard or read in a score. At the conclusion of the course the student will be expected to take the Advanced Placement Music examination given by the College Board.

Departmental approval is required.