Music

The Music Department at Besant Hill School offers a wide array of courses and opportunities for students of all levels and abilities to participate in creating, studying, and performing music of many different genres in diverse settings and venues.

At the heart of our music program is our school’s motto “Aun Aprendo-I am still learning,” where we as a faculty greatly value individual musical growth and skill acquisition as indispensable parts of a deeper and more meaningful relationship and understanding of the musical arts for each of our students. Regardless of ability or experience, we welcome each student where they are as a musician and guide and mentor them to leave our program a more experienced and developed musician through an enriching experience in the study of music. Students in the music department are encouraged to explore both mind and spirit through musical expression.

We believe that the study of music stimulates and promotes creativity, imaginative expression, analytical skills, organizational skills, long-range planning and even mathematics. Recent clinical research supports these claims. “New findings show that ‘intense musical training generates new processes within the brain, at different stages of life, and with a range of impacts on creativity, cognition, and learning,'” Gottfried Schlaug, MD, PhD, from Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Boston, Massachusetts), an expert on music, neuroimaging, and brain plasticity recently stated a the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego last year.Course Descriptions

Aldous Huxley

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

Aldous Huxley

Music at Besant Hill School is everywhere: it is in the classrooms, on our gazebo between classes, in formal concerts, in student-led variety shows, in our assemblies, and in our theatrical productions in our yearly Musical. Curricularly we currently offer Instrumental music classes, two vocal ensembles, music theory, and advanced seminars in music studies for advanced students and seniors who wish to prepare specifically for music school. Music by our students is also In the greater community. Recently, our students performed in events in the Ojai Valley such as Ojai Day, Veteran’s Day with the Ojai Youth Symphony, and at other area schools such as the Thatcher School’s”Battle of the Bands.” Students interested in the business side of music are also provided opportunities to explore those interests with volunteer opportunities and Capstone Projects at the nationally renown Ojai Music Festival. Recently one such student organized and presented a full benefit concert on behalf of the American Cancer Society for her senior Capstone Project.

Through rigorous study of instruments, a comprehensive understanding of the structure and operations of music through music theory and analysis, and the encouragement of self-discovery and self-expression through music, music students at Besant Hill School leave our program with a richer and more profound understanding and deeper personal relationship with music. One of Besant Hill School of Happy Valley’s founding fathers, Aldous Huxley once said this of music: “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” We strongly believe that our music students have an even greater understanding and appreciation of this profound statement through their experience in our department.

Course Descriptions

MUSIC ENSEMBLE

In this introductory performance based course we blend music theory, ensemble practice and performance techniques to give a full-bodied approach to learning music.  Students choose the instrument that they would like to learn, and we proceed in a sequential manner to learn and apply fundamental music concepts.  We play as an ensemble learning classical and contemporary musical compositions.  On certain pieces of music, such as Jazz or Blues standards, students will learn basic skills to improvise melodies and accompaniments.

Students will learn how to carry their individual parts, play in harmony with one another and work as a team to achieve a common goal: to learn, play, and perform music and experience the joy of doing so with intention and purpose.

Students will utilize the piano to learn key music theory concepts, as well as basic piano technique.  They will also learn critical listening and comprehension skills by listening to pieces of music and analyzing song arrangements, dynamics, and intentions.

They are expected to perform in our Winter and Spring Musical Concerts and may have other opportunities to perform for a live audience.  When performing here in the Zalk Theater, students are blessed with amazingly supportive and enthusiastic audiences.

MUSIC ENSEMBLE II

For experienced musicians, or as a sequential follow up to Instrumental Music I, Instrumental Music II is a course that addresses the needs of the Intermediate Musician and help them to prepare to play music on an advanced level. During this year long course, students will continue to work on and develop proper playing techniques, fluency in read traditional notation, playing songs both in small and larger group contexts, music theory up to chromatic harmony, jazz and contemporary appraoches to music theory, improvisation, as well as major scales, minor scales, and pentatonic scales and blues scales. Ultimately the key to improvement on a musical instrument is through one’s dedication to daily practice. With hard work and practice both in class and outside of class, everyone in this class should see incredible musical growth throughout the year in Instrumental Music II. In this class, the ability to work focused and independently are essential for success. Instrumental Music II is a fun and challenging class that elevate and increase the student’s joy of playing a musical instrument.

MUSIC ENSEMBLE III

Here in the BHS Advanced Music Ensemble we blend music theory, music history, ensemble practice, and performance techniques to give a full-bodied approach to learning music.  Students will continue to develop their instrumental music abilities as well as their sight-reading ability and knowledge of fundamental music theory concepts and skills.  They will play as an ensemble to augment their repertoire of classical, contemporary and popular music compositions and expand their ability to improvise melodies and accompaniments.

Students will continue to use the piano and/or guitar to build upon their knowledge of key music theory concepts.  They will continue to improve their critical listening and comprehension skills by listening to musical compositions and analyzing the song’s arrangement, dynamics and intentions.

Students are expected to perform in our Winter and Spring Musical Concerts and may have other opportunities to perform for a live audience.  When performing here in the Zalk Theater, students are blessed with amazingly supportive and enthusiastic audiences.

GUITAR ENSEMBLE

Guitar Ensemble is a class for students who wants to learn how to play or further develop their skill at playing the guitar. During this year long course, students will learn proper playing techniques, how to read traditional notation, how to play songs both in small and larger group contexts, music theory, improvisation, as well as major scales, minor scales, pentatonic scales and blues scales. Ultimately the key to improvement on a musical instrument is through one’s dedication to daily practice. Although each of us in the class are at different levels of musical experience, with hard work and practice both in class and outside of class, everyone in this class should see incredible musical growth throughout the year in Guitar Ensemble. In this class, the ability to work focused and independently are essential for success. Guitar Ensemble is a fun and challenging class that introduces students to or adds to the students’ joy of playing the guitar.

MUSIC THEORY

The music theory course at Besant Hill School is a rigorous yearlong class that explores the operations and analysis of a wide variety of music. Starting with the fundamentals of music, the organization and notation of pitch and rhythm, our studies throughout the year will include: harmony, melody, form, rhythm, music analysis, ear training, sight singing, melodic and harmonic dictation, basic keyboard harmony, and a historical overview of styles and periods in Western Classical Music, American Popular Music, and Jazz.  Through integrated study of the above skills with creative, compositional, analytical, aural, and performance exercises, a student of this course will be able to recognize, understand, and describe the basic materials and processes of music that are heard or presented in a score.

CHAMBER SINGERS

This performance oriented course is open to all students in grades 9-12 who wish to participate in ensemble singing. Previous choral experience is not necessary and there is no audition required in order to participate.  Utilizing proper choral preparation, students will discover and/or develop their vocal music abilities as well as their music literacy, sight singing ability and knowledge of basic music theory skills and concepts.  The repertoire covers a wide range of music from classical to pop and several formal concerts are produced throughout the year. Attendance is required at all school concerts as well as any choral festivals, competitions and other performance opportunities outside of the school day.

Recognizing the principles of Individual Responsibility and Collective Accountability as well as developing a lifelong appreciation of music are several of the important goals of the class.