In the words of William Shakespeare, “music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rock, or bend a knotted oak.” In writing about the power of music, the poet implied its unique character among the arts and, indeed, among the achievements of humankind. Music is arguably the purest articulation of the human spirit ever achieved and, as such, it is not only a treasure to be cherished and shared by all people but an unsurpassed medium of communication as well. For these reasons, Westminster School believes that an education in music is essential to the development and well-being of each child.
Music and Choral Program
In an age-appropriate program from Kindergarten through 8th grade, Westminster develops in students fundamental skills necessary for listening to, understanding, performing, and enjoying music of high quality. Students are exposed to a broad spectrum of traditional music and develop awareness of the components of increasingly sophisticated pieces. Class activities encourage keen listening and active response to music. Students gain familiarity with selected works of major composers from the Western classical tradition.
For students in all grades, the voice is treated as an important instrument, with instruction in good singing technique, phrasing, dynamics, and interpretation. Choral speaking is included in the elementary grades, with a focus on inflection and diction. In the upper grades, students’ musical and cultural knowledge is expanded through visits to symphony, ballet, and opera performances.
The joy of self-expression and confidence in performance are important goals of the music program at Westminster School. Twice each year, students demonstrate their vocal accomplishments in choral performances before the assembled students, staff, and guests of the school. For those students who wish to be more involved in singing, Junior Chorus provides an additional opportunity for students in grades 3-6. Moreover, the Music Department works cooperatively with the Drama Department to prepare students for their annual plays, helping to select appropriate music and coaching students in solo and group singing.
Westminster offers an optional orchestra program for students in grades 3-8. Currently, lessons are offered for violin, cello, flute, and clarinet. Participating students receive weekly instrument lessons during the school day, in addition to twice weekly ensemble practice. The goals of the program include the introduction and refinement of instrumental skills and the development of a high-quality, performing orchestra. The orchestra performs twice yearly, in programs for the entire school community and guests.