Course Search 2023-2024

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Upper School Performing Arts Curriculum

Mission Statement: The Performing Arts program fosters critical thinking, discipline, and a sense of community, all in a creative and rigorous environment. Through a variety of performance and learning opportunities, students discover and cultivate an enduring connection to the intrinsic value of the performing arts in the human experience.

Morristown-Beard's Performing Arts curriculum features both performance-based and arts literacy classes. This allows students with previous experience to enhance existing skills, while also encouraging students without training to explore the world through the unique prism of the performing arts. Independent Study opportunities in all aspects of the performing arts can also be arranged. Co- and extra-curricular offerings include semiannual vocal, instrumental, and dance concerts, a fall play, winter musical, spring performing arts festival, and participation in various off-campus events.

Students interested in the play or musical are encouraged to enroll in dance, acting, or chorus.


Theater Course Offerings

Theater education stimulates creativity, problem solving ability, and critical thinking skills, while also challenging student perceptions about themselves and the world around them. With an emphasis on live performance styles, theater classes at MBS also remind students about the importance of engaging in unmediated human communication.

Acting

Instructor: Department Staff

Enrollment limited to: 12

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Fall Semester

Through script analysis and the study of speeches, monologues and scenes, students explore the fundamentals of the acting craft. Special emphasis is placed on developing a comfort level on stage for public speaking and performance, along with interpretation of dramatic text as the basis for characterization and performance style. Students are also encouraged to audition for and/or work on school productions.

Stagecraft

Instructor: Department Staff

Enrollment limited to: 8

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 10, 11, 12

Spring Semester

Students gain hands on experience in project management, budgeting, and meeting deadlines as part of the team that designs and builds scenery for MBS productions, while also learning about tools and developing practical skills.

This course may be repeated for credit.

Technical Theater

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Students explore technical elements of sound and lighting, as applied to theater, and learn principles of stage and production management. They serve as crew for morning meetings, concerts and theater productions throughout the year, and also manage rentals and other performances held in Founders Hall.

This course may be repeated for credit.

Music Ensembles

All Music Ensembles can be repeated for credit.

Completion of one year of a music ensemble counts as a prerequisite for Advanced courses in the CID.

Students who have completed over two years of an ensemble course will receive an "Experienced" designation before the course title on their transcript.

Chorus

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

This full year course offers the beginning singer an opportunity to improve tone, vocal production, volume, blending, sight singing, music reading and harmonizing. Various styles of music are explored including madrigals, Broadway, folk, gospel, international and popular selections from the choral music repertoire. Students participate in both the Winter and Spring Concerts.

This course may be repeated for credit. Students who have completed over four semesters of this course will receive an "Experienced" designation on their transcript.

String Ensemble

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Designed primarily for the intermediate to advanced student, this class focuses on developing all aspects of string technique and performance. Students hone their skills and explore the art of ensemble playing as they study and perform music of varying periods. Members of the ensemble will participate in both the Winter and Spring Concerts.

This course may be repeated for credit. Students who have completed over four semesters of this course will receive an "Experienced" designation on their transcript.

Jazz Ensemble

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Experience playing in an ensemble; placement by audition

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

This course is designed to provide a performing ensemble for experienced brass, percussion and saxophone players. Instruction includes playing technique, note reading, improvisation, and exposure to a variety of musical styles written for jazz ensemble. Students participate in the Winter and Spring Concerts.

This course may be repeated for credit. Students who have completed over four semesters of this course will receive an "Experienced" designation on their transcript.

Contemporary Percussion Ensemble

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

This class explores music specifically written for — and performed by — contemporary percussion ensembles. The class is open not only to percussionists, but anyone who has had previous musical experience, or is particularly interested in rhythm-based music. Members of the ensemble will participate in both the Winter and Spring Concerts.

This course may be repeated for credit. Students who have completed over four semesters of this course will receive an "Experienced" designation on their transcript.

Dance Course Offerings

The foundation of the MBS Dance curriculum is the three-year sequence from introductory through Advanced Dance. These full-year courses include extensive warm-up, as well as exercises to develop proper alignment, flexibility, coordination and strength. Various styles are explored throughout the sequence, including jazz, modern and lyrical.

Dance

Instructor: Department Staff

Enrollment limited to: 14

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10

Full Year Course

This course is for the beginning student or one who has a limited knowledge of dance technique and performance. Students will gain an increased understanding of their individual range of movement.

This course may be repeated for credit.

Intermediate Dance

Instructor: Department Staff

Enrollment limited to: 12

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Dance Performance is for the student with an intermediate knowledge of dance. Students will explore stage presence, improvisation and choreography, as well as continue to perfect individual technique. Students participate in both the Winter and Spring Concerts.

This course may be repeated for credit.

Advanced Dance

Instructor: Department Staff

Enrollment limited to: 16

Prerequisites: Teacher recommendation

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Advanced Dance is for the highly experienced dance student. There is a strict emphasis on technique and strength development. All students must participate in winter and spring dance concerts and mandatory after-school rehearsals. Students participate in both the Winter and Spring Concerts.

This course may be repeated for credit.

Morristown Beard Dance Ensemble

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Teacher recommendation and audition

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

The MBS Dance Ensemble is an elite group of well-trained dancers who may have the desire to pursue dance as a career. Entrance into the dance ensemble is by recommendation and audition only. Students participate in both the Winter and Spring Concerts.

This course may be repeated for credit.

Tap

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

This class is designed for students new to tap, or students who would like to continue their Middle School tap training. Students will have the opportunity to develop rhythmic and musical literacy, physical coordination, dexterity, and speed of movement.

This course may be repeated for credit.

Advanced Tap

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Teacher recommendation

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Full Year Course

Advanced Tap is for the experienced tap student. Students will continue to develop rhythmic and musical literacy, physical coordination, dexterity, and speed of movement, with an emphasis on advanced technique.

This course may be repeated for credit.

Introductory Music Classes (single semester)

These courses fulfill the prerequisite for Advanced Music classes in the CID.

Piano Skills

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Offered in the Fall and in the Spring

In this course, students will use the controller keyboards and student workstations in the Center for Innovation and Design (CID) to learn the basics of keyboard playing in a group setting. From simple chords and melodies, to keyboard harmony, elementary music sequencing (using Apple’s Logic Pro X software), and reading of more advanced, traditionally-notated piano repertoire, students will acquire foundational skills applicable to any musical style.

Foundations: Music

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Fall Semester

This class serves as an introduction to the language of music through its fundamental elements: rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, form, tone color, dynamics and articulation. Students will acquire musical literacy, gain familiarity with musical notation and terminology, and build listening skills through exposure to a variety of both Western and non-Western musical forms.

Please note that this is considered a core academic course.

Music Theory

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Ability to read music, or departmental permission

Open to students in the following grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Spring Semester

Designed as an enhancement to other music courses, this class offers an in-depth exploration of the elements of tonal music. Topics include the Circle of Fifths, major and minor scales, chords and their inversions, intervals, rhythm, and harmonic analysis. Ear training is used to help students hone their listening and musical skills.

Please note that this is considered a core academic course.

Intermediate Courses: Performing Arts in the CID

Fundamentals of Studio Recording

Instructor: Department Staff

Enrollment limited to: 10

Prerequisites:

Open to students in the following grades: 10, 11, 12

Fall Semester

Focusing on recording live instruments, this course will teach students the fundamentals of mic placement, recording levels, overdubs, session management and mix down, using Apple’s Logic Pro X Digital Audio Workstation software. Projects may include recording of MBS Performing Arts ensembles in the studio setting. Emphasis on preparation of recordings for use in varied distribution systems, including the MBS website. Additional topics may include advanced audio editing for use with appropriate video media.

This course may be repeated for credit.

Advanced Courses: Performing Arts in the CID

To take Advanced courses in the CID, students are required to have taken at least one qualifying prerequisite course:

One year of a music ensemble (Chorus, String Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, or Contemporary Percussion Ensemble) or one semester of an Introductory Music Class (Piano Skills, Foundations: Music, or Music Theory).

Open to students in 10, 11, 12 or by departmental recommendation.

Electronic Music Composition

Instructor: Department Staff

Enrollment limited to: 10

Prerequisites: At least one semester of a music ensemble (Chorus, String Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Contemporary Percussion Ensemble) or Introductory Music Class or by Departmental Recommendation.

Open to students in the following grades: 10, 11, 12

Spring Semester

Using a variety of sound sources, including digital synthesis, live recording, and sampling, students will produce original music tracks on the Logic Pro X platform. Additional projects will include composition using the collection of hardware analog synthesizers and sequencers located in the CID. Included in the course will be a study of early electronic music repertoire as a model for new compositions, as well as a survey of techniques used in the production of modern commercial electronic music.

Performing Arts in Society

Courses listed below place the Performing Arts in social and historical contexts.

Listening to the 20th Century: Part I (1900-1945) (also listed in History)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 10, 11, 12

Fall Semester

Formerly "The Rest is Noise," this course will introduce students to the classical music written in the midst of the turbulent politics, wars, and revolutionary movements of the early twentieth century. Exploring the immense changes in musical style that characterize this period, this course will examine the important cultural, political, and social shifts that inspired and shaped such diverse music. We will be guided by Alex Ross’ bestseller, “The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century.” Students will be assessed by formal essays and presentations, with opportunities for creative responses to the music we encounter.

Students can take either semester (Fall or Spring) as a standalone class, or take both classes consecutively (Fall and Spring).

Please note that this course is cross-listed with History department electives and carries credit for a semester of History.

Listening to the 20th Century: Part II (1945-2000) (also listed in History)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 10, 11, 12

Spring Semester

Formerly "The Rest is Noise," this course will introduce students to the classical music written in the midst of the turbulent politics, wars, and revolutionary movements of the late twentieth century. Exploring the immense changes in musical style that characterize this period, this course will examine the important cultural, political, and social shifts that inspired and shaped such diverse music. We will be guided by Alex Ross’ bestseller, “The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century.” Students will be assessed by formal essays and presentations, with opportunities for creative responses to the music we encounter.

Students can take either semester (Fall or Spring) as a standalone class, or take both classes consecutively (Fall and Spring).

Please note that this course is cross-listed with History department electives and carries credit for a semester of History.