2013-14 Music Courses
The goal of the Performing Arts Department is to introduce students to the discipline and the creative process of the performing arts. We stress ensemble work in our classes and productions, creating a trusting environment that allows students to free their imaginations and develop self-confidence and spontaneity. Our classes accommodate students with no performing experience, as well as those interested in pursuing performing arts professionally.
Urban Advanced Studies (UAS) classes in the Performing Arts Department are designed to challenge students to deepen their practice in a given discipline. The primary expectation of advanced visual and performing artists is serious involvement with their creative pursuit in a disciplined manner, with a commitment to exploring the practice with curiosity, conviction and technical mastery.
Advanced musicianship in ensembles (advanced jazz band and chamber singers) involves performance demonstrated at or near a collegiate level. A student in an advanced musical ensemble must have achieved proficiency with his/her instrument; proficiency is determined based on the following criteria: An understanding of phrasing, intonation, tonal beauty, ensemble blend, dynamic variance, rhythmic accuracy, and beginning-level sight-reading, as well as agility and precision with fast-moving note passages. For singers, the ability to solo on a beginning-level art song with poise and an expressive interpretation is required. Jazz instrumentalists will be required to be able to improvise solos over chord progressions. In theory classes, students must achieve fluency in the following skill areas: sight-reading of beginning-level literature, interval recognition, intonation, basic melodic and rhythmic dictation, harmonic analysis, scales and melody/harmony relationships classification of basic musical forms and instrument timbres, and creation of short-form compositions.
Introduction to Urban Singers is a performance-oriented class in which students study vocal technique and basic musicianship skills. Students learn fundamental principles for successful singing in a choral environment. The repertoire is drawn from a broad range of styles, including pop, gospel, folk, rock, classical and jazz. Students in this class will join Urban Singers during the second half of Fall term. Upon successful completion of this course, students may join Urban Singers in Block III. Students are able to perform in the Winter Concert with the Urban Singers. (Open to freshmen and other interested students; meets during Fall term) Intro to Urban Singers is a prerequisite for performing with the Urban Singers. (1/2 credit)
Urban Singers Urban Singers is a performance-oriented vocal group committed to musical excellence and the building of skills and community through ensemble. The concert repertoire is drawn from a broad range of styles, including pop, gospel, folk, rock, jazz and classical idioms. The ensemble is a musical ambassador for the school community, performing at school functions, neighborhood outreach centers and other Bay Area schools. Students will meet every other week in a smaller group for individualized training in theory and technique. Participating students earn one full arts credit for their yearlong commitment. (Yearlong commitment, meets for three E periods) Prerequisite: Intro to Urban Singers or instructor approval. Incoming freshmen enter this yearlong class after week 6 of Fall Term. (1 credit)
20th Century American Popular Music: Students will acquire a familiarity with the basic music structures and stylistic developments of American popular music, as well as becoming familiar with some of the major artists and innovators of this music. Particular vocal and instrumental styles that will be studied include Spirituals, Blues, Be-bop, Tin Pan Alley, Rap, Rock ‘n Roll, American Musicals, and Rhythm and Blues. The goal of studying these genres is to give the student a sense not only of chronology but the interconnectedness of these forms. Our course materials will include primary source documents (newspaper articles and reviews, interviews, testimonials, and memoirs), and we will study recorded examples and videos by some of the major artists of the 20th century. Many of the recordings we hear will be hard-to-find archival recordings and videos of artists playing in their prime. (1/2 credit)
Introduction to Jazz Band will prepare beginning instrumentalists for assimilation into Jazz Band by teaching the beginning tools and techniques in a supportive environment. This class will help musicians find their place in the band through specific, necessary instruction and assessment. Entering musicians will be part of a team, making the transition into the larger group smoother, more efficient and complete. Skills will include Chart-Reading, Improvisation, Musicianship, Ear-Training, Ensemble playing, Intonation, Theory and Repertoire Development. (Open to freshmen and other interested students; meets during Fall term) Intro to Jazz Band is a prerequisite to joining either Lab or Advanced Jazz Bands. (1/2 credit)
Rhythm Section Essentials is a continuation of the Intro to Jazz Band class for rhythm section players. It is designed to help players hone and refine the skills necessary to be contributing member of the rhythm section in one of the jazz bands. The focus is on chart reading, groove, playing styles and supportive "comping." In addition, we touch on elements of repertoire that are integral to the jazz medium including blues, swing, Latin jazz and more modern approaches. This class will prepare a player for jazz band while being a stand-alone ensemble that performs as part of the Spring Combo series at Urban. (Meets all year during one E period) No prerequisites.
Lab Jazz Band is a large ensemble focusing on development of the basic technical and conceptual skills required for participation in the Advanced Jazz Band. Previous experience on an instrument is recommended, but not required. Students will also perform in small combos incorporating non-jazz styles such as rock, pop, fusion and funk, depending on their experience. Combos will meet every other week after school for the entire school year. Participating students earn one full arts credit for their yearlong commitment. (Yearlong commitment, meets for three E periods) Prerequisite: Audition or instructor approval. (1 credit)
Advanced Jazz Band is a large ensemble specializing in music from the American jazz tradition. It focuses on performance and gives two major concerts a year. Previous experience on an instrument is required. Students also perform in small combos incorporating other styles such as rock, pop, fusion and funk, depending on their experience. Students work on improvisation and other fundamental skills in combos meeting every other week after-school. Participating students earn one full arts credit for their yearlong commitment. (Yearlong commitment, meets for three E periods) Prerequisite: Audition or instructor approval. (1 credit)
Chamber Orchestra is an ensemble of classical musicians focusing on music ranging from the standard Baroque orchestra repertoire through American contemporary styles. The ensemble performs two large concerts a year. Previous experience on an instrument is required. Through rehearsal preparation, all students acquire pedagogical knowledge of their instrument, enhance their rhythmic skills, and increase their listening and ensemble skills. Additionally, students will rehearse in small chamber groups (one instrument on a part) with coaching sessions every other week after school. In these small groups, students will learn how to rehearse independently, communicate effectively, and perform standard classical chamber music. Participating students earn one full arts credit for their yearlong commitment. (Yearlong commitment, meets for three E periods) Prerequisite: Audition or instructor approval. (1 credit)
UAS Music Production and Engineering will actively explore the roles and responsibilities of music producers and engineers from idea inception to finished product. Students will immerse themselves in basic studio technologies and recording procedures, focusing on digital audio technology. Students will learn about types of microphones, microphone placement, tracking, digital effects, mixing and editing, as well as talent management, preproduction and problem solving. There will be in-class evaluation of commercial recordings and student work. The class culminates in student-produced final recording projects, utilizing the skills taught throughout the class. Prerequisite: Music Theory 1 or instructor approval. (1/2 credit)
Music Theory 1 answers the questions “How does music work? How does one create original music?“ Music Theory 1 is geared toward achieving a greater understanding of and facility with the music that we listen to, perform and create. This course accommodates multiple experience levels; no previous experience is necessary. Students with previous experience will explore topics on a deeper, more challenging level. Topics include notation, intervals, scales, melodic writing, chords, basic chord progression and song forms. This course is a prerequisite for UAS Music Theory 2: Advanced Music Theory/Composition and Music Production and Engineering. Open to Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors - Freshmen only with instructor permission. Prerequisite: Intro to Urban Singers, Intro Jazz Band or instructor approval (1/2 credit)
Advanced Musical Ensemble (Senior Spring Seminar) Ensembles provides an opportunity for senior musicians to build, rehearse and perform with a small group in any musical style. Seniors may participate in more than one group and may draw from the student body to fill out their group's personnel. The bands will work closely with a faculty mentor, but group leaders will also be expected to choose their ensemble's personnel and repertoire as well as run their own rehearsals. The class will culminate in a showcase performance featuring all student groups. (Seniors Only) (1/2 Credit)
Senior Music Project (Senior Spring Seminar) provides an opportunity for senior musicians to build, rehearse and perform with a small ensemble at an advanced level. Skills focus includes advanced instrumental and vocal techniques, successful ensemble collaboration and performance savvy. Students will work closely with a faculty mentor, and they are asked to take leadership to drive rehearsals. The class will culminate in a showcase performance in the form of a recital or short musical theater piece. Students participating in Cal Studies have the option of taking this in Block 5 only, pending instructor approval. Prerequisite: instructor approval. (1/2 Credit)
Courses Offered in Alternative Years
UAS Music Theory 2: Composition (AP test optional) explores the skills necessary to begin creating original music pieces. Students will continue to study music theory in conjunction with several compositional projects of varying size and scope. Through analysis and text students will gain a broad and in-depth understanding of how music is put together. The resulting compositions will be created and performed using both music notation software and live players. This class will re-introduce all elements of music (rhythm, melody, harmony and form) solfege, scales, harmony, ear training, theoretical analysis of progression, basic arranging and composition. These tools will be necessary as we explore modes, modal and minor harmony, odd meter, chromatic solfege, symmetrical scales and more. Students will deepen their understanding of rhythm, develop their ears and incorporate new tools for composition. We will explore and master fundamental music writing skills, including notation, key signatures, relative scales and modes, melodic development and basic and advanced harmonic progression and analysis. At the conclusion, students will have the option of taking an AP music theory test. Prerequisite: Music Theory 1 or instructor approval. (1/2 credit)