Music

Course Descriptions

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Each music student at the Baltimore School for the Arts receives one weekly lesson in his or her specialty area.  These lessons are taught by our staff of 35 part and full-time faculty.  Faculty members include artists who also teach at Peabody and other fine institutions of higher education, as well as performers with the Baltimore Symphony and the Washington Opera.  Vocal students should practice for a minimum of 45 minutes per day and instrumentalists should spend a minimum of 2 hours per day preparing lesson material.  Private lessons are devoted to developing the basic musical tools to unlock students’ musical talent and prepare them for further study at the finest colleges and conservatories.


This course meets three days per week and teaches rudimentary musical literacy.  Sight singing and the development of aural skills is heavily emphasized.  Rhythmic and melodic dictation is studied.  Students also learn the writing of scales, intervals and triads.  Homework, both aural and written, should be expected after each class meeting.


This course meets three days each week and continues the development of musical literacy through sight singing of non-modulating melodies, dictation of one and two voice melodies and rhythmic dictation.  Written skills include harmonic and melodic analysis, writing triads and seventh chords in inversions and identifying harmonic and melodic cadences.


This course meets five days per week and deals with improvement of aural sight singing skills.  Modulating melodic dictation and simple harmonic dictation are introduced.  Written skills include analysis and part-writing of common practice harmony using dominant and secondary dominant chords, augmented sixth chords and modulation.


College Prep Musicianship meets three days per week for one semester.  It continues the emphasis on aural skills to prepare students for college music theory placement examinations.  Four-part harmonic writing is explored in the forms of written examples and dictation exercises. 

MIDI Studio meets three days per week for one semester.  It introduces composition and performance using electronic musical instruments in a MIDI network.  Basic acoustics and the use of computers for musical notation are discussed as well.


Keyboard I is offered to voice students and it meets five days each week, with three days of instruction and two days of directed practice.  This course teaches elementary keyboard skills for those with little or no prior keyboard background.  Scales, chords and simple piano repertoire are taught.  Practice at home is required


Keyboard II is offered to voice students and it meets three days per week and includes transposition, intermediate piano repertoire and harmonization of melodies.


An introduction to active music listening, Music Literature I meets twice each week..  The course begins with the elements of music (melody, harmony, meter, dynamics, etc).  Form is introduced in its most basic application.  A survey of art song, opera, symphonic music and chamber music concludes the course.  Study of class notes and listening to class recordings is required.


This course meets twice per week.  It is a chronological survey of Western music from 1500 to the present.  Emphasis is placed on the historical development of musical styles.  Score reading, transposition and analysis are introduced.


Offered as part of the 4th year program, this course meets twice per week and offers surveys  jazz (fall semester) and music of the last 100 years  (spring semester).


Vocal Diction and Repertoire consists of a four year cycle of courses meeting four times per week.
The first year focuses on English diction and simple song repertoire.  The International Phonetic Alphabet is introduced and special problems relating to sung English are studied.
The second year covers Italian pronunciation and Italian art song.
The third year covers German pronunciation and Leider.  German poetry and its pronunciation are also studied.
The fourth year covers French pronunciation and chanson.  The music is placed in its historical context and poetry is studied.


Freshman Year
Beginning Musicianship (3 hours)
Music Literature I (2 hours)
Keyboard I (5 hours)
English Diction/Repertoire (4 hours)
Chorus (5 hours)
Recital (1 hour)
Private Lesson (1 hr), Piano Coaching (.5 )

Sophomore Year
Intermediate Musicianship (3 hours)
Music Literature II (2 hours)
Keyboard II, Song Interpretation (5 hours)
Italian Diction/Repertoire (4 hours)
Chorus (5 hours)
Recital (1 hour)
Private Lesson (1 hr), Piano Coaching (.5)

Junior Year
Advanced Musicianship (5 hours)
German Diction/Repertoire (3 hours)
Chamber Chorus (5 hours)
Chorus (5 hours)
Recital (1 hour)
Private Lesson (1 hr), Piano Coaching (.5)

Senior Year
College Prep Musicianship/MIDI Studio (3)
Jazz Lit/Music of the Last 100 yrs (2 hours)
French Diction/Repertoire (3 hours)
Chamber Chorus (5 hours)
Chorus (5 hours)
Recital (1 hour)
Private Lesson (1 hr), Piano Coaching (.5)


Freshman Year
Beginning Musicianship (3 hours)
Music Literature I (2 hours)
Performance Ensembles (6 hours)
Chorus (5 hours)
Recital (1 hour)
Private Lesson (1 hour)
Piano Coaching (.5 hour)


Sophomore Year
Intermediate Musicianship (3 hours)
Music Literature II (2 hours)
Performance Ensembles (6 hours)
Chorus (5 hours)
Recital (1 hour)
Private Lesson (1 hour)
Piano Coaching (.5 hour)

Junior Year
Advanced Musicianship (5 hours)
Performance Ensembles (6 hours)
Chorus (5 hours)
Recital (1 hour)
Private Lesson (1 hour)
Piano Coaching (.5 hour)

Senior Year
College Prep Musicianship/MIDI Studio (3)
Jazz Lit/Music of the Last 100 yrs (2 hours)
Performance Ensembles (6 hours)
Chorus (5 hours)
Recital (1 hour)
Private Lesson (1 hour)
Piano Coaching (.5)


Orchestra (4 hours) & Chamber Orchestra  (1 hour)
Wind Ensemble (7 hours)
String Chamber Music (2 hours)
Jazz Big Band (2 hours) & Jazz Combo/Improvisation (1 hour)
Flute Ensemble (1 hour)
Clarinet Ensemble (1 hour)
Percussion Ensemble (2 hours)
Brass Ensemble (1 hour) & Brass Quintet (1 hour)
Guitar Ensemble (2 hours)


Chorus - All music students participate in chorus 1 period each day.  Chorus provides students the opportunity to engage their imagination in the production of music without intervening instruments.  The chorus performs masterworks of the repertoire in several concerts per year.  Solfege, harmonic analysis and vocal production skills are applied to real-world performance practice.

Orchestra - The orchestra has a schedule of 7 periods of rehearsal per week, including sectional rehearsals.   Several concerts per year are prepared, including choral concerts, a concerto concert and other special events.  The orchestra presently has about 50 members.

Wind Ensemble - This ensemble introduces wind players to large ensemble performance.  Individual musical responsibility is emphasized.  Rhythm, tuning and stylistic performance practice are studied.

Jazz Big Band - The big band introduces jazz players to jazz style, improvisation and ensemble techniques. 


String Chamber Music –All string students play in small ensembles.  Each group is coached by a faculty member 1 period per week.  Independent ensemble rehearsal and analysis techniques are emphasized. 

Chamber Chorus - The chamber chorus consists of junior and senior voice majors.  Music of a more advanced nature is studied, as well as smaller scale choral works.  This ensemble has frequent performances and a large repertoire.

Jazz Combo - This ensemble performs jazz standards in a quartet to septet format.  Improvisation is emphasized.

Guitar Ensemble - The guitar ensemble introduces guitarists to the skills required to play with others. Original and transcribed music is studied.

Brass Ensembles - Small and large brass ensembles perform brass music of many historical styles.  Ensemble rehearsal and performance techniques are emphasized.
Percussion Ensemble - The percussion ensemble deals with contemporary music for percussion.  Mallet and tuned percussion is often emphasized.

Saxophone Quartet - This ensemble consists of soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones.  Original and transcribed music is studied with a focus on intonation, balance and ensemble performance practice.

Creative Ensemble – This ensemble of mixed instrumentation develops its own music with the assistance of the coach.  Collaborative projects with young people of other communities are an important feature of this ensemble.



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"I was an inner-city kid, and the school exposed me for the first time to a number of cultures. That helped to break down biases. From 8 to 4, it was our own little utopia."
Antonio Hart
Class of 1986, Grammy-nominated Jazz Saxophonist

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