Music is an important part of every classroom, festival, and holiday, and the overall fabric of the school. Over the course of Grades 1-12 the children experience song, pentatonic flutes, diatonic flutes, Boridun lyres, note reading and basic theory, formal string orchestra, formal choir, concert band, full orchestra, jazz band, guitar ensemble, bell choir, and African drumming.
Grades 1 and 2
The children sing in unison in the Mood of the Fifth. Songs depict seasons and festivals as well as curriculum material. Each child receives a pentatonic flute and learns to play through imitation of the class teacher. Once a week, the music teacher presents a piece on the cello.
The Second Grade continues with songs in the Mood of the Fifth songs for the seasons, and pentatonic flutes. Again the children hear a musical presentation, usually on the cello, once a week. Sometimes, High School musicians perform for the Second Graders.
In the classroom, children continue to play the pentatonic flute daily, but use the Mood of the Third rather than the Fifth. The class teacher decides when the class is ready to move to the diatonic flute or recorder. The class sings unison songs, call-and-response songs, rounds, and quodlibets (musical medleys).
Where possible, the song content relates to Bible stories, farming, house building, and the seasons. Children begin to study notation using a music main lesson book. We introduce basic rhythms with picture words representing the rhythmic values. The children together say and clap the rhythm words by following pictures such as moon, sun, raindrops, and pitter-patters drawn on the board. As this work progresses, the music teacher introduces the children to the Boridun lyres, and they learn posture, strumming technique, listening, and the concept of following a conductor. The children perform several songs, some in the mood of the fifth and some diatonic. In November the class presents its first concert for the parents, singing and playing the lyre. Violin study begins soon thereafter. The school year ends with a second performance, where they perform in unison on their violins playing both pentatonic and diatonic songs.
Students learn the C-flute (diatonic flute) using both imitation and musical notation. The class sings unison songs, call-and-response songs, rounds, ostinatos (repetitive musical phrases), and possibly quodlibets. The class teacher decides when the class is ready to work on simple harmony singing.
In the stringed instrument program, students play in a string orchestra (violin, viola, cello). The class furthers its studies of note reading, good instrument posture, bow hold, ensemble playing, listening work, and following the conductor. Having spent the third grade learning music by ear, students this year read music and learn its relationship to their instruments. Instructional books support the group learning experience. The music teacher encourages good practice habits and reviews the student's progress weekly. Fourth Graders perform at two formal Lower School concerts.
The Fifth and Sixth Grades keep on playing the C flute with the class teacher and also sing seasonal or thematic pieces in two voices.
Fifth Graders continue their work in the string orchestra, and the string bass becomes an option for some students. The class further explores music theory, note reading, ensemble work, balancing within and between sections, articulation work, and advanced position work (e.g., first-third position). We use a second book of pedagogy to support position studies. The music teacher encourages good practice habits and reviews the students' progress weekly. Fifth Graders perform at two formal Lower School concerts. In addition, we offer students the opportunity to perform in yearly solo recitals as a way of furthering their studies.
In the first half of the year, some students choose to switch to band, while others stay with the string orchestra. We require those who switch to band to have private lessons for one year. These lessons expedite their musical studies so that the entire sixth grade can reunite as a full orchestra.
The class teacher leads students' work on Baroque recorders in four parts. Seasonal and thematic singing may continue.
The seventh and eighth grades combine into two larger instrumental ensembles: a full string orchestra and full concert band. These two groups work separately for the first half of the year, then come together to form a full orchestra once a week. The music teacher still encourages practice and reviews with random weekly playing tests. We also use drills to improve advanced technique (e.g., shifting, bow use and styles, spiccato, and position work). Seventh and eighth grades present the first opportunities for our students to participate in the Oregon Music Educators' Assosiation All-State Orchestra and All-State Solo competition.
The High School music program contains an array of choices for each student.
Every High School student takes part in the program and may choose which class to join, with the exception of Ninth Graders, who are required to take one term of instrumental music (orchestra or guitar class). The course offerings have included orchestra, choir, jazz band, guitar ensemble, flamenco, African drumming, and bell choir. Each course centers around two formal performances in January and May. Students are graded on attendance, participation, possible playing quizzes, preparedness, and concert performance. We focus on musicianship, advanced technique, listening skills, and more advanced theoretical knowledge.
OMEA (Oregon Music Educators Association)
All students have the opportunity to audition for All-State and All-Northwest. The process to audition involves advanced preparation of the audition material. Students then record onto CD with Mr. and Mrs. Averill. Nomination for such advanced ensembles is a great honor. All-State brings together the highest-achieving music students within the state of Oregon, and All-Northwest the highest-achieving music students from six western states. Students may audition for full orchestra, choir, jazz band, and concert band.
District and State Solo Contest Through OMEA
Students of PWHS can participate in the district solo contest. Those students then are judged at the district level on their instruments. If a student wins his or her instrument category or receives second place, he or she advances to the state solo competition. The winners from each district from the state of Oregon then compete at the state level. Students are awarded with ribbons, plaques, and adjudication sheets.