The Music Program
By the time he enters Middle School, a Browning boy has already received training in five fundamental aspects of music: singing, playing instruments, listening, movement, and reading and writing notation. The Middle School music program expands awareness and appreciation of the more subtle aspects of these five areas of musical experience. Understanding the expressive tools of music, utilizing those tools to create music that expresses emotion, and fluency in reading and writing notation are stressed in the Middle School.
Students begin their study of music theory, using the text “Full Voice”, with the structure of the major and minor scales, and the intervals that are produced in reference to the “home pitch.” Aural training of major and minor intervals is reinforced by singing popular songs. The boys practice their fluency of treble clef and partial bass clef notation, as well as their understanding of expressive tools and musical terminology by singing and discussing the music of various composers.
In Grade Six, students begin to recognize and replicate wider intervals, and begin singing in simple homophonic and polyphonic harmonies. They continue to study the structure of the major & minor scales, the intervals that are produced in reference to its “home pitch,” and how to transpose melodies to different key areas. They achieve fluency of treble and bass clef notation and understanding of expressive tools by singing and discussing music of various composers. By the end of the year the boys use cloud-based software to create a “film score” and discuss music using a variety of musical terminologies.
Form I Music focuses on ensemble performance using several types of musical instruments. Following an introductory unit that reviews basic knowledge of theory and mastery of sight-reading skills, the boys learn to play performance pieces on hand chimes, and African drums. For their ensemble debut as a class, the Form I boys perform during the annual Browning Holiday Program. Emphasis is placed on developing an ensemble technique and the discipline required to achieve a coordinated group effort. The boys develop a greater understanding of how music and musicians influence and comment on the world around them.
Form II Music is designed to review and refine performance technique on djembe drums, as well as tackle more complex aural skills. Form II boys play djembes during the annual Browning Thanksgiving Assembly. Emphasis is on developing an ensemble technique and the discipline required to achieve a coordinated group effort. In the second semester the boys undertake the study of a major composer, and compose their own recitative. The complexity of the material and subtlety of interpretation are distinguishing features of this level of study.
Middle School Chorus
The Browning Middle School Chorus provides an opportunity for students to sing with boys from different grade levels and prepare music for performances such as the Holiday Program, and the Interschool Choral Festival. The focus is on producing a free and healthy sound and reinforcing sight-singing skills learned in the classroom. The boys also participate in a competition at the end of the year.
The Browning Ovation Orchestra provides an opportunity for students who play orchestral instruments, to perform in the Holiday Program, the Middle School Music Recital, and special assemblies for the Parents’ Association and Lower School boys. Focus is placed on building technical mastery on the instrument, developing a unified ensemble sound, and achieving greater fluency in reading music.