Beginning in preschool, children explore musical concepts through movement, classroom instruments, and singing. They are then introduced to the elements of music, including musical notation, literacy, and the form of musical compositions. They study different composers, orchestral instruments, and music in various cultures.
Lessons are rich and exuberant, providing foundational learning for a lifelong appreciation of music. Students apply and demonstrate what they learn in the classroom through concerts and performances. The school also offers the opportunity to study piano, guitar, voice, drama, and dance in after-school programs.
In addition to concerts, children in preschool and kindergarten annually stage a production of The Nutcracker. Along with learning the music and choreography, children study various renditions of the tale and retell it in their own words. The Nutcracker is one of the most-anticipated events of the Lower School calendar. Students can also take part in two musical theater productions through extra-curricular programs.
Coursework gives students a deeper understanding of the principles of music and helps develop their singing voices in a choral setting. Music history and theory are taught in tandem with sight-singing, rhythm development, proper vocal and breathing techniques, and harmonization skills. Student work is showcased during winter and spring concerts, as well as in other school events. Music is a full-year required course in grades five and six, and it is a one-semester elective in grades seven and eight. The Middle School also offers an Honors Choir and various extracurricular singing groups.
The ability to communicate effectively is a vital skill that impacts every aspect of a student’s life. Coursework in drama builds confidence, dexterity, and versatility in the art of communication. Confidence, creativity, and the ability to work as a group form the building blocks for communication. In grades seven and eight, through various individual and group activities, drama students begin to create characters, tell stories, and understand and explore the actor’s instruments of mind, body, and voice. Such skills, essential in developing confident self-expression, also provide a solid foundation for students who want to pursue drama in the Upper School.
There are several opportunities for Middle School students to perform for an audience. Students in grades five and six may take part in the fall and spring musical productions. Past productions include The Lion King, Sleeping Beauty, Annie and High School Musical. Students in grades seven and eight can take part in a play and a musical each year. Recent productions include Honk, Eureka, Once On This Island, and Guys and Dolls. All Middle School productions are cast with a “no-cut” policy to ensure that any interested student can be part of the show and experience working together to stage a production and develop the tools for performing in Upper School.
Drama and its appreciation are important parts of the enrichment program. Participation encourages cooperation and teamwork and helps to develop confidence and poise. The Upper School fall play and spring musical provide stages for student actors, enlist the assistance of student technicians and stagehands, and encourage the participation of parent volunteers.
Upper School theater involves active experimentation, fostering creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving. Courses include experiential acting classes for students interested in learning about the acting process, as well as for students who are experienced performers. Courses are also available for students who wish to learn more about aspects of theater production, including direction and stagecraft.
The award-winning GSB Players stage two productions each year, a play in the fall and a musical in the spring. In addition, students taking coursework in directing showcase their craft by staging one-act plays each spring. The "S'PACCtacular" or "Joe Show", a student-led talent show, provides further opportunities to perform. Recent performances include The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, Meet Me in St. Louis, and Pippin.
The Upper School offers choral music coursework and performance opportunities for a range of abilities and interests. Students enrolled in Concert Choir are invited to audition for extracurricular choirs, including the Knightingales and Blue in the Face. These groups meet evenings during the week and focus on more sophisticated musical works.
Music theory courses provide a deep understanding of how music works and the elements of construction. Students in music theory can arrange pieces for the choral concerts, giving them a chance to debut their work.
The Upper School fall play and spring musical, the Middle School play, and the Lower School Nutcracker performance provide stages for actors and enlist the assistance of technicians and stagehands.
Recent Photo Galleries
Congratulations to the cast and crew of Pippin! The outstanding Spring 2020 production ran in the Performing Arts & Community Center.
Singing, dancing, and piano playing rounded out this year's GSB Joe Show, directed by Amy and David Southerland.
Our beloved Lower School tradition, the Early Childhood Concert and the delightful rendition of "The Nutcracker," caps a season of beautiful winter concerts!
Performing Arts Chair
Paul H. Canada, Chair of the Performing Arts Department, has been teaching theater and staging award-winning Upper School productions for three decades. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in costume and set design from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, as well as a Bachelor of Music Education in vocal music from Mississippi College. He has worked extensively as a director and designer in educational and community theatre, and as a designer in professional theater.
Whether you are serious about studying an instrument, learning about music, or you just want to explore, Gill’s music program will expand your knowledge and nurture your inner musician.