Curricular Music and Theatre
At the American School of Paris, we believe that every student should receive a comprehensive musical education to establish the foundation for a lifelong relationship with music.
Early Childhood Music
Through various activities involving action and movements, dancing, rhythm and musical games, children are introduced to music as a fun, exciting form of art. They will learn the basic musical concepts of a steady beat, fast/slow, high/low, loud/soft, the Kodály approach to rhythm and the families and names of musical instruments. The students will learn lots of fun songs and nursery rhymes and will learn to echo-back simple rhythm sequences and melodies in tune. Finally, the students will have a chance to be on stage and share their knowledge with their families and friends during some of our special school shows!
LS General Music (grades 1-5) Through a variety of activities involving singing, movement and instrumental play, students work to enhance music skills such as expression, rhythm, timbre, melody and form. Students develop their ability to recognize notes both in pitch and rhythmic value, identify varied musical timbres, have opportunities to play and sing in both solo and ensemble settings, and evaluate performances of both professional and student performers. Students attend three 40-minute general music classes per eight-day rotation, with two performances per grade level per year.
The Lower School SIngers, LS Band (ensemble tuition), and String Ensemble are currently run after school.
The Arts are an elective in the Middle School. With a variety of courses, each running for either a semester or a year, these classes occupy the same amount of time within the daily schedule as other academic subjects, thus acknowledging their relevance and importance to the personal and academic growth of the Middle School child.
Students are encouraged to explore a variety of arts and other electives during their Middle School years, but there is the flexibility offered to enable a child to focus on their artistic talent or passion at each grade level. Musical concerts, theatre productions and art exhibitions give students the chance to shine, and are evidence of a relevant and exciting arts curriculum for our Middle Schoolers. Many schools are embracing project-based learning and authentic assessment practices; all of this is already found and cultivated in the arts.
- MS Training Band (grades 6-7)
- MS Concert Band (grades 6/7, grade 8)
- Vox Populi Choirs (grades 6-8)
- Making Music with GarageBand (grades 7-8)
MS Training Band (grades 6-7): This is an exciting choice for students who would like to learn to play a band instrument for the first time. You can be an absolute beginner or someone changing from another instrument. Students are shown how to read music notation, how to play and look after their instrument and how to make music within an ensemble across a range of styles. The program aims to prepare students for joining the MS concert band the following year. Instruments available include: flute, clarinet, saxophone (with clarinet), trumpet, French horn, trombone, euphonium (baritone), tuba and percussion instruments. ASP has band instruments which are available to rent from the school on an annual basis. (yearlong)
MS Concert Band (grades 6/7, grade 8): This ensemble is a standard concert wind band for woodwind, brass and percussion instruments. The musical repertoire is chosen to cover a wide range of musical styles including classical, jazz, rock, soundtracks and original compositions. Students learn instrumental technique, team working and aural skills as well as basic music theory and related music history. This is a year-long course and concert performances take place at least twice a year, including combined band performances with other grade levels. Students must already read music and have played their instrument for a minimum of 1 year. Piano players may join on mallets and percussion. ASP has band instruments which are available to rent from the school on an annual basis. Members of the concert band will also be eligible to audition each year for the European MS Band Festival organized by the Association for Music in International Schools (AMIS). (yearlong)
Vox Populi Choirs (grades 6-8): These are all-comers choirs for anyone (both male and female) who wishes to sing. No prior singing or music-reading skills necessary. You simply need to be prepared to be a positive and active part of a special team that performs a variety of musical styles using the world’s most versatile and portable instrument. There will be at least two performing opportunities in one semester, with some repertoire often being linked to studies in other subjects. Vox Populi members will learn to read music well, sing confidently as a soloist, conduct, improvise, understand the history and context of the songs sung, and present a project on a musical topic of their choice. As well, students will be continually developing valuable presentation skills of projection, poise, posture, and personal confidence. The four C’s of 21st century skills - Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity – are all found in this class. Students taking this class will be eligible to audition for the AMIS International Middle School Honor Choirs. (semester or year-long)
Making Music with GarageBand (grades 7-8): Modern technology has opened up such amazing possibilities for musical expression! This course offers students with widely varied musical backgrounds insight into musical creation through hands-on experience composing and arranging their own music using digital audio production techniques. The students will use Apple’s GarageBand program on the MS Computer Lab’s MIDI keyboard-equipped workstations to explore basic concepts of melody, harmony and rhythm while composing in a wide variety of styles. A special emphasis will be placed on creating soundtracks for short films and animation projects, including an investigation of the history of music in cinema. (semester)
The Arts are an elective in the Upper School. With a variety of courses, each running for either a semester or a year, these classes occupy the same amount of time within the daily schedule as other academic subjects, thus acknowledging their relevance and importance in a student’s academic and personal development. These arts courses also contribute to a student’s GPA. Our upper school students do have graduation requirements to fulfill in terms of electives, but there is the flexibility offered to enable a child to focus on their artistic talent or passion at each grade level. Musical concerts, theatre productions and art exhibitions unite our community and are ideal examples of authentic assessment. They give students the chance to shine, and are evidence of a relevant and exciting arts curriculum for our Upper School.
- US Concert Band (Grades 9–13, full year, 1 credit)
- Ultimately Vocal Concert Choir - (Grades 9–13, full year, 1 credit)
- Digital Music (Grades 9–13, one semester, 1⁄2 credit)
- Music + (Grades 9–13, one semester, 1/2 credit)
- Advanced Musical Literacy (AML) (Grades 9–13, Semester 2 only, 1/2 credit)
- Advanced Placement Music Theory
- IB MUSIC – SL and HL
US Concert Band (Grades 9–13, full year, 1 credit)
Do you know how beneficial playing a musical instrument can be for your physical and cognitive development? Universities and colleges also look for students who can show long-term commitment to developing skills and talents in areas such as music. If you have 2 or more years of playing a woodwind, brass or percussion instrument (piano players are also welcome on percussion) then the US Concert Band is for you. The course focus is upon development of instrumental, aural and ensemble skills alongside a broad appreciation of musical periods, cultures and history. The band repertoire covers many varied styles and genres – something for everyone.
The Concert Band meets every other day and performs at 2 official school concerts each year, as well as other events. Members of the band are required to participate in all performances as they represent an important assessment each semester. Students enrolled in Concert Band are also eligible to audition for the AMIS International Honor Band Festivals that take place at various schools around the world.
Ultimately Vocal Concert Choir - (Grades 9–13, full year, 1 credit)
Ultimately Vocal is a choir open to all students who want to sing! Enthusiasm compulsory, experience optional! The class reinforces the fundamentals of vocal technique and the skills necessary for performing choral repertoire from a wide variety of musical styles and genres. Opportunities are also given to experience conducting and accompanying, or to perform as soloists and members of smaller vocal ensembles. A choir is a team effort and as this is a performance based course, participation in all school concerts (approximately three per year) is required. Students enrolled in Ultimately Vocal are eligible to audition for the AMIS International Honor Choir Festival.
Digital Music (Grades 9–13, one semester, 1⁄2 credit)
A subtitle for this introductory course might be “What Music Is and How to Make It”, as it combines an overview of the roots and development of American popular music – blues, folk, country, jazz, rock and rap – with hands-on experience creating and arranging music using digital audio production techniques. The ASP Media Lab’s MIDI keyboard-equipped Macintosh computers allow students with widely varied musical backgrounds to learn basic concepts of melody, harmony and rhythm while creating their own compositions. The students will also produce soundtracks for films made in ASP’s Digital Filmmaking classes.
Music + (Grades 9–13, one semester, 1/2 credit)
This exploratory music course is especially designed to cater for those who enjoy music but may not have learnt an instrument or think they can. The course is structured to accommodate individual musical tastes and pursuits, as well as to develop an awareness and appreciation of what’s new. Generic aspects of music are explored and explained through developing skills in keyboard and guitar playing, listening, reading, and composing.
Advanced Musical Literacy (AML) (Grades 9–13, Semester 2 only, 1/2 credit)
This course is designed for those students who wish to deepen their knowledge and understanding of music as a language. It is the natural path for students to take towards AP or IB music, starting from 9th grade. With composition as a basis for exploration of the theory and history of music, students will develop an advanced knowledge of the written musical language, greater aural perception and analytical skills and an appreciation of the historical contexts of styles. This course is an ideal supplement for those students enrolled in choir or band classes, and it serves as a prerequisite for higher level music courses. The ability to comfortably read music in both treble and bass clefs is a requirement for AML.
Advanced Placement Music Theory
AP Music Theory is a college level music course with the “goal of developing a student’s ability to recognize, understand, and describe basic materials and processes of music that are heard or presented in a score.” (AP guide) Students will be able to consolidate aural, analytical, sight singing, written and compositional skills, as well as develop the technical terminology to confidently and accurately describe music that is heard or seen. Although the course focuses on the tonal western music tradition, music from a wide variety of styles and cultures is used in both aural and written exercises. The AP exam comprises a sight singing component along with written and aural components. Students are encouraged to participate in a band or choir class to put this theory work into practice. A fluent knowledge of treble and bass notation, scales, key signatures and primary chords, is the entry-level requirement for this course.
IB MUSIC – SL and HL
IB Music is a 2-year advanced music course with a focus on the development of a broad set of musical skills from composition, performance, analysis and musical literacy. Both SL and HL students study musical perception, including the analysis of set works which are questioned, along with other aspects of literacy and perception, in a listening examination paper. Both are also required to submit a written investigation of links between different musical genres. HL students, and SL students choosing the performance option, submit a program of performances at the upper level of their ability. SL students may choose a group or solo performance track. If choosing the group option, students must be able to participate regularly in band or choir. HL students, and SL students choosing the composition option, prepare a portfolio of compositions demonstrating creative growth. A solid foundation of musical literacy is required for an IB Music course, and participation in a performing ensemble, even for HL students is highly recommended.
Theatre classes are scheduled within the school day, beginning in Grade 6 and culminating in the IB Theatre courses for those who wish to pursue theatre to that level.
Theatre Foundations I & II, Advanced Theatre, Theatre in French
IB Theatre, Ensemble Theatre