Paul Wieman reflects on meeting the composer of "Calling All Dawns" days before the Festival Chorus Concert.
Lower School Music
Music is an active part in the life of the Lower School. Students develop the skills of singing, movement, listening, composing, and playing instruments. Through visual, aural, and kinesthetic modes, students become more acquainted with music from our own culture and all over the world.
Children enjoy music class periods two times in a six-day cycle, and fourth graders have an extra chorus period once in a six-day cycle. Yearly concerts give the students a sense of pride and ownership over their musical skills.
Middle School Music
Grade 5 Music
The fifth-grade music program is structured to provide all students an experience in both band and chorus throughout the year. In chorus, students will explore music of various styles and historic periods in several languages. Solfege and ear training are incorporated alongside the study and performance of a variety of choral repertoire. In band, students are introduced to a band instrument with both small-group lessons and larger band rehearsals. They work from a beginning method book, developing a solid skill base to perform elementary band music on their selected instrument. All students participate in several major concerts during the school year.
In the choral classrooms, students acquire habits that promote discipline, cooperation, and personal responsibility as an integral part of the ensemble. Through a range of vocal and musical exercises, students learn to establish healthy vocal habits, as well as to sight read music, follow a choral score, and conduct. In addition, performance repertoire encompasses a variety of musical styles and cultures sung in several parts and different languages. The choral curriculum includes two formal concerts during the year and several opportunities for informal school and community performances. Students in the seventh- and eighth-grade Concert Chorus may audition for the select group, the CubScats. In addition, the seventh and eighth graders mount a full-scale musical each spring.
The bands provide an opportunity for students to participate in an instrumental ensemble on wind, brass and percussion instruments. Through classroom instruction, band method books/ technique books and appropriate concert repertoire, students develop a solid skill base to interpret and perform ensemble literature. The instrumental music curriculum includes two formal concerts during the year along with other informal opportunities. In addition, students of the Grade 7/8 Concert Band have the opportunity to audition for the select Middle School Jazz Band.
While singing abounds in the Lower School, formal choral singing starts in the Middle School.
There are separate fifth- and sixth-grade choruses, each with their own identities and repertoire. In seventh and eighth grades, students elect to be part of the Concert Chorus and also audition to be a member of the select CubScats. In addition to their choral repertoire, members of the Concert Chorus produce an annual musical. Recent productions include The Lion King, Shrek, Peter Pan, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Seussical, Into the Woods, Once On This Island, The Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof and Godspell.
The Upper School supports five major choral ensembles.
In addition to a eclectic repertoire, sight reading and ear training are part of the choral curriculum. All singers participate in the large - usually more than 70 students - Concert Choir. From that group, there are four additional auditioned singing groups. There are two smaller sections of Honors Choir: Madrigals (mixed SATB) and Bel Canto (trebles only). The twelve-voice WildScats, our a cappella vocal jazz group, is the only extra-curricular offering of these singing groups; all others carry full academic credit as a demonstration of the school’s commitment to music as an academic discipline.
Many of our students participate in the NYSSMA festivals, and we have sent many students both to NY All-State and Westchester area All-State ensembles.
From Disney World to St. Peter’s, members of the Concert Choir have toured both domestically and internationally over the years, with trips to Japan, Italy, Sweden, Austria, the Czech Republic, Spain, and most recently Venice, Croatia, and most recently Cuba.
Rye Country Day School has a private lesson program with outstanding teachers, offering lessons in wind, brass, percussion, bass, voice and piano.
All of our teachers are experts in their fields, both as teachers and as active, working performers. By day, they are committed, inspiring teachers, and come evening, they fill the stages of many of New York’s best musical venues. For more information, please call: 914-925-4580.
Rye Country Day School also offers an extra-curricular Chamber Music Program for instrumentalists interested in playing in small chamber ensembles.
String players and pianists are placed in groups with other musicians appropriately matched to their level. They work with a musical coach on repertoire specifically chosen for their ensemble. If you are an RCDS student interested in participating in the Chamber Music Program, please call: 914-925-4580.
Students begin their instrumental exploration with drumming and recorders in the Lower School. In fourth grade, students are introduced to the band instruments and may elect to begin private lessons on a wind instrument or percussion in the following year.
This introduction to a specific instrument prepares students for fifth-grade Beginning Band. There are separate fifth- and sixth-grade bands, each with their own identities and repertoire. In seventh and eighth grades, students elect to be part of the Concert Band and also audition to be a member of the select Middle School Jazz Band.
The Upper School supports both a Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band. In addition to a varied repertoire, the wind ensemble - made up of generally more than fifty students - also work towards individual playing goals through the band hearing curriculum. Students may audition to join the Upper School Jazz Band. The performing ensembles at RCDS carry full academic credit as a demonstration of the School’s commitment to music as an academic discipline. These instrumental ensembles tour on a yearly basis to festivals throughout the East Coast and Canada.
One of the great traditions of the Rye Country Day community is the annual Festival Chorus concert in January.
The Upper School Concert Choir combines with an adult choir of parents, faculty, alumni and friends to form the Festival Chorus. Along with full orchestra, we perform major works from the choral repertoire.
Anyone interested in joining the Festival Chorus should be in touch with Mary Marcell, Music Department Head at 914-925-4577.
One of the great traditions of the Rye Country Day community is the annual Festival Chorus concert, which brings together students, parents, faculty, alumni, parents of alumni, and friends to perform as a combined choir and orchestra.
The 2018 Winter Choral Concert featured beautiful performances from the Middle and Upper School singing groups. The Upper School Concert Choir, directed by Mary Marcell, performed particularly moving piece, "Draw the Circle Wide," which featured additional lyrics written by students in the choir.
View photos from the 2018 Winter Band Concert.