“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” - Plato

    The Scarsdale Middle School Music Program offers two pathways of study: performing ensembles and Exploring Music (classroom music). Both pathways develop skills and build on content knowledge gained from sequential K-5 music experiences. Students attend music class every other day for the entire year. The ensembles (band, chorus, and string orchestra) perform winter and spring evening concerts. To foster ensemble skills, students in these performing groups attend Early Morning Rehearsals (before school) as scheduled. Additional SMS performance opportunities include Vocal Music Club, Sinfonietta Strings, the Eighth Grade Musical, Chamber Wind Ensemble, All-District (elementary and 6th grade) Jazz Band, and SMS 7th/8th Grade Jazz Band. County-wide opportunities include NYSSMA and All County Festivals.

    Our Exploring Music Program serves as an alternative to participating in the performing ensembles, offering an extensive year-long course of musical experiences. While Exploring Music does not include concerts in the evening, there are avenues for performance within the class period itself.

    Music Learning Outcomes


    Students will:
    • understand the role that breath, posture, and breath support play in endurance and health.

    • understand and apply the elements of music, including pitch, rhythm, tempo, dynamics and articulation.

    • understand the relationship among the elements of music and how they create musical meaning.

    • understand and apply the musical symbol system in order to read and notate music.

    • understand the relationship between the elements of music and begin to make connections necessary to performing music individually and in an ensemble.

    • develop aural skills in relation to listening to music,

    • develop the skills needed to become a contributing member of an ensemble.

    • develop the skills needed to present performances.

    • understand the relationship between music, culture and other disciplines.

    • explore basic improvisation and composition.

    • perform, listen to, and, describe music of a wide variety of genres and styles.



    Band classes are comprised of woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. The performance literature covers a broad spectrum of music including traditional and contemporary arrangements from the standard and modern repertoire. The curriculum is designed to develop ensemble skills, instrumental technique, and a sound foundation of music theory concepts. Skills of sight-reading, ear training, and notating music are practiced in order to develop individual musicianship. The curriculum, guided by the National Core Music Standards, students will develop the skills to perform, analyze, evaluate, and compose while exploring various cultures using selected repertoire. Home practice is expected, and methods of how to practice are taught in class.




    Students who are enthusiastic about singing and who would like to sing in an ensemble are invited to be members of Chorus. Chorus enables students to experience the joy of expressing themselves through song.  In order to do this, the vocal music program is designed to help students improve and enhance their own musical and performance skills, and to be active contributors to the ensemble.  Emphasis is placed on developing healthy vocal technique, in both head and chest voices, while encouraging expressive musicianship. The curriculum, guided by the National Core Music Standards, fosters skills in sight-reading, ear training, and the ability to read and understand musical notation.

    It is our hope that students gain an understanding and appreciation of the historical contexts and cultural diversity of the pieces they perform. Through varied repertoire, vocalists are encouraged to use higher-order thinking skills as they make musical connections.  Repertoire is drawn from various genres such as American and World music, folk songs, choral classics, and popular music, including Broadway show tunes.  Through thoughtful reflection, students will assess their own vocal, musical and expressive success.




    The Middle School string program centers on acquisition of ensemble skills, habits of good musicianship, and progressive development of instrumental techniques common to all string instruments (violin, viola, cello, and bass). The curriculum, guided by the National Core Music Standards, fosters skills in sight-reading, ear training, and the ability to read and understand musical notation. In addition, practical music theory is consistently taught throughout the year with emphasis on major and minor scales, form, and rhythm practice. Critical listening, and a creative approach to rehearsing in which students are encouraged to evaluate their own and the group’s performance, are highlights of our daily work. The school maintains a supply of string instruments (3/4 and full size) so that students need not bring their own to school. Students are required to have an instrument at home and are given take-home parts on which to work. Repertoire is selected from diverse cultures, periods, and styles as appropriate for strings ranging from Baroque to Contemporary eras, including popular and familiar music occasionally.


    Exploring Music


    The Exploring Music Curriculum, guided by the National Core Music Standards is designed to develop an appreciation for music fundamentals and all types of music through listening, analyzing, playing instruments, and composing. The curriculum allows students to explore musical concepts including rhythm, melody, harmony, form, and tone color. Additionally, students will experience a broad range of genres and cultures. Students will showcase their knowledge and skills through original creative projects, using both traditional methods and music technology. Units may include world drumming, historical research, ukulele, mallet/Orff instruments, guitar, piano, and composing and arranging (by hand and using computer applications).