An instrumental program is introduced in Middle One as part of the curriculum.
Every child selects an orchestral instrument and receives weekly group lessons taught by specialists in the music department. Students also participate in regular ensembles (string and wind) that reinforce skills taught in the smaller group lessons.
Students in Middle Two through Middle Four choose to continue either with their instrumental study or as part of the choral program. Students who elect to continue with their instrument are required to take a weekly private lesson (at UNIS or elsewhere) at additional cost to parents. Those who choose chorus are not required to take additional lessons. Course offerings at each of these grade levels include Band, String Orchestra and Chorus. Elements of the Kodály-based approach are still used but modified to suit the group. As with the Junior School program, Middle School classroom repertoire and concert selections explore the diversity of international musical traditions. Regular concerts are held twice a year.
(See the K-12 Music Curriculum)
Students in Middle One study an orchestral instrument, with the support of weekly small-group instruction from instrumental specialists. They may choose from the following instruments: violin, cello, flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, trombone and euphonium (euphonium is offered at the Manhattan campus only). Middle One students continue to sing throughout the year, and indeed much of the instrumental repertoire is adapted from the vocal tradition.
Students in Middle Two are given the choice of either continuing to study their instrument or joining the vocal class. At the Manhattan campus, there are four separate Middle Two classes: vocal, strings, brass and woodwinds. In Queens, there are three ensembles that combine Middle Two, Middle Three and Middle Four students: band, string orchestra and chorus. Students in all classes take part in an interdisciplinary unit on the music of ancient India and in a broad-based study of the classical period and Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 4.
Students in Middle Three choose between the instrumental (string orchestra or band) and choral classes. In the winter, students learn about the music of the traditional West African kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhai, in conjunction with the social studies curriculum. They also complete a semester-long study of the Romantic period.
The class divisions in Middle Four remain the same as in Middle Three.
Additional Performing Opportunities for Middle School Students
Additional offerings in the Middle School at the Manhattan campus include Concert Choir, Jazz Band and the Middle School Musical. The Concert Choir performs regularly at the UN and other venues in the New York City area. Recent appearances have included Carnegie Hall, West Point, Sotheby's and Sesame Street. The orchestra recently performed along with musicians from other local independent schools at Carnegie Hall, and the Jazz Band is featured in many school assemblies and outside venues. The Middle School also stages an annual musical in conjunction with the after-school program. Past productions have included Oliver!, Bye Bye Birdie, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Pirates of Penzance and Annie.
At the Queens campus, Start Your Day with a Bang features percussion students in a performance ensemble. These musicians play a variety of percussion instruments and learn world music traditions such as Brazilian Samba and Afro-Cuban/Caribbean, while also composing and improvising their own music. End Your Day with a Song is a vocal ensemble for students who are deeply interested in music and want to be part of a challenging group. Queens students also perform in after-school chamber music groups.