K-8 Performing Arts Program
The Cranbury School Visual and Performing Arts Webpage
From the New Jersey Department of Education:
As the state of New Jersey continues to transform public education to meet the needs of a changing world and the 21st century workforce, capitalizing on the unique ability of the arts to develop creativity, critical thinking, and innovation skills is critical to the success of our students.
The arts infuse our lives with meaning on nearly all levels—generating significant creative and intellectual capital. They inspire creative and critical thinking and encourage acceptance of diversity. A well-designed sequential arts program promotes responsible decision making, enhances self-awareness, builds self-esteem and self-management skills, and helps students build relationship and collaboration skills; all of which are essential to prepare New Jersey students for postsecondary success.
The New Jersey Student Learning Standards – Visual and Performing Arts are designed to promote lifelong artistic literacy and fluency and are guided by the mission and vision statements that follow.
Mission: To empower students to develop creative and critical thinking, social-emotional competencies, and intellectual and expressive abilities that will allow them to become active, contributing members of a global society.
Vision: All students will have equitable access to a quality, arts education that leads to artistic literacy and fluency in the artistic practices of the five art disciplines as a mechanism for:
- Performing, presenting or producing, as artistically literate individuals, by expressing and realizing creative ideas and implementing essential technical skills and cognitive abilities significant to many aspects of life and work in the 21st century.
- Responding to artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and cognizance of the ability of the arts to address universal themes, including climate change.
- Creating new artistic work reflective of a variety of ethnic, racial, and cultural perspectives.
- Connecting and evaluating how the arts convey meaning through all arts and non-arts disciplines and contexts of our global society.
The New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Visual and Performing Arts (NJSLS-VPA) describe the expectations for literacy and fluency in five artistic disciplines: dance, music, theater, visual arts, and media arts. Each artistic discipline has independent skills, knowledge, and content. However, as a field, the arts are interdependent, connected, and inclusive. The NJSLS-VPA are designed to guide the delivery of arts education in the classroom with new ways of thinking, learning, and creating. The vision of all students having equitable access to a quality arts education is only achieved when the five arts disciplines are offered continuously throughout the K–12 spectrum.
The Study of Music at the Cranbury School
Our approach to Music instruction is firmly rooted in the evidence-based principle that all children possess the aptitude to learn, create, and play music. We strive to foster positive connections with the musical art form while we develop student’s proficiency. Our District shares in the belief that music education enhances academic skills, communication skills, creativity, teamwork, discipline, cultural awareness, respect for others, and self-esteem through personal accomplishment. Our music program is centered on the goal of celebrating music of all cultures, and is rooted in the firm belief that this work is in service of humanity.
Program of Study
Upon entering kindergarten, and through fifth grade, students are engaged in musical practices that promote music literacy, analysis, ensemble performance, vocal and percussion skills and that broaden their overall musical perspectives. Our elementary General Music program is intended to create positive attitudes towards music, and prepare students for more rigorous study of music in middle school, high school, and beyond. At the end of third grade, all students will be encouraged to select an instrument. Upon entering fourth grade, students will have the opportunity to participate in Band and Choir class. Approximately 97% of fourth graders participate in both fourth grade Band and Choir. The fourth grade band focuses on new performance skills, and playing together as a large group. The fourth grade choir furthers their vocal music education by introducing harmony, more complex musical pieces and vocal technique. Once in middle school, students are required to take a music class and are able to choose Band, Choir, or both. This is also the point at which students may audition for placement into Jazz Band or Jazz Ensemble, and Advanced Choir. In middle school, our teachers place emphasis on exposing students to multicultural music and work to increase student’s musicianship and proficiency through preparation for performances.
Students are evaluated based on their progression in proficiency according to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Visual and Performing Arts. The students are engaged in the following practices: Creating, Performing, Responding, and Connecting. For each skill, these guidelines identify three major levels of proficiency: Proficient, Accomplished, and Advanced.
Students in Kindergarten through Fifth Grade are expected to perform at a Novice level. Novice level students should participate in performance opportunities suitable to their skill level. Their curiosity in music begins their journey toward personal realization and well-being. (DOE)
Middle School Students are expected to perform at an Intermediate Level. Students at the intermediate level are continuing to study in their chosen instrument. Their development continues in artistic understanding and technical and expressive skills enabling the student to begin to independently and collaboratively create, perform, and respond at their given skill level. Intermediate level students should participate in performance opportunities that correspond to their skill level. Through continued study of music, they continue their journey toward personal realization and well-being. (DOE)
4th Grade Viking Band:
The 4th grade Viking Band is the first ensemble our beginning instrumentalists will take part in. The ensemble focuses on new performance skills, such as: following the conductor, playing in time with one another, responding to written instructions on the page, and working together to create a quality ensemble sound. The students will meet as a whole ensemble once a week, and will have one small group lesson per week. The students in the ensemble work throughout the year to grow competent on their instruments, and to prepare a final concert presented in the spring.
5th Grade Cadet Band:
The 5th grade Cadet Band is made up of all 5th grade instrumentalists. This ensemble focuses on playing more intricate literature with multiple parts, and establishing confidence playing an individual part within the ensemble. They will go over concepts such as: dynamics, articulations, tempo changes, new time signatures, playing in different keys, and much more. The students work throughout the year to prepare two concerts, one in the winter, and one in the spring.
6th Grade Colonial Band:
The 6th grade Colonial Band is comprised of all 6th grade instrumental students. As the students become more proficient on their instruments, the ensemble rehearsals become much more advanced, and the students have the opportunity to perform many more styles and levels of music. Much of the music performed in the Viking and Cadet Bands focuses the student on concepts essential to beginning instrumental growth and establishing confidence on their specific instruments. As the students grow and start to perform more advanced literature, the goals become much broader, and the music becomes much more explorative. Each piece offers a new lesson to be learned: about culture or historical purpose, a new more advanced concept, or about the expression of specific emotions. The ensemble works throughout the year to prepare for a winter and spring concert.
Concert Band is composed of all 7th and 8th grade instrumental musicians. Concert Band meets twice a week for large group rehearsals. Students also attend a small group lesson once a week in order to continue to develop their proficiency on their instruments. Students explore a wide variety of genres including, marches, ballads, traditional or folk, as well as many others. There is also a strong concentration on playing music from a plethora of different cultures and backgrounds. Students in Concert Band attend the annual Music in the Parks competition.
Jazz Ensemble is a supplemental ensemble offered at Cranbury for all middle school students. It is our belief that any instrument can be incorporated into a jazz band; therefore, this ensemble is open to all instruments, including flute, clarinet, saxophone, trombone, baritone, trumpet, piano, guitar, vibraphone, drum set, Aux. percussion, and bass. To participate in Jazz Ensemble, students must also be signed up for their respective concert bands. Jazz Ensemble meets twice a week, once before school and once at recess. Jazz Ensemble is designed for beginner jazz students. The ensemble focuses on developing students' swing feel, beginning improvisation, and performing in a big band. During rehearsal, students play in all different styles of jazz music, such as Latin, swing, Funk, etc, with a huge concentration on listening and music theory. Students in Jazz Ensemble have the opportunity to attend jazz festivals, as well as the annual Music in the Parks Competition.
Jazz Band is a supplemental ensemble offered at Cranbury for all middle school students. It is our belief that any instrument can be incorporated into a jazz band; therefore, this ensemble is open to all instruments, including flute, clarinet, saxophone, trombone, baritone, trumpet, piano, guitar, vibraphone, drum set, Aux. percussion, and bass. To participate in Jazz Band, students must also be signed up for their respective concert bands. Students must audition for placement in Jazz Band. Jazz Band focuses on intermediate and advanced theory and execution of material, as well as a high proficiency of playing. An emphasis is placed on listening and learning the history of Jazz. Students in Jazz Band will attend between three and five jazz festivals a year, including The Princeton Jazz Festival, The National Jazz Festival, and the Music in the Parks competition.
Percussion Ensemble is a supplemental ensemble offered at Cranbury School for all percussionists, grades 4-8. Students will apply the technical skills learned in group lessons and rehearsals to traditional and non-traditional percussion instruments and literature. Instrumentation is primarily “concert percussion,” but will also include playing techniques and percussion instruments from around the world. The Percussion Ensemble performs at the Cranbury School Spring and Winter concerts.
4th and 5th Grade Choir:
Our fourth and fifth grade students are invited to participate in a combined choir ensemble. Prior to fourth grade students have not had the opportunity to sing in a true choral ensemble utilizing harmonic complexity or focused choral vocal technique. While participating in this ensemble, students will grow into challenged and elevated musicians.
Concert Choir is composed of all 6th, 7th and 8th grade vocal musicians. Concert Choir meets once a week for their scheduled class and once a month for large group rehearsals. Students perform a wide variety of genres including traditional western music, musical theater, jazz, barbershop, pop and music from around the world. There is also a huge concentration on playing music from a plethora of different cultures and backgrounds. Students in Concert Choir also improve their musicianship, vocal technique, vocal health, ear training and overall confidence.
Advanced Choir is a supplemental ensemble offered at Cranbury for all Middle School Students. Advanced Choir allows our students to grow their musicianship and perform complex vocal music above their current grade level. Advanced Choir meets twice a week. Once before school and once at recess.To partake in Advanced Choir, students must also be enrolled in Concert Choir. Students must audition for placement in Concert Choir. Advanced Choir focuses on intermediate and advanced theory and execution of material, as well as a high proficiency of vocal ability. An emphasis is placed on honing choral vocal technique, intonation, diction and ensemble singing. Advanced Choir attends the Music in the Parks Competition and numerous other adjudications and performances a year.
Band Program Frequently Asked Questions
- Is Band class mandatory or an extracurricular activity at the Cranbury School?
In elementary school (4-5) band and choir are not mandatory. However, many fourth grade students choose to study an instrument, beginning in their fourth grade year. Over the last five years, about 97% of fourth graders participated in 4th Grade Band. Once students enter middle school (6-8), they are required to choose a music elective, and must choose to take band, choir, or both.
- When does Band class meet?
In 4th and 5th grade, students participate in Band twice a week. Once for large band rehearsal and once for a small group lesson. Both lessons and band rehearsals occur during the school day. Band rehearsal is a scheduled class. The band teachers work collaboratively with the 4th and 5th grade teachers to coordinate a lesson schedule that fosters academic success while ensuring that students have weekly instrument instruction to enhance their musicianship. For middle school students, Band and Choir rehearsals take place once a week, lessons are scheduled once per week. Middle school students do not “miss” their core subjects to participate in music instruction and rehearsal.
- How do I rent an instrument? What is the cost of renting an instrument and where do I go?
It varies. Attached is a cost sheet for your reference. Students are free to rent their instrument from any music rental company. Russo Music, Music and Arts, and National Educational Music Company all service the area. Additionally, students may also choose to purchase a used instrument in lieu of signing an annual rental agreement.
Through various philanthropic efforts both within the Cranbury School and the community, we have acquired a wide variety of loaner instruments. These instruments are designated for families in need, free of charge. Our primary goal is that every student has the opportunity to participate in instrument study, and in our wonderful band program.
Students will have the opportunity to continue the study of music at Princeton High School…
Music in the Parks Field Trip & Performance
Each spring, our middle school students have the opportunity to visit Hershey Park, PA, and perform at a national festival at which they have the opportunity to showcase their abilities to a panel of judges. The festival provides a safe, fun, and educational end-of-the-year experience for school bands, orchestras and choirs. Ensembles from all over the United States and Canada participate in Music In The Parks. This is a meaningful opportunity for our students to showcase their hard work and musical skills.
During the Music in the Parks full day event, students will receive specific feedback from experienced instrumental and vocal clinicians for how to improve the ensemble's performance. These master teachers evaluate hundreds of ensembles throughout the course of a festival season. At the conclusion of the festival, all schools participate in an awards ceremony during which they will receive their rating, and trophy.
All middle school students at the Cranbury School are invited to participate in the annual school musical. All students who elect to participate become members of the theater arts ensemble and perform or support the production. Students will have the opportunity to grow their skills in acting, staging, set design, choreography and musical theater vocal styling as well as technical theater skills (lighting, sound and stage craft).
The school musical begins in November with auditions for placement in the cast; all students who audition are included in the cast. Rehearsals begin in January, and take place every afternoon until approximately 5:30 p.m. Students who are not interested in performing in the musical are encouraged to join our stage crew and assist with aspects of technical theater throughout the term of the production.
Hal Leonard: Essential Elements for Band
Although the District holds no liability with regard to the selection or practices of private instrument instructors, our faculty has made the following lists available for the convenience of our families:
Videos of past performances:
Hershey performances, Jazz band festivals