Seventh and eighth-grade students begin exploring music in the Middle School Arts Program, where they are grouped according to their musical interests and experience. Both Middle and Upper School students who choose to continue with music can study in a Jazz/Rock Ensemble, Vocal Ensemble, or Orchestra elective in which they can hone their skills as singers and musicians.
Digital Music Production is open to everyone. No prior experience creating music is required. This class is appropriate for those with interest in music other than or in addition to performing in a traditional band, orchestra, or choir. Conversely, those with musical training and experience will find this class an ideal outlet for personal musical expression. Experienced and novice musicians alike will gain an increased understanding of various musical styles, genres, traditions, and cultures; music theory; the psychology of music; and the art of recording and mixing.
This multifaceted, entry-level class offers something for all students, regardless of musical experience. The year starts with creating your music using GarageBand, Soundtrap, and Logic and culminates in the recording, editing, producing, and "selling" of an album, video, or film featuring Pacific Ridge students. Students will develop their musical knowledge as they learn practical, foundational skills that provide insight into careers in music performance, composition, entertainment business, recording business, live sound reinforcement, and audio engineering.
Jazz/Rock Ensemble is a UC-accredited course that teaches the history of jazz and rock music along with the general music theory necessary to understand the fundamentals of improvisation. Students learn how to play correctly and expressively both alone and in groups, with emphasis on composition, improvisation, blending and understanding musical notation. At the same time, students gain a context for music they enjoy: the history of jazz/rock, the influence of jazz/rock on society, and the connection of jazz/rock music to other scholastic disciplines. Finally, students are asked to respond critically to new music, both recorded and live.
Orchestra is a UC-accredited performing ensemble that focuses primarily on “classical” music (from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras). The group also performs some contemporary music (e.g., pop, film music) and strives to make inventive use of the musicians and instruments available to the ensemble. The orchestra performs on campus at least twice during the school year, and takes part in the annual Pacific Ridge Arts Festival in the spring.
Vocal Ensemble is a UC-accredited course open to students who enjoy singing; no previous experience is required. In this class students learn the technical aspects of good singing, including breath support, creating good tone, expanding range, and singing in various languages. Students study repertoire from a variety of genres including classical, pop, Broadway, Renaissance, gospel, folk, and jazz. The Upper School Vocal Ensemble performs at school concerts, coffee houses, and community outreach events. A small group of students from the Vocal Ensemble performs each year at an adjudicated, national music festival. Past performances at the Heritage Music Festival have taken place in New York City, San Francisco and Anaheim.