The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA

Upper School - Music Courses

Upper School Music Courses

The music faculty is committed to the concept of "learning by doing" and recognizes the value of performance in every student’s experience. Each year, Upper School students choose a music course from an array of options that include choir, bells, string ensemble, band, and basic musicianship. The courses are designed to extend the theory and performance skills developed in the Lower School, but students new to Fay will also find that they can succeed in a beginning-level ensemble with little or no previous musical experience. See the detailed course descriptions below.


List of 11 items.

  • Music Explorations

    Music Exploration is a year-long music course open to students in grades 7, 8, and 9. Throughout the year, units may include world drumming, handbells, orffestra, and explorations into electronic music. Instruction will focus on the basic rhythmic skills required for music making including beat competency, ensemble playing, rhythmic notation, and drumming technique; an introduction to basic pitched notation; an introduction to contemporary fretted notation (tablature and chord symbol notation); a reinforcement of pitched and rhythmic notation while playing in ensembles using Orff instruments; a short introduction to Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) and recording technology; and an opportunity to collaborate with peers to create minimalist arrangements of popular tunes.
  • Intermediate Band

    Intermediate Band is the next step for students who have successfully completed Beginning Band in the Lower School (or the equivalent). Students are placed in this group with the approval of the director. The band’s repertoire spans a wide range of musical styles and periods. Success in this course requires practice outside of class. Students meet twice during the six-day rotation and usually perform twice throughout the year. Special ensembles may be selected out of the larger group as performance opportunities arise. Instruments include everything from the Beginning Band with the addition of percussion (percussion students must have at least one year of band experience or the equivalent in private lessons).
  • Advanced Band

    Fay’s Advanced Band is composed of students with advanced skills who have been selected by audition or recommendation. Private lessons are sometimes required. The Advanced Band plays music of a more difficult nature representing a variety of cultures and styles. Students meet twice during the six-day rotation and usually perform twice throughout the year.
  • Jazz Band

    Fay’s Jazz Band is composed of students with advanced skills, and students are selected by audition or recommendation. Private lessons are sometimes required. The Jazz Band performs jazz, rock, and pop and has specific instrumentation (sax, trumpet, trombone, guitar, bass, drums, and piano), which limits the size of the group. Students in the Jazz Band meet during the six-day rotation and usually perform two or three times throughout the year. Members of the Jazz Band must also be in the Advanced Band (as long as their instrument is in the instrumentation of the Advanced Band).
  • Beginning Bells

    Among private school music programs, Fay's hand bell component is quite unique. Beginning Bells is open to students in the Upper School who have no previous bell ringing experience. The course meets twice in a six-day rotation. Students learn proper ringing technique and focus on reading rhythmic notation. Students also learn to work as a team while following the cues of a conductor. Repertoire is mainly taken from hand bell method books.
  • Advanced Bells (Fay Bellringers)

    The director selects students in this choir from the most experienced and skilled ringers. Students practice more advanced techniques, and the repertoire is more difficult. Students in these groups are more accomplished in theory and ear training. 
  • Fay School Chorus – Girls And Boys

    Fay’s choral program is divided into several choirs by grade, gender, and ability level. Students build on skills learned in the Lower School by studying the rhythms, intervals, and scales of the year’s repertoire. Movable do solfege is also used to strengthen ear training and develop music reading skills. Each choir typically sings music representing a variety of historical periods and styles. Choirs also sing at least one piece in a foreign language each year. Performances are scheduled both on and off campus. Fay choirs regularly participate in festivals, and motivated singers are encouraged to audition for MMEA’s Central District Honors Choir.

    Girls: The Girls Chorus is open to girls in grades seven through nine. Repertoire consists of pieces in unison, two, and three parts.
    Boys: The Boys Chorus is open to boys in grades seven through nine. The voice parts of the chorus are divided into treble, tenor, and bass. This allows for boys to sing in the range that is most comfortable to them. As voices change, boys can change sections and continue singing without interruption.
  • Chamber Singers

    The Fay Chamber Singers is open to boys and girls in grades eight and nine. This choir is Fay’s only auditioned choral group and is an advanced ensemble allowing singers to experience a variety of voice combinations from SATB to SSA and TTB. The Chamber Singers perform more frequently than all other choirs both on and off campus.
  • String Ensemble

    The String Ensemble is open to students with prior experience. The instrumentation includes violin, viola, cello, and contrabass. This group performs music in a variety of styles and performs on numerous occasions throughout the year.
  • Chamber Ensemble (Strings)

    The Chamber Ensemble is a select group of string players that meets once during the six-day rotation. The students involved determine the repertoire for the group, although a string quartet is the ideal instrumentation. They play music that is more advanced than the String Ensemble. Students in the Chamber Ensemble are also required to participate in the String Ensemble. 
  • Studio Recording

    Studio Recording is open to students in grades eight and nine who completed Basic Musicianship or have a teacher recommendation. Students in Studio Recording will use technology, recording equipment, and instruments to create and record music. Students in the course should have experience using recording software, playing an instrument, or singing. Students will learn the basics of digital music creation with the use of GarageBand, Logic Pro, Audacity, and live sound equipment. Students will also have training on live sound and lighting equipment in the theater and have firsthand experience working for events on campus.