Academics
Departments and Courses

Music

Music is an integral part of The Cambridge School of Weston’s arts curriculum. We strive to create good musical citizens versed in many styles, able to place their “art” within a historical context, and dedicated to “live” performance. Fundamental skills are stressed, and students are encouraged to form good practice habits through regular private lessons and active participation in our many resident ensembles. Theoretical studies, composition, orchestration and arranging, computer notation programs, film scoring, digital recording and editing, and MIDI technology are some of the offerings available to help form the “contemporary” musician.
  • All That Jazz

    All That Jazz is a jazz dance class, taught to live music, provided by CSW’s jazz ensemble. Students will expand their knowledge of jazz, America’s first art form, through the integrated study of movement and music composition. Dancers will focus on the rhythmic patterns that are created through the influence of such jazz genres of swing, blues, bebop and jazz-fusion, among others. Such terms as syncopated rhythms, body isolations, improvisation, high level of energy and low center of gravity will be practiced as movement qualities that are direct derivatives of jazz music.
     
    Jazz ensemble will learn to perform jazz standards in a group setting. Emphasis will be on establishing a repertoire, building skills in improvisation and performance.
  • Bluegrass/Country Ensemble

    Not offered 2017-2018
    (Prerequisite: 2 years of private lessons or permission of department, for certain rhythm section instruments placement will be by audition) This class is a variation of Rock/Pop ensemble focusing on Bluegrass and Country styles. It is an opportunity for those interested in working with Bluegrass/Country original songs and instrumental music. Students will be asked to write music in various Bluegrass/Country styles and also to perform covers from the repertoire drawn from the seventies, eighties, nineties and beyond.
  • Chorus (T,F)

    The chorus works intensively in preparation for end of the mod performances. In addition to rehearsing the featured repertoire we also focus on developing good choral skills including: sight-singing and rhythm skills, breathing and tone production, diction and solo repertoire.  Examples of typical repertoire from recent years include Britten’s “Hymn to St. Cecilia,” the Brahms and Mozart “Requiems,” Handel’s “Dettinger Te Deum,” Mercury’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Thompson’s “Alleluia.”
  • Contemporary Improvisation

    This course is designed for students that want to take their improvisational skills to the next level. It will introduce the basic concepts of modern improvisation and how to go about mastering the different musical and mental skills involved in the process to make improvisation happen effectively.  Students will learn improvisation techniques and how to apply it to different kinds of contemporary music, including but not limited to jazz, blues, funk, rock, metal, electronic loops, third-stream,
    12 tone, structured or conducted improvisations, and original compositions. Class work and assignments emphasize altered upper-structures and dominants, chords, modes of melodic minor, harmonic minor, substitutions, advanced rhythmic development, listening and ear-training. This class is open for all instrumentalists and singers with an intermediate/advance level of proficiency. Prerequisite: Music Theory 1, knowledge of major, minor scales and seventh chords.
  • Critiquing Music

    This course will equip the student with the skills to listen to, understand and critique music. Through comparison we will explore specific compositions and discuss abstract and concrete musical themes as they relate to music. This course is open to all students.


    This course awards credit toward the social justice requirement. 
  • Ear Training 1

    For a developing musician, ear training is one of the most essential skills. Students will learn how to recognize melodies, harmonies, and rhythms in both notated and aural exercises. Students will be given the tools to transcribe and perform their favorite music on an instrument or voice regardless of style.

    Level 1 skills include:
    Four basic triad types and Sus 2 and 4
    ii-V-I, I-V-vi-IV, and other diatonic chord progressions
    All intervals – diatonic and chromatic
    Conducting basic patterns of 2/4, ¾, and 4/4
    Transcription of 4 bar diatonic dictated melodies
  • Ear Training 2

    (Prerequisite: Ear Training 1) For a developing musician, ear training is one of the most essential skills. Students will learn how to recognize melodies, harmonies, and rhythms in both notated and aural exercises. Students will be given the tools to transcribe and perform their favorite music on an instrument or voice regardless of style.

    Level 2 Skills include:
    All of level 1 skills and…
    Seventh chords and other tensions
    Compound time signatures and odd meters
    Hindemith combined action drills
    Transcription of chromatic melodies
  • Film Scoring

    (Prerequisite: Theory I or permission of department) This course will cover the important techniques of film scoring. Students will have to compose music for specific scenes using our digital software program Finale®. Collaboration with students in other disciplines will be greatly encouraged. Guest artists working in the film industry will be invited to campus to share their expertise
  • Finding Your Inner Diva

    This class is designed for beginning singers or anyone who uses their voice and wants to use it in a healthy way. The voice is the most misunderstood instrument and one that we take for granted.  Students will learn good vocal production, breath support, and identify their vocal range. The class will study pieces from the Pop, Jazz, Musical Theatre, Classical, and Folk genres. Students may bring in pieces they are interested in learning.  This performance class will end with a recital of all the pieces the students worked on during the Mod. 
  • Guitar Skills

    Absolutely no prior musical experience needed if you want to take this course! If you are interested in playing the guitar and you’re not very familiar with guitar techniques and/or music theory applied to the guitar, this course is for you. We will go over shortcuts for memorizing all notes on the fingerboard, as well as learning TABs, basic guitar notation reading, and writing.  Additional topics covered include: fundamental techniques of guitar playing (strumming, picking styles, ‘legato’ playing, bending tricks), improvisation, and structured jamming sessions. Guitars are available for use in the classroom.
  • Improvisation Techniques

    {(Prerequisite: 2 years of private lessons or permission of department)} This performance oriented class introduces basic skills essential to effective improvisation. Techniques covered include memorization procedure for song melody and harmony, listening skills, exercise design, pacing, chord-tone soloing, tempo accuracy, swing rhythmic feel, melodic and rhythmic embellishment of song melody, and soloing with play-along CDs. The student will be helped in the development of effective practice skills. Books, audio recordings and videos will be used for demonstration, practice and performance activities.
     
  • Instrumental Ensemble

    (Prerequisite: 2 years of private lessons or permission of department) This group is designed to work on pieces in preparation for concerts, collectively and with other performing arts disciplines (choral concerts, dance concerts, multimedia performances). In addition to a general performance, smaller ensembles of players will be arranged and coached by music faculty members. We will be working toward performing both in student recitals and more formal concert settings.
  • Jazz Ensemble

    (Prerequisite: 2 years of private lessons or permission of department) Students learn to perform jazz standards in a group setting. Emphasis is on establishing a repertoire, building skills in improvisation and performance. 


    This course awards credit toward the social justice requirement. .
  • Keyboard Skills

    (New 2015-2016)
    Are you interested in the piano? Feel like coming back after a little time off? Do you want to take it to the next level in terms of technique or repertoire?  Using the abundant
    keyboard resources of the CSW Music Department (2 Grand Pianos, 7 Uprights, 1 Harpsichord, 1 Organ and a Keytar!) we will work on the many scales/modes and interval patterns that make up the building blocks of our various musics.  Additional topics covered include: the historical evolution of keyboard instruments, how to become a better sight-reader, negotiating notation practices in piano writing, keyboard repertoire, improvisation, and memorization.  The course will end with an informal low-pressure "recital" using our Mugar Arts Center Steinway Model M.
  • MIDI

    (Prerequisite: Theory I or permission of department) In this course, we explore the dimensions of sound and texture in music through the use of synthesizer and various MIDI applications. Class work involves weekly projects in the Electronic Music Studio. Although this may be viewed as an entry-level composition class, good musicianship skills are a must. This is not a computer course; it is a course in music composition.
  • Music Theory 1

    After a review of note-reading skills this course will explore the basic elements of music including: scales, intervals, chords, and key relationships. Also included will be musicianship skills such as intervallic and melodic dictation, rhythm drills/conducting patterns, sight-singing and introductions to the piano keyboard & the guitar. Students will be encouraged to label the fundamental music terms that encompass all historical periods and musical styles.
     
  • Music Theory 2

    {(Prerequisite: Theory 1 or permission of department)} This music composition course will focus on melodic and harmonic writing in traditional and contemporary styles. Analytical tools and typical melodic transformational tricks in use by current composers will be explored. Further drills in keyboard and ear-training will give students the skills necessary to notate on paper what they hear in their inner “composer’s” ear.
     
  • Music Theory 3

    {(Prerequisite: Theory 1 and 2 or permission of the instructor)} The culminating seminar in music composition will focus on the techniques of contemporary composition. Advanced studies in form and analysis will help to sharpen the student’s theoretical sense, as well as his or her stylistic inclinations. The class will compose pieces for the resident CSW New Music Ensemble for recording and public performance.
     
  • Musical Mathematics

    New in 2014-2015.  Part history, part analytical theory and part composition, this course will consider mankind's quest to organize sound from Pythagoras to Stockhausen. Open to all students.
  • Musicianship and Practice Skills

    Not Offered 2017-2018

    This course is designed to make the students better musicians and more capable of using their time practicing in a more productive and efficient manner. Ear-training and rhythm skills will be incorporated into each class meeting using class drills and on-line ear-training programs. The text {Rhythmic Training} by Robert Starer will be used to help develop greater accuracy in performing complex rhythms and to teach basic conducting patterns. The instructor will work with students individually on their practice repertoire to demonstrate how to tackle problem spots and to listen more carefully for questions of intonation, rhythm, expression markings and overall musicality.
  • Musicianship for Singers

    Not offered 2017-2018

    All musicians, including singers, need to learn how to read music.  This class will help singers develop good music reading and practice techniques to help them work in all styles of music.  The class will learn to identify music symbols, notes, patterns, and chord progression.   The class will also spend some time on basic piano skills.   Singers will work on sight singing, harmonizing, and rhythm.  Push your singing to the next level by learning the tools to being a strong musician.  (Note: This class is an excellent way for students to prepare for the MMEA Senior District Competition.) 
  • Opera Workshop

    Not offered2017-2018
    This course is an opportunity for performers, who enjoy singing, to try the challenging and exciting art form of opera. We will be working on pieces from the Classical period, as well as some pieces from the 20th century. The class is designed to help students experience acting while singing, singing in foreign languages and creating characters emotionally, physically and musically. Students will give a performance at the end of the module.
  • Recording and Production

    (Prerequisite: Theory I or permission of department) In conjunction with the Rock/Pop Ensemble, students will explore recording techniques and produce a CD using the school’s varied recording equipment: a Yamaha AW2816 mixing console, the very portable Zoom H4 and Mboxes used in tandem with computer-based programs such as Audacity®, Garage Band®, Logic® and SONAR®.
     
  • Rock/Pop Ensemble

    {(Prerequisite: 2 years of private lessons or permission of department, for certain rhythm section instruments placement will be by audition)} This class is an opportunity for those interested in working with rock/pop original songs and instrumental music. Students will be asked to write music in various rock/pop styles and also to perform covers from the repertoire drawn from the seventies, eighties, nineties and beyond.
     
    This class is offered in mod 7. All interested students will be able to participate in some capacity.
  • Rock/Pop Ensemble (Audition-Based)

    {(Prerequisite: 2 years of private lessons or permission of department, for certain rhythm section instruments placement will be by audition)} This class is an opportunity for those interested in working with rock/pop original songs and instrumental music. Students will be asked to write music in various rock/pop styles and also to perform covers from the repertoire drawn from the seventies, eighties, nineties and beyond.
     
    This section of Rock/Pop Ensemble is offered in mod 3. Students must go through an audition process to join the class. Interested students should have an alternate D-Block plan in the event that they cannot take this class.
  • Songwriting

    (Prerequisite – you need to be able to play a chordal instrument such as piano and/or guitar and be able to sing your own melodies)  Songwriting is a performance-oriented course in which the students will be taught melodic writing, how to set a lyric, standard song forms, and how to add harmonies and bass lines. Students will be encouraged to improvise/compose and then transcribe their ideas into standard notation. We will then create lead sheets using the Finale® notation program. Students will write and record their work in an MP3 format and there will be an informal lunchtime, coffee-house style performance at the end of the module. A willingness to learn some standard notation and perform with your peers is most helpful in this course.
  • Sounds of the World Ensemble

    In this performance/writing couorse, we will explore, connect and engage cultures from different corners of the world through music composition and improvisation. Students will have access to the many traditional instruments owned by the CSW Music Department. All participants will share equally in the creative process and an end of Mod performance will highlight the experience. *Prerequisites: Music Theory 1, Improv or Contemporary Techniques or permission from the instructor
  • Topics in Jazz History

     
    Not offered 2017-2018
     
    Come explore the development of jazz from slavery through bebop. Through recordings, guest artists and readings, we will attempt to define this uniquely American idiom. Recent topics have focused on the music of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington.


    This course awards credit toward the social justice requirement. 

     
  • Topics in Music History

    This survey course covers selected developments of Western music from the ancient world to contemporary times. Standards for exploration will include examination of the elements of music and their evolution. Music examples will include live performances as well as recorded examples. We will explore the current trends of each period. Recent topics have considered the music and lives of Beethoven, Stravinsky, Mozart, local Boston area composers and 20th century music. This course is open to all students and is recommended for those considering music as a concentration.
     

Department Faculty

  • Michael Weinstein

    Chair, Music Department/Music Teacher
    781-642-8623
    Brandeis University - Ph.D.
    Year Appointed: 1999
  • Gustavo Brasil

    Music Teacher
    781-398-8337
    UFSM - Federal University of Santa Maria - B.A.
    Berklee College of Music/The Boston Conservatory - Masters of Music
    Year Appointed: 2002
The Cambridge School of Weston is a progressive high school for day and boarding students in grades 9–12 and PG. CSW's mission is to provide a progressive education that emphasizes deep learning, meaningful relationships, and a dynamic program that inspires students to discover who they are and what their contribution is to their school, their community and the world.