Middle School

Performing Arts

Music, theater, and dance play a central role in the emotional and intellectual development of all Ellis school students. Students in the Middle School study through a cyclical general music curriculum beginning in fifth grade through the end of eighth grade. Each student is also required to participate in a performing ensemble and will choose between dance, choir, band and strings. These ensembles perform two concerts per school year. Also in the Middle School, grades 5, 6, and 7, students have an opportunity to be a part of a theatrical production. In grade 8  perform in a musical in the spring.      

Silver Strings is a string ensemble which is available for advanced string players and must receive a teacher signature before joining the group.

Performing Arts Curriculum

List of 13 items.

  • Grade 5 Music

    Required Course | General Music

    This course offers students the opportunity to achieve musical independence by building skills and broadening their performance abilities. Students focus on their musicianship skills through the study of note reading, rhythmic notation, and solfege. They apply these skills by playing basic ukulele and boomwhacker, singing, and analyzing music. In a comprehensive study of music history, students explore the foundations of music from around the world. They then learn how these historical origins affect modern music and the music we listen to today.
  • Grade 6 Music

    Required Course | General Music

    Students continue to develop the skills and concepts necessary to articulate sound musical judgement when performing, listening to, selecting, and critiquing music through the study of music theory, composition, and history. Material covered in this course encompasses a variety of music that refines basic skills, and challenges students in more advanced techniques and concepts, including key signatures and advanced rhythmic dictation. Content includes in-class discussion, ukulele and boomwacker performances, and creative group learning. Through these studies, students cover music of the medieval era, Renaissance, and the Baroque period.
  • Grade 7 Music

    Required Course | General Music

    This course begins with continuing development of musicianship skills with a more advanced study of music theory, including solfege, eurhythmics, chord structure, key signatures and rhythmic notation. This includes a compositional component which students write using learned musicianship skills. Students continue to listen to and critique music, especially with pieces from the Classical, Romantic, and twentieth century eras as they study music history. Students analyze the effects of technology and industry on music of the twentieth century as they study pieces from classical instrumental and vocal music, jazz and blues, Rock n’ Roll, and musical theater.
  • Grade 8 Music

    Required Course | General Music

    General Music in grade 8 continues the advancement of musicianship skills culminating in multi-line composition theory, analysis, and performance. Music history study covers the end of the twentieth century and beginning of the twenty-first century, with a focus on the future of music in all genres. To make knowledge applicable in real life situations, students employ music technology applications and software to complete hands-on projects. Projects include work in GarageBand and Finale NotePad. Compositions/arrangements are performed by students using ukuleles, instruments, voices, or combinations of the above. Students work individually and in small groups.  
  • Choir

    Performance Choice Course | Grades 5-8

    Students in choir learn proper vocal technique including vocal tone, breath support, and part singing skills. Additionally, students learn fundamentals of music theory including solfege training and rhythm reading. The ensemble studies a variety of repertoire both sacred and secular, from different time periods, cultures, and languages. The choir performs at both the winter and spring concerts.
  • Concert Band/String Ensemble

    Performance Choice Course | Grades 5-6

    Instrumental music in the Middle School provides students with opportunities to study a woodwind, brass, percussion, or string instrument. Understanding of musical concepts is made evident through playing both individually and as an ensemble. Focus is placed on developing musical independence and progression through technical skills. Students meet for group lessons to address technique, musical literacy, and expressive playing. Students are responsible for acquiring their own instruments and additional private instruction is encouraged.
  • Orchestra

    Performance Choice Course | Grades 7-8

    Orchestra provides students with the opportunity to perform as a part of a full orchestra on a woodwind, brass, percussion, or string instrument. Understanding of musical concepts is made evident through playing independently, learning advanced technical skills, and expressive ensemble rehearsals. Students meet in sectionals (strings and wind/percussion) as part of the class rotation to rehearse ensemble music in a smaller setting and focus on development of proper technique on their instruments. Students are responsible for acquiring their own instruments and additional private instruction is strongly encouraged.
  • Dance Ensemble

    Performance Choice Course | Grades 5-8

    Dancers of all proficiencies are challenged with a course of study that includes the technical side of dancing, the creative process, and the performance experience. Students learn the foundation elements of dance in modern, jazz, and ballet units. In the world dance unit, students learn a folk dance for presentation. An examination of Rudolf Von Laban’s use of space, shape, and effort introduces students to the creative process as they create original choreography in small group presentations. Students also recreate iconic works in various genres.
  • Honors Strings Ensemble

    Elective Course | Grades 5-8

    Honors Strings is a selective performance group designed to improve playing skills, broaden musical repertoire and encourage performance at various concerts. Students meet once a cycle to learn and perform music on a high and challenging level and play in small ensembles as well as in a larger group. This course builds a solid repertoire that can be performed at any time and for any occasion. Enrollment is dependent upon faculty approval and an audition is required. Advanced grade 4 students may also join this ensemble with faculty permission.
  • Guitar Ensemble

    Elective Course | Grades 5-8

    The Middle School Guitar Ensemble performs a broad range of selections from the classical, popular, and folk musical traditions. Ensemble material ranges from Bach to Bacharach, Giuliani to Jobim, Beethoven to The Beatles, and Harold Arlen to Procol Harum. Course objectives include reading music notation and playing instrumental arrangements, strumming chords and singing, and exploring the musical, cultural, and historical significance of compositions, composers, and recording artists. Most arrangements are original musical treatments orchestrated for the needs and abilities of students. Audition is required.

    Prerequisite: Members must possess the ability to play from music notation and study with a private instructor. Two or more years of prior private instruction is recommended.
  • Mix and Splice

    Elective Course | Grades 7-8

    Mix and Splice is a creative music technology course where technology and music collide. Students create their own movie score complete with recording sound effects, plan and splice their own riff-off, and edit modern music so that it sounds like it is from years past. Students gain hands-on experience with technology such as GarageBand and ProTools in order to learn about cutting-edge innovations in music technology.
  • Theater Tech

    Elective Course | Grades 7-8

    Students in this course learn their way around the theater as they take an active role as a member of the cast or crew. From understanding appropriate safety precautions to considering the specifics of a potential show, students are introduced to elements that support and highlight performers on the stage.  With a special focus on lighting, they experience fundamental techniques for hanging, focusing, and programming lights. Students choose a path as producer, director, actor, or technical director and then work as a group to put on a show and learn how the show comes to life.
  • Theater Production

    Co-Curricular Activity | Grades 5-8

    Theater is a co-curricular activity and an essential element of the overall Ellis experience. Class plays are presented in grades 5–8. The grade 5 play includes all students and is part of the academic program. Students in grade 6 are presented with the option of participating in the class play. Voluntary participation continues in grades 7 and 8, with grade 8 presenting a musical during the third term. Most rehearsals are during school hours in grade 5. All rehearsals are after school for grades 6–8. Students participating in grades 6–8 theater productions may join interscholastic or developmental teams during production season with faculty and coach permission.