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A New Music Suite

The new issue of Saint David's Magazine features several articles related to the exciting ways our school's new spaces will be used, allowing us to be "All That We Can Be."  Below, Music Department Chair Jeffrey Moore "daydreams" about the project's impact on our music and performing arts program.

Rendering courtesy of Platt Byard Dovell White Architects
I was daydreaming the other day. It was a quiet Sunday morning, and as I rode my bike along the Hudson River, I was imagining what the new Saint David’s School will be like in one more year.
I envisioned our spacious new music rooms being utilized by every boy in the school, in use throughout the school day. Boys in Pre-K and Kindergarten exploring different instruments during their classes, listening to music of the great composers, and exploring movement and song. First, second, and third graders working together in small groups with iPads and laptops, learning to read music, to see and hear it in a completely different way.

Fourth and Fifth Grade instrumental classes in close proximity, able to perform for each other at any time. Teachers relieved of the extra time needed for moving instruments and setting up for classes. Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders finding a moment during a study hall or lunch to sit in the beautiful hallways or open spaces, working on compositions or playing music together. And boys taking private instrumental lessons in several sound-proofed practice rooms designed just for that purpose. Music instruction in rooms dedicated to helping our boys do their very best learning.

When it came to picturing the new auditorium, I thought of all of the wonderful music we would be able to create at Saint David’s. Instead of performing in an acoustically challenged lunch room (as cozy as that may be), we will be playing music in a beautiful concert hall. The instruments of the orchestra will be stored just off stage, the percussion instruments will be organized neatly in a back room, and the Chamber Singers will stand on risers specifically designed to show their best qualities. When the boys lift their bows, there will be a sudden magic as they hear their music in a completely new way. Just being in a concert hall will change how the boys hear themselves and how they project their music.

The drama program at Saint David’s is on the verge of becoming a strong part of the overall learning experience, and to have a space for scenery, costumes, and props, as well as professionally painted sets and backdrops will completely alter the way our boys experience the thrill of being on stage and the excitement of taking that daring step of becoming another character. With all of the basic needs of a theatre program in place, we can offer after school drama classes, join together with various other schools in the neighborhood, and give our boys a chance to explore their various talents in the thespian arts.

Just as important, the extra music space available will make scheduling the various music events that take place each year an easier task. It will be possible to rehearse the Fifth Grade musicale at the same time as the Sixth Grade play. The extra seating in the concert hall will mean Lower School boys will be able to listen to the Upper School boys in the Percussion Ensemble, or experience the a cappella singing group preparing for a performance. Private music teachers will be able to teach small group classes, with boys practicing and performing for each other. There will be room for our youngest Suzuki students to participate in group classes.

The sounds of music will fill the rooms. It is always important for our boys to learn from each other: to listen to each other practice and perform. Having a music suite where the second graders can present “Huzzah, Huzzah” for the first graders, or the third graders can watch the fifth graders sing and dance their way through a “Pirates of Penzance” or an “Oliver” rehearsal, will create an atmosphere of learning that will resonate throughout the school.

With enough room to expand our program, suddenly the possibilities become realities.

It was quite a lovely daydream, and the best thing is that it will soon be a part of the excitement that is the life of a Saint David’s boy. To paraphrase the Bard, “If music be the food of love, then play on, give me excess of it!”


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