Curriculum Detail

Explore our Curriculum


The music program at Groton provides students with opportunities to discover their talents, acquire skills necessary for artistic expression, and develop an understanding and appreciation of music of all kinds. Importantly, through their music studies, students may discover passions and interests that they pursue for the rest of their lives as creators, performers, or audience members. By studying music, students hone critical thinking skills and learn about self-expression, creativity, and collaboration. Furthermore, they empower themselves to be intelligent consumers of music.  

Students have opportunities to explore coursework in the performance, creation, and understanding of music. In addition, students who are passionate about music, may pursue projects in composition, performance, or analysis during the afternoon program. A hands-on approach to learning lies at the core of Groton’s arts requirement, which emphasizes the value of being actively engaged in a creative process. Groton’s performing arts courses and activities provide essential opportunities for students to express themselves, become more perceptive, develop discipline, support their mental and emotional health, and enjoy fulfilling lives. 

All Second Formers spend a term studying visual arts, a term studying drama, and a term studying music. Third Formers may take Choir, Jazz Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, or half-credit music lessons as their required half-credit arts course. All students take a minimum of three credits of art in any discipline(s) in the Upper School.  

All students entering Groton in Third Form take a half-credit, year-long art course in music, wood shop, or visual arts. All students are required to take three credits of art in any discipline(s) in the Upper School.
  • AP Music Theory (Y)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. Prerequisite: permission of instructor and prior study of a musical instrument required. Students hone skills and acquire knowledge in music theory that will provide the necessary tools to compose and analyze musical works representing a wide range of styles and forms. In the fall term, students review musical notation; memorize key signatures and scales; study intervals, harmony, tonality, principles of voice-leading, melodic organization, and four-part choral writing; and compose original works. In the winter term, students learn to add harmonic flavor in their compositions through the use of dominant seventh chords, leading-tone chords, and non-dominant seventh chords. The spring term introduces more advanced topics including key modulations, secondary dominants, and several twentieth-century techniques in composition. Throughout the course, ear training skills are developed in musical software programs, classroom dictation, and sight-singing. Score analysis is included to provide context in which music theory and composing techniques are illustrated. Students will take the AP exam in Music Theory in May.
  • Chamber Orchestra (Y)

    The Chamber Orchestra is an ensemble dedicated to learning and performing works at levels that represent hard work and individual concern for the larger group. The Chamber Orchestra meets one double and two single periods per week and performs in a variety of community venues throughout the year. Membership is by audition or permission of the instructor. A concert tour (domestic or international) is scheduled every third year.
  • Choir (Y)

    Choir is open to all students and faculty regardless of religious affiliation. You belong!
    Choir gives students instruction in vocal technique and sight-reading, as well as a survey of choral repertoire throughout history and across the world.  We will meet during some of the scheduled choir classes, sing every 3-4 weeks for Evensong, sing Lessons and Carols, March 2022 Choir Tour (Botswana/Australia), the Spring Concert, Baccalaureate, and Prize Day. The main Choir will no longer sing for all Sunday Episcopal Services.
  • Creating Music Through Improvisation (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. Improvisation, the practice of creating original music in real-time, is an important element of global musical practices. In this course, students of varied musical experiences will learn to create new music together extemporaneously without sheet music. Students will learn how to use rhythm, pitch, harmony, movement, words, and the power of imagination to start a musical creation, join in, stand out, and find an ending together without predetermined musical rules or structures. There are no prerequisites for this course. The only requirement is that participants listen, respond, and explore.
  • Evensong Choir (Y)

    Evensong Choir is open to all students. It meets for 2-3 rehearsals weekly and sings for 1-2 services per month on Sunday evenings. The Evensong Choir also sings for Lessons and Carols, the Spring Concert, Baccalaureate, and Prize Day. The Evensong Choir participates in the Choir Tour during the years when a tour takes place.
  • Jazz Combo (Y)

    Offered to jazz musicians. Prerequisite: membership in the jazz ensemble and competitive auditions. Limited enrollment. Jazz combo studies a variety of jazz styles and techniques of improvisation. Students present their work in chapel services and special school events on campus and in the greater Groton community.
  • Jazz Ensemble (Y)

    The Jazz Ensemble studies and performs music from both the traditional and contemporary jazz repertoire. Music is selected based on the instructor’s goals, student interests, and the solo potentials of individual students. The ensemble rehearses one double and two single periods per week and performs in a variety of venues throughout the year. Membership is by audition or permission of the instructor. A concert tour (domestic or international) is scheduled every third year.
  • Music Technology (W)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. This course begins with an introduction to the software program, Logic Pro X, a tool for recording and creating music. Students study electronic instruments, MIDI, fundamentals of recording, manipulation and transmission of sound, current developments, and film scoring. Knowledge will be applied as students create their own electronic music and recording projects.  Music Technology is a highly practical course with an emphasis on utilizing technology to conceive, create, and produce musical ideas, compositions, and productions. Students will be expected to support class time with an independent study on a computer and recording equipment. The course caters to a wide range of musical interests. Assignments allow an element of choice, and the opportunity to apply one’s own style and musical ideas in creating and manipulating musical material.
  • Music Theory for Composition (S)

    This course gives students a working knowledge of the fundamentals of Western music theory. This knowledge is applied through a series of compositional projects on the student’s instrument of choice, or with the aid of notation software. No prior musical training is required, although those with proficiency on an instrument will be challenged accordingly.
  • Second Form Musicianship (F)

    Second Form Musicianship encourages active involvement in different forms of music-making, both individual and communal, helping to develop a sense of group identity and togetherness. Music can influence students’ development both academically and as a member of the Groton School community by fostering personal development and maturity, creating a sense of achievement and self-worth, and increasing students’ ability to work with others in a group context. 
    As an integral part of the culture, past and present, music helps students understand themselves, relate to others, and develop their cultural understanding, forging important links between home, school, and the wider world. Music develops students’ critical skills: their ability to listen, appreciate a wide variety of music, and make judgments about musical quality. It also increases self-discipline, creativity, aesthetic sensitivity, and fulfillment.
  • Second Form Steel Drums (F)

    This is a course that equips students with a fundamental knowledge of music history and theory, enabling them to listen intelligently to music from both Western and non-Western genres. Students will use parameters of form, cultural context, and emotion to discuss pieces covered. In addition, the students will participate in a hands-on introduction to music through the use of traditional Caribbean instruments. Students apply their knowledge of music theory while also exploring traditional steel band repertoire and transcriptions from other idioms. The class will culminate in an end-of-term performance.
  • Select Chamber Music (Y)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. Prerequisite: audition and permission of instructor. Students experience the challenge of playing soloistic parts in the intimate context of a small ensemble by choosing, studying, preparing, and performing selections from the rich chamber music literature.
  • The Songwriting Workshop (S)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. The goal of this course is to develop and refine the ability of class members to express themselves through songwriting. A powerful means for personal expression, songs incorporate aspects of culture, individuality, poetry, and music. Students will study the basic tools of songwriting: melody, lyrics, harmony, rhythm and grooves, and song structure. They will learn these skills by analyzing songs by outstanding songwriters and by writing and performing their own songs. Students will share their work with the class throughout the term as they develop their individual styles and sounds, deepen their understanding of musical expression, and hone critical listening skills.

Our Faculty

  • Photo of Mary Ann Lanier
    Mary Ann Lanier
    Music Department Head, Director of Instrumental Music
  • Photo of Abe Finch
    Abe Finch
    Steel Drum Ensemble Conductor (part-time)
  • Photo of Kenji Kikuchi
    Kenji Kikuchi
    Director of Jazz Ensembles
  • Photo of Dan Moriarty
    Dan Moriarty
    Director of Choral Music, Organist, Harold I. Pratt Chair in Music