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Performing Arts

The performing arts program at Groton provide students with opportunities to discover their talents, to acquire skills necessary for artistic expression, and to develop an understanding and appreciation of the arts. By studying the performing arts students hone critical thinking skills, and learn about self-expression, creativity, and collaboration.
Students have opportunities to explore coursework in drama and music. They can also participate in the dance and theatre programs as part of the school’s afternoon activities. The 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, to become more perceptive, to develop discipline, and to 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.
Requirements: 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.
  • Acting (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth and Fourth Forms: In this class students will examine the process by which an actor creates a character. The class will focus on text analysis and physical approaches to character creation as well as the more advanced acting techniques of sense memory, emotional recall and improvisation. Students will read four examples of contemporary plays and will explore how characters behave and express themselves within the contexts of these plays. The majority of the homework in this course will be preparation of scene presentations. Students will build their skill sets with each in class presentation. The class will culminate with a well-rehearsed, memorized scene presentation from one of the assigned texts.
  • Advanced Acting Ensemble (W)

    Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. This class offers the opportunity for advanced students of acting to work for the entire term on a specific character within a specific script. As we rehearse towards the eventual goal of a polished final performance, we will take a deep dive into various methods of creating character including Meisner, Stanislavsky and Laban techniques. Outside of class actors will be responsible for learning lines and working on character research and short presentation assignments.
  • AP Music Theory (Y)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. No prerequisite. (This course does not satidfy the art requirement.) Prior study as an instrumentalist or singer is helpful but not 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. All composition projects are computer-based. 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 are scheduled to take the AP exam in Music Theory in May.
  • Chamber Choir (Y)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth and Fourth Formers. Prerequisite: membership in choir and competitive auditions. Á cappella music from the Renaissance to modern times.
  • 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 gives students instruction in vocal technique and sight-reading, as well as a survey of choral repertoire throughout history and across the world. The choir provides music for the weekly chapel services as well as the annual Lessons and Carols services and the Spring Concert. A concert tour (domestic or international) is scheduled every third year.
  • Creative Theatre Ensemble - Acting (W)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. Creative Theatre Ensemble is a three-course sequence, with each term able to stand alone as an individual course. In this course, students will build on a foundation of improvisation techniques and apply them to character creation and script analysis. The course work will cover a variety of approaches to character development and performance craft. Students will learn how to actively read a play, research a role for that play and work with others to perform an entire script. Acting students will work toward mastery in vocal and physical technique as well as collaborative storytelling. The final in this course will be a public performance that features the work of all students in the class. Previous experience in the theatre is encouraged but not required.
  • Creative Theatre Ensemble - Improvisation (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. Creative Theatre Ensemble is a three-course sequence, with each term able to stand alone as an individual course. In this course, students will learn the fundamentals of improvisation as they collaborate to play games, create scenes, and explore contemporary social issues from a theatrical perspective. The focus of the class is on project-based learning with some readings and viewings to supplement the embodied practices of in-class exercises. Students will both create in the moment and collaboratively script scenes for performances. The final in this class is an open studio in which the community will be invited to attend and participate in a public performance. No previous experience on stage is required. 
  • From Page to Stage (S)

    In this course, students will learn how to take a scripted piece through the various stages that culminate in performance. Using short plays written in the winter term playwriting class, lessons will focus on reading texts for playable actions and theatrical throughline, creating vision and implementing design ideas, understanding staging and basic directing principles, and working through the final stages of the technical process and dress rehearsal. This class will feature guest artists who are professionals in the fields of lighting design, sound design, playwriting, directing, scenic design and choreography. Students will walk away with a toolkit of practical skills that will enable them to see a piece of dramatic literature through to fruition. This class will be integrated with the production of the One Act Festival at the end of spring term.
  • Improvisation (F)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth and Fourth Forms. In this course, students will build their foundations as storytellers by practicing the art of following impulse with artistry and purpose. The course will focus on exercises that allow students to remove creative blocks and fear of performance failure. Through the practice of improvisation games, readings about creative development and non-scripted storytelling assignments, students will learn how to create dramatically interesting characters, relationships, and story scenarios. No previous experience onstage is necessary.
  • Jazz Combo (Y)

    Offered to jazz musicians. Prerequisite: prior study on an instrument and some experience playing in jazz idioms. Limited enrollment. Jazz combo studies a variety of jazz styles and techniques of improvisation. Students present their work in chapel services, special school events on campus and in the greater 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 Arranging (W)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, or Fourth Formers.  Keyboard, solfege and counterpoint are important tools for any musician. This course is geared for studentss  who are interested in learning to arrange their own music, using the same principles that have guided composers from Palestrina to Thirty Seconds to Mars. This is a great course for anyone interested in taking their own music to the next level. This course does not satisfy the art requirement.
  • Music Technology (S)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, or 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 emphasis on utilizing technology to conceive, create, and produce musical ideas, compositions, and productions. Students will be expected to support class time with 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.
  • Musicianship (S)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, or Fourth Formers. (This course does not satisfy the art requirement.) Solfege and counterpoint are important tools for any musician. This introductory course is geared for beginning students who are interested inbuilding the same solid foundation that have guided composers of music from Palestrina and Bach to Dizzy Gillespie and the Beatles. Did you ever wonder how some sounds seem to blend more harmoniously than others? Counterpoint is the study of the rules of compositional grammar, the language of western music. Solfege is an ancient system for naming notes for the purpose of studying and singing them. Students who do not yet possess a working knowledge of the keyboard will also learn basic keyboard skills while those who play a keyboard instrument will advance to open score reading of various clefs. No previous musical training is necessary, although those with a music background will find a new challenge here, as well. This is a great course for anyone interested in understanding how music works, building keyboard skills, and preparing for the AP Music Theory course.
  • 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 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, to appreciate a wide variety of music, and to 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.
  • Second Form Theatre (F)

    Students will work to understand a story’s structure with the addition of historical theatre styles including Greek, Elizabethan, Japanese, and other cultures- ending with Mexican theatre. Theatre in its simplest form is storytelling, and that is a universal language. The course will culminate in performance of pieces from the play Cuentos de Josephina, a play about Mexican folktales. Students will use their knowledge and creativity to collaboratively explore the ways in which a story can come to life and engage an audience by conveying action.
  • Select Chamber Music (Y)

    Open to Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Formers. Prerequisite – Audition and permission of instructor. One or two select chamber groups, such as piano trios, string trios, string quartets, woodwind quintets, will be formed based on auditions. 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.
  • Theatre and the Creative Process (S)

    Open to Sixth, Fifth, and Fourth Formers. In this course, students will learn how to create original theatre pieces that are not bound to or by pre-written scripts. The focus of the class is on Moment Work, a devising process that explores and utilizes all the elements of the stage on an equal footing with the words (text). Participants will make “Moments” both collaboratively and individually, using gestures, movements, lighting, props, and sound. The class will conclude by sequencing moments into short performance pieces that will be presented in a public performance.

Our Faculty

  • Photo of Mary Ann Lanier
    Mary Ann Lanier
    Performing Arts Department Head, Director of Instrumental Music
  • Marc Ewart
    Assistant Technical Director
  • Photo of Nicole Harris
    Nicole Harris
    Dance, part-time
  • Photo of Kenji Kikuchi
    Kenji Kikuchi
    Director of Jazz Ensembles (part-time)
  • Photo of Dan Moriarty
    Dan Moriarty
    Director of Choral Music, Organist, Harold I. Pratt Chair in Music
  • Maria Morrell
    Dance, part-time
  • Photo of Laurie Sales
    Laurie Sales
    Director of Theater