Music

The Music Program prepares students for ensemble performance, emphasizing skills such as listening, collaboration and creativity while balancing technical learning and hands-on experience.

A progression of courses has evolved that allows students to develop their individual skills in a group setting: opportunities abound for singers and instrumentalists to work in small groups at their own level, and in a wide variety of music styles that they love—the result is that students invest themselves far beyond the requirements. "If we can get them to fall in love with music, everything else is easy."

Foundations of Music Performance

This is the first required class for most incoming musicians. The goal of this class is to establish a common language, develop solid practice habits, learn how to be an effective bandleader and bandmate, understand the fundamentals of western harmony, and to jumpstart engagement in the process of becoming a better musician. Students work in several different ensemble configurations throughout the course of the year, culminating in a performance at the end of the school year. Some of the topics covered include diatonic harmony, common song forms, ear training and interval identification, transcription, reading and writing basic standard notation, and developing skills as an effective improviser. While all students are expected to specialize in an instrument, there are some opportunities to learn basic skills on all of the rock band instruments in this class. The fundamental practices and principles of effective rhythm sections and horn sections are explored and studied through the student-selected repertoire, and all students are expected to leave this class with a deep understanding of the interconnectivity of highly powerful and impactful bands. While all instruments and ability levels are encouraged to apply to the program, there is typically more interest in the program than there are available spaces, and auditions on placement day are a required first step in the process.

World Music and Rhythm

World Music and Rhythm is one of the required intermediate-level courses in the progression of classes through the program. The goal of this class is to develop each student’s individual musicianship by transcribing and studying polyrhythms from musical cultures outside of the western mainstream. Students are asked to focus and refine their developing musical voices by incorporating interlocking rhythmic patterns and musical conventions from other musical cultures into their ensemble work. Students are placed into bands based on instrumentation and continue to work together in the same ensemble throughout the school year. Each semester culminates in a two-night concert series, where bands perform the material that they have selected and arranged over the course of the semester. In addition to the group ensemble work, there are several individual projects designed to accelerate musical growth and musicianship development. 

American Roots Music

American Roots Music is one of the required intermediate-level courses in the progression of classes through the program. The goal of this class is to develop each student’s individual musicianship by transcribing and studying compositions and arrangements from American popular music from the 20th century. Students are asked to focus and refine their developing musical voices by studying the conventions of classic American genres and styles, from blues and jazz to rock and soul. Students are placed into bands based on instrumentation and continue to work together in the same ensemble throughout the school year. Each semester culminates in a two-night concert series, where bands perform the material that they have selected and arranged over the course of the semester. In addition to the group ensemble work, there are several individual projects designed to accelerate musical growth and musicianship development. 

Contemporary Music Seminar

There are two sections of CMS, also known as the Advanced Band ensembles. This senior-level class is the culmination of the Marin Academy Music program. Each student is expected to synthesize all of the information and skills learned in previous classes in order to continue building their musicianship and supercharge their individual process of becoming a better musician. The material continues to be student selected; however, there is a higher level of original arranging, reharmonizing, and improvising expected at the Advanced Band Level. Students are placed into bands based on instrumentation and continue to work together in the same ensemble throughout the school year. Each semester culminates in a three-night concert series, where bands perform the material that they have selected and arranged over the course of the semester. In addition to the group ensemble work, there are several individual projects designed to accelerate musical growth and musicianship development.

Fall Advanced Bands Performance 

Chris Detrick

Chris Detrick

Music Teacher
Angeline Saris

Angeline Saris

Music Teacher