Performing Arts

The Upper School Performing Arts curriculum offers a range of options for students interested in music, dance, or acting. These include formal semester classes, choral and instrumental groups, and a selection of weekly activities. In addition, the Department stages three theater productions a year, which include different genres and a student-directed production. Formal dance and music concerts are presented in the winter and spring. Individual music students and ensembles audition for District, State, Eastern, and National music festivals, and the Department participates semiannually in the Maine Principals Association’s One Act competitions.

Music History and Appreciation

This course explores the story of Western music from its origins in medieval Gregorian chant through the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, and up through the 20th century and the development of jazz and rock. Students study the instruments of the orchestra and the lives of the great composers, as well as the style, form, and sociocultural connections of music throughout history. Requirements include reading and listening assignments, tests and quizzes, student oral reports, and research projects.

Music Theory and Composition

Students study music theory through its practical applications in composition and performance. Starting with the fundamentals of pitch, rhythm, and score reading, the course quickly moves through scales and modes, intervals, chords, form, harmonization, and part-writing. Course requirements include reading and workbook assignments, frequent composition projects, and assessments in ear training and notation. There is no prerequisite for this course, though it is assumed that students have a strong interest in music study.


This class is an introduction to the art of acting. Students will enhance their “actor’s instrument” through a variety of approaches to training their bodies, voices, and imaginations. Students explore different acting styles and techniques from Western theater by reading plays and theater-related texts. The goal is to add variety to students’ artistic choices in performance, expand theater literacy by attending productions, and learn how to make observations on everyday life through regular journal entries.

Music Performance Offerings


Chorus is a yearlong performing arts ensemble that focuses on developing proper vocal technique and musicianship through the performance of choral pieces. Students study a varied musical repertoire and are expected to participate in two evening performances as well as informal performances over the course of the year.

Jazz Band

The Upper School Jazz Ensemble is open to instrumentalists with intermediate to advanced skills. The ensemble meets twice a week and leans heavily toward arrangements that cultivate interest in jazz improvisation. In addition to school performances, the group participates in the Berklee College of Music’s annual High School Jazz Festival in Boston.

Chamber Music

Intermediate and advanced music students are encouraged to apply to Upper School Chamber Music. Students work on Baroque and Classical music in small ensembles, which are coached independently. The ensembles perform in formal and informal settings during the year.

Other Performing Arts Opportunities


An introduction to the theory, process, and techniques of costume design. Students study the skills of costume designers and technicians. Some hand-sewing and some machine-sewing will be included. Topics may include basic theater history, research, and collaboration in design, pattern use, measurement, terminology, and specialized skills (such as knitting, crochet, and beadwork). Students complete one stage-ready piece, either alone or in collaboration with classmates.


Previous experience is not required to participate in the dance program. The dance repertoire may include lyrical, modern, ballet, and jazz styles.


Students examine the process of piecing together film and video footage to create a structural narrative sequence. The class surveys several editing and film styles in order to better understand the role of the film editor in shaping the pace, mood, and impact of any film.


This class is an exploration of improvisation—the art of talking, acting, and responding in the moment. Group exercises and scene work take place in a safe and positive environment. The class offers a unique opportunity for students to improve not only their acting technique but their social and conversational skills as well.

Poetry Out Loud

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with U.S. state arts agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, a contest that encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program also helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

Stage Crew/Technical Theater

An intense overview of the technical elements of backstage, safety workplace procedures, and production guidelines that make a show successful. Students work as a team to design and create the lighting, sets, costumes, sound, and props for a play.

Vocal Ensemble

Through ensemble and individual work, students learn proper singing technique and musicianship. The ensemble focuses on collaborative work and a cappella performance.

World Performance

This class explores music of the Middle East. Non-musicians and musicians alike learn by doing as they study the many different rhythmic and melodic structures from Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and other countries in the region. No prior musical experience is required. Percussionists and melodic instrumentalists are encouraged to enroll.