Fine Arts Programs in High Schools

Music

Music courses are available for all students to fulfill the fine arts requirement for graduation. Levels I-IV represent achievement levels, not student classification. For example, a student in high school choir for the first time is enrolled in Choir I, regardless of his or her grade level. Likewise, a senior in Band IV who is taking instrumental ensemble for the first time earns credit for Instrumental Ensemble I and Band IV. Because students in secondary level performance classes often have differing skill and experience levels, the teachers individualize student expectations.

Materials used in performance groups change yearly. For example, each of the four levels of choir has its own lesson plans and materials. As teachers analyze and choose literature, they consider the skills and techniques that build student proficiency and make selections that represent a broad range of cultures, time periods, and genres.

Scheduling

Because TEKS achievement standards are rigorous, scheduling and class size decisions are important. Safety, student development levels, course content and activities, and available staff and facilities are all considerations. Student achievement is the primary goal. The following questions might be useful in the decision-making process:

  • Will teachers be team teaching?
  • Do students’ development levels vary significantly?
  • Are beginners anticipated?

The number of classes and the number of students taught is comparable to student loads in other disciplines. The needs of all learners (e.g., advanced studies students, students with identified special needs, those who are not fluent English speakers) are important when making scheduling decisions.

Districts and campuses make the critical decisions about the time allotments. The music teachers need adequate time to teach the TEKS and students need adequate time to learn the TEKS. High school schedule configurations vary in length of class time and in pattern of class meetings; however, time allocations and credits given for music courses should be commensurate with allocations for foundation subjects. A course taken to satisfy a high school graduation requirement must be a full-credit course.

Facilities

Secondary school music facilities vary according to the courses taught. Instrumental and vocal classes have unique factors to be considered when designing rehearsal and classroom space.

The main room for instrumental groups is large enough to accommodate the largest group that will use the room. Space provides flexible seating, a minimum of 20 square feet and 400 cubic feet per student with at least 10-15 feet between the front row of players and the front wall. Minimum height of the room should be 16 feet (ideally, 20 feet).

Sound leakage from the room to other parts of the school is also a consideration. Acoustical engineers can address reverberation and sound distribution when designing new facilities or remodeling older facilities. Climate control is essential for the rehearsal room, smaller ensemble rooms, and practice rooms. Conditions of humidity and temperature affect playing qualities, such as intonation, and durability of musical instruments. Air conditioning and heating systems provide adequate air circulation and operate quietly. Good lighting in all rehearsal and work areas is essential.

Instrumental programs in secondary schools require storage space for the music library, instruments, uniforms, and recording and video equipment. Equipment and materials include items such as:

  • Plenty of instruments to ensure balance of instrumentation
  • Chairs designed to encourage good posture
  • Director’s chair, stand, and podium
  • Durable, adjustable music stands
  • Stereo sound system with recording and playback capability
  • Electronic tuning device
  • Percussion equipment cabinet with lock
  • Music folio racks
  • Computer with CD-ROM and printer
  • Typewriter
  • Video camera and VCR with monitor
  • Overhead projector and screen.

Additional budgetary considerations include maintenance, repair, and replacement of school-owned instruments and uniforms; purchase of new music and maintenance of current library; and recordings used as illustrative examples for student instruction.

The characteristics of the choral music facility are the same as those suggested for the instrumental music program with the following exceptions:

  • The rehearsal room should have 10 square feet of floor space and 200 cubic feet per student.
  • The room should accommodate permanent or portable semi-circular risers. The remaining flat floor space should be large enough for the number of students in the risers.
  • The ceiling of the rehearsal room should be at least 16 feet high.

Additional equipment and material needs for music classes include:

  • Pianos for rehearsal and practice rooms
  • A grand piano for the auditorium (recommended)
  • Electronic keyboard with MIDI capacity
  • Student chairs with swivel arms
  • Metronome
  • Portable standing risers
  • Seated risers
  • Robes or uniforms and storage facilities
  • Acoustical choral shell (recommended)