Music is a highly valued part of the MCDS curriculum from Pre-K through High School. The MCDS music curriculum develops well-rounded musicians beginning at a young age by providing both structured and creative opportunities for students.
In Lower School, students begin general music, choir, and piano lessons (starting in first grade.) In middle school, students choose from a variety of instruments and participate in an ensemble (band, choir, orchestra). As part of their instruction, they receive private lessons from a member of the music faculty to assist in their learning on the instrument. They also receive music theory instruction and compose their own pieces. In high school, students continue to perform in ensembles and can choose to take a variety of courses in music history and theory.
The MCDS music experience establishes a foundation for students to evolve into musical adults who participate, appreciate, and enjoy music throughout their lifetimes. Many MCDS alumni continue to include music in their lives through college ensembles, community organizations, marching bands and, in some cases, choosing to major in music in college.
Special activities and opportunities in music throughout the school year
Concerts and Recitals
MCDS celebrates the efforts of our lower school choirs, middle and high school bands, choirs, and orchestras in regular concerts throughout the school year. These concerts are wonderful community events that showcase the work of our MCDS students. In addition, students (first through twelfth grade) have the opportunity to perform in a solo or small group capacity during our regularly scheduled recitals during the year. We welcome parents and friends to these wonderful performance events.
Fine Arts Week
This week-long, school-wide event highlights the importance of all the fine arts at MCDS (visual arts, music, drama, and dance.) Guest artists in each area visit MCDS to lead sessions and master classes. The week culminates with a gallery walk of student art and the Jazz Showcase. The MCDS gymnasium is transformed into a cabaret and dance hall. Along with the MCDS jazz bands, an invited professional band comes to perform, and guests have access to dance instruction from professional instructors.
The Jazz Showcase promotes the Madison Country Day School music program to the MCDS community and general public, through performances by our own MCDS music students, with the pinnacle of the concert being a live performance by a professional ensemble featuring some of the Midwest’s finest musicians and educators.
Throughout the week prior to the Showcase, these featured professionals and others host presentations and master classes in their area of expertise during the school day. Students have a chance to perform for these guests and receive constructive criticism in order to improve their skills.
The MCDS Jazz Showcase was established in 2008. Past themes include: “The Legends Concert”, “Jazz on Stage and Screen”, “The Big Easy, A Tribute to the City of New Orleans”, “Swing, Swing, Swing” (A tribute to the dance band era), and “Baila Que Baila” (Latin Jazz and Dance). The Showcase is truly a unique event, in part, due to the important balance between entertainment and education.
Choral Pops Concert
In late February, MCDS Middle and High School choirs entertain the audience at the Mitby Theater at Madison College with a fully-staged show of singing and dancing to popular music. Each show is centered around a theme and includes large group numbers, solos and small groups accompanied by a live, professional band. Past themes include “Don’t Stop Me Now- Queen & Bowie” and “Rock and Roll! Jukebox hits from the 50s and 60s.”
MCDS is a proud member of the Wisconsin School Music Association (WSMA). Students in grades sixth through twelve participate annually in district and state solo and ensemble festivals, large group festivals, and the music composition project.
MCDS also gives students the opportunity to participate in examinations hosted by the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music (ABRSM). Students prepare pieces from prescribed lists and perform them for examiners in a private setting, receiving feedback and a rating. There are both practical (performance) examinations and written music theory exams for all levels of students.
Music beyond MCDS
Explore the world through music! MCDS students receive instruction at school and experience other great opportunities outside of their normal surroundings. Lower School students embark on field trips to Madison’s Overture Center to experience the power of the symphony orchestra! Middle and High School students travel throughout the year to large group festivals, community events, and local performance tours in Madison.