BH-BL Music Program Overview
The BH-BL K-12 Music program provides every student with opportunities to explore, create, and perform music through classroom experiences, curricular and extra-curricular performing ensembles, and group lesson instruction. Students have many opportunities to showcase their musical talent in concerts, festivals, and other performances throughout the community, capital district, New York State, and beyond. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake is proud to have been nationally recognized by the NAMM Foundation for a number of years as one of the Best Communities for Music Education.
Elementary School Music Program
Music education in the BH-BL elementary schools begins in Kindergarten and continues through grade 5. Elementary students experience a curriculum that gives them opportunities to create, perform, and respond to music, as well as learn the historical and social aspects of music.
Students in grade 3 learn to play the recorder for the experience of playing an instrument and in anticipation of selecting a band or orchestra instrument to begin learning in grade 4. Third-graders see and hear live demonstrations of the band and orchestra instruments, and are given the opportunity to register for an instrument at our annual Grade 3 Instrumental Recruitment Night in June.
In September, grade 4 students begin instrumental instruction in group lessons held during the school day. Weekly lessons are 30 minutes in length, and are scheduled to meet on a rotating basis so that the same segment of classroom instruction is not missed each week. Most elementary instrumental music students will participate in one or two concerts their first year, and all will participate in their second year. Elementary bands and orchestras meet at their respective schools one morning each week at 7:45 am. Parents drop off their students (many carpool) for rehearsals, and students continue with their regular school day following rehearsals.
Most students in grades 4 and 5 take advantage of the opportunity to participate in elementary chorus. Chorus rehearsals occur during the regular school day and the choruses at each elementary school perform in two concerts during the year.
Middle School Music Program
All students in grade 6 experience 8 weeks of classroom music instruction, learning elements of music theory, history, world culture, and current music trends in our society. Some of the learning occurs in our Yamaha Music in Education lab, where students have hands-on experiences with small keyboards. In grade 7, students may choose between classroom music and chorus to meet the NYS requirement of ½ unit of music study.
Band, chorus, and orchestra at all three middle school grade levels are elective performing ensembles that are scheduled to meet during the school day. The sixth-grade year is the first time that students from all three district elementary schools come together to form one band, chorus, and orchestra. All of the bands, choruses and orchestras in grades 6, 7, and 8 perform in two or three concerts during the course of the school year.
Just as in elementary school, all middle school band and orchestra students have weekly group lessons that are scheduled on a rotating basis throughout the school day. Schedules are worked out so that students will only miss a particular class once or twice during a marking period for their lesson. As much as possible, students are grouped into lessons with others who match their learning pace. This allows for logical introduction of more technical elements, ensemble music, and solos.
In addition to the music classes and performing ensembles that meet during the school day, middle school students have the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular music experiences, including Jazz Band, Chamber Strings, Caroling Club, the O’Rourke musical production, and the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Students are also encouraged to expand their musical horizons by participating in NYSSMA Solo Festivals (see NYSSMA link), All-County Music Festivals, and Suburban Council Music Festivals. Information and auditions for all of the above are publicized in classes, on the announcements, and via postings by the BH-BL Friends of Music.
High School Music Program
BH-BL High School students must complete 1 unit of Art or Music to complete the New York State requirements for graduation. In addition, students who complete a 5-unit sequence in the arts are not required to complete the additional 2 units of foreign language requirement for the Regents diploma or the Advanced Regents diploma with a BH-BL Merit Seal. Our program has five performing groups that are credit-bearing, curricular classes: Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Mixed Chorus, Concert Choir, and Orchestra. All 9th and 10th grade students in the bands, choirs, and orchestra are scheduled for group lessons as a required component of those performing groups. Lessons are scheduled on a rotating basis and are ½ block in length.
We also offer courses that are classroom-based: Music Technology and You I, Music Technology and You II, Introduction to Theatre, and Music Theory, which is offered for 4 college credits through SUNY Albany’s University in High School Program.
In addition to the curricular music classes and performing ensembles that meet during the school day for credit, high school students have the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular music experiences, including Jazz Ensemble, Pep Band, Select Choir, Chamber Strings, drama and musical productions, and the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Students are also encouraged to expand their musical horizons by participating in NYSSMA Solo Festivals (see NYSSMA link), Conference All-State, Area All-State, All-County, and Suburban Council Music Festivals, Empire State Youth Ensembles, Saratoga Youth Symphony, Capital District Youth Chorale, Albany Pro Musica Apprenticeship, Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, and private lessons. Information and auditions for all of the above are publicized in classes, on the announcements, and via postings by the BH-BL Friends of Music.
Our top high school performing groups regularly participate in state evaluation festivals and they travel to competitive music festivals outside of New York. Recent destinations include Canada, Virginia, Florida, Maryland, Washington DC, and England.