Music Program

Highland Hall has a robust, well-integrated music program.  Music is part of the curriculum at all grade levels. Activities and repertoire are age appropriate and are linked to main lesson themes and seasonal festivals. The major objectives of the program include: the cultivation and development of active listening, creating beautiful music, high levels of competency, and creative expression. 


The music curriculum begins in the early childhood program with simple nursery rhymes and proceeds to musical circles. These songs help today’s children, who are often over-stimulated by our fast-paced world.  The sounds of a bell, harp, or Glockenspiel are used in place of a raised voice to direct and resolve everyday situations or difficulties. Electronic music is avoided. 


In grades one and two, musical experiences continue with singing and instrument playing. Some of the songs are chosen to support the academic curriculum and others accompany the transitions between activities. The children also learn to play interval flutes, pentatonic flutes, and children's harps.

In the third grade, the class teacher (homeroom teacher) continues singing with the children at circle time and during transitions throughout the day. C-flutes, kinder harps, and recorders may be used as well. Now, every child begins a two-year study of the violin, viola, or cello in a focused music class taught by a specialist. Music reading becomes a regular part of these classes. The careful attention to tuning which is necessary when playing a string instrument develops listening and social skills. The fourth graders continue studying their stringed instruments and expand into singing two-part songs from printed music with piano accompaniment.


In fifth and sixth grades, every student studies one of the wind instruments. Singing continues through the eighth grade, with work in two and three parts, furthering the development of expressive techniques. Multi-cultural music becomes an important part of the curriculum.  Many of our students learn African drumming, Latin music from Mexico and South America, and Middle Eastern music. There is occasional exposure to  Asian music through events such as our Chinese New Year celebration and assembly.


In fifth through eighth grades, the students elect lower school orchestra or junior chorus. Private lessons are required for all orchestra members who feel a strong connection to their particular instrument. Both the lower school orchestra and the junior chorus perform for the community each semester. The students continue to develop careful listening and their ability to express themselves through music.

The high school music program provides an opportunity for students to broaden their cultural horizons, express themselves, and to develop technical expertise. As the students hone their abilities to tune, blend, and interpret various styles of music, they build social skills including tact, sensitivity, and compassion. The high school music electives are: chorus, orchestra/jazz band, hand bell choir, and the Eurythmy elective. The music period provides an important opportunity for "breathing out" after the intensive academic periods in the morning. 


The Grace Notes


The Grace Notes is a group of alumni, current parents, and alumni parents, who appreciate and enjoy the stellar music program at Highland Hall. Click here to learn more...



Highland Hall Alumni & Former Students


Classical Musicians:

  • Shawne Zarubica, Director of Concert Operations, Baltimore Symphony
  • Gabo Golden, Music Director Santa Monica Youth Orchestra, double bassist, cellist, and violone player
  • Gwenyth Bravo, PhD, cellist, music professor at NYU Abu Dhabi
  • Paul Sonner, violinist, concertmaster of the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, concertmaster of the Traverse Symphony Orchestra
  • Andrew Cook, classical cellist, Pasadena Conservatory of Music
  • Geoffrey Hardcastle, Trumpet player, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Niv Ashkenazi, classical violinist

 Contemporary Artists:

  • Nita Strauss, lead guitarist, Alice Cooper
  • Basie (Bais Haus) Hauser, recording artist and DJ for Ephwurd
  • Mackenzie Howe, vocalist, The Wild Reeds
  • Lisa Coleman & Wendy Melvoin, songwriters for television and movies, formerly backup singers for Prince
  • Adam Holzman, jazz-rock keyboardist and recording artist
  • Freddie Mack, lead singer, Liquid Meat
  • Ezra Holbrook, indie rock musician

 Jazz Artists:

  • Gina Eckstine, jazz vocalist
  • William Roper, jazz & horn musician

Composers, Singers, Producers, Teachers and more:

  • Lucy Walsh, singer & songwriter
  • Ian Axness, pianist, orchestrator, composer
  • Harleigh Kibbee, keyboardist, percussionist
  • Morgan Whirledge, composer
  • Shane Barakan, guitarist
  • Rachael Lonergan, cellist teacher and musician
  • Jeddrah Schmidt, singer
  • Dusty Moon, music producer & sound mixer