Our students begin with training to develop individual instrumental/vocal technique, ensemble skills, and musical literacy. These skills are then applied to an evolving mastery of the language and expressive capabilities of music. Their performances are informed by an introduction to music history, theory, and technology, in a cultural context. Students with diverse personalities and backgrounds come together as a community to create music. Individual and group rehearsal time in and out of the classroom translates to a better ensemble experience and a greater appreciation for music. The students learn by doing. We are a live performance-based department. Each concert performance is unique. We are proud of our high-caliber performing faculty who are active in their field but who are also dedicated to their teaching and their students. We hope our students will have a lifetime involvement with music, whether as performers or listeners.

Essential Elements of Music

Essential Elements of Music

This yearlong course will focus on teaching students to understand and appreciate what constitutes the wide sphere of music. It is open to all students, regardless of their musical background, or lack thereof. Demystifying music, which can be akin to a foreign language for many students, is one of the essential elements of this course. Students will be introduced to different genres of music within the curriculum, e.g. pop, classical, world and jazz, while learning what elements of music go into ‘making a style’. Concurrently, students will learn what the elements of music are, how to identify them, gain elemental facility in using these (e.g. music notation) and practice listening intentionally and analytically. Students will be introduced to major milestones of music in multiple genres. Time will be set aside for music of students’ present listening habits and preferences while using the same analytical skills used in studying other music. A one to two week segment will include composing melodies and simple compositions introducing the student to some of the inner workings of music itself.

Music Production and Technology (fall or spring semester)

Music Production and Technology

This course will involve listening to songs produced by historically important producers including: George Martin, Phil Spector, Quincy Jones, and Nile Rodgers. Some of this would be homework and some listening would be done as a group in class. Students will listen to individual songs from the 1930’s,1940s,1950s,1960’s,1970’s, and 1980’s to hear how the art of music production has progressed and how technology has changed popular music. The Music Production Lab portion of the course will include songwriting discussion and the difference between composing and arranging. Students will see how arrangements can help a song develop. The class will discuss the importance of “hooks” and memorable lines or riffs. Students will arrange and produce music in the Music Computer Lab with possible programs used in the course, such as Ableton Live, Logic Pro, GarageBand, and ProTools Express. Frequent accomplished guest producers will visit the course and speak to students. Students enrolled in this class will have the opportunity to collaborate with film students in the Theater Arts Department.

Music Theory and Musicianship I (fall or spring semester)

Music Theory and Musicianship I

An essential course for anyone serious about learning and exploring the depths of complete musicianship and the theories of music. The course requires, listening skills involving solfege, melodic dictation, and harmonic dictation. Topics and skills include learning basic piano, intervals, key signatures, transposition, rhythmic notations, elementary composition of melody, visual analysis in score of tonal structure and formal organization, and listening skills. Students will eventually arrange and compose music from computer programs used in the course such as, Sibelius, Finale, and GarageBand just to name a few. A final project can be an original piece composed and orchestrated by the student. The student and the teacher will decide the length and instrumentation of the piece jointly. Students enrolled in this class will have the opportunity to collaborate with film students in the Theater Arts Department.

Music Theory and Musicianship II (spring semester)

Music Theory and Musicianship II

A continuation for advanced students of Music Theory and Musicianship.



Intermezzo is an advanced choral ensemble for the more serious singer. Students must have two years' choral experience to be admitted into Intermezzo and many will be students moving from the Arioso vocal ensemble. The repertoire is challenging and covers all styles and periods of choral music. Students who are enrolled in Intermezzo will have the opportunity to be placed in the Vocal Arts Ensemble.

​Vocal Arts Ensemble

Vocal Arts Ensemble

An advanced vocal ensemble of twenty to thirty-five students with above average vocal ability and an interest in developing ensemble-singing techniques. A wide repertoire is covered (classical, jazz, show, popular etc. ). The ensemble performs at school concerts and other on- and off-campus events. Students in this ensemble will also learn vocalizing techniques including a focus on breath control, posture, and vowel functions. Scales, triads, intervallic recognition ear assessments, and three or four-part harmonic progressions will also be a part of the ongoing curriculum. Additionally, students will be taught a plethora of choral singing techniques, including: blend, proper vowel formation, diction and articulation, and independence of part will be taught in a professional choral rehearsal and performance setting. Students will also learn a repertoire from a wide variety of musical styles and eras both accompanied and a cappella while improving their sight singing skills through ongoing reading of standard choral repertoire.

Chamber Music

Chamber Music

A not-for-credit program, open to performers of all ages and playing levels, on all instruments (including string and wind instruments, piano, harp, voice, guitar, percussion). Classes are scheduled to meet once a week during a free period, activity period, study hall, or before or after school.

The students to participate in small chamber music groups. This program is open to performers of all ages and playing levels. The students are placed in ensembles based on their playing experience, musical interests, and schedules. All student instrumentalists and vocalists are encouraged to become involved in the Chamber Music Program. Chamber Music participation is included in the students’ transcripts, which go to the colleges to which they apply.

Rehearsals are scheduled during free periods, study halls, lunch periods, activity periods, prior to the school day, or after school, depending on what works best for the students and the teacher. Each ensemble meets once a week with the chamber music coach. The students will have the opportunity to perform in the Spring Chamber Music Concert, and sometimes at various school events throughout the year.

Wind Symphony

Wind Symphony

The Wind Symphony performs approximately two or more concerts a year. This ensemble is open to experienced wind (woodwind, brass) and percussion players. Bass (acoustic or electric) players can also join this ensemble. The Wind Symphony plays traditional band music such as that of John Philip Sousa, Broadway show selections, current popular music, classical music and 20th century pieces written specifically for concert bands and wind ensembles. In addition to preparing for concerts, students work on instrumental and ensemble skills. Admission is by audition.

Jazz Ensemble

Jazz Ensemble

An ensemble of saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, guitar, percussion, and drum set players. All players must have previous experience with their instruments. The ensemble plays arrangements of Big Band and popular music from the 1930s to the present. Emphasis is on developing improvisational and jazz small group (combo) performance skills. On occasion, students enrolled in the ensemble have been know to compose original music for the group. The ensemble performs at school concerts and other on and off-campus events. Furthermore, this ensemble tours and on occasion, travels for performances. Admission is by audition.



The Orchestra is open to string, woodwind, brass, and percussion players and, occasionally a pianist. The Orchestra performs pieces from the standard orchestral repertoire and covers as many musical periods as possible within the given instrumentation. Admission is by audition. Qualified students (usually seniors) are given the opportunity to perform concerti or other solo pieces with the orchestra. The Orchestra generally performs approximately three or more concerts throughout the academic year.

Musical Theater Workshop

Musical Theater Workshop

This course will be the study of the three elements of Musical Theatre, singing, acting, and dancing, in an advanced, highly focused, studio setting. Students will work on vocal technique in the musical theatre style, will learn how to approach songs and scene from an acting perspective, and will be introduced to basic musical theatre dance technique. Over the course of the semester, each student will use these skills for both duet/small group selections as well as full ensemble pieces. Students are to develop strong performance skills and are encouraged to explore their own personal styles within the musical theatre genre. In addition, students will be exposed to basic musical theatre history.

Lunch and Listen

Lunch and Listen is a micro-concert series featuring student and faculty musicians. From Baroque to Broadway, Saint-Saëns to Stevie Wonder, violin to voice, a variety of styles, composers, and instruments is featured.

April 13, 2018

March 9, 2018

Riverdale Country School

Mind • Character • Community




5250 Fieldston Road
Bronx, NY 10471

LS: (718) 549-7780
MS/US: (718) 549-8810

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Riverdale teaches students to become lifelong learners by fostering "growth" mindsets. Go There >

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