Instrumental Music at ESA

music at esa

The Music Department at Etobicoke School of the Arts takes a holistic approach to music pedagogy. In the teaching of music we try to balance ensemble performance, solo performance, technical skill, theoretical principals and the study of music history.

All students perform in a large co-curricular ensemble throughout highschool. We believe strongly that playing in a large ensemble nurtures and develops a musician in a way that nothing else can.

Part of ESA’s enhanced curriculum involves three class recitals a year. These opportunities to share solo and chamber music repertoire allows students to develop their independent musical, interpretive and performing skills while also catering to their specific interests.

Throughout the year, students learn about instrumental technique and the application of theoretical knowledge to their instrument during virtually every performance class. We address the technique and skill development of our students consistently and regularly.

In the teaching of theory and music history, students get a course of study that very closely resembles the Royal Conservatory of Music curriculum.

The courses in this section have been developed:

  • to give students who demonstrate aptitude in dance, drama, film, music, music theatre or the visual arts an opportunity to develop such talent as part of their education
  • to equip students to evaluate and handle the fundamental discipline in their elected arts field
  • to develop in artistically-inclined students the ability to understand and use their arts specialty as a living language
  • to prepare students for continued study in the arts at the post-secondary level
  • to help students develop the necessary skills to become proficient performers and artists

Course Descriptions

AMI / AMS 1O1: INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC – BAND OR STRINGS
These courses are designed for those students whose backgrounds include performance in the areas of band or strings.  The basic skills in these areas are developed through class instruction.  In courses of this nature there is an anticipation of a high level of performance.  Subsequently, the student is expected to contribute to both the curricular and extra-curricular programs.  In addition to these elements, private practice is an integral part of the course.  Students will perform in both large and small ensembles.  Students will perform in class recitals as well as public performances.

AMU 1O1: INTRODUCTION TO MUSIC  
This course explores, through investigation of diverse musical genres, the elements of music: rhythm, melody, timbre, dynamics, harmony, texture, and form.  Students will

examine and analyze musical forms from a variety of musical periods developing an understanding of musical history and its cultural context.  Creation is emphasized in the course through melodic composition, and enhanced by the use of technology.    Theoretical elements are explored as they relate to the music studied in performance classes.  Canadian music is included in the course content.  Performance is an integral part of this course.

AMC 1O1: CONTEMPORARY MUSIC
This course focuses on the study and exploration of modern commercial music genres (pop, rock, R&B, hip hop, alternative, indie, folk etc.) with an emphasis on student-created works. Students will learn the fundamentals and elements of music.

They will develop performance skills and an understanding of theoretical concepts that will help students to respond to and analyze music. This introductory course is open to students with all levels of ability and to all instruments and vocal types. However, there is a limited supply of school-sourced instruments available for student use. As such, students are encouraged to bring their own instrument.

AMI / AMS 2O1: INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC – BAND OR STRINGS
In this course, a more advanced repertoire is studied.   In addition to these elements, private practice is an integral part of the course.  Orchestral and band performance, small ensembles and solos are introduced.    Students are expected to contribute to both the curricular and extra-curricular programs.  Visiting artists complement the regular studies in all of these areas.  Participation in a large instrumental ensemble is compulsory. Students will perform in both large and small ensembles.  Students will perform in class recitals as well as public performances.

AMU 2O1: LANGUAGE AND HISTORY OF MUSIC   
This course continues the exploration of the elements and vocabulary of music, and examines in-depth theoretical elements relating to scales, modes, intervals, triads, transpositions, score reading, cadences, and chords.  Students will examine and analyze musical forms from a variety of musical periods developing an understanding of musical history and its cultural context.  This analytical knowledge will guide students in interpreting their own performance repertoire.  The creative process of perception, production, and reflection is emphasized as the students acquire theoretical skills.  The relationship of written music to actual sounds is studied.  Performance is an integral part of this course.

AMI / AMS 3M1: INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC – BAND OR STRINGS  
This course explores the repertoire of chamber music and ensembles.  Students will research chamber music literature as well as perform in duos, trios, quartets and quintets.

Topics include: performance etiquette, rehearsal techniques, ensemble attack and release, relativity of line, balance and blend, dynamics, intonation, rhythm, musical discrimination, musical leadership, and seating.  There is a strong emphasis on artistic and creative leadership and rehearsal practices, including small and large ensemble rehearsal techniques.  Participation in a large ensemble is compulsory.  Visiting artists complement the regular studies in all of these areas. Students will perform in both large and small ensembles.  Students will perform in class recitals as well as public performances.

AMU 3M1: THEORY, COMPOSITION AND ANALYSIS
This course emphasizes appreciation, analysis and creation of various kinds of music, including late classical to twentieth century music, popular and non – Western music.  Students will complete detailed creative activities, analyze and evaluate live and recorded performances and compose and arrange musical works for each other and in collaboration with drama and film.  The ability to notate rhythmic patterns, melodies and chords accurately through listening will be pursued in greater depth.  Further study in the language of music will enable students to demonstrate a mastery of technical skills appropriate for this course.

AMR 3MI: REPERTOIRE – I
This course provides an in-depth opportunity to continue to develop their skills on their primary instrument or voice.  The students will be focusing on advanced solo, chamber, and ensemble music in addition to the school ensembles.  There will be small group opportunities to explore various styles of music, including jazz and world music.  All the students will participate in regular solo recitals by listening, researching various aspects of performance, evaluating peers and self.  Topics include: Performance etiquette, music discrimination, intonation and listening skills.  Private practice and routines are critical to success in this course.

AMC 3O1: CONTEMPORARY MUSIC: SONGWRITING AND CONTEMPORARY MUSIC STUDIES
The Contemporary Music Elective stream focuses on student created works. Students will be covering, arranging, writing and performing their own contemporary music. This open level course is available to students of any level of ability and deals with the study and exploration of modern commercial music genres (pop, rock, R&B, hip hop, alternative, indie, folk etc.). Students will explore notation and sequencing technology and record their work. Students will respond to and analyze a variety of contemporary genres. Collaboration will be encouraged both within the classroom and with the broader artistic community in the school.

This course is open to students of any level and all instruments and vocal types. There is a limited supply of school-sourced instruments available for student use. As such, students are encouraged to bring their own instrument or perform vocally.

No prerequisite is required.

AMI / AMS 4M1: INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC – BAND OR STRINGS
This course is offered to students with advanced playing experience.  As well as orchestral and band performances, small ensemble and solo repertoire are studied in depth.  Each student will prepare and perform an accompanied senior recital on his or her orchestral instrument.  Visiting artists complement the regular studies in all of these areas.  Students will perform in both large and small ensembles.  There is a strong emphasis on artistic choices, creative leadership and rehearsal practices including running a full large ensemble rehearsal.

AMU 4M1: LANGUAGE AND HISTORY OF MUSIC 
This course continues the exploration of orchestration begun in AMC 3M1.  Students work on original arrangements for solos, small ensembles and large combinations of instruments. The focus is on the study of concepts, for example, the specific elements of orchestration and instrumentation: tone, colour, timbre, texture, form, melody, harmony, dynamics and rhythm.  Through research into composing and arranging techniques developed throughout

the history of music, students will study different styles of existing music by score analysis, listening, and independent study units that concentrate on creation.  The music analyzed will be drawn from a range of cultures.  Students have a variety of opportunities to perform and hear their arrangements/compositions played in class.

AMR 4MI: REPERTOIRE:  II  
In this course, students are given the opportunity to work independently on the instrument of their choice – orchestral, keyboard or voice. Student performance is evaluated through practice records and recitals.  By term two, there will be large ensemble performances, which will enable advanced students to gain conducting experience.  All students will learn the basics of conducting.

(Prerequisite course – AMR 3M1 or Department Approval)

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I minor in Music but study another major?
Yes, it is possible to major in another arts area and minor in music (Strings or Band).  Students must select Instrumental Music as their second audition choice on the application form.  If students are successful in the instrumental music audition, they can enrol in the instrumental music elective in grade 9.

What should I prepare for the audition?
You will be asked to play two contrasting solo pieces.  You may be asked to play a scale.  You will also be asked to do some sight reading and rhythmic clap back.

Can you tell me more about the pieces?
Two contrasting pieces means two pieces of music that are different in nature.  Generally, it means one fast and one slow.  It could mean two pieces from different time periods (romantic and baroque) or genres (classical and jazz).
The pieces should be written as solo for your instrument (generally, pieces like this are written for your instrument and piano).  It should not be your part from your school ensemble, or a study from your school method book.

Do I need an accompanist?
You will be playing your pieces unaccompanied. You do not need to bring an accompanist.  There will be no accompanist supplied for you.

What if I play piano, electric bass or guitar?
Unfortunately, students may not audition on piano, electric bass or guitar as our programs are based on orchestral or band instruments (strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion). We have no class-room based courses in piano or guitar.

What if I play percussion?
For your audition you will be playing a piece on both a non-tuned instrument, such as a snare drum and/or drum set and a piece on a tuned instrument such as bells or xylophone.  If you do not have access to these a piece on piano will be accceptable.  It is important that you are able to read percussion music.  This will be required for the sight reading component as well.

What are my chances of getting in?
Your chances of getting into the music program at ESA depend on a number of factors.  First, the number of applicants changes from year to year, and your chances of getting in are dependant on the number of applicants.  Further, less common instruments have a greater chance of gaining admission based on our instrumentation needs.
Most importantly, we look for potential.  You do not necessarily need to be very advanced on your instrument, but if you demonstrate an ability to learn quickly, good musical instincts and a passion for the instrument, you have a great chance of getting into ESA.

What instruments are in greatest demand?
We are always in short supply of the following instruments: french horn, oboe, bassoon, trombone, viola.

How do I increase my chances of getting in?
The best thing you can do while preparing for an audition is take some private lessons on your instrument.  Even 3 or 4 lessons can make a world of difference in terms of your success in the audition process.
Second, show us what you play best.  It is more impressive to see a less challenging piece played confidently and accurately than a piece beyond your limits that you struggle through simply because you feel it is more impressive.
Finally, think about playing an ‘instrument in demand’.  ESA is not the only institution that has need for these instruments; youth orchestras, university music programs, professional music organizations all have need for these less popular instruments.  Playing one of these instruments could make you an ‘in demand’ player for the rest of your music making life!

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