The Performing Arts
The Detroit Country Day Upper School Theatre and Dance program builds skills that will prepare students for a range of opportunities in both stage and film. Students learn the craft of acting with vocal development and stage movement exercises, and move on to more challenging materials for monologue and scene work. Actors have the opportunity to be a part of a range of dramatic and musical productions throughout the school year.
At Detroit Country Day School, music instruction begins at age three. An outstanding comprehensive program of vocal and instrumental music education continues all the way through the Upper School. Advanced classes are available in the Upper School, offering multiple levels of music theory and composition. Our performing ensembles and soloists consistently receive the highest ratings at MSVMA and MSBOA district and state festivals. We strive to foster a love and appreciation of music for the entire student body, while providing proper preparation for those who wish to further study music beyond graduation.
At the Lower School, students are exposed to a wide variety of topics and basic elements of music consistent with the National Standards of Music Education. Activities are based on music approaches developed by Carl Orff and Zoltán Kodály where improvisational skills, playing instruments, expressive ideas, creativity, movement, singing, music literacy and listening skills are developed.
Through activities such as piano keyboarding, strings and basic classroom teachings, students learn about melody, rhythm, form, harmony, timbre, instruments, vocal technique, expressive qualities, movement, technology, creativity and listening. To engage students at this level, objects and visual aids like scarves, beanbags, puppets and colorful pictures are often used along with non pitched percussion instruments and Orff instruments beginning in Pre-Kindergarten age 4. Songs and activities are presented in a fun, fresh exciting way so that students can begin to explore the music making process.
Lower School students have the opportunity to showcase their skills through a number of performances, including cross-curricular classroom presentations, the K-2 Holiday Concert at the Upper School Performing Arts Center, Junior Kindergarten Hooray for Thanksgiving Program, Pre-Kindergarten age 4 Holiday Informance, Pre-Kindergarten age 3 Music Informance, Junior Kindergarten Parade of Presidents and Founding Mothers, Junior Kindergarten Cinderella Fella Ball and the Kindergarten Spring Sing.
The Junior School Performing Arts curriculum is designed to challenge and excite students while also developing their musical talents and technique.
Through a variety of classes and tools, students learn to understand and appreciate the various forms of artistic expression and their relationships. They are taught to approach music both as an art to be enjoyed and shared, and as a discipline that demands developing skills and increasing knowledge. The goal is to help students become eager participants in music and develop positive attitudes toward it. Students are given the opportunity to participate in music both through groups and as individuals in order to further develop confidence in their singing and playing abilities. Through the Junior School Performing Arts Program, students will gain familiarity with various styles of music and begin to develop preferences, while enhancing other academic skills. Students are exposed to and tasked with building a repertoire of songs, including singing games, cumulative, patriotic, seasonal, folk, call and response, songs of non-western cultures, ethnic songs, spirituals, canons and ballads.
Students can participate in a number of performance ensembles throughout the school year, including Band, Choir, Choir Chime Ensemble, Drum Circle, Strings, Recorder Ensemble and Theatre.
At the Middle School, our primary goal is to provide excellent musical experiences through performance in instrumental (orchestra and band) and choral music. Through its multi-level structure, the instrumental program offers even the most beginning students the opportunity to perform, while still giving advanced players the ability to further their skills and express their musicality.
The Middle School recognizes the important role musical instruction can play in a child’s life and is committed to offering numerous opportunities for student participation, including Band Explorations and Instrument Selection, Symphony Band, Wind Ensemble, Treble Choir for Grade 6, Men’s and Women’s Choirs for Grades 7 and 8, Strings Exploration, String Orchestra, Chamber Ensemble, Grade 6 Music Appreciation Rotator, and Grade 8 Music Appreciation Rotator. A number of related clubs, events and competitions are also available for participation, including Choral-Aires, Chamber Music Club, Jazz Improvisation, Guitar Club, Music Exploration, and the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) and Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA) festivals.
In addition to musical offerings, the Middle School has a rapidly expanding drama program. Through the Speech and Drama class, students are able to expand their performing arts experiences beyond the classroom, onto stage and screen. Students can experience multiple venues of theatrical performance, including Forensics, one-act plays, sketch comedy, improvisation, film production and more. Students participating in the Middle School drama program also play a role in the Upper School Spring Musical. Currently, the Speech and Drama class is offered to Grade 8 students by recommendation of faculty and advisors.
The Upper School Performing Arts program is made up of two important and distinct disciplines: Theatre and Communication Arts. The program was designed to help students explore their creativity and express themselves through public speech and literary performances.
Through the Communication Arts discipline, students have the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to improve their speech, composition and delivery. Students may participate in Public Speaking, Forensics or Debate. The Theatre program allows students to engage in technique exploration, practical performances and research. Theatre Production: Stagecraft and Theatrical Design, Performance Foundations and Studies, and Advanced Theatre classes are offered, and students may participate in such clubs, events and competitions as musicals, plays, Spring Student Theatre Festival, technical production teams and stage crew, and the International Thespian Society.
Students also have the opportunity for advanced study through the Conservatory of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts. The Conservatory was designed to nurture and teach those students wishing to seek a career in the fine and performing arts field. By clearly identifying the Conservatory as a course of study within the college preparatory mission, students receive focused mentoring and concentrated preparation for acceptance into the top art schools, music conservatories and theatre programs around the world.