Lower School

The Lower School music program encourages a broad appreciation of music across grades. The curricular focus is on choral and general music instruction, including skill building around listening, rhythm, notation, movement, dictation, music history, improvisation, composition, analysis, and performance. All students are exposed to a variety of musical tools designed to foster musical growth, including Orff instruments, hand percussion, recorded music, notation software, and theory coursework.

The choral portion of the Lower School music program begins in second grade. These large ensembles sing pieces from a variety of cultural and musical perspectives, including classical, folk, modern, and choral music in world languages. 

Second- and Third-Grade Choir

The pedagogical focus of the second- and third-grade choir is the encouragement and growth of basic musical skills, including group cohesion, pitch, breath support, diction, dynamics, and following a conductor.

Fourth-Grade Choir

The fourth-grade choir continues from this foundation with the introduction of more advanced musical ideas and repertoire, with special attention given to preparing for musical presentations.

When students reach fourth grade, they create a full-length musical as the culminating project of their year-long study of “The Path of the Hero.” Students weave together theme, story, music, lyrics, and drama, centered on their studies, though a deeply rewarding and collaborative process that stretches them to take risks, trust themselves and each other, and leave fourth grade with incredible confidence.

Middle School

The Middle School music program provides students with an in-depth understanding and appreciation for the stylistic, musical, and historical characteristics of a wide variety of music. Students learn fundamentals including rhythm, harmony, and composition, all presented in a hands-on, experiential environment.

Fifth Grade

Fifth graders study and perform music from key cities that shaped American popular music. They investigate genres including country western, rock, folk, blues, funk, and jazz, and research key musicians and musical groups who popularized various styles from each city. As their understanding develops, they make connections with important societal events that occurred at the time this great music was being created.

Sixth Grade

The emphasis in sixth grade is exploration of Western European music theory through class study and ensemble performance. Students gain a working knowledge of chord construction, rhythm, and ensemble skills.

Seventh and Eighth Grade

In seventh and eighth grades, students choose music electives that speak to them, with options ranging from performance-based Groove Workshop or Steel Drums, to more reflective choices such as Like a Rolling Stone: How to Review Popular Music.

Performance opportunities abound for all music students, including lunchtime programs, community events, culmination concerts, and the spring arts celebration. In addition, students also have opportunities to study with professional musicians who visit our campus.

Upper School

Students learn musical expression through elective coursework in jazz, chorale, rock genres, digital music, and musical production, as well as through extra-academic opportunities that include classical quartets, student-formed bands, an a cappella group, and "pop-up" shows at the Upper School.

Upper School music electives include Groove Workshop, Jazz Ensemble, Music Design and Production, Soundwaves a cappella choir, and more. 

Menuhin-Dowling Program

Established by Sir Yehudi Menuhin and Helen Dowling, the Menuhin-Dowling program is a performance-oriented music program open to students in grades 1–8. The program encourages students to deepen musical knowledge across disciplines, including theory, practice, and performance. Menuhin students make a significant commitment to the study of their instruments, receiving two lessons a week and performing on a regular basis with a focus on great master composers' music.

Learn More

Private Music Instruction

In addition to classroom music and choral instruction, Nueva students can participate in our instrumental-music program. Nationally recognized professional musicians from around the Bay Area offer individual instruction on many musical instruments and disciplines, including violin, piano, guitar, flute, drums, voice, and electric bass. 

For more information, please email Janice Toy.

Student practices cello with a teacher accompanying him on violin