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explore our CAMPUS

What's cool about our campus is that it's spread out over seven acres in Philadelphia's historic neighborhood of Germantown. The buildings are an eclectic mix of old and new, a unique look and feel more consistent with a college campus. With three gyms, three auditoriums, a student center, numerous open, green spaces and nine classroom buildings, it's a place worthy of adoration and exploration. The Meetinghouse, at the center of it all, provides a beautiful and spiritual focal point.

1. Main Building 2. Meetinghouse 3. Sharpless 4. Hargroves 5. Wade Science Center 6. Alumni Building 7. Admissions 8. Living Graveyard 9. Dead Graveyard 10. Loeb Performing Arts Center 11. Smith Gym 12. Cary Building 13. Friends Free Library 14. Field House 15. Scattergood Gym

we have deep roots in this place

Values Container

The Pillars of A

Quaker Education

At GFS, students and teachers gather in Meeting for Worship once each week. This is a time for shared, silent contemplation. Anyone who feels moved to speak may rise and do so. It is a simple formula, and can be a remarkably powerful experience.In these days of constant connectivity, the ability and opportunity to sit in silence have special value. Meeting for Worship is a cornerstone of the GFS culture that many come to cherish throughout their lives.

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speak the truth

We strive to deal fairly, equally and honestly with everyone. We aim to do as we say, reflecting our beliefs in our actions. even when it is inconvenient or challenging, we stand by our convictions, striving to lead lives of integrity.

Shine Together

We are all blessed with remarkable gifts. We are equally qualified to seek truth and to hear the voice of God. Every person deserves equal respect. For these reasons, we work against prejudice and discrimination and for equality.

stay connected

"Alone we can do little; together we can do so much."* We know there is strength in cooperation and wisdom to be found when many perspectives come together. We believe in the power of community.*
The words of Helen Keller.

keep it simple

In every way we can, we try to minimize the distractions that can draw our attention from the important things in life. This means not becoming overwhelmed by the busyness of daily routine. It means seeking balance. It means embracing simplicity.

care for all

This planet we inhabit, the talents we've been given, the community of which we are a part- all hold remarkable value. We must be responsible, imaginative and proactive in protecting these gifts and caring for the world and people around us. We must exercise good stewardship.

promote peace

We believe each life is precious and unique. We stand against war and violence and work to eliminate their root causes, including ignorance, racism, hatred and oppression. We are committed to creating peace.

  • Truth
  • Shine
  • Connected
  • Simple
  • Care
  • Peace

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Rooted in the conviction that students learn most about music by making music, the music department offers numerous performance-based classes throughout the K-12 curriculum.

The addition of music reading and interpretation skills allows our students to become whole learners in the music realm.

The music opportunities that exist at GFS are an outstanding example of the passion of both students and teachers for the musical genres.

This sense of shared exploration is prevalent in rehearsals and classrooms. The creation and understanding of music allows students to have a broad sense of history, and the capacity for exploration of specific musical forms.


630 Ninth Grade Music
required minor | grade: 9
In the first semester, all ninth grade students participate in both a grade-wide choral ensemble and in a corresponding “Integrated Musicianship” class period. The choral ensemble begins in voice sections (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) that meet once a week to develop proper technique and ear training skills. These voice sections then join together to create a four-part chorus that performs for the Thanksgiving Assembly. During a second period each week, students take part in an “Integrated Musicianship” class, where they develop their general musical and music literacy skills. In addition, students may choose to be a member of Orchestra, Jazz Ensembles, Chorus, Chamber Music or Sight Singing and Music Literacy.

In the second semester, students choose a performance-based option that meets twice a week. The specific options are introduced to the students in December of each year, with the opportunity for students to talk with teachers in order to make a fully-informed decision. While the slate of ninth grade music electives may vary from year to year, typical offerings include a Ninth Grade Musical Theater production, World Percussion Ensemble, a Fusion Band and a Songwriting class. These electives culminate in a Music Fest weekend in May, where students present their work to each other and to the larger community.

635 Sight Singing and Music Theory
minor elective | grade: 9
Students in this course learn the fundamental skills and language of music, with an emphasis on developing vocal sight reading skills. Areas of study include interval recognition, key signature identification, chord construction and ear training.

Performance Courses

688 Jazz Ensembles
minor elective | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
co-requisite: current instrumental instruction

The jazz ensembles are open to all instrumentalists who wish to explore music from the jazz tradition. Students explore facets of performing as an ensemble, with special attention given to the study of jazz history, important musicians, theory, improvisation and listening to influential recordings. Styles of music other than jazz are sometimes included. Ensembles are arranged with regard to instrumentation, student ability and scheduling. Students in the jazz ensembles are required to take private lessons on their instrument in order to gain facility and adequate technique. These skills will greatly enhance the proficiency of the individual, and the collective progress of the ensemble. Performance opportunities include GFS assemblies, community events, Jazz Night in April and the Instrumental Music Concert in May.

679 Chamber Ensembles
minor elective | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
co-requisite: With the exception of pianists and nonorchestral instruments, students must participate in the GFS Orchestra in order to be placed in a chamber ensemble.

Students who enroll in Chamber Ensembles are placed in duets, trios, quartets or quintets to experience the unique and intimate level of communication that occurs in a small ensemble setting. Ensembles are arranged with reference to instrumentation and students’ abilities; all instruments and levels of playing are placed in appropriate groups. Chamber ensembles may include traditional instrumentation (e.g. two violins, viola & cello) or more non-traditional formations (e.g. ukulele ensemble), depending on the students’ interest. Students may also propose their own groups, with the assistance of the orchestra director. Repertoire is drawn from classical, contemporary and popular music.

Performances include community events, GFS functions and the Chamber Music Concert in May. Interested musicians should speak with the Orchestra Director for placement.

680 Orchestra
minor elective | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
co-requisite: private instrumental lessons

The orchestra is open to all instrumentalists (except guitar) who display sufficiently advanced technique to perform the chosen repertoire, though space is limited for percussion and piano. The ensemble plays repertoire from a wide variety of genres, including classical, contemporary, Broadway and pop music; these works are featured in many assemblies, the Holiday Concert and the Instrumental Music Concert. In addition to learning challenging repertoire, students focus on orchestral playing techniques that include accurate intonation, dynamic range, sectional blend and musical phrasing. Students are required to take private lessons on their instrument in order to gain an adequate technical facility.

694 World Percussion Ensemble
minor elective | grades: 10, 11, 12
Study in percussion techniques from Africa, the Middle East, Cuba and Brazil is available to any interested student. The course accommodates students of all levels, from beginner to advanced.

Students will learn about the process of building a percussion ensemble based on the traditional instrumental and vocal cues used within the various cultures studied. Techniques and repertoire are presented through rote, traditional notation, graph notation, audio and visual examples, and transcriptions. Instruments used are provided by the instructor, and include Bata drums, Agbadza drums, doumbeks, djembes and Gyili (African balafons). Students will develop an understanding of and appreciation for the collaborative nature of a percussion ensemble, and gain insight into their own creative forces via this genre.

673 Chorus
minor elective | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
Students in this course focus their study on works drawn from the choral-orchestral repertoire. Through rehearsal and performance, students seek to develop their musical skills—vocal, aural, rhythmic and sight-singing. During the first semester, emphasis is placed on skill development; as the year progresses, students learn increasing amounts of repertoire. Study culminates in performances for the Holiday Concert and Spring Choral concert. The ensemble is open to all who wish to learn about choral singing. Rehearsals in addition to class time prior to each performance.

675 Choir
minor elective | grades: 10, 11, 12
co-requisite: Chorus

Students in this course work to achieve excellence in the performance of choral music, singing demanding repertoire from many cultures and time periods. Through intensive rehearsal and performances, students develop their vocal abilities, sight-singing skills and sense of ensemble. Members sing in the Chorus as well. The Choir rehearsal schedule includes some weekend rehearsals as well as a required two-day overnight Choir Camp prior to the beginning of each school year. (For 2017, the dates are Saturday, August 26, and Sunday, August 27.) The ensemble performs frequently throughout the year and tours every three years. Choir meets the equivalent of three class periods a week, with additional rehearsals prior to each performance. The Choir is open to students in grades 10–12 by audition.

676 Instrumental Improvisation
minor elective | grades: 10, 11, 12
This course is designed to give students an indepth, thorough technique of how to improvise on their instrument. The first half of the course will be spent studying the tonal theory behind chordal structures in a variety of musical styles, as well as analyzing transcriptions of notable soloists. This includes jazz terminology, chords, progressions and soloing guidelines. The second half of the course will involve students actually playing their instruments in class. In doing this, they will gain not only a better concept of the art of spontaneous improvisation, but also learn how to utilize these concepts in their ensembles and musical settings in/out of school. Students who choose this course should have prior training on a musical instrument.

652 MadriGals
minor elective | grades: 10, 11, 12
prerequisite: departmental approval

This small ensemble of women sings a range of repertoire, from Renaissance to contemporary. Through rehearsal and performance, students develop their vocal and aural skills and a sense of both independent and ensemble singing. This group performs at all of the Upper School choral concerts throughout this year. Rehearsals in addition to class time prior to each performance.

Academic Courses

671 Beginning Music Theory
minor elective | grades: 10, 11, 12
Students in this course study the fundamental skills and language of music in order to become increasingly expressive and literate musicians. Course content includes major and minor scales, intervals, key signatures, basic harmonic progressions and rhythmic figures in simple and compound meters. Aural skills are developed through sight singing with solfege syllables, rhythmic dictation, interval identification and melodic dictation. Four-part writing and analysis will be studied towards the end of the second semester.

672 Advanced Music Theory
minor elective | grades: 11, 12
prerequisite: Beginning Music Theory or approval by Head of Music Department

This course continues work in four-part writing and analysis through proper voice-leading technique and advanced harmonic progressions. Strong emphasis is placed on the development of aural skills through rhythmic and melodic dictation, as well as intervallic and harmonic identification. Students explore various compositional techniques, culminating in a performance of original works during a spring assembly.

661 Advanced Music Composition
minor elective | grades: 11, 12
prerequisite: Advanced Music Theory or approval by Head of Music Department

This course focuses primarily on 19th-, 20thand 21st-century Western music, developing the students’ understanding of advanced chromatic techniques through both analysis and composition. Material covered includes variation technique, orchestration, form and model composition. Throughout the year, students will learn a number of techniques to grapple with different repertories, such as chromatic-mediant relationships in early-Romantic music, basic Riemannian functions for late-Romantic harmony, scale networks in Debussy and Faure, ostinato techniques in Stravinsky, post-tonal theory in Bartok and the Second Viennese School, and minimalist techniques in Part, Berio and Reich. Our study of a wide diversity of musical styles will serve as an incentive for student compositions in those styles, and throughout the year, students will compile a portfolio of their original compositional work so they can track their progress. The course will culminate with the performance of an original composition in a style of the student’s own choosing during a spring assembly.

677 Masterworks in Music
minor elective | grades: 10, 11, 12
This course is designed to familiarize students with Masterworks in Music from the Western tradition (Renaissance to the present day). Music in this course will be drawn from a variety of genres, styles and musical traditions, which may include: Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion, Beethoven’s Symphony no.9, Brahms’s German Requiem, Stravinsky’s Firebird, Bernstein’s West Side Story, Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, etc. In this course, students will come to understand and learn how to describe the stylistic, expressive and structural aspects of selected musical compositions, as well as communicate their experiences with these works. The course will focus on whole musical works, presented chronologically, which will be examined in detail and depth. The principal text of this course, therefore, will not be a book, but rather recordings of musical compositions. An exploration of the works represented on these recordings will be the basis for the discussions and assignments undertaken in this course. Additional readings will be assigned to inform class discussions, many taken from historical source texts written at the time of each composition. This course does not require a reading knowledge of music, but students will gain a rudimentary understanding of musical terminology; the development of students’ close listening skills is its central objective.

691 Digital Music Recording and Production
minor elective | grades: 10, 11, 12
This course is about the future of music. This is a digital age, and the absolute transformation of everything we thought music to be, is well under way. This course is designed to inspire students to create new music, and to push the boundaries of what music is, has been, and can be in their lives. We will first survey the history of sound synthesis, the art of noise, and the role electronic technology has played in sonic culture throughout the past 120 years. We will timeline the progression from analog to digital recording, synthesizers, MIDI, beat-making, and finally today’s ‘in the box’ software based computer music. After providing a thorough background on electronic music, we will work primarily with Ableton Live; a software already installed on every computer in the M-306. The class will cover the basic functionality of both hardware and software mixing consoles. We will discuss the dichotomy between ‘button-pushers‘ and ‘real musicians‘, and how artists bring soul and true musicality to computer music.

654 History of Pop
minor elective | grades: 10, 11, 12
Pop music is defined as music that is popular among the public at any given point in history. This course is open to all students and does not require any musical experience. Students will learn about the history of popular music in the United States from 1900 through the present day. Genres studied will include (but is not limited to): Blues, Jazz, Rock N’ Roll, Country, Folk, Disco, Hip Hop, Alternative Rock, Progressive Rock, Punk Rock, Salsa, Electronic Music, and current Popular Music in the 21st-century. Students will develop an understanding of and appreciation for the various types of popular music in America, as well as understand the cultural and historical developments within American history concurrent with the development of the music. Popular music history will be presented through the use of film clips, readings, music recordings, guest lecturers and performers; students presentations; and lecture. Students will portray their knowledge of the material through assessments such as papers, quizzes, tests, projects and presentations.

Private Instrumental Lessons

Private music lessons are available to any GFS student. See details and the registration form here, under "Private Instrumental Lessons."

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