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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

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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.

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Music

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

Fall Courses

MUS330 Found Sound
minor elective (one semester) | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
Students will create a choreographed performance that uses everyday items to create percussion, rhythms, and effects (think Stomp.) The process involves the discovery of non-traditional sounds and movements to combine and collaborate into a visual and aural masterpiece. Skill sets will involve traditional drumming techniques and rhythms with drumsticks, everyday items, and body percussion. Ordinary objects become the medium for the exploration of timbre, articulation, tone, dynamics, rhythms, and movement. The process of creating individual performance vignettes will be organic, highly participatory and at the discretion of the students. Every student will receive a set of drumsticks to use as part of the course and to build their skills outside of rehearsal time. Students will learn basic rhythmic patterns; more advanced patterns can be explored at the desire and need by students. Participants will need to be willing and ready to move. This course will culminate in a performance.

MUS340 Music and Cultures
minor elective (one semester) | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
This course explores how styles of music changed throughout history along with other art forms, based on what was happening in the world. Developments in communication, technology, and relationships between nations all played a part with how composers created music. Defining characteristics of four significant periods in music history will be identified, and parallels in styles of literature, visual art, fashion, and dance will be studied. Why did large concert halls become more common starting in the 1800s? What is the fabled tradition that goes along with Handel’s famous “Hallelujah” chorus? How did the invention of recording devices change the music industry? These are some questions that will be delved into. This project-based class requires no previous musical training.

MUS320 Musical Instrument Building
minor elective (one semester) | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
This hands-on class will focus on how musical instruments are made. Students will experiment with sound production by designing and creating musical instruments from household and recycled materials. We will learn about the science of how instruments work in each of the major instrument families, not only in Western music but also in music from other cultures around the world. We will also compose short pieces for our homemade instruments. Projects may include constructing some of the following instruments: electric kalimba, tin whistle, Cajon, slide trombone, stomp percussion, PVC thongaphone, cigar box guitar, and bamboo pan flute.

MUS310 Critical Listening in Music
minor elective (one semester) | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
This class will challenge students to listen more deeply, carefully and thoughtfully through the lens of recorded and live music. While learning about some of the more creative/artistic music genres (classical, ambient/electronic, jazz, and world music to name a few), students will also examine the relationship between listening and mindfulness. We will learn about dissonance in music and art, about the difference between thematic and experiential content, and about some basic music theory ideas and how they pertain to our perception of music. Students can expect a hefty amount of listening and discussion, along with creative writing assignments meant to reflect on, and put to words, our listening skills.

MUS345 History and Impact of Hip-Hop
minor elective (one semester) | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
In this course, students will explore the musical and social contributions and conflicts that hip-hop and rap have contributed to both American and global culture over the past half-century. In addition to studying the musical characteristics of both early and contemporary styles, students will discover the historical influences of the genre, including connections to jazz, gospel, and reggae, among others. Students in the course will also compose, create, and record essential elements found in the genre, using the GarageBand app. The social impact of hip-hop will also be explored, with discussions centered around social justice, cultural appropriation, and other topics highlighted in the lyrics of rap and hip-hop.

Spring Courses

MUS360 Conducting
minor elective (one semester) | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
Through the development of basic conducting technique, students will develop the relationship between gesture and sound. New conductors will learn to demonstrate musical ideas clearly and efficiently through fundamental conducting gestures. The conducting gesture includes appropriate posture, the use of the baton, expressive and independent use of both hands, beat patterns, cueing, and control of tempo, dynamics, and phrase shaping. We will also study and review musical terminology, instrument transposition, and score reading. Students will need to purchase a baton (of their choice) for use in the class.

THT830 9th Grade Musical Theatre
minor elective (one semester) | grade: 9
In this course, students will explore the many musical elements that are part of a musical production. The semester will begin with a study of audition etiquette, including slating, as well as proper vocal technique and production. Students will have the choice of auditioning for a lead role or to participate as a member of the ensemble in a full book musical. Once the show has been cast, the course will move to the rehearsal process, including the study of choral, solo, and dance pieces within the production. The exhibition of the course will occur in May and, depending on casting, may require rehearsals outside of the school day. No previous singing experience is necessary. This course is co-taught with the Theatre Department and can fulfill a requirement for that department.

MUS300 Songwriting
minor elective (one semester) | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
This class will explore the craft of songwriting by listening and analyzing popular music, examining chord progressions, and studying melodic and chordal relationships. We will look at the role that poetry plays in lyrics, phrasing, and rhyme schemes, and dissect song structure, and social and political themes. Musicians and bands to be studied include the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, Nirvana, and Bob Dylan. No instrumental or choral experience needed, but these skills can be utilized in the class. Students will be able to record their songs on GarageBand and score using Sibelius or Noteflight. We will build the art of singing while playing, and potentially pursue keyboarding skills and guitar skills as an accompaniment.

MUS310 Critical Listening in Music
minor elective (one semester) | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
This class will challenge students to listen more deeply, carefully and thoughtfully through the lens of recorded and live music. While learning about some of the more creative/artistic music genres (classical, ambient/electronic, jazz, and world music to name a few), students will also examine the relationship between listening and mindfulness. We will learn about dissonance in music and art, about the difference between thematic and experiential content, and about some basic music theory ideas and how they pertain to our perception of music. Students can expect a hefty amount of listening and discussion, along with creative writing assignments meant to reflect on, and put to words, our listening skills.

MUS780 Keyboarding
minor elective | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
This introductory course is designed to teach students the fundamentals of the piano. Students will learn chord progressions and melodies from popular songs as well as how to read musical notation on the grand staff (treble and bass clef simultaneously) and in the fake book style (chords and melody on 1 line). We listen to music regularly and write in listening logs about the characteristics that make each piece of music unique. This class will explore improvisation and give students the opportunity to create their own chord progressions and melodies as well as collaborate together to write songs with their peers. By the end of this course, students will be proficient on the piano and be able to use their knowledge to play the chords and melodies to their favorite songs.

Yearlong Courses

MUS880 Jazz Ensembles
minor elective | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
co-requisite: private instrumental lessons

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 ensembles are required to take private lessons 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, and the Jazz Night in April.

MUS790 Chamber Ensembles
minor elective | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
co-requisite: private instrumental lessons

The Chamber Ensembles are open to all instrumentalists who wish to explore music in small ensembles. Students explore facets of performing as an ensemble, with special attention given to the unique communication and independence of parts within this structure. Repertoire is drawn from a wide range of genres including classical, contemporary, pop, rock, medieval, and instrument-specific styles. 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 or guitar ensemble), depending on the students’ interest. Students may also propose their own groups, with the assistance of the orchestra director. Performances include community events, GFS functions, and the Chamber Music Concert in May. Interested musicians should speak with the Orchestra Director for placement.

MUS800 Orchestra
minor elective | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
co-requisite: private instrumental lessons

The Orchestra is open to all instrumentalists (except guitar) who wish to perform within a large ensemble context. (Pianists are often taught percussion technique as well.) 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 Orchestra Night 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.

MUS940 World Percussion Ensemble
minor elective | grades: 9, 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.

MUS730 Chorus
minor elective | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
Chorus is a large choral ensemble, and is open to any student who wishes to participate in a singing group. Students in this ensemble work to establish and develop vocal technique, aural skills, and sight-reading abilities. Singers focus on both choral and choral-orchestral works in this ensemble, culminating with concert exhibitions in December and May, among others. This is a non-auditioned ensemble that is open to all students in the Upper School. Although most rehearsals occur during the academic day, occasional after-school and weekend commitments are required.

MUS750 Choir
minor elective | grades: 10, 11, 12
co-requisite: Chorus

Choir is an auditioned choral ensemble in the Upper School. Students in this course perform works from many different genres and work to achieve excellence in choral study. Through intensive rehearsal and performances, students develop their vocal abilities, sight-singing skills, and sense of ensemble. Selection is through audition and singers are expected to attend regular rehearsals and performances outside of the academic day, including bi-weekly Sunday rehearsals.

Singers are also required to attend Choir Camp, which will be held from Friday, August 23 to Sunday, August 25, 2019. The ensemble will also be touring in March of 2020. Auditions will take place in May/June 2019.

MUS760 Instrumental Improvisation
minor elective | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
This course is designed to give students an in-depth, 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.

MUS520 Cantare
minor elective | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
prerequisite: departmental approval

Cantare is a performing vocal ensemble for treble voices at GFS. Cantare strives to bring voices together in powerful ways. The group explores a wide variety of choral music written for soprano and alto voicing. We have performed classical repertoire from the Medieval era up through the present day, and music from polyphonic singing traditions across the world. Within its repertoire, Cantare will strive to highlight the work of women artists and composers. Performs for daytime assemblies and evening concerts throughout the year.

MUS350 Sight Singing & Ear Training
minor elective | grades: 9, 10, 11, 12
This course develops the skills necessary to read and sing melodies at sight and notate aural material. Classwork includes the study of solfège, rhythm and meter, key signatures, the major, minor and chromatic scales, pitch and interval identification, dictation and error detection, conducting patterns, and the application of sight-reading to musical scores. Basic piano skills will be incorporated into our study as a tool for understanding pitch relationships. This course develops fundamental aural and sight singing skills, building confidence that will prepare students for more advanced literature and musical performance.

MUS710 Music Theory I
minor elective | grades: 9, 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.

MUS720 Music Theory II: Advanced
minor elective | grades: 10, 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.

MUS610 Music Composition I: Advanced
minor elective | grades: 11, 12
prerequisite: Advanced Music Theory or approval by Head of Music Department

This course focuses primarily on 19th-, 20th- and 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.

MUS620 Music Composition II: Advanced
major elective | grades: 11, 12
prerequisite: Consent of the instructor

This course is a continuation of Advanced Music Composition I and focuses on 20th- and 21th-century Western music, developing students’ understanding of advanced musical techniques through analysis and original composition. Material covered will depend largely on student interest and personal compositional goals, but some possible topics might include choral music, canonic and fugal writing, orchestration, scoring for film, video games, and theatre. Throughout the year, students will learn a number of analytical and compositional models to understand different repertories, such as scale and modal networks from French music, ostinato techniques from Stravinsky and Glass, octatonic writing from Messiaen, and film scoring from Herrmann and Williams. 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 that they can track their progress. The course will culminate with the performance of an original composition during a spring assembly.

MUS770 Masterworks in Music
minor elective | grades: 9, 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.

MUS910 Digital Music Recording and Production
minor elective | grades: 9, 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.

Private Instrumental Lessons

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