Course Descriptions and Numbers
Concert Ensemble will meet all four quarters. Membership is open to all students. Placement within the ensemble is determined by an audition procedure. The group will perform 2-4 concerts during the year. In addition, the ensemble may participate in state-sponsored contest events, independently sponsored festivals, and special performances such as commencement. Students in these groups are eligible to audition for membership in special performing groups and music classes offered in addition to Concert Ensemble.
This course will deal directly with the development of both individual and ensemble style in both the small group (combo) and large ensemble structure. A major portion of this course will be spent discussing and evaluating the arranging techniques of various writers.
Jazz theory will be emphasized with concentration on listening and analyzing writers’ styles. Students will be given the opportunity to exercise these skills through arranging/composing projects, which can be performed by the class. This will provide immediate feedback for the students’ evaluation of their work.
Marching Band will meet first quarter. Rehearsals will be Monday through Friday, during Early Bird. The group will include wind, percussion, and color-guard, with membership open to any student who plays a musical instrument and is concurrently enrolled in Symphony Band-Concert Ensemble at Valley High School (10-12) or Valley Southwoods (9) and was enrolled in band the previous semester. Students are expected to attend summer rehearsals. Some band activities will be conducted off-campus, and students will be responsible for arranging their own transportation. Course may be used for one music elective credit. In addition to performing at home football games and IHSMA State Marching Band Festival, the band may perform at local and regional parades, celebrations, contests, and festivals. Historically, the marching band has represented the West Des Moines Community Schools outside Iowa at selected regional, national, and international festivals.
Symphony Band is an elective and the highest level band at Valley High school. Membership is open to those students who successfully complete an audition process and are selected by the conductor. The group will perform advanced band literature, and study advanced instrumental techniques. In addition, students will participate in solo contests, large group festivals, and have the opportunity to audition for the All-State Band.
Music Education (Non-Performance Courses)
AP Music Theory is a two-semester course designed to develop a student’s ability to recognize, understand, and describe the basic materials and processes of music that are heard or presented in a score. The first semester will seek to instill mastery of the rudiments and terminology of music including: notation, intervals, scales and keys, chords, metric organization, and rhythmic patterns. The second semester will build on these skills and progress to more sophisticated and creative tasks such as: composition of bass lines, realization of figured bass, analysis of repertoire, and composition of melodies. Emphasis will be placed on functional triadic harmony in traditional four-voice texture, tonal relationships, modulation to closely related keys, standard rhythms and meters, phrase structure, and small musical forms. Students will continually work to improve in areas of aural skills, sight-singing, composition, and analysis.
The AP Music Theory course is designed to prepare students not only for the AP test in the spring but also for their college placement exams. In order to do this most effectively, students should take the course as close as possible to their college exam dates, preferably during their senior year.
Taking the Advanced Placement exam is the culmination of the AP course curriculum. Therefore, students who choose not to take the AP exam will not have completed the course and will have the AP designation removed from their transcript. Accelerated Music Theory will become the course designation for both semesters. AP courses receive a weighted grade when students complete BOTH semesters and the AP exam.
Each exam has a cost that will be incurred by the student. If students are in need of financial assistance to help with the cost of AP exams, please see your assigned counselor for information.
Evolution of American Popular Music is a one-semester course that will trace the development of popular music in America from the mid-1800s to current day. Students will enhance their abilities to describe music and evaluate musical performances while learning of the cultural and technological influences on the development of popular music styles. This class is not for students expecting to only listen to music of the current day. Analysis of music styles, performances, and research into the development of music will be the major focus of the class.
This course is offered as a hybrid with two periods per week of traditional classroom meeting times and two hours per week in online research and discussion groups. The online portion of the course requires student access to computers but can be completed during the school day or in the evenings and weekends. Attendance and participation in the online portion of the course are required for a successful grade. Online experiences will include chat discussions and reading assignments, listening lists, and research through Library of Congress and/or specific music collections in University libraries.
Introduction to Music Theory is a one-semester class offered in the spring semester. The course will offer instruction in the basics of music theory and composition including notation, scales, intervals, and chords. Analysis of simple melodies and music forms will also be included. Students will gain experience in elements of keyboard harmony and ear training.
The Chamber Orchestra is an ensemble of 20-24 of the most advanced string students, selected by audition. This ensemble will provide a challenging environment for students who wish to excel in the orchestra program.
Students in the class will work on music for small string orchestra, be expected to participate in district and state solo/ensemble contests, audition for All-State orchestra, and serve the community by participating in smaller ensembles (string quartets). The Chamber Orchestra may occasionally combine with other string orchestra classes for special projects/performances.
Orchestra is a two-semester class that focuses on the development of string instrument performance skills and musicianship. Students will be exposed to high-level music for string orchestra and full orchestra through performance and listening opportunities. At least four concerts are presented throughout the school year. Students are also eligible to participate in numerous quartets. Students may also perform for assemblies, solo and ensemble festivals (district and state), and State Large Group Contest. Selected students may audition to be part of the Iowa All-State Orchestra. Enrichment opportunities include master classes, clinics, sectional rehearsals, special collaborations with Vocal Music and/or Drama, and performance trips. All members of the String Orchestra also become members of the Valley Symphony Orchestra following the Marchmasters season as selected winds, brass, and percussionists are added to the ensemble. Rehearsals for Symphony Orchestra occur outside of the school day. All additional rehearsals and concerts are listed in a calendar at the beginning of each school year.
Vocal Music Courses
A Cappella Choir
MUS205 and MUS206
(Elective 11-12) Full-Year Course
Prerequisite: Audition Process
A Cappella Choir is a core choir consisting of an auditioned group of upperclassmen who would like a large ensemble experience. Class will include study of advanced vocal techniques and exercises, review of basic music theory and terminology, advanced sight-singing, study of the human voice, vocal health, and the history of choral music through performances of various styles of vocal literature. Each semester, A Cappella Choir will study and rehearse music to be performed at specified concert and contest times. The course includes several evening concerts each semester and additional non-scheduled calendar events that may arise. Group voice lessons are required of all singers in this ensemble and will be scheduled on a rotational basis with the director for assessment purposes.
Students enrolled in the choir may audition for State Solo and Small Ensemble Contest and jazz and show choir ensembles.
Concert Choir is a core choir designed for any grade 10-12 student interested in singing. Class will include study of intermediate vocal techniques and exercises, review of basic theory and terminology, intermediate sight-singing, study of the human voice, vocal health, and history of choral music through performances of various styles of vocal literature. Each semester, the Concert Choir will study and rehearse music to be performed at specific concerts and contests. The course includes several evening concerts each semester and additional non-scheduled calendar events that may arise. Students enrolled in Concert Choir may audition for State Solo and Small Ensemble Contest and audition for jazz and show choir ensembles. Group voice lessons are required of all singers in this ensemble and will be scheduled on a rotational basis with the director for assessment purposes.
Select Treble Clef is an elective core choir for students in grades 10-12 who have a treble voice. Class will include study of vocal techniques and exercises, theory and terminology, sight-singing, study of the human voice, vocal health, and history of choral music through performances of various styles of vocal literature. Each semester, the Select Treble Clef will study and rehearse music to be performed at specific concerts and contests. The course includes several evening concerts each semester and additional non-scheduled calendar events that may arise. Students enrolled in Select Treble Clef may audition for State Solo and Small Ensemble Contest and audition for jazz and show choir ensembles.
MUS301 and MUS302
(Elective 10-11-12) Full-Year Course
Prerequisite: Consent of instructor pending audition
Valley Singers is an elective course and the select mixed chamber choir at Valley High School. Membership is open to advanced singers in grades 10–12 who successfully complete a rigorous audition process. Class will include study of advanced vocal techniques and exercises, advanced music theory and terminology, advanced sight-singing, study of the human voice, vocal health, and the history of choral music through performance of various styles of vocal literature. Each semester, the Valley Singers will study and rehearse music to be performed at specified concert and contest times. The course includes several evening concerts each semester and, occasionally, other concerts, in addition to State Solo and Small Ensemble Contest and All-State auditions.