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Performing Arts

Making Music at Valley School

In the Arts Department at Valley School, we believe that the process of learning is just as important as the content absorbed and that with a strong work ethic, resilience, a hint of bravery, and quality training, talent can be grown and developed. We make every effort to learn each child’s unique strengths and creative gifts and use that knowledge to guide students to success. 

Lower School Music classes include singing and moving, as well as listening to, playing, and creating music. Teachers emphasize the joy of making music with others and help children to appreciate music’s expressive qualities. Every class includes activities that encourage proper development of the singing voice. Music aptitude develops through individual and group performance, as well as listening exercises. Movement and cooperative folk dancing are included regularly. Music literacy begins in 1st grade with the use of glockenspiels and continues through 3rd and 4th grade with a recorder experience. Group instrumental lessons are offered beginning in 4th grade. Children enjoy several concert performances throughout their time in Lower School, and our 4th-graders prepare an annual music performance for their States Fair. 

In Upper School, students work individually and in groups to learn, practice, and develop their musical skills, including rhythm and pitch recognition and response, tone production, sight-reading, listening and analysis, and composition. Through performing arts classes and electives, students develop a deep appreciation and understanding of the cultural and historical contexts of musical traditions from around the world. Students have the opportunity to apply their learning in formal and informal vocal and instrumental performance settings such as Choir, Orchestra, Handbell Choir, Musical Theater, Percussion Ensemble, World Music Drumming, Ukulele and Guitar classes, and Digital Music Production.
We strive to maintain a classroom environment in which students feel safe, challenged, and empowered to take ownership of their own learning. Our hope is for each of our students to embrace a growth mindset, develop their musicianship daily, and understand the importance of respect, teamwork, and empathy as they learn how to make music together.

List of 7 items.

  • Orchestra

    Starting in 4th grade, students have the option to participate in the Orchestra program at Valley School. Weekly small group violin, cello, flute, clarinet, trumpet, and trombone lessons are offered for beginning instrumentalists. As 5th- and 6th-graders, students begin learning to play together in combined rehearsals for strings, woodwinds, and brass, in addition to their weekly small-group lessons. The 7th- and 8th-grade Orchestra provides an opportunity for our oldest students to continue to develop their musicianship individually and as an ensemble. We challenge our instrumentalists with developmentally appropriate repertoire as they prepare for various concert and Chapel performances throughout the year. Exceptional student musicians in 5th through 8th grades also have the opportunity to apply for the privilege to represent Valley School at Westmoreland County and Pennsylvania Music Educators’ Association honors festivals.
  • Spring Musical

    The Spring Musical is a rite of passage at Valley School, building on over 20 years of tradition and excellence. This unique elective teaches students a tremendous breadth of skills, as 7th- and 8th-grade students learn about and participate in all aspects of the productions—acting, singing, choreography, set design, costuming, lighting, sound, and direction—and then contribute their talents in the ways that interest them most. From complex collaboration to independent performance, the project-based format enables teachers to meet students where they are, developmentally, and guide them to challenge themselves in new areas of growth. The Spring Musical is a Valley School experience that our whole community enjoys together each March, and younger students excitedly look forward to their chance to participate in it when they are old enough. Recent past productions include The Lion King, James and the Giant Peach, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast. 
  • Valley Chorale

    The Valley Chorale is our choral ensemble for 7th- and 8th-graders. The Chorale sings music spanning a variety of genres ranging from classical repertoire to contemporary pop hits. Students work on developing vocal technique and tone production, breath control, and sight-singing throughout the term. The chorale performs a concert at the end of each fall and spring term and has performed at local community and sporting events as well.
  • Handbell Choir

    Handbells are a long-standing tradition at Valley School. Our Handbell elective provides an opportunity for musical development and an ensemble experience for students of varying levels of skill. While students improve their understanding of music theory and rhythmic development, they perfect their abilities to work together as a team. The Handbell Choir regularly performs for school concerts and has had the opportunity to perform for the public in the Ligonier and Greensburg areas. The Choir’s performance genres include classical, rock, and jazz standards, as well as movie themes.
  • Percussion Ensemble

    The Percussion Ensemble is an opportunity for our students to explore the percussion family of instruments. Students learn fundamental techniques on congas, bongos, timbales, drum kit, and mallet percussion such as the marimba, xylophone, and vibraphone. A favorite experience is playing Boomwhackers™ (tuned musical tubes). Rehearsals for concert performances in the fall and spring strengthen students’ aural and rhythmic skills. Past groups have performed a wide variety of styles including classical, jazz, Latin, and contemporary.
  • Music Appreciation

    Music Appreciation class provides the opportunity for students to participate in a non-performance elective. Course themes vary, and have included “The Development of American Music,” “The History of Rock n Roll,” “World Music Cultures,” “Opera is Fun,” and “The Music Influences of Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.” These classes enable students to discover music new to them and explore their own areas of interest. Each Appreciation class explores historical and social influences, along with music’s relationships to other subject areas.
  • World Music Drumming

    This elective follows the popular World Music Drumming curriculum, which creates “an exciting atmosphere of hands-on learning.” Students perform and create rhythmic ensembles based on the oral/aural traditions of many cultures. Music reading is not expected. Rather, students learn by listening carefully to one another to create the ensemble experience. 

Learn More

Learn about Performing Arts at Valley School or explore our other programs:

Valley School of Ligonier

Address: 153 Lupine Lane, Rector PA 15677
Mail: PO Box 616 Ligonier, PA 15658
Phone: (724) 238-6652  Fax: (724) 238-6838
In an environment that is safe, challenging, nurturing, and disciplined, Valley School provides a balanced and strong program of study for a diverse group of children. Our goal is to stimulate in each young person lifelong habits of moral behavior, seeking wisdom, and doing good works for others.
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