Advanced study music courses offer new opportunities for Archer musicians


Photo credit: Rose Sarner

The music room is a creative space for students to explore their own compositions and creative skills. Advanced study classes have started working with other Archer musicians to incorporate into their final projects.

By Rose Sarner, Culture Editor

In past years, Archer musicians could explore their interests in music through joining orchestra, choir, a cappella or arts classes. Students now have a chance to dive deeper into their interests; the new Advanced Study Music Styles and Composition course provides students the opportunity to explore music through writing compositions, organizing performances and building on foundational music skills. Through the course, students learn about musical theory, its history and the artistic skills necessary to create advanced compositions. 

The course culminates in a first semester project where students create their own 10-minute program of music, and during the second semester, students turn it into a 30-minute program. They have creative freedom and are in charge of writing, performing, designing and executing the entire production.

Senior Piper Rutman, one of three students in the class, has been a member of Archer choir and a cappella since she came to Archer in sixth grade. For her 10-minute show, she is composing three different songs that vary in number of performers. 

“I’m hoping to do a jazz arrangement of a standard jazz song for one of my final compositions,” Rutman said. “Then, using one of [senior] Coco Green’s poems, I am creating an a cappella arrangement for a group of people to perform, and [I am] also trying to create a string quartet.”

Junior Camilla Blank has been a member of both middle and upper school orchestra since sixth grade. She is organizing an ensemble of Archer brass players and guitarists to preform during her 10-minute jazz composition. 

“Part of the difficulty of this project is having to find people who go to Archer and are willing to be a part of the program,” Blank said. “Even though students might not have experience playing instruments that I was hoping for them to play in my composition, I have learned their strengths as musicians and have been open to adapting.” 

The Advanced Study Music, Styles and Composition course challenges students to incorporate Archer musicians and different styles of music into their final project. Blank said that collaborating with other students has allowed her to gain real world musical experiences.  

I think it’s really important to get more experience and put yourself out there, so having this quota to fill with music is really helpful,” Blank said. “At least, for me, this course is pushing me to try out new styles and be more creative.”

Arts Department Chair Hannah O’Connor specifically crafted this course to pull on various elements of music design. 

“I think anybody who’s a good composer really understands how other instruments function,” O’Connor said. “But, that skill of understanding how other musicians are going to approach something is really necessary to be a really successful composer.”

A key part of the advance study course is to prepare students with musical foundations that they can apply to real world musical experiences.

“The more that they can invest themselves in creative projects, whether it be their own music, writing or being in groups inside and outside of school where they’re playing music — especially playing experimental music where they’re learning about different genres — the better their musical skills will be,” O’Connor said.