B-CC Music Department Ensembles, Classes and Extracurricular Opportunities

The B-CC Music Department has earned 2 grammy Foundation awards and offers six instrumental ensembles, three choral ensembles, guitar, piano and IB music classes.   Extracurricular activities include the pep band, drum line/percussion ensemble, pit orchestra and small quartets and combos.  Over 500 students are enrolled in a music class each semester.

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Instrumental Ensembles

  • Concert and Advanced Orchestra: The course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop and refine technical and musical skills that will enable them to perform music at the Grade 3 – 4 level of difficulty. Shifting/position work, vibrato and improvising will be focused on in this class.  We will study music of various styles, cultures, and historical eras, focusing on, but not limited to, literature written originally for string orchestra. The cultural backgrounds, personal history, and social and intellectual influences on the work of the composers will be researched and discussed. Written projects in the areas of music history, performance critiques, and musical composition, etc., may be used to reinforce other areas of the curriculum. Skills in the criticism of musical performance continue to be developed. Rhythmic dictation, singing, written reflections, and experiences at musical composition and/or arranging may be included.  All performances/concerts are mandatory. Please see the calendar, procedures, concert grading criteria and dress code for performances in the Handbook for more information. This course may be repeated for credit. The concert orchestra represents the school in public performances. Back to top
  • Concert Band:  This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop and refine technical skills, which will enable them to perform music at the Grade 2 - 4 level of difficulty.  Students continue to experience specially arranged repertoire from all historical periods, study the characteristics of each period, and learn the correct styles of performance.  A variety of traditional instrumental musical forms and the social, historical, and intellectual elements that influenced the creation of the works being studied are examined.  Basic skills of major and minor scales, expanding range, and the study and performance of triads are included.  Written projects in the areas of music history, performance critiques, and musical composition, etc., may be used to reinforce other areas of the curriculum.  Skills in the criticism of musical performance continue to be developed.  Additional experiences include, but not limited to pep band, pit orchestra, and solo and chamber music performances.  This course may be repeated for credit.  The concert band represents the school in public performances. Back to top
  • Symphonic Band:  This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to continue developing and refining technical skills, which will enable them to perform music at the Grade 3 - 4.5 level of difficulty.  Students continue to experience specially arranged repertoire from all historical periods, study the characteristics of each period, and learn the correct styles of performance.  A variety of traditional instrumental musical forms and the social, historical, and intellectual elements that influenced the creation of the works being studied are examined.  Basic skills of major and minor scales, expanding range, and the study and performance of triads are included.  Written projects in the areas of music history, performance critiques, and musical composition, etc., may be used to reinforce other areas of the curriculum.  Skills in the criticism of musical performance continue to be developed.  Additional experiences include, but not limited to pep band, pit orchestra, and solo and chamber music performances.  This course may be repeated for credit.  The symphonic band represents the school in public performances.  Back to top
  • Symphonic Orchestra:  Students who enroll in Orchestra should have sufficient background and motivation to participate in advanced in-depth instrumental music activities.  The course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop and refine technical skills which will enable them to perform music at the Grade 4-5 level of difficulty.  Some musical arrangements from a variety of historical eras will be studied, but the emphasis will be on the study of literature composed originally for the orchestra. Analysis of the repertoire will provide students with an understanding of contemporary musical forms, music for mixed media, chance music, and the various approaches to modem harmony.  The culture backgrounds, personal history, and social and intellectual influences on the work of all composers will be researched and discussed.  Some harmonic dictation, transposition, and experiences at musical composition and/or arranging may be included.  Individual responsibilities at meeting performance obligations and leadership roles will be defined.  Additional experiences include, but not limited to, are pit orchestra and chamber and solo performances.  This course may be repeated for credit. The Orchestra represents the school in public performances.  Back to top
  • Wind Ensemble:  Students who enroll in Wind Ensemble should have sufficient background and motivation to participate in advanced in-depth instrumental music activities. The course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop and refine technical skills which will enable them to perform music at the Grade 4-6 level of difficulty. Some musical arrangements from a variety of historical eras will be studied, but the emphasis will be on the study of literature composed originally for the band/orchestra during the 20th or 21st century. Analysis of the repertoire will provide students with an understanding of contemporary musical forms, music for mixed media, chance music, and the various approaches to modern harmony. The culture backgrounds, personal history, and social and intellectual influences on the work of all composers will be researched and discussed. Some harmonic dictation, transposition, and experiences at musical composition and/or arranging may be included. Individual responsibilities at meeting performance obligations and leadership roles will be defined. Additional experiences include, but not limited to, are pit orchestra and chamber and solo performances. This course may be repeated for credit. The Wind Ensemble represents the school in public performances.  Students will be auditioned for placement in this ensemble.  Students enrolled in Wind Ensemble are encouraged to be in the ensemble for the whole year, as opposed to just one semester.  Students enrolling for the whole year may be accepted over students only taking the class for one semester. Back to top
  • Jazz Band:  This course provides students with opportunities to develop a high level of skill in the performance of popular music, including such styles as jazz, blues, jazz-rock, soul, Latin, and others.  Students will extend their technical range and will develop specialized skills of jazz phrasing, interpretation, and improvisation necessary to perform the literature for this ensemble.  In addition to frequent public performances, students will continue in-depth study of jazz harmony and theory, along with the study of the social, historical, and intellectual influences on jazz as it developed into a contemporary American art form.  Membership in the Jazz Ensemble class is determined by audition and may be limited by instrumental needs.  Members of the Jazz Ensemble will generally be some of the most proficient performers in their school and should demonstrate a willingness to also participate in other instrumental ensembles within the school.  This course may be repeated for credit.  The Jazz Ensemble represents the school in public performances.  Auditions:  Auditions packets are given out in early January, and auditions are at the end of January and beginning of February. Mr. White will notify current B-CC students of upcoming auditions. Students have about 3 weeks to prepare the audition material. Required in the audition are a prepared selection, scales, improvisation, and sight-reading. If accepted into the jazz band, students must sign up for the course for both semesters. All conflicts in scheduling must be resolved to allow for full participation throughout the entire year. Failure to be able to register in jazz band for the entire year may result in not being able to participate at all.  Any student interested for jazz band the following year should sign up for another ensemble. Usually they sign up for symphonic band if they play sax, trumpet, trombone, or percussion. Bass players can sign up for orchestra, and guitar players can sign up for guitar class. Pianists can sign up for piano class or chorus. After the auditions have taken place, Mr. White sends a list to the guidance couselors to make the appropriate changes in the students' schedules for the following year.  In January, during the first semester exam period, Mr. White visits Westland Middle School to listen to band members who want to audition for the jazz band. If a student is coming to B-CC from another middle school, s/he can call or email Mr. White to request an audition for jazz band.  Click here to access the 2013-14 Jazz Band Audition Packet.

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Private Lessons

Private lessons are an important element to a student's growth on a musical instrument.  When a student reaches high school, the music will become increasingly challenging to the student.  The band/orchestra director does not have the luxury of giving individual attention to every student.  Even though the director can play all of the instruments at a basic level he/she is only at a professional playing level on one instrument.  When studying with a professional on a certain instrument, the student is able to progress at a much more rapid pace.  Such things as tone, intonation, and technique can be developed with the utmost care and direction with a professional on that instrument.  A list of teachers in the immediate area is available from the band director with their phone numbers.  Keep in mind that you do not have to be considering a major in music in college to take private lessons.  Many students play in ensembles in college who are not music majors.  Also, many students may also receive monetary stipends simply to play in an ensemble in college.  Remember, the director is always at your disposal to help you with the music either before or after school.  The private lessons will not only improve your playing and musicianship, but you will also enjoy playing more because you are getting better!  I strongly encourage all students to consider taking private lessons, if you do not already do so.  Back to top

Choral Ensembles

  • Concert Choir:  Students learn the fundamentals of singing and develop sight-reading skills through a variety of choral literature from various cultures and historical eras. Membership is open to all students and previous choral singing experience is not required. Students learn to appreciate and understand the historic and cultural contexts of this music. Several performances are given at school.
  • Advanced Choir:  Students sing a variety of music in jazz and popular vocal styles. Emphasis is on learning to integrate good vocal technique with dance/movement and improvisation. They acquire critical listening skills to use in evaluating their own and others' performances. This ensemble has a very active performing schedule, and offers leadership opportunities for student soloists, conductors, and choreographers. A number of performances are given at school and within the community.  Membership in the Advanced Choir class is determined by audition.
  • Chamber Singers:  Students sing a variety of music written for small vocal ensembles, often without accompaniment. Chamber Singers allows select students to refine their vocal skills in the highly demanding small ensemble setting. The ensemble has a very active performing schedule and offers leadership opportunities for student conductors and soloists. A number of performances are given at school and within the community.  Membership in the Chamber Singers class is determined by audition. 
  • Choir Auditions:  Students take a private audition with Ms. Itkin in May for the Fall Semester and before registration closes in January for the Spring Semester. Audition information will be made available well in advance of the auditions. Interested students are strongly encouraged to participate in chorus before auditioning for the Advanced or Chamber Choir. Preference is given to those students who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to the music department. Voice lessons are recommended but not required.  Back to top

IB Music

IB Music is a one-year in-school class.  Students learn to recognize the music of various eras and cultures through a detailed study of representative works. The study of musical scores extends students' knowledge of music fundamentals and theory and comprehension of how the changes in composition styles create the music of different times and places. Students may prepare for the standard-level or the higher-level IB examination.  IB Music students must also be enrolled in one of the music ensemble classes, a piano class or a guitar class.  Back to top

Guitar Classes

Students learn beginning guitar technique, including selected major, minor, and seventh chords; basic finger picks and strums; and tuning technique. Music theory and historical perspective are studied as they relate to guitar performance. This course is open to all students regardless of music background.  Students acquire more advanced guitar performance skills in semester B. The technological aspects of contemporary guitar playing are studied. These courses may be repeated for credit  Back to top

Piano Classes

This course is designed to teach the fundamentals of piano playing.  Instruction will focus on proper playing technique and encompass a variety of musical styles: folk, rock, reggae, blues, and classical.  Students will learn a vocabulary of chords, accompaniment patterns, and improvisational techniques.  Students will also learn how to play melodies in several positions and possibly participate in ensemble playing.  In addition to the performance proficiencies that must be met, there may be a number of written evaluations.  Music theory and historical perspective are studied as they relate to piano performance. This course is open to all students regardless of music background.  Students acquire more advanced piano performance skills in semester B.  These courses may be repeated for credit.  Back to top

Extracurricular Music Opportunities

  • Pep Band: Pep Band will involve all students in the Symphonic Band, Advanced Band and Concert Band.  Everyone is required to attend all performances.  The Pep Band performs at all Varsity home football games.  A schedule of these games will be distributed to the students.  Students need to arrive at least 45 minutes before the game in order to get organized and ready to play the National Anthem.  All students are required to stay for the entire game.  Students who are on the Varsity football squad, Varsity cheerleaders, or pom poms are excused from playing in the Pep Band.  Others who have religious obligations will also be excused with a note from their parents.  We really want to support the team, entertain the crowd, and create as much excitement as possible.  We will play some popular music that I hope will be lots of fun.   Back to top
    Pep Band Performances for Varsity Football Home Games: Call time is at 5:45p.m., Performance is at 6:30p.m., Approximate ending time is at 8:40p.m.
    Dates are: Sept. 14 (no Concert Band this date), Sept. 21, Oct. 5 (Homecoming), Oct. 26, Nov. 2
  • Drum Line/Percussion Ensemble:  Students in these ensembles MUST be enrolled in either the Concert Band, Advanced Band, or Symphonic Band.   The Drum Line is part of the Pep Band.  However, this group may practice additionally during lunch or after school to refine their own cadences and performance material.  The Drum Line will also have the opportunity to perform on their own at the home football games.  Occasionally, the drum line may also support the pom poms or cheerleaders at various competitions throughout the year.  The drum line will also perform at Westland Middle School in late January or early February as part of our recruitment performances.  The percussion ensembles are usually taken directly from students in each band and rehearse during the regular class period.  The percussion ensemble may perform at one of our evening concerts.  Back to top
  • String Quartet:  The string quartet is part of the Orchestra and consists of  two violins, viola, and cello.  The quartet is invited to perform at various community events throughout the year.  Past performances have been at the B-CC Chamber of Commerce and for fundraisers, holiday and birthday parties and important MCPS, Montgomery County and State events.  String Quartet students represent B-CC HS in a very visible way and agreeing to perform at a gig is a serious commitment.  Students in the combo arrange their own practices during lunch period and after school.  Students may be paid a small stipend for several of the performances.  Back to top
  • Jazz Combo:  The combo is part of the Jazz Ensemble and consists of sax, keyboard, bass, guitar, and drums, and sometimes trumpet and trombone.  The combo is invited to perform at various community events throughout the year.  Past performances have been at Panera Bread in Bethesda, events for the World Affairs Council, the B-CC Chamber of Commerce and for fundraisers, holiday and birthday parties and important MCPS, Montgomery County and State events.  Jazz Combo students represent B-CC HS in a very visible way and agreeing to perform at a gig is a serious commitment.  Students in the combo arrange their own practices during lunch period and after school.  Students may be paid a small stipend for several of the performances.  Back to top
  • Pit Orchestra:  Students interested in performing in the pit orchestra are welcome to perform provided there is a specific part to play. Any student who performs on these instruments is encouraged to participate. NO AUDITION REQUIRED.
    A schedule of rehearsal dates and times will be distributed at the first rehearsal.  Generally, rehearsals are 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm on Tuesdays in October, and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in November, plus additional rehearsals during Tech Week (the first week of December).  Students must attend all rehearsals, beginning in October and continuing to the first week of December. The closer it gets to the performance date, the later the rehearsals will end.  Back to top
  • Opera at B-CC:  Choral and instrumental students performed Henry Purcell’s three-act English tragedy opera, Dido and Aeneas, as part of their International Baccalaureate (IB) music studies program in the 2009-10 school year.   “While teaching students about this opera, we decided the best way for them to fully appreciate this type of opera was to actually perform it,” explains Amy Vanek, B-CC’s (former) Choral Teacher.   “Every role, but one, was sung by B-CC students from the school’s Chamber Choir or Women’s Choir and our Baroque orchestra was comprised of IB student musicians who were selected by our Music Resource Teacher, Marshall White.   Special guest artist Monica Soto-Gil, from the University of Maryland Opera Studio, sang the part of Dido.” 
    Dido and Aeneas , composed by Purcell in the 17th Century and based on the fourth book of Virgil’s Aeneid, is about Dido, the Queen of Carthage, and Aeneas, the leader of the Trojan army, who fall in love only to be thwarted by three brooding witches who dislike the union because of what it could mean for the future of their land.   The witches plot to destroy the relationship and resolve to end Dido’s life.  Back to top
  • Tri-M Music Honor SocietyTri-M is the Music Honors Society at B-CC (it stands for Modern Music Masters).  Our goals in Tri-M goals are to recognize those students who have excelled at music, and to help bring music to the community. We recognize students by accepting them into the society, and we share music with the community by bringing together all of the members of Tri-M to organize music-related events. We have helped the community by hosting the MCPS high school orchestra festival at B-CC, and by working backstage at our school's music concerts. We have also organized community events including Sounds for Seniors and Battle of the Bands.  Visit the Tri-M webpage.

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