THE WEST ORANGE INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC PROGRAM
THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT
Music is an integral part of our school curriculum. In addition to a comprehensive elementary music program, over 2,000 students participate in the band, orchestra, and chorus programs that formally begin at the fourth and fifth grade levels. We are very fortunate to have a staff committed to each student’s musical achievement throughout the years they spend in the West Orange music program.
The instrumental music program in the West Orange Public Schools flourishes in an environment actively supported by the Board of Education, administration, teaching staff, and community at large. Through the use of recorders, third grade students study the fundamentals of music and are introduced to each instrument family. Third grade students participate in an Instrumental Demonstration Assembly at West Orange High School in June before entering fourth grade. Each student is tested in order to make appropriate recommendations for further study. Approximately 400 students begin their instrumental lessons each year in grade four. In the sixth grade, all music students have a routine lesson schedule in the Thomas A. Edison Central Six School. Students then attend either Liberty or Roosevelt Middle School, where their primary ensemble meets every other day.
WEST ORANGE HIGH SCHOOL BANDS
The instrumental band program at West Orange High School offers a wide range of performance opportunities for our students. Four levels of concert ensembles including the Ninth Grade Band, Concert Band, Symphonic Winds, and Honors Wind Ensemble are available to students by audition as performance classes. In these ensembles, students are taught the fundamentals of tone production, sight-reading, technique, and musicality. Students also have the opportunity to study Music Theory on both the beginning and advanced levels, focusing on the aspects of analysis, aural skills, composition, ear training, dictation, music history, and appreciation. The Advanced Placement music theory course is offered to serious music students who prepare to take the AP Test. Students in the band program also participate in several select ensembles including the Marching Mountaineers, Winter Color Guard, Indoor Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band I and II, Pit Orchestra, and various woodwind, brass, and percussion ensembles.
The West Orange Bands have earned an outstanding reputation over the years. Ensembles from West Orange High School have received Superior and Excellent ratings at festivals across the state and East coast. The Wind Ensemble has been chosen for the past seven years to perform in the New Jersey State Gala Concert. The West Orange Wind Ensemble has received Gold Ratings in the Region I Concert Band Festival since 2004. Symphonic Winds received Silver Ratings from 2006 on, and received Gold Ratings in 2011 and 2012.
Jazz I is proud to represent Region I in the NJAJE State Finals for the past five years. In 2009, Jazz II received Best Saxophone Section at the NJAJE Preliminary State Finals Competition.
The West Orange High School Marching Band has also been very successful, amassing numerous awards at various local, state, and regional festivals. In 2014 the Marching Mountaineers placed first in the Yamaha Cup Competition at MetLife Stadium. The Marching Mountaineers recently finished second place in the 2011 Group V Open NJ State Championships hosted by USSBA (United States Scholastic Band Association). The marching band took third place in this group in 2010. The Marching Mountaineers finished first place two years ago in the 2009 Group V USSBA Northern States Championships, as well as first in the New Jersey State Championship, receiving awards for Best Visual, Best Percussion, and Best Colorguard. The Marching Mountaineers previously won the Group V New Jersey USSBA State Championship in 2006 and 2005. The Marching Band is proud to have participated in the Bands of America Regional Competition in 2007, 2008, and 2009.
The West Orange Bands have had the privilege to perform and work with highly acclaimed artists. Conductors and composers have included Dr. Mark Scatterday, Frank Battisti, Bruce Yurko, Eric Ewazen, Dr. Craig J. Davis, Dr. Tom McCauley, Dr. Mary Schneider, Bob Ferrel, Dr. David Demsey, Ralph LaLama, Harvey S., and Dave Stryker.
The West Orange Bands have also commissioned a work for Wind Ensemble. Mysterious Dreams, composed by Bruce Yurko, was written in 2007 for the West Orange Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Lewis Kelly. The world premiere of Mysterious Dreams, with the composer conducting, was on May 10, 2007.