Performing Arts

A balanced life explores all facets of a liberal arts education. In addition to our courses, we offer several ways to explore art and to exercise creativity outside the classroom.

Students complete two semesters of arts electives as part of their graduation requirements, but some desire more opportunities for study.

For students interested in pursuing a performing arts career, we have created course suggestions to encourage an early and organized start.

Our goal is that all pathways end in an Independent Study in the fall semester of senior year so a student can spend time focusing on his particular passion and polishing off his portfolio for college.

Some suggested pathways are outlined here, but students can consult with instructors in creating a plan to achieve their goals.

Music Performance
· Orchestra
· Orchestra/Music Appreciation
· Beg To Differ®/Studio Band
· Music Theory/Continue Studio Band, Orchestra, or Beg To Differ
· Music Theory II or AP Music Theory/Continue Studio Band, Orchestra, or Beg To Differ

Music Engineering
· Orchestra
· Orchestra/Music Appreciation
· Beg To Differ®/Music Theory
· Recording Arts - Production
· Advanced Recording/Independent Study

Theater Direction
· Perform in at least two MUS dramatic theater productions
· Perform in at least one MUS musical theater production
· Stage manage at least one MUS theater production
· Assistant direct at least one MUS theater production
· Direct an MUS show during senior year

List of 13 items.

  • A Cappella Ensemble

    (Full year, Grades 9-12)
    An a cappella ensemble started by John Hiltonsmith in 1991, Beg To Differ® has roots in doo-wop and barbershop vocal harmony and has branched into more contemporary a cappella styles and approaches. Students have opportunities to perform several times during the year, usually by request, at off-campus events. Auditions are required.
  • Drum Corps

    (Extracurricular, Grades 7-12)
    The MUS Drum Corps was founded in 2014 by alumnus Ahmed Latif ’15. The corps, directed by Kim Trammell, instructor in music, practices after school one to two days a week. Students learn drum and marching fundamentals and perform at several athletic events during the year. Corps students qualify for P.E. exemption.
  • Music - Individual Lessons

    (Extracurricular, Grades 7-12)
    Individual lessons can be scheduled with qualified faculty or with local Memphis instructors. Lessons are most commonly in guitar, piano, and voice. Instruction in other instruments, music theory, and improvisation may also be available, depending on the schedules of the instructors.
  • Music Appreciation

    (One semester, alternates with P.E., Grade 8)
    This course provides a survey of music from the medieval/Renaissance period up to the present, including a broad introduction to 20th century American music.

    (One or two semesters, Grades 11-12)
    This discussion-based course focuses primarily on Memphis music, American music, and individual albums that have had a significant effect on their respective genres.
  • Music Theory

    Music Theory I: Basic Theory (One semester, Grades 11-12)This course takes students from basic theory  of notes, staves, clefs, etc., through seventh chords and the beginnings of advanced music theory. It is a prerequisite for all other music theory courses, including AP Music Theory. 

    Music Theory II: Functional Theory (One semester, Grades 11-12)This course focuses on introducing students to the most common aspects of music theory regularly used by professional musicians. It guides students through chord extensions, chord substitutions, number systems, basic arranging, and major and minor modes, among other topics. Students must have successfully completed Music Theory I, or passed a proficiency exam to register for this class. 

    Advanced Placement Music Theory (Full year, Grades 11-12) - This course is a study of musicianship, musical materials and procedures, and how and why music sounds the way it does. Students learn to recognize, understand, and describe the basic materials and processes of music that are heard or presented in a score. They develop their aural and sight‐singing skills through listening and performance exercises and their written and compositional skills through writing and creative exercises. This course prepares students for the AP examination.
  • Musicology

    (One semester, Grades 11-12)
    With its celebrated Southern lineage, American music remains one of our nation’s most significant and enduring contributions to the arts. This course is designed to deepen appreciation for music by analyzing the origins and evolution of blues, jazz, country, gospel, rock, and more. With considerable concentration on the roles of Memphis, New Orleans, the Delta, and the Piedmont, students will examine songs and biographies of pioneering artists essential to the creation of American roots music as well as the writings of scholars working to place their art in its proper cultural and historical contexts. 
  • Orchestra

    (Full year, Grades 7-12)
    Orchestra is open to all woodwind, brass, percussion, and string players. This ensemble focuses on the foundational elements of music, including note and rhythm reading, improving playing technique, and ensemble playing. Sections of the orchestra also break out to form a string ensemble and a concert/jazz band. Students meet two times per week in this half-credit course. Guitar, electric bass, piano, and beginning-level players may join with permission of the instructor. 
  • Pep Band

    (Extracurricular, Grades 7-12)
    Pep Band, the newest addition to MUS music, is more like a standard rock band than a traditional pep band. Electric instruments and drums, combined with the Drum Corps, make for a unique sound – and provide an interactive experience for the student section at games. Pep Band is a student-run organization facilitated by Director of Music Matt Tutor. Pep Band students qualify for P.E. exemption.
  • Recording Arts - Performance

    (Full year, Grades 9-12)
    In Jazz Band or Studio Band, the jazz or rock/pop-style ensembles focus on learning, practicing, and performing music as though in a professional studio environment. Students learn about style, technique, differences in genre, and ensemble dynamics. Auditions are required.
  • Recording Arts - Production

    (Full year, Grades 9-12)
    This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the process of modern recording. Students learn about the recording industry from its early stages up through the present. Topics include signal paths, microphone types and placements, analog recording, and digital recording, editing, mixing, and general production.
  • Speech Communications

    (One semester, Grades 11-12)
    This is an introductory course in public speaking that stresses the organization and presentation of speeches in a variety of settings. Students completing this course are able to incorporate public speaking into situations they will face in their personal and
    professional lives.
  • Theater Arts

    (Extracurricular, all Grades 7-12)
    Theater offers students an excellent outlet for self-expression and development. We produce at least two shows each year – one comedy or drama and one musical. Musicals frequently compete in local or regional competitions, where students have received top honors for set design, acting, ensemble performance, and overall production, among others. Auditions are open to all MUS students and female students from local schools. There are opportunities to participate in all areas of theater, including acting, singing, dancing, directing, writing, public relations, lighting and sound design, stagecraft, and stage management. Seniors may direct a play, which is added to the regular season. For consideration, seniors must pass an interview and proposal process conducted by the director of theater.
  • Theater Production

    (One or two semesters, Grades 9-12)
    A hands-on experience in the technical production of plays and musicals, this course expands students’ understanding and appreciation of the dramatic arts through practical exercises and script analysis. Projects in lighting, sound, and scenic design offer an introduction to enduring design principles through immersion in multiple aspects of stagecraft.