Home Experience Performing Arts

Why is Music Important to the Friends Academy Experience?

Music is considered “the universal language,” and that’s how it’s taught at Friends – from reading, writing, and performance to exploring how music shapes our lives and the world. Through music, students practice important language and life skills such as collaboration, improvisation, communication, confidence, and seeing their progress over time.

As early as the Farmhouse, students attend regular music classes, where they begin to develop a foundation in music through singing, listening, and movement. Progressing through Lower School, students learn how to read, perform, and write music, as well as explore musical storytelling and the role of music in various cultures and traditions.

Beginning in fifth grade and continuing through Middle School, students dig deeper into how music has influenced history and continues to make an impact. Faculty work with music teachers to weave the influence of music into academic lessons about social studies, language arts, and more. In addition to deeply studying elements of music including rhythm, melody, and harmony, our older students learn how to use digital tools such as GarageBand to write songs, record and edit podcasts, and document their learning.

Features of the Performing Arts Experience

  • Students write musical notes on the board during fourth grade music class.

    Regular Music Class for All Students

    Early Childhood students have music once a week, while all other students (Kindergarten-Grade 8) have music twice a week.

  • A music teacher works one on one with a student playing guitar.

    Dedicated Music Faculty

    Lower School and Middle School each have their own music teacher – both professional music educators and musicians with decades of experience.

  • Parents and teachers listen to fifth graders documentary films for the Agents of Change project.

    Integration With Academic Curriculum

    Faculty work together to bring music into academic lessons – such as writing film scores for documentaries in fifth grade, or eighth grade’s unit on music, art, literature, and social studies in the late 19th century.

  • Cast and crew photo of fifth and sixth grade musical Peter Pan.

    Two Musicals Each Year

    In the fall, fifth and sixth graders put on a musical production, while seventh and eighth graders take their turn on stage in the winter. Although participation isn’t mandatory, most students get involved with either the cast or crew.

  • Middle School students and faculty performing during Revels.

    Winter Concerts

    Students and families celebrate the holiday season with Winterfest (Lower School concert) and Revels (Middle School concert) each December.

  • Students perform a song at All-School Meeting.

    Opportunity to Perform at All-School Meeting

    From singing and dancing to musical instruments and martial arts, community performers practice and perform an art of their choice to close out each All-School Meeting.

  • Third grade students practice a musical number in the Commons.

    Band of Friends

    All third graders participate in Band of Friends, a performance group where students learn how to communicate through music while having fun. They can choose to continue in fourth and fifth grades as group leaders.

Meet the Music and Drama Faculty

The Performing Arts faculty at Friends Academy includes two music specialists. They get to know each child personally and work together with classroom teachers to include art as part of a comprehensive, interdisciplinary education.

  • Tanner McMullen, Lower School Music Teacher

    Tanner McMullen

    Lower School Music Teacher
  • Putnam Murdock, Middle School Music Teacher

    Putnam Murdock

    Middle School Music Teacher

News & Stories About Performing Arts



March 25, 2024

Seventh and Eighth Graders Sparkle in “Frozen Jr.”

Seventh and eighth graders put on three spirited performance of Frozen earlier this month. Watch the full evening show. Read More



November 27, 2023

Fifth and Sixth Graders Fly High in “Peter Pan, Jr.”

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Peter Pan, Jr. on three wonderful performances! Watch the full evening show. Read More



March 27, 2023

Seventh and Eighth Grade Students Perform in “Mary Poppins”

Seventh and eighth graders put on a phenomenal performance of Mary Poppins earlier this month. Read More

Music Curriculum


Early Childhood

  • Develop a foundation in music through singing, listening, chants, movement, and improvisation.
  • Learn about musical traditions of the world and the role of music in various holidays and cultures.
  • Identify characteristics of music by ear.
  • Develop singing skills such as pitch matching, melody, and round singing.
  • Practice songwriting skills.


  • Develop a foundation in music through singing, listening, chants, movement, and improvisation.
  • Learn about musical traditions of the world and the role of music in various holidays and cultures.
  • Begin to introduce musical notation through rhythms.
  • Identify characteristics of music by ear.
  • Develop singing skills such as pitch matching, melody, and round singing.

First Grade

  • Explore musical creativity through a variety of music from multiple cultures, genres, and styles.
  • Discover reading and writing music.
  • Continue to develop aural skills through vocal rhythmic and tonal improvisation.
  • Learn about musical traditions and the role of music in various holidays and cultures.

Second Grade

  • Take a tour of musical styles from various cultures and composers.
  • Develop skills in reading and writing music.
  • Improvise both tonally and rhythmically.
  • Develop part singing skills.
  • Learn about musical traditions and the role of music in various holidays and cultures.

Third Grade

  • Discover the role of music and lyrics in our lives, including musical storytelling.
  • Learn to improvise using xylophones.
  • Develop skills in instrument playing and reading notation by using classroom instruments such as drums and xylophones.
  • Continue to sing in multiple parts.
  • Learn about musical traditions and the role of music.
  • Develop note reading skills.

Fourth Grade

  • Develop functional musicianship skills.
  • Learn to read sheet notation.
  • Explore arrangement of music.
  • Read traditional notation in multiple clefs and meters.
  • Learn the basics of piano, including stepwise and skipping melodies, playing melodies by ear, reading lead sheet notation, and accompaniment of a pop song cover.

Fifth Grade

  • Explore themes of freedom and independence in music, digging deeply into Samba Reggae as a foundation for music studies.
  • Focus on rhythm, including writing and performing rhythms on drums as well as listening to and reflecting on the effects of a “good beat” in music.
  • Study a through-line artist’s use of music to communicate messages.
  • Use GarageBand to create original music on MacBooks.

Sixth Grade

  • Focus on a number of musical leaders and how they used their influence to inspire nations, create change, and become part of the fabric of history.
  • Write and perform melodies and study motifs and themes to understand how the melody of a song tells a story.
  • Maintain music reading and piano skills.
  • Introduce GarageBand as a means to write, record, and document musical learning.

Seventh Grade

  • Study harmony and chord progressions, developing an understanding of how harmony resembles a language.
  • Using GarageBand, begin to recognize the tendencies and purposes of chords while also challenging conventions and embracing unique forms of expression.
  • Hone music reading skills and gain a deeper appreciation for reverb, compression, automation, equalization, panning, and volume control.

Eighth Grade

  • Investigate how music can generate impact in a global society by researching a protest-oriented song and recording an informational podcast about it.
  • Explore the significance of music, both as a standalone art form and through fusion with other media, using GarageBand to compose a film score that imparts emotion.
  • Learn the art of stating, repeating, and developing motifs, from constructing bass lines to writing verses to creating captivating melodies.