Georgia Instrumental Music Program | Darlington School

Darlington School

Instrumental Music

At Darlington, you will experience more music than you ever thought possible. That’s because our instrumental music offerings go far beyond your typical band and orchestra program.

Darlington’s instrumental program gives students the opportunity to perform a variety of styles of music in various performing ensembles. In each ensemble, students work to improve their musicianship abilities, instrumental technique, ensemble performance skills and musical literacy. In doing so, they gain confidence as artists through valuable performing experiences, as well as through critical thinking and evaluation of their performances.

In addition to performing opportunities on and off campus with Darlington’s instrumental ensembles, members of these groups participate in Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) district and state-level activities and Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA) instrumental events.

For more about the specific instrumental offerings at each of Darlington’s three divisions, please read below.


General Music: All students in Pre-K to 2 participate in the general music class. The students learn through singing, dancing and playing instruments. Through these outlets, students learn to read, notate and express themselves through music to allow for support in choices of vocal or instrumental study in grades 3, 4 and beyond. Once students reach the third grade, they may stay in general music or move to strings, where they can play the violin, viola, cello or bass in a beginning orchestra class. In fourth grade, students choose between general music, strings or band. In band, they select an instrument to play in a beginning band ensemble.

Beginning Strings: Violin, viola, cello and string bass are offered in a group setting for students in grades 3-5 throughout the academic year, and in short multi-week and single units for grades 1-2 to introduce the instruments and build early interest. Instruction topics include reading music and string techniques. The string classes perform at least four times during the school year, including a performance at the annual Battle of the Bands in the spring to showcase their accomplishments for the year. Within the strings program, each grade level is considered a separate ensemble. Beginners are taught separately in private instruction and provided the opportunity to practice their lesson material individually until they are able to join the more experienced players later in the year.

6th, 7th and 8th Grade String Orchestra: String players are introduced to the proper concept of sectional performance as their skills progress. Students focus on technical exercises, such as scales, and sound-building pieces, while exploring diverse repertoire beyond the early years’ method books in order to further develop proper sound, intonation and technique. The group plays a variety of styles from Coldplay and One Republic to Bach and Telemann, which gives them a well-rounded musical exposure. They join in the end for the annual all-school string event Battle of the Bands to showcase their skills and have fun collaborating with their fellow string students.

4th and 5th Grade Band: This ensemble, which meets biweekly during the regular academic schedule, focuses on the development of necessary musicianship and technical ability to master an instrument and prepare the student for performing in the 6th, 7th and 8th grade years and for the Upper School Wind Ensemble. Students can choose from the full gamut of wind and percussion instruments. From flute to tuba, students excel musically through weekly study and perform three concerts a year.

6th, 7th and 8th Grade Concert Band: The premier band ensemble in Pre-K to 8, the Concert Band meets daily during the academic schedule. Students focus on the development of necessary musicianship and technical ability to master a wind or percussion instrument and prepare the students for performing in the Upper School Wind Ensemble. This ensemble performs four or five concerts a year and participates in one or two festivals.

Jazz Band: The Darlington Middle School Jazz Band, which meets daily during the regular academic schedule, is for Concert Band students in grades 6-8. Students are introduced to proper harmony, style and improvisation techniques through the study of swing, Latin, rock, funk and pop music. The Jazz Band, which performs a collection of special arrangements specifically made for middle school students, performs several times throughout the school year and travels to one festival in the spring.

Keyboard: The Yamaha MIE Keyboard Lab enhances music instruction in grades 1-8. Students experience hands-on instruction in music reading and keyboard skills to help them become familiar with different styles of music. They also begin to build their ongoing music vocabulary.

Upper School

Wind Ensemble: Students will find that the Wind Ensemble is extremely versatile. This award-winning group consistently builds Superior-rated ensembles and has won numerous Grand Championship trophies. The Wind Ensemble is more that just a concert band; the students participate in at least two and often up to six different ensembles each year. Recent ensembles that have been brought to competition include Latin Percussion, Jazz Combo, Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Dixieland Band, Steel Band, Guitar Ensemble, Stadium Band and various instrumental choirs. Technical studies continue, but theoretical training begins in preparation for AP Theory.

  • Stadium Band: The Darlington Tiger Band is the most visible performing group on campus. All Wind Ensemble members participate in Stadium Band, and the music is fast and fun.

  • Solo Performance: Wind players team up with piano accompanists to perform pieces from the solo repertoire. This is very helpful for those that wish to compete for college scholarships.

  • Piano Society: Pianists are an integral part of the instrumental department and, depending on proficiency, are sometimes asked to perform dual roles as soloist and accompanist.

Orchestra: Since its beginning, the Darlington Orchestra has consistently won numerous awards each year for superior musical performance from national competitions in Atlanta and Florida as well as several Grand Championship trophies. The class is open for all string players and accommodates all skill levels by allowing participation in some capacity without audition. Repertoire covers the major symphonic styles as well as modern selections.

  • String Ensemble: This is an all-string group that is open to all participants. Students who do not pass the Orchestra audition will participate in this basic ensemble. Repertoire is chosen or arranged to accommodate each player’s individual skill level.

  • Solo Performance: String players team up with piano accompanists to perform pieces from the solo repertoire. This is very helpful for those that wish to compete for college scholarships.

  • Piano Society: Pianists are an integral part of the instrumental department and, depending on proficiency, are sometimes asked to perform dual roles as soloist and accompanist.

Guitar Ensemble: The Guitar Ensemble is designed for beginning guitarists who want to learn and understand how music functions. In ensemble class, students learn to read music (tab, chord changes and some notation), perform as a group, improvise as soloists and understand basic theory. By covering a variety of musical styles, each student will ultimately be able to transfer the skill acquired in class to any and all types of music outside of class.

AP Music Theory: Offered every other year, this course develops a student’s ability to recognize, understand, and describe the basic materials and processes of music that are heard or presented in a score. The achievement of these goals is best approached by initially addressing the fundamental aural, analytical, and compositional skills using both listening and written exercises. Students enrolled in this course are required to take the AP Exam. Prerequisite: The student’s ability to read and write musical notation is fundamental. It is also assumed that the student has acquired (or is acquiring) at least basic performance skills in voice or on an instrument.

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