The objectives of Buckley's music program are to develop the ability to read, write and think musically; to foster an appreciation for various musical styles and compositions; and to focus on the role of music in history and in different cultures.
The Lower Schooluses the Kodaly method to develop ear-training, music literacy and general musicianship. By singing simple songs and playing music games, the boys learn to identify, read and write various melodic and rhythmic patterns and intervals. Through analysis of these songs and games, they study pitch, timbre, dynamics, form and meter. In Class III, boys are introduced to playing the recorder, with a focus on reading music. Throughout the year, the boys develop their performance skills by preparing songs for class plays and various recitals and assemblies.
Moving into the Upper School, a strong focus is placed on the development of each boy’s voice through group vocal technique lessons. Music literacy and theory are taught through an analysis of the actual repertoire that the boys will perform in concert. The sophistication of the repertoire correlates to the progress of each class. Boys will learn to sing music from diverse cultures and in a variety of languages. The historical and cultural implications of each piece will be discussed and applied toward performance practice and style. There is also a strong focus on rehearsal and performance etiquette. As boys enter Class VI they will study the nature of the changing voice along with the anatomy of singing. It is an expectation that by the end of Class VI the boys will be able to sing in up to three-part harmony and read basic musical notation from a choral score.
As they enter Class VII, boys continue to improve upon their literacy, theory and vocal technique skills in a repertoire-based program. In addition, they will undertake a chronological survey of Western art music. Class VII studies music from its origins through the Baroque period. Class VIII begins in the Classical period and finishes with Contemporary art music. Explorations of music of non-Western cultures are included as part of these studies. Theoretical knowledge is extensively applied throughout the survey. Class IX boys are given the opportunity to apply their knowledge of music through an in-depth individual or small group research project on a musical topic of their choice over the course of one term. All Upper School boys participate in Glee Club, a chorus that involves the practical application of what they learn in music class. The Glee Club also performs music from diverse cultures and in a variety of languages. It is an expectation that Upper School students will be able to perform music in four-part harmony and read efficiently from a choral octavo. There are three concerts per year, including one operetta or musical. Boys will also have the opportunity to participate in an auditioned select ensemble and a smaller select chamber ensemble.