Music and Drama

The All School Play

This is the major production of the winter term and a central component of the All-School Trip. Unlike our other two plays, this one involves every single student in the school. If you are not in the cast (which is usually quite large), you can play in the orchestra that accompanies the production, participate on the lights crew, do make-up, produce the programs, house-manage during performances, or have a hand in any of a number of other necessary tasks. While in our host city, we “give back” by performing the play in nursing homes, schools, retirement communities, or for other groups or organizations that have invited us. The play is usually performed three times in three different venues.

Chamber Music

Students who are interested in playing chamber music may participate in one of a number of group ensembles. They vary in size and instrumentation and are individually coached by the music faculty. Duos to seven-piece jazz ensembles form each semester to rehearse and perform student composers’ work as well as standard repertoire. Rudimentary sight-reading ability is necessary. Performances are given several times each year.

Chamber Orchestra

Chamber orchestra is open to all students who have an interest in playing music in a larger group. A wide variety of instruments can be accommodated in the chamber orchestra. Repertory works are performed during the Fall and Spring Arts Weekends, and in the winter the orchestra provides music for the touring All-School Play. Recent performances have included Bach’s Orchestra Suites in C and D, Handel’s Water Music, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and Schubert’s Rosamunde Overture; waltzes and rags by Scott Joplin; and arrangements of pieces by George Gershwin and Duke Ellington.

Chorus

Choral activities and vocal ensembles are open to all regardless of prior experience. Twice a year, major choral works are undertaken. An additional piece involving all students and faculty is performed at Graduation. Vivaldi’s Gloria, Mozart’s Missa Brevis K.220 and Requiem K.626, Schubert’s Mass No. 3, Gounod’s Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cécile, and Carl Orff’’s Carmina Burana have been performed in recent years.

Dance

This activity explores West African, Afro-Caribbean, modern, ballet, and other creative influences in dance, focusing on traditional-folkloric and contemporary influences in original student compositions. Several levels of classes run from November through May, accommodating beginners as well as experienced dancers. Individual and group choreography performances are given during the Fall and Spring Arts Weekends.

Drama

Drama class provides an introductory approach to acting for the stage. Students will practice actors warm-ups, learn or refresh theatre vocabulary, practice vocal technique, study characterization and scene work, and dabble in physical comedy, stage combat, scene writing and collaborative place-based creative work. Depending on the specific interests of the students in the class, the group may work towards a production for Fall Arts, or we may choose to focus on more detailed scene work, stage combat, playwriting, technical aspects of theater, or other activities we have touched on over the course of the semester. Students can expect a focus on practice and practical use of the skills acquired.

Drumming and Percussion

Studies include hand and stick techniques, traditional arrangements, and individual compositions. Areas to be considered are West African, Afro-Caribbean, and contemporary influences in original student compositions. Performances with dance are held during the Fall and Spring Arts Weekends.

Fall and Spring Plays

These productions are cast at the beginning of each term and involve students of all grades who wish to be considered for a part. There are no requirements for participation. Casting is at the discretion of the directors, but we strive to involve as many different students as possible. We also take into consideration the needs of the actors. One student might be ready for a challenge, so we will cast him or her in a difficult role on purpose. Another might be trying out for the first time and we want to celebrate their courage by giving them a small part, regardless of acting talent. These plays rehearse two evenings a week, for two hours each time (though not all students are required to be at every rehearsal for the full two hours). Other students, as volunteers, are in charge of lights, sets, props, and costumes. Some of the work for these crews happens during the evening rehearsals, some happens during Work Program hours. Adults are involved in these crews as well, but students are, and need to be, the primary participants.

Music Theory and Composition

Music Theory and Composition is a course focused on creating music written in Western Classical notation. By the end of this course, you will understand the building blocks of sheet music as tools for reading and creating music. These fundamentals include staff reading, rhythm values, key signatures, chords, basic ear training, and much more. Concepts in this course will be explored through project based compositions: writing your own melodies, chord progressions, and creating simple compositions and arrangements of your own. Any level of musical understanding and interest is welcome.

Songwriting and Technology

Songwriting and Technology will explore how to write music that is typically non-notated, such as pop, rock, indie, etc. At the end of this course, you will be able to write a basic song of your own using music software as your main guide. Beat making, melody writing, chord progressions, song structures, lyric-writing, etc. are essential tools to our songwriting process. We will explore many genres and artists together, but your personal musical taste and interests will be your main guide to creating music that is most interesting to you. New concepts will be explored with personal compositions in various genres and styles, such as lo-fi hip-hop and ambient music. Any level of musical experience and understanding is welcome.

Private Lessons

Lessons in piano, voice, and most instruments can be arranged.

Testimonials

  • "Buxton has given me the freedom to be the person I want to be, make the art I want to make, and learn the things I want to learn. At Buxton we learn not only in the classroom, but in the community. We learn how to be good to each other and how to support each other. Buxton has so much to offer students, both inside the classroom and outside of it."
    Sadie
    Sadie Great Barrington, MA
  • “At Buxton you get to focus on what you want to be learning; whether it is social skills or in-depth studying- you learn to take responsibility of your education.”
    Francis Magai
    Francis Magai Troy, NY
  • “Living your education means to not only learn things, but to use what you learn in your everyday life.”
    Naima Nigh
    Naima Nigh Mexico
  • “To me, living your education means to be independent, to take charge, to not be afraid of asking for help, to learn from your peers, to love to learn, to take what you have learned from a loving environment and take it into the world.”
    Kat Hallowell
    Kat Hallowell New Hampshire
  • “Your education is more than just your time in class, it’s your life as a whole. Learning is not limited to a teacher teaching you something in a classroom.”
    Cynder Johnson
    Cynder Johnson Missouri
  • “To me, at Buxton, it’s not boundaries that you make, but the ones you break through.”
    Roy Malone
    Roy Malone New York, NY
  • “At Buxton, I can choose what I want to do with my education. I can design my own path and invest my time studying topics that I’m really interested in.”
    Nora Mittleman
    Nora Mittleman New York, NY
  • “At Buxton you can experience your intellectual development in a community that accepts your perspective of the world.”
    Ben Nigh
    Ben Nigh Mexico
  • “I felt instantly at home when I stepped on the campus. At Buxton, we are in school 24/7. We learn things in the classroom, but we really learn valuable things outside of the classroom. We learn how to work with others and respect each other’s spaces. Our education surrounds us and we learn new things everyday.”
    Emily Woodside
    Emily Woodside Albany, NY
  • “I chose Buxton over public school because I think I function better in a smaller environment. You’re able to get to know students and faculty on a deeper level, which is rare.”
    Charlie Starenko
    Charlie Starenko Williamstown, MA
  • “Students should be happy when they are learning. They should not feel like studying is a burden to them. You learn things from your living space and environment - you are learning every second you are living.”
    Jiayi Cao
    Jiayi Cao China
  • “Buxton has shown me that it is possible to forge close bonds with teachers as well as students. It also gives you the ability to try new things in an environment where there is no judgment.”
    Kristhal Ayala
    Kristhal Ayala Puerto Rico
  • “I chose Buxton for a small community-based education with focus on the individual as part of the world at large, along with the learning settings.”
    Katie McAvoy
    Katie McAvoy Boston, MA
  • “I love the atmosphere and how tightly knit the community is. At Buxton you take what you learn in the classroom and use it in everyday life - you learn from the world around you and see how you can make it better.”
    Cheyanne Williams
    Cheyanne Williams Boston, MA
  • “At Buxton you bring your education into everything you do, and learn important, relevant things that you can utilize all the time.”
    Rebecca van der Meulen
    Rebecca van der Meulen New Lebanon, NY
  • "In the last year, Buxton has become my home. It has provided me with a place where self-exploration is encouraged in and out of the classroom. I have made unbreakable bonds with faculty and my peers."

    Aurora
    Aurora Albany, NY
  • "To me living your education means enjoying it to the fullest. Do the things that make you uncomfortable, like activities, clubs, or sports you wouldn't normally participate in. Like the saying goes, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

    Adrian
    Adrian Boston, MA
  • "Buxton has given me room to fully realize what inspires me and the resources to create it. The next big grade is no longer a constant worry. I have more space to be and do what I want."

    Lola
    Lola Williamstown, MA
  • "Buxton has given me the freedom to be the person I want to be, make the art I want to make, and learn the things I want to learn. At Buxton we learn not only in the classroom, but in the community. We learn how to be good to each other and how to support each other. Buxton has so much to offer students, both inside the classroom and outside of it."

    Sadie
    Sadie Great Barrington, MA
  • “A sense that everybody matters, that you are in a community where everyone can make a difference and reach their full potential, where you are interdependent and you work together, and most importantly where you understand that you can do whatever you want to do and whatever it is that you do, you have got to make a difference. I think that, more than anything, defines my experience at Buxton.”
    Peter Shumlin
    Peter Shumlin Governor of Vermont, Buxton Alumni

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