Music Curriculum & Information

2019 Music Boosters Scholarship Audition Application

Each year the TC Music Boosters provides a number of $350 scholarships to TCAPS Music students in grades 6 – 11. These scholarships can be used for private lesson study or attendance at an approved summer music camp. Scholarships will be awarded based on the student's application and audition. Students must have submitted their online application by Wednesday, January 16th. Auditions will take place on Thursday, January 31st at East Middle School and Central High School and on Wednesday, February 6th at West Middle School and West Senior High School. Contact your student’s music teacher or the music office at 933.6984 for additional information. 

TCAPS Music Program

Traverse City has a long tradition of excellence in public music education. TCAPS’ orchestra, band, choral and general music programs provide quality, rewarding musical experiences for all students in our community. In addition to a talented teaching staff, we are fortunate to have committed students, a very supportive community and a music booster organization that supports all levels of music in our schools.

The Music Department Philosophy

The arts, the universal expression of our common humanity, are essential to living a full life.  Music education provides unique experiences, which cultivate the learner’s emotional and intellectual well being, develop music literacy and bring about working toward a common goal.

The Music Department Belief Statements

We believe that…

  • the arts keep us human in an increasingly technological world.
  • all people are innately musical; therefore schools have an obligation to help each student develop his or her potential.
  • music is an expression of society, therefore it helps us understand and appreciate our own and other cultures.
  • music is a discipline with its own intrinsic value. By its very nature it is an embodiment of many other disciplines.
  • music education addresses all learning styles and develops higher order thinking skills.
  • a balanced music education program must include opportunities in general music, choral music, band and orchestra.

Music Curriculum / Courses

Michigan Curriculum Standards

TCAPS Scope and Sequence

Preschool through Grade 5

Focus in on developing the 7 strands:

  • Singing
  • Playing Instruments
  • Moving
  • Creating
  • Understanding and applying music literacy
  • Listening with appreciation
  • Relating music to history, culture and other disciplines

Middle School

Students participate in courses organized by grade. Focused studies build skills and appreciation for each child’s area of musical interest.

  • 6th Grade
    Creative Arts
    Beginning Band
    Beginning Choir
    Beginning Orchestra
  • 7th Grade
    Concert Band
    Treble Choir
    Tenor/Bass Choir
    Intermediate Orchestra
  • 8th Grade
    Symphony Band
    Treble Choir
    Tenor/Bass Choir
    Advance Orchestra
  • Additional Opportunities
    Jazz Band
    Madrigal or Chamber Singers
    Spectrum Strings

High School

Students participate in ability based ensembles. The skills that have been nurtured and developed at the middle school level are now propelled forward within a program that has a rich tradition of excellence. Students can reach their full potential both individually and in an ensemble member.

  • Band
    Concert Band
    Symphony Band
    Wind Ensemble
    Percussion Ensemble
    Jazz Band
    Pep Band
  • Choirs
    Varsity Women’s Choir
    Concert Choir
    Bel Cantos
    Westmen or Men of Note
    Vocal Majority or Bella Voce
  • Orchestras
    Concert Orchestra
    Symphony Orchestra
    Philharmonic Orchestra
    Select String Ensemble
  • Additional Opportunities
    Madrigal Dinner


Why We Learn Music

From A Student’s Point of View

Music is science.

It is exact and specific. It demands exact acoustics. A conductor’s full score is a chart, a graph that indicates frequencies, intensities, volume changes, melody, and harmony all at once and with precise control of time.

Music is mathematical.

It is rhythmically based on the subdivision of time into fractions, which must be done instantaneously, not worked out on paper, and often in multiple combinations simultaneously.

Music is a foreign language.

Most of the terms are in Italian, German, or French; and the notation is certainly not in English, but a highly developed kind of shorthand that uses symbols to represent ideas. The semantics of music is the most complete and universal language. It speaks to the soul.

Music is history.

It usually reflects the environment and times of its creation, and often even the country and/or racial feelings. It keeps a peoples’ culture alive. It reflects the styles of each historical period, even as do the visual arts.

Music develops insight and demands research.

Patterns are analyzed, similarities and differences identified, and style and period characteristics observed.

Music is technical.

It moves into new technologies as easily as we move into a new house adapting to new electronic possibilities.

Music is physical education.

It requires fantastic coordination of fingers, hands, arms, feet, lips, cheeks, and facial muscles in addition to extraordinary control of the diaphragmatic, back, stomach, and chest muscles, which respond instantly to the sound the ear hears, the symbols the eye sees, and the mind interprets.

Music is art.

It allows a human being to take all of these techniques to express emotion, build character, develop concentration, and establish self-esteem.

This is why we learn music.

Music will give us more love, more compassion, more gentleness…
In short more LIFE!

A young person’s perspective of Why We Learn Music,
adapted from Why We Teach Music by Kathryn B. Hull

Music Audience Etiquette

There is no substitute for the experience of a live performance. The interaction between the audience and performers – whether in music, dance or drama – can be very moving. In fact, the audience is basic to the live concert experience. A supportive audience can actually help a soloist or group exceed its usual level of performance. Likewise, an inconsiderate or uninvolved audience may significantly lower the quality of a performance by distracting the performers.

Basic etiquette for students and audience members to consider when attending a live performance:

  • When attending a concert whether in a concert hall, little theater, cafeteria or gymnasium, those attending the concert must mentally prepare for being still, quiet and listening to the live performance. In today’s culture, we very seldom have to sit and do just one thing at a time.
  • When moving into position on the risers or sitting in chairs, try to avoid climbing over others, be courteous. Be respectful of teachers or other adults who are trying to help the performers get into place by listening and not talking.
  • Performers should not have gum or candy in their mouth or in their pockets. You can’t perform with that in your mouth and chewing/eating while others are performing is distracting.
  • Performers should not have cell phones or other technical devices with them in the concert. All devices in the audience should be turned off so as to not disrupt the performance with unplanned sounds.
  • Everyone should save conversations and comments until there is an obvious break in the performance. Even whispers can be disruptive.
  • It is OK to be responsive in appropriate ways. Applause at the end of selections is always appreciated; whistles, shouts, and calling names of performers is not.
  • If there is a speaker or narrator involved in the performance, give that person your undivided attention. Speakers in live performances are usually there to make explanations that will help you understand or appreciate the performance.
  • Even if you are disappointed in a performance, be considerate of the performers and assume that others have a right to their own opinions. None of us have the right to spoil a performance for someone else by being distracting or unkind.
  • An emergency is the only reason to leave during a performance. Stay seated and quiet for the duration of the performance. Wait for dismissal instruction, and then leave in a quiet and orderly manner.

Elementary Audience Program Awareness

The seven strands of the TCAPS music curriculum are studied during the preparation for elementary music programs.

  • Singing
  • Playing instruments
  • Moving
  • Creating
  • Listening
  • Understanding and applying music literacy
  • Relating music to history, culture and other disciplines

For your listening pleasure, please keep your non-performing children with you during the entire performance and please refrain from talking, even between pieces.

  • Strand 6.5 states: Demonstrate appropriate concert audience behavior.
  • Strand 7.5 states: Begin to develop the cooperation and interdependence that are essential to a meaningful music experience.

The students are working diligently to complete transitions silently. The audience can help them by silently listening and watching the transitions. We urge you to watch your child(ren) throughout the program. This is what you should see:

  • Singing: eyes on the director, good posture
  • Playing: preparing instrument (before and after), keeping steady beat, keep “one eye” on the director
  • Moving: quickly and silently getting into position, knowing the steps, moving within the beat, good posture
  • SILENT TRANSITIONS: student knows where to go, which song comes next. If remaining on riser, wait patiently for the next cue from director

Traverse City Music Boosters

About Music Boosters

Traverse City Music Boosters, Inc. is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed more than 50 years ago to support Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) music education. Membership is open to all parents and community members. We support all music education at TCAPS, from the youngest pre-kindergarten learners through the most advanced high school students. If you have a child in a TCAPS music program, YOU ARE A MUSIC BOOSTER! 

External LinkVisit the official Traverse City Music Boosters website for more information on events, scholarships, mini-grants and more.