Instrumental & Vocal Department

Musicianship training is essential to a comprehensive music education and critical to continued growth with instrument and voice study. Weekly musicianship classes have been a core component of instrument and voice study since Diller-Quaile’s founding in 1920. As students progress through the School’s sequential and leveled curriculum developed over decades of instruction, they develop music literacy and an understanding of the elements and structure of music. Multiple class formats include experiences in listening, singing, movement, conducting, playing, reading, and notating music, which lead to analyses of repertoire masterpieces, as well as work in improvisation and composition. One important aspect of this work is that experience–through action–comes first, after which the work is discussed, analyzed, and notated.

Without active participation on the part of the student, an encounter with art is not a full experience. Musicianship training, in its broadest sense, develops a responsive awareness of the elements of music and their relationship to one another within a composition. The recognition of these inner relationships is vital to the understanding of any piece of music, and perhaps the most important part of the performer’s interpretation.

A minimum of two years of Chorus and two years of Dalcroze Eurhythmics is required of all students in first grade or older enrolled in comprehensive programs. Final decisions regarding appropriate class placement are at the discretion of the School.


  1. Chorus
  2. Dalcroze Eurhythmics
  3. Ear Training, Sight-Singing, and Improvisation
  4. Great Composers
  5. High School Comprehensive

1. Chorus (2 years minimum)

Not only is ensemble singing universal across all cultures, many composers such as Purcell, Bach, Gluck, Haydn, Schubert, and Mendelssohn were accomplished child choristers and subsequently composers of vocal masterpieces. Through the study of choral repertoire spanning various periods and styles, students develop sight-singing skills, comfort with score reading, and music literacy. Students augment their musical knowledge by preparing works they would likely not encounter yet on their instrument. Diller-Quaile choruses first grade and older perform in the School’s ensemble concerts.

2. Dalcroze Eurhythmics (2 years minimum)
The Dalcroze approach integrates the ear, mind, and body through natural movement, singing, and improvisation. Through kinesthetic experiences students show what they hear in music. As students walk, run, and gallop, elements of music are identified, such as a regular beat, rhythm patterns, articulation, and nuances. When singing, students use their hands and arms to show the shape of a melody or a phrase. These movements help students feel and internalize the relationship of pitches while tuning the voice and ear to each other. These experiences lead naturally into music notation. More experienced students are further challenged with exercises in form, meter, and polyrhythms. Students move through an experiential mode to a symbolic mode of understanding music concepts.

Musicianship3. Ear Training, Sight-Singing, and Improvisation
To hear what is written, to write what is heard, and to develop what is imagined. Through active listening, group singing, dictation, sight-singing, and score study, students build music literacy and an understanding of the elements and structure of music. As they progress, students apply this knowledge to music appropriate to their level of study and deepen their understanding through individual, partnered, and group improvisations. In the earliest years, singing and simple percussion instruments, as well as body percussion such as clapping and tapping, are used. Older students explore the piano keyboard and have an opportunity to improvise on their own instruments. These experiences with improvisation lead naturally to individual and group compositions.

4. Great Composers
To know masterpieces of the repertoire and to understand the historical and artistic necessities that drove composers to pen them. Students encounter the great works of musical canon, not only for their intrinsic artistic value, but also as textbooks. Students work music concepts and ideas through direct contact with and application to the masterworks of the repertoire. Active listening, score reading, group singing, playing, and conducting are among the experiences that guide students through the material, as they come to place composers, their works, and the musical styles they represent in an historical context. Classes explore music of the Renaissance through the Modern Era.

5. High School Comprehensive
The High School Comprehensive curriculum is a robust course of musicianship study that provides the advancing high school student with sophisticated musical understanding. Through experiences including sight-singing, ear training, dictation, and keyboard harmony, students analyze works in terms of rhythm, melody, harmony, phrasing, and form. Students’ repertoire serves as a springboard for group discussion and analysis, as well as for examples of critical concepts.


MusicianshipOrff Ensemble
Through speech, group singing, movement, and instrument playing, students explore music concepts, build music literacy, and come to understand the elements and structure of music. The Orff Ensemble plays recorders and non-pitched and pitched percussion instruments, such as wood xylophones and metal glockenspiels. Students read, improvise, and compose ostinati and varied accompaniments to music from diverse cultures in a creative classroom setting.

Musicianship with Computers
This class is designed for students who enjoy and learn well with computers. The software used incorporates several levels of material that can be shaped to the student’s needs. Class experiences include opportunities to sing, play rhythm instruments, read, and conduct, while computer work reinforces musical concepts and notation skills.

Through experience with the fundamentals of creative improvisation and composition, students deepen their understanding of music structure and notation. Class members study scores through singing, playing, and conducting, and regularly play and discuss each other’s works.


Ages 3&4 Meet the Instrument (#49) Mon 2:55-3:40 p.m.
Ages 3&4 Dalcroze Eurhythmics (#42) Tues 2:55-3:40 p.m.
Early Reading
Ages 4&5 Dalcroze Eurhythmics (#43) Mon 2:55-3:40 p.m.
Ages 5&6 Instruments of the World (#59) Mon 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Ages 5&6 Great Composers (#110) Mon 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Ages 4&5 Chorus (#45) Tues 2:55-3:35 p.m.
Ages 4&5 Dalcroze Eurhythmics (#44) Tues 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Ages 4&5 Chorus (#46) Tues 3:40-4:20 p.m.
Ages 5&6 Great Composers (#60) Thurs 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Level I
Grades 1&2 Orff Ensemble (#111) Mon 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Grades 1&2 Dalcroze Eurhythmics (#120) Tues 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Grades 1&2 Young Children's Chorus (#130) Wed 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Grades 1&2 Dalcroze Eurhythmics (#140) Thurs 4:00-4:45 p.m.
Grades 1&2 Great Composers (#150) Fri 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Grades 1&2 Great Composers (#160) Sat 11:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Level II
Grades 3&4 Orff Ensemble (#112) Mon 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Grades 3-5 Dalcroze Eurhythmics (#121) Tues 5:15-6:00 p.m.
Grades 3-6 Intermediate Chorus (#131) Wed 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Grades 3&4 Orff Ensemble (#141) Thurs 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Grades 3-5 Ear Training, Sight-Singing and Improvisation (#143) Thurs 5:15-6:00 p.m.
Grades 3-5 Musicianship with Computers (#151) Fri 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Grades 3-5 Ear Training, Sight-Singing and Improvisation (#161) Sat 11:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Level III
Grades 5-8 The Diller-Quaile Chorus (#113) Mon 4:40-5:40 p.m.
Grades 6-8 Ear Training, Sight-Singing and Improvisation (#122) Tues 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Grades 6-8 Great Composers (#132) Wed 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Grades 6-8 Dalcroze Eurhythmics (#142) Thurs 5:00-5:45 p.m.
Grades 6-8 Ear Training, Sight-Singing and Improvisation (#152) Fri 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Grades 6-8 Ear Training, Sight-Singing and Improvisation (#162) Sat 11:15a.m.-12:00p.m.
Levels IV & V
Grades 9-12 Composition (#114) Mon 5:15-6:00 p.m.
Grades 9-12 High School Comprehensive (#133) Wed 5:15-6:00 p.m.
Grades 9-12 High School Comprehensive (#144) Thurs 6:00-6:45 p.m.
Grades 9-12 High School Comprehensive (#153) Fri 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Grades 9-12 High School Comprehensive (#163) Sat 12:00-12:45 p.m.

To inquire about enrolling in lessons or classes for the 2013-2014 school year,
please contact 212-369-1484, ext. 26 or