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, 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.

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.



  1. Chorus
  2. Dalcroze Eurhythmics
  3. Ear Training, Sight-Singing, and Improvisation
  4. Great Composers
  5. High School Comprehensive
  6. Symphonies 101


1. Chorus (2 years minimum)
Diller-Quaile’s choruses provide sequential study of choral literature for young voices and the fundamentals of vocal technique. Through the study of choral repertoire spanning various periods and styles, students develop ensemble skills, sight-singing skills, comfort with score reading, and music literacy. Diller-Quaile choruses for grade one and older perform in the School’s large ensemble concerts each semester.


2. Dalcroze Eurhythmics (2 years minimum)
Dalcroze webThe 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.


3. Ear Training, Sight-Singing, and Improvisation
These Kodály based classes develop the complete musician in each student through active listening, group singing, movement, conducting, dictation, sight-singing with solfège, and score analysis. Through the study of folk and composed music appropriate to their level of experience, students build music literacy and an understanding of the elements and structure of music. Individual, partnered, and group improvisations—sung, at the piano, and on students’ instruments—support and deepen their musical understanding. These experiences with improvisation lead naturally to individual and group compositions.


4. Great Composers
Musicianship Web Site

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 study 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 the rhythm, melody, harmony, phrasing, and form of selected works. Students’ repertoire serves as a springboard for group discussion and analysis, as well as for examples of critical concepts.


6. Symphonies 101

What do these works have in common? A work whose performance forced a king to allow his court musicians to visit their family for Christmas; a work so beloved of the Japanese that it influenced their development of the 80-minute CD so that it could be recorded without interruption; a piece so powerful that it changed the life of a Wall Street magnate who learned music specifically to conduct that work. These are just a few of the greatest symphonies in the Western tradition, masterpieces by Haydn, Beethoven, and Mahler, respectively. In Symphonies 101 students experience the richness and expressive power of music through a survey of the development of the symphony, from the early Classical period to the present, with detailed discussions of symphonic masterpieces by the greatest Classical composers and their memorable melodies, exciting rhythms, otherworldly harmonies, and dazzling sonorities. Classes cover the elements of music theory through critical listening, score analysis, historical and stylistic interpretation, and formal studies, bringing together music theory and music appreciation to develop a deeper and more informed enjoyment of music.



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.


KeyMusicianshipboard Harmony & Improvisation
Keyboard Harmony and Improvisation focuses on the development of keyboard skills necessary to utilize the piano as a tool for a comprehensive understanding of a range of genres. Students learn how to harmonize melodies and improvise, using different accompaniments and chord progressions. In addition, students are introduced to jazz progressions, chord structures, and jazz theory.



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 (#43) Mon 2:55-3:40 p.m.
Ages 3&4 Dalcroze Eurhythmics (#38) Tues 2:55-3:40 p.m.
Ages 3&4 Percussion Ensemble (#47) Tues 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Early Reading
Ages 4&5 Dalcroze Eurhythmics (#39) Mon 2:55-3:40 p.m.
Ages 5&6 Great Composers (#110) Mon 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Ages 4&5 Chorus (#48) Tues 2:55-3:35 p.m.
Ages 4&5 Chorus (#49) Tues 3:40-4:20 p.m.
Ages 5&6 Great Composers (#140) Thurs 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Ages 5&6 Great Composers (#150) Fri 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Ages 5&6 Great Composers (#160) Sat 9:00-9:45 a.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 (#141) Thurs 4:00-4:45 p.m.
Grades 1&2 Great Composers (#151) Fri 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Grades 1&2 Great Composers (#161) Sat 10:00-10:45 a.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 4:35-5:20 p.m.
Grades 3&4 Orff Ensemble (#142) Thurs 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Grades 3-5 Dalcroze Eurhythmics (#143) Thurs 5:00-5:45 p.m.
Grades 3-5 Musicianship with Computers (#152) Fri 3:45-4:30 p.m.
Grades 3-5 Ear Training, Sight-Singing & Improvisation (#162) Sat 11:00-11:45 a.m.
Level III
Grades 5-8 The Diller-Quaile Chorus (#113) Mon 4:40-5:40 p.m.
Grades 6-8 Musicianship with Computers (#122) Tues 5:15-6:00 p.m.
Grades 6-8 Ear Training, Sight-Singing & Improvisation (#132) Wed 6:00-6:45 p.m.
Grades 6-8 Ear Training, Sight-Singing & Improvisation (#144) Thurs 5:15-6:00 p.m.
Grades 6-8 Ear Training, Sight-Singing & Improvisation (#153) Fri 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Grades 6-8 Great Composers (#163) Sat 10:00-10:45 a.m.
Grades 6-8 Composition (#165) Sat 12:00-12:45 p.m.
Levels IV & V
Grades 9-12 Keyboard Harmony & Improvisation (#115) Mon 5:15-6:00 p.m.
Grades 9-12 Composition (#116) Mon 6:00-6:45 p.m.
Grades 9-12 High School Comprehensive (#133) Wed 6:45-7:30 p.m.
Grades 9-12 High School Comprehensive (#144) Thurs 6:00-6:45 p.m.
Grades 9-12 High School Comprehensive (#154) Fri 5:15-6:00 p.m.
Grades 9-12 High School Comprehensive (#164) Sat 10:00-10:45 a.m.
Grades 9-12 Composition (#166) Sat 1:00-1:45 p.m.

To inquire about enrolling in lessons or classes, please contact 212-369-1484, ext. 26 or


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