Amherst Middle School

  • Amherst Middle School Music Department 


    Our Music Department’s philosophy centers on inclusiveness, teamwork, and personal growth. Our tradition is rooted in musical excellence through performance and creative problem-solving. We provide access for all, fostering a sense of pride and belonging while nurturing self-expression, self-esteem, and peer leadership. Our ultimate goal is to cultivate life-long learners who embrace music as a source of joy and personal development.

    General Music
    Students not enrolled in a music ensemble take General Music. General Music classes meet every other day and focus on music concepts such as melody, harmony, texture, range and tempo, as well as the creation of original compositions. This program adapts to various musical backgrounds and skill levels, while allowing all students to be simultaneously engaged. Cooperative learning among students is encouraged. Students are taught to read and write music and perform on drums and keyboards.

    In the Amherst Middle School Music program, your child becomes part of a group whose success depends upon teamwork, cooperation, and individual accountability. The unique talents of all students are joined together to create a thriving and positive ensemble experience. In an ensemble, students learn a greater appreciation for the part others can play in their own successes, and vice versa.

    The AMS Music Department offers three 'core' ensemble types - band, choir, and orchestra. All ensembles are curricular and meet during the school day.

    There are also a variety of extracurricular ensembles that meet outside the regular school day for interested students.

    Lessons: Band, Orchestra and Choir
    Students are required to attend weekly 40-minute lessons on a rotating schedule during the school day. The music lesson is the heart of the instrumental music program; it is at this time that the student receives small group and individual instruction, which enables them to improve and refine their skills as a musician. In-school lessons are provided only for students who are members of Amherst Middle School ensembles. Only students enrolled in Choir 8 receive weekly lessons during the school day in addition to their ensemble period. 
    Band Program
    The Middle School Band program offers two bands: 6th Grade Band, and Concert Band (Grade 7-8). These two bands perform several concerts and assemblies throughout the year. All three groups often participate in major organization evaluation festivals held in the spring, such as NYSSMA.

    The Middle School Band program also offers two jazz groups. Jazz Lab meets every Tuesday morning and is welcome for all band students. The group is intended primarily for 6th graders, but there are some 7th and 8th graders who also participate. They play level 1 and 2 music and perform at numerous concerts, including the annual "Jazz Night Out," alongside the Jazz Ensembles from the MS and HS. The Jazz Ensemble is directed by Mr. Jeffrey Palmer. The group is primarily 7th and 8th graders who work on higher level jazz music along with improvisation. This group meets once a week on Wednesday mornings and performs at the annual Springville Jazz Festival in May of each year.

    Choral Program
    The AMS Choral Program consists of the following: Chorus 6, Chorus 7-8, and Choir 8.  Students enrolled in Chorus 6 are members of the sixth grade class and focus primarily on two-part singing, voice for soprano and alto (SA).  Students enrolled in Chorus 7-8 are members of the seventh and eighth grade classes and begin to sing in three voice parts (SAB) with changing male voices performing their own voice part for the first time (baritone).  Students enrolled in Choir 8 are members of the eighth grade class, and typically perform three voice part pieces, and also begin to study choral literature written in four parts (SATB), with the male voice part splitting into tenor and bass for the first time.  Repertoire is chosen in alignment with national and state standards for music education.  In all choral ensembles, students are exposed to a variety of musical styles through their concert repertoire, while also focusing on individual music reading abilities through sight-singing and music theory instruction.

    Orchestra Program
    The Middle School Orchestra program offers three orchestras: 6th Grade Orchestra, Orchestra 7-8 and the Chamber Orchestra (which is an audition group). These three orchestras perform several concerts and assemblies throughout the year. The 6th Grade and 7-8 Orchestra participate in major organization evaluation festivals held in the spring, such as NYSSMA.  
    A.R.C.O. (Amherst Rock Concert Orchestra) is an extracurricular group available to all 6, 7 and 8th grade orchestra students. This group rehearses every Wednesday morning and performs at several concerts throughout the year. They perform a wide variety of genres, including Rock, Pop, Jazz, and Fiddle music.