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Vocal Music

"You can cage the singer, but not the song."

- Harry Belafonte

Vocal music students receive vocal training in classical style (four years) and are required to take music theory (Sight singing and music reading and writing, four years), a choir (four years chosen from: Female Ensemble, Male Ensemble, Jazz Vocal Styles, Chamber Singers, Show Choir) and class piano (sometimes combined with music theory). Electives include Opera Workshop, Dance Orientation, Introduction to Acting, Songwriting, Music Composition, Music Technology, Music History, and African-American Music History. Students are required to attend elective classes as chosen or assigned.  Students perform occasionally as soloists (as designated by their teachers) on recitals, and if they demonstrate excellence in their semester jury, on Honors Recitals, and prepare a solo recital in the senior year.

Students majoring in Vocal Music at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts study the following five major components of the discipline:

  • Vocal Technique: The how-to of breath management, tone, vowel placement, diction in English and other languages, physical technique, stage deportment, vocal health, etc.
  • Performance: Stage presence, auditioning, musical style
  • Music theory: Reading and writing musical language
  • Ensemble: Working as part of a group to produce music
  • Piano: The instrument essential for every singer

By practicing each of the above daily, Ellington students learn rigor, cultivating a professionalism that enables them to succeed in virtually any style or situation.

Click here for SY15-16 department handbook.


Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
Vocal Techniques I Vocal Techniques II Vocal Techniques III Vocal Techniques IV
Choir I Choir II Choir III Choir IV
Piano Theory Music Theory II or Piano Theory II Music Theory III Music Theory IV*, AP Theory, Music Tech, or Composition
Sight Singing I Sight Singing II Sight Singing III  Sight Singing IV
4 Credits 4 Credits 4 Credits 4 Credits

Online Syllabi

AP Music Theory & Ear TrainingJanet PeacheySyllabus coming soon
Art & Design FoundationsJacqueline MaggiView Syllabus
Concert ChoirSamuel Bonds, Daphne Dunston-Wharton, Dr. Monique Holmes, Andrew SmithView Syllabus
DictionDr. Monique HolmesView Syllabus
Jazz TechniqueMark MeadowsView Syllabus
Music History ILynne GrayView Syllabus
Music History ISylvia TwineView Syllabus
Music History I & IIJanet PeacheyView Syllabus
Music Theory & Ear Training IIIJanet PeacheyView Syllabus
Music Theory & Ear Training IIILeslie DeLaine, Lynne Gray, Denna Purdie, Francis ThompsonView Syllabus
Music Theory & Ear Training IIILynne Gray, Janet Peachey, Denna PurdieView Syllabus
Music Theory & Ear Training IVJanet PeacheyView Syllabus
Piano Technique & Music Theory IChester Burke Jr., Lynne GrayView Syllabus
Piano Technique & Music Theory IIChester Burke Jr., Lynne GrayView Syllabus
Show ChoirDr. Monique HolmesView Syllabus
Sight Singing IAmanda CollinsView Syllabus
Sight Singing IAndrew SmithView Syllabus
Sight Singing ILester GreenView Syllabus
Sight Singing IIAndrew SmithView Syllabus
Sight Singing IILester GreenView Syllabus
Sight Singing IIKaren LecounteView Syllabus
Sight Singing IIIDaphne Dunston-Wharton, Karen Lecounte, Andrew Smith, Sylvia TwineView Syllabus
Vocal Jazz Ensemble: Mellow TonesMark MeadowsView Syllabus
Vocal Technique I-IVSylvia TwineView Syllabus
Vocal Techniques I-IVSamuel Bonds, Chester Burke Jr., Daphne Dunston-Wharton, Dr. Monique Holmes, Sylvia TwineView Syllabus