Grade 6

Students will learn and explore music and theory through the violin and singing in this class. Students will develop skills on the violin including instrument care, bowing and pizzicato techniques, ensemble playing, sight-reading, phrasing and dynamics. We will also listen to music, sing and explore music from different cultures. This course provides some of the fundamentals needed to prepare students to participate in both the String Orchestra in Grade 7 and the Grade 7 Band.


Choir 6, 7, 8, 15S
School Chorus 25S, 35S, 45S
Concert Choir 20S, 30S, 40S
Vocal Jazz 30S, 40S

From the very beginning choral music has been at the core of how we as Mennonites have expressed our faith. Also, “music is a uniquely rewarding discipline. The successful performer portrays an aesthetic awareness that touches basic human emotions within both performer and listener” (Deral Johnson). It is for these reasons, amongst others, that we make choir compulsory in Grades 6, 7, 8 and 9.

In Grades 7 and 8 all students will also study music theory and music history. In choir classes students will sing through a wide range of choral music. In our warm-ups and through the singing of different choral repertoire we will work on developing the following choral skills:

  • sight reading
  • matching pitches
  • vocal blend
  • proper breath support and control and singing in two and three part harmony (Grades 6-8)
  • singing in four to eight part harmony (Grades 9-12)
  • the role that posture plays in producing a good tone
  • good vocal production
  • musical phrasing
  • choral diction
  • aesthetic awareness

In our choir classes, attendance at concerts is a vital part of the course assessment. Concerts are to choir class what final exams are to academic subjects. Because of this all Grade 6-9 students and School Chorus members are expected to participate in the Opening Program, the Christmas Concert and the Spring Concert.

Grade 7

For the first five months theory rudiments are taught. We then turn our attention to music and composers from around the globe as we explore how music has been composed, performed and listened to over the past one thousand years.

Grade 8

For the first five months theory rudiments are taught. We then turn our attention to the history of Rock and Roll.

School Chorus

This choir is open to any Grade 10-12 student attending Westgate. There are no auditions. If you want to sing you are welcome. A student will receive 0.5 credit hours for successfully completing this course.

Concert Choir

This choir is a choral ensemble of 30-40 singers in Grades 10-12. Students will learn to sing at a high level, and are expected to be at many performances throughout the year and to work on their repertoire. Part of the assessment in this class consists of singing in quartets three to four times
a year. Students receive 1.0 credit for successfully completing this course. If a student is in Concert Choir they must also sing in the School Chorus.

Vocal Jazz

This choir is an elite and demanding small choral ensemble of Grade 11 and 12 students. Maximum enrollment is 16 students. Vocal Jazz requires a successful audition before students can be registered in the course. Auditions take place the first week of school. The repertoire for this ensemble is a mixture of contemporary, jazz, pop and sacred music. Students will work with a sound system. Students in this course will also look at the history of jazz, study music theory, listen to and review 20 vocal jazz/jazz albums and review six concerts.



Students will choose a wind or percussion instrument with the guidance of the teacher and are then instructed on the basic playing progressions to develop into a performing group within the first year. Priorities include: developing a full quality sound, learning proper breathing habits, proper articulation, playing in tune, listening and matching others for style and pitch, and playing with a quality musical phrase. Jazz Band is available for students who have had a minimum of one year previous band experience. Home practice is expected.


Students continue their study in their chosen instruments. More technical demands will be made with emphasis on the development of embouchure, articulation, intonation and rhythm. Technical exercises will have equal importance to performance repertoire. Jazz Band is opened to all players. Home practice is expected.


Prerequisite: Grade 7 and Grade 8 Band

Previous experience is mandatory and independent home practice is expected to prepare all performance repertoire. More emphasis will be put on the performance requirements such as stylistic features and historical contexts of the repertoire. This course will prepare students for the demands of the Senior Band. Those who successfully complete the term IV auditions will be allowed to enter the Senior Band. Recorded assignments will be required.

20S, 30S, 40S Concert Band

Students must have successfully completed course 10S to enroll in this course. Students new to Westgate must first pass an audition before enrolling in this course. This performance based ensemble will cover a wide variety of quality wind repertoire. We will perform at church worship services, the Classic 107 Band Festival and several public concerts. There is a music tour every second year.  Recorded assignments are expected each year. Home practice is expected. Students must comply to continue in the course.

Junior Jazz Band (Grade 7, 8 and 9)

Students in Grade 7, 8 and 9 with previous band experience are welcome to join this ensemble. We will explore the basic style, articulation, phrasing, and improvisation needed for the “Big Band” ensemble. All instruments are accepted. Rehearsals are during senior lunch, every second day. Home preparation is required.

Senior Jazz Band (Grade 10, 11 and 12)

This is an elite and demanding ensemble which includes trumpets, trombones, saxes and rhythm section, for students who are also members of the Senior Concert Band. Rehearsals take place outside of school hours two days each week. We will perform and hone the styles of: swing, latin, bebop, blues and the famous ballad. Students will learn to play at a high level, thus improving their style in all types of performance. Preparation at home is required. 

Strings Orchestra

6, 7, 8, 9 Beginner (0.5 cr. after gr. 9)

This class is open to students in any grade. Students will choose a string instrument (violin, viola, cello, bass) upon consultation with the teacher. Students will learn how to play their instrument, and work on performing together in a string orchestra. Orchestra members will be required to practice at home. There will be several performances during the year. Students will be required to rent their own instruments.

6, 7, 8, 15S, 25S, 35S, 45S Advanced (0.5 cr. see note)

Students in any grade who have string playing experience will audition for placement in the Advanced String Orchestra. Students playing in the Advanced String Orchestra should be performing at a minimum Grade 4 RCM level.

NOTE:  A 30S credit is granted after participation in Grade 11 and Grade 12.

Private Music Lessons

Band Instruments

Lessons from professional private teachers are available for all wind instruments including flute, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, trumpet, french horn, trombone, euphonium, tuba and percussion. These lessons, usually given once a week during the school day, allow the students to receive more individual instruction, which helps to boost confidence and improve the band performance.


The Royal Conservatory of Toronto and/or Western Board of Music books are used as a basis for the lessons. These books offer the basic groundwork necessary for good musicianship. Music exams are optional. Music theory, pertaining to the music being worked on, is discussed at every lesson. Other music styles are explored throughout the year — jazz, contemporary, Christmas carols. There will be at least two recitals during the year.

String Instruments

Lessons from professional private teachers are available for all string instruments including violin, viola, cello and bass. Lessons are usually given once a week, for 30 minutes during the school day.


These lessons include voice development and ear training. Each student learns a repertoire of songs. Lessons are half an hour in length once per week.