We explore education through doing, by offering courses that challenge students to apply the theory they learn in the classroom to the practice of art in performance.

Music Department

Studies in neurobiology have confirmed what musicians have long intuited; that music plays a special role in the development of the human brain and helps keep it running smoothly as we grow. The benefits of musical activity are especially valuable to teens, who spend much of their school day with logical reasoning skills, and who respond immediately to the stimulus that music brings to their developing social and emotional systems. Nothing is more vital to music than collaboration – it is virtually a “mode of being” to musicians, and many students are often at their best when led to productive partnerships. The opportunity to work closely with individual teachers in the Private Instruction Program is available for study in all instruments as well as voice. Lawrenceville's instrumental and vocal ensembles offer a vigorous co-curricular experience in performance for students at many levels.

Course offerings in Music are rich, ranging from explorations of the fundamental “language” of music, to its place in history and culture, and extending to hands-on experience in composition and production work as well as Chamber Music (which embraces classical, jazz, and pop). We embrace a broad view of “making” music, and our hope is that every student will find a place to “exercise” the musical brain, and spirit, during their time at Lawrenceville.

Theatre and Dance

The Theatre and Dance Department believes that the actual process and making art is our unique educational gift to the School. To that end, we explore education through doing, by offering courses that challenge students to apply the theory they learn in the classroom to the practice of art in performance. This requires them to find creative solutions to real-life problems, to develop sophisticated communicative skills in order to convey their ideas effectively, and to work among themselves in close collaboration.

Like the athletic and academic programs at Lawrenceville, we utilize a three-tiered approach to meet the needs and abilities of our students. If someone wishes to achieve at the most rigorous “varsity” or “advanced placement” level, we provide faculty-directed main stage performance venues as well as an Independent Project in Theatre course, which culminates in a major display of a student’s work in a fully-produced black box production. If someone wishes to pursue their interest in a less time-consuming, though still highly spirited environment, we provide advanced curricular courses, faculty-directed black box productions and student-initiated projects for the annual Periwig Theatre Festival.

We also offer a Mask Troupe Ensemble, an Improvisation Troupe and a Dance Cabaret, for those students who wish an artistic experience along the more relaxed lines of a “House” sport. The Foundations of Theatre course is the gateway to all subsequent curricular offerings. The class touches on all aspects of the Theatre, from improvisation to mask characterization, set and lighting design to direction, and playwriting to acting. If a student decides, after taking Foundations, that they wish to continue their study in any one of these specific areas, they will find an advanced course to meet their interest.

Explore Our Courses

  • PA010 - The Lawrentians

    See description for PA304. Terms: All. Forms: IV, V
  • PA201 - Foundations of Music

    This is a two-term course. "Without music, life would be a mistake..." Why do we enjoy music so much? Why is it found in every culture and time period? In addition to these questions, students will address the basic components of musicianship, emphasizing creating and performing music as well as recording and editing projects. One of the four weekly classes meets in a co-curricular rehearsal hour, during which time students engage in a "music lab," applying skills and making music as members of an ensemble, either with Community Orchestra or Collegium, a Jazz ensemble, or the ever-popular Community Singers (no audition required). Terms: T2 and T3; Forms: II
  • PA221 - Foundations of Theater

    This is a two-term course. If the famous phrase, "all the world's a stage and we are merely players," is true, then this class will be of great value. Why do people behave the way they do? How can we understand what's really going on in relationships? What IS "character" anyway? How can we use metaphor, symbol and physical expression to communicate feelings and ideas? This class will utilize the discipline of Theatre to exercise the "artistic brain" to develop skills, habits and dispositions which will enrich a students' life through creative exploration and performance. Terms: T2 and T3; Forms: II
  • PA301 - Foundations of Music

    For returning 3rd formers who have taken their first two arts credits in visual art or theatre, or first year 4th/5th form students. This one-term class is a distillation and acceleration of PA 201 and will complete your arts graduation requirement. See description for PA201. Terms: T1; Forms: III or IV Prereqs: PA221 or VA201
  • PA304 - The Lawrentians

    This year-long class explores advanced levels of the choral art form through the study and performance of sophisticated literature. The singers begin to develop mastery of fundamental skills-tuning, balance, breath, diction, dynamics and phrasing-of performance practice. This advanced 8-part chamber choir gives concerts several times throughout the academic year; consequently, students are carefully selected for the group based upon commitment, consistency and clarity of vocal tone, singing experience, and overall music skills. Terms: All; Forms: III Prereqs: Audition
  • PA310 - Explorations of Music

    For new 3rd formers only, this two-term class will fulfill their arts graduation requirement. See PA201 and PA330 for course description. Terms: T1 and T2; Forms: III
  • PA321 - Foundations of Theatre

    For returning 3rd formers who have taken their first two arts credits in visual art or music, this one-term class is a distillation and acceleration of PA221 and will complete your arts graduation requirement. See description for PA221. Terms: T3; Forms: III Prereqs: PA201 or VA201
  • PA322 - Acting & Directing

    This course builds primarily upon the acting component of the PA221 Foundations of Theater class. You will develop the essential skills required to direct or act in a fully realized short play for performance in the Black Box Theatre. Terms: T1 or T3; Forms: III Prereqs: PA221
  • PA324 - Explorations of Theatre

    For new 3rd formers only, this two-term class will fulfill their arts graduation requirement. See PA221and PA322 for course description. Terms: T1 and T2; Forms: III
  • PA325 - Stagecraft and Design

    This course builds upon the design component of Foundations of Theatre, and allows you to actively explore technical theatre and design.  Class projects develop skills in stagecraft, including scenery construction and painting, specialty make-up, costume construction, and stage lighting.  Students collaboratively learn visual communication skills while creating a conceptualized design in their chosen area of interest.  Terms: T1; Forms: III Prereqs: PA221
  • PA330 - Shapes and Styles of Music

    This class builds upon the musical practice explored and exercised in the PA201 and PA301 Foundations of Music classes. This course will advance basic musicianship through more detailed experience with compositional materials and practice as well as analysis of a broad spectrum of Western music from about 1750-1900. Terms: T1 or T2; Forms: III Prereqs: PA201
  • PA421 - Fundamentals of Theatre

    For first-year IV, V, and PG student, this course completes your arts requirement. Through a series of imaginative theatre games, scene study and set design projects, we exercise our "creative-artistic brain" to develop skills and habits which enrich our lives and support our work in academic classes. Terms: T3; Forms: IV, V and PG.
  • PA511 - Honors Music Theory: Basics of Structure

    This course is for those students wishing to understand the structure of music through rigorous study in the traditional format of music theory. You'll learn about intervals, scales, chords, simple forms, phrases (musical "sentences"), and the beginnings of functional harmony. Extensive ear training will be covered. Grants: Honors; Terms: T1; Forms: III, IV or V Prereqs: PA330, or Instructor Approval
  • PA512 - Honors Music Theory: Functional Harmony

    This course builds on the skills learned in PA501, Honors Music Theory I. This course will be devoted to the study of functional harmony. Triads, seventh chords, and harmonic progressions are the focus of this course. Students will study the harmonic structure of Bach, and will learn to create and compose their own harmonic progressions. Students are highly encouraged to take PA511 before taking this course. Grants: Honors; Terms: T2; Forms: III, IV or V Prereqs: PA330, or Instructor Approval
  • PA513 - Honors Music Theory: Form and Analysis

    This course focuses on the larger-form aspects of the structure of music. Students will study the forms of sonatas, symphonies, suites, and other large-scale compositions, both in an historical context as well as a theoretical one. Additionally, 20th century techniques such as serialism will be covered. Students are highly encouraged to take PA511 and PA512 before taking this course. Grants: Honors; Terms: T3; Forms: III, IV or V Prereqs: PA330, or Instructor Approval
  • PA515 - Jazz Improvisation

    This course is for instrumentalists who are interested in furthering their improvisation skills in the jazz idiom.  Topics included will be chord/scale relationships, common jazz forms (blues, Rhythm Changes, AABA), melody creation, jazz standards, Bebop styles, ii-V-I progression/patterns, modal playing, and others.  Students will get a chance to improvise daily.  Prerequisites:  completion of Foundational arts requirement, performance ability on a melodic instrument.  Drummers and vocalists are not eligible for this course at this time.
  • PA599 - Ind. Study: Music or Theatre

    Students with special interests they wish to explore outside the regular program of courses may apply to drop one course for one term and use the time for independent study. This may involve research or creative work; normally it will culminate in a paper, exhibit, or performance of some kind. Work in such projects is treated exactly like work in regular courses: a final grade is given; students must meet regularly (at least once a week) with their advisor; they must have tangible progress to report at each meeting. Grants: Honors; Terms: All; Forms: All Prereqs: Department Approval
  • IN533 – Hamilton, the Musical: History, Hop-Hop & Telling a Story

    This class will be a deep dive into a Broadway phenomenon. From an historian’s perspective, we will ask “What does the musical get right?”, “What does it get wrong?”, and “Does it matter?” “Does Lin-Manuel’s take on the Founding Fathers misrepresent the past or does it communicate a vision for our future?” We will study the source material that Lin-Manuel studied himself, not only the historical documents but also the hip-hop, rhythm & blues and musical comedy songs that influenced him. From the artists perspective we will ask, “What theatrical, musical and visual techniques did Lin-Manuel’s team use to communicate to their audience?” A collaborative final creative project will synthesize your disciplinary studies so students must be willing to do one or more of the following: rap, hip-hop dance, sing, act, write original music and/or lyrics, write original scenes, create a visual art piece (poster, program, costumes, set design), reimagine and perform actual selections from the show.
    Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1PA Cr.; Terms: T2 or T3: Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: taking or completed 400/500 level American History and Completion of arts requirement
  • IN535 - Mythological Theatre: Gods, Heroes, and Monsters

    Every civilization has its myths; great stories of gods and mankind that have been passed down, enduring over time. Through theatre we can pass on these myths, capturing their purpose and significance in the present. In this interdisciplinary course we take a critical look at mythology, identifying what roles myths hold in different cultures, past and present, and their social importance. We will ask "What is myth?", "What purposes do myths serve?”, and “How does performance help us to see or know these stories anew?" We will study Greek, Norse, Eastern, and Western mythology, identifying important cultural markers, patterns, roles and conflicts, and create our own stories from these findings. Students will collaborate on a new theatrical work, weaving classical myths with these modern interpretations, presented through live performance. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary 1IN/1PA Cr.; Terms: T3: Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Completion of arts requirement or Departmental Approval
  • IN536 - The Exploration of the Universe through Theatre

    Life of Galileo explores the complex relationships among faith, reason, and the social responsibility of the scientist. This play becomes a catalyst for our examination of the real-world conflicts between the intellectual and authority, science and politics, the Church and the State, all of which both Galileo and the playwright, Bertolt Brecht, struggled with through their lives. In addition to investigating the scientific and historical context of Galileo’s paradigm-shifting discoveries, we will explore Brecht’s concepts of Theatre of Alienation and its impact on the development of modern theatre. Our exploration will include a field-trip to NYC to view a performance in the style known as Brechtian Theatre. The culmination of our experience will be research projects based on performance studies and written analysis of a chosen “radical thinker”. Grants: Honors; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Completion of arts requirement or Department Approval.
  • IN537 - The Culture Industry in the US: Media, Marketing, and Music

    This course traces the evolution of music as cultural product in the U.S., focusing on its relationships with important historical and social movements. We explore what is meant by the term "popular" in relation to emerging musical styles, and how those practices have been important for the rise of a uniquely American entertainment industry. We will also look at how popular music has been used as a marker for identity (including class, race, and gender) throughout our history.  Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary; 1IN/1PA Cr.; Terms: T1 or T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: Completion of arts requirement

Our Faculty

  • Photo of Keith Roeckle

    Keith Roeckle

    Chair of Performing Arts
    Drexel University - M.S.Ed.
    Temple University - B.Mus.
  • Photo of Colette Burns

    Colette Burns

    Office Manager/Private Music Lesson Coordinator, Director of Lawrenceville Performing Arts Camp
  • Photo of Matthew Campbell

    Matthew Campbell

    Performing Arts Master
    Westminster Choir College of Rider University - B.A.
  • Photo of Christopher Clark

    Christopher Clark

    Private Lesson Instructor, Double Bass, Bass Guitar
  • Photo of Joan Cordas

    Joan Cordas

    Private Lesson Instructor, Violin, Viola
  • Photo of Louis Cordas

    Louis Cordas

  • Photo of Christopher Cull P'20

    Christopher Cull P'20

    Director of Theatre
    Bethany College - B.A.
  • Photo of James Cuthrell

    James Cuthrell

    Technical Director of the Kirby Arts Center; Drama Master
    Radford University - B.A.
    University of North Carolina at Greensboro - M.F.A.
  • Photo of Kristin Devine

    Kristin Devine

    Dance Instructor
  • Photo of Sherrill Ducharme P'20

    Sherrill Ducharme P'20

    Private Lesson Instructor, Voice
  • Photo of Sandrine Erdely-Sayo

    Sandrine Erdely-Sayo

    Private Lesson Instructor, Piano
  • Photo of Patrick Fink

    Patrick Fink

    Private Lesson Instructor, Piano, Jazz Piano
  • Photo of Susan Gaylord

    Susan Gaylord

  • Photo of Thomas Goeman

    Thomas Goeman

    Music Accompanist; School Organist
  • Photo of Kevin  Jones

    Kevin Jones

    Dance Instructor
  • Photo of Larissa Korkina

    Larissa Korkina

    Private Lesson Instructor, Piano
  • Photo of Mikyung Lee

    Mikyung Lee

    Private Lesson Instructor, Cello
  • Photo of Ruotao Mao

    Ruotao Mao

    Private Lesson Instructor, Violin, Viola
  • Photo of Katherine McClure

    Katherine McClure

    Private Lesson Instructor, Flute
  • Photo of Erika Mero

    Erika Mero

    Dance Instructor
  • Photo of Robert Palmer

    Robert Palmer

    Director of Music
    Birmingham-Southern College - B.A.
    Westminster Choir College - M.M
  • Photo of Roger Prieto

    Roger Prieto

    Director of Jazz; Private Lesson Instructor, Trumpet
  • Photo of Charles Schneider

    Charles Schneider

    Private Lesson Instructor, Voice
  • Photo of Noriko Schneiderman

    Noriko Schneiderman

    Private Lesson Instructor, Piano
  • Photo of Christopher  Sierra

    Christopher Sierra

    Music Instructor
  • Photo of Mark Snyder

    Mark Snyder

    Private Lesson Instructor, Oboe, English Horn
  • Photo of Leah Swanger

    Leah Swanger

    Private Lesson Instructor, French Horn
  • Photo of Jonathan Thompson

    Jonathan Thompson

    Private Lesson Instructor, Saxophone, Guitar
  • Photo of Joseph Veltri

    Joseph Veltri

    Private Lesson Instructor, Percussion
  • Photo of Derrick Wilder

    Derrick Wilder

    Director of Dance
    Columbia University - B.A.
Through House and Harkness, Lawrenceville challenges a diverse community of promising young people to lead lives of learning, integrity, and high purpose.  Our mission is to inspire the best in each to seek the best for all.