At Nightingale, there are lots of wonderful opportunities for our students: extracurriculars like Gospel Girls and the Women’s Rights Club; special events like Artsfest and C.A.F.E. Cultural Night; trips to places like London and Costa Rica; summer options that can be explored through internships and the science research program. Sometimes, with all of these high-profile pieces incorporated into the world within the blue doors, it is easy to overlook Nightingale's outstanding nuts-and-bolts curriculum, which, in and of itself, offers boundless opportunities for enrichment.
One example of the core Nightingale offers is the ever-evolving music program, now under the leadership of department head Ms. Abby Balafas. After a rigorous K–III Lower School curriculum that lays down the basics of musical theory and performance, Class IV students begin the study of a string instrument in addition to their general music class. Fourth-graders choose to take lessons from an assortment of strings, including the violin, viola, and cello. Although the majority of students opt to continue their string lessons for the next three years, there are others who choose to join the Orff ensemble, consisting of xylophones of varying size and tone. As girls come to the end of their Middle School experience, they again have a choice: they can continue with the instruments they have already taken up, or begin guitar lessons, join the African drumming circle, or sing with Class VIII's a capella group. The drumming circle is a relatively new addition, and recently shared their rhythm with Nightingale’s Upper East Side neighbors last spring when they moved their circle to Central Park to raise money for VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, as well as when they played for the seniors at the Terrence Cardinal Cooke Center.
Moving into the Upper School, the musical options only grow greater and provide more opportunity for advanced study. Advanced classes and instrumental ensembles give students the opportunity to become experts in their particular instrument (including voice); for example, guitar students have taken specific courses in the Latin style of playing, and vocalists and instrumentalists alike have benefited from personalized music theory tutorials. In addition, Upper School choral and instrumental ensembles see numerous opportunities to share their talents and hard work with others in the community, whether at school concerts; daytime assemblies; special events like C.A.F.E. Cultural Night or the recent choral performance at Alice Tully Hall; and seasonal celebrations like the instrumental holiday concert, which takes place in the Nightingale lobby during one early morning drop-off period in December.
The best part for you as parents is the opportunity to watch your daughter grow as she becomes a full-fledged musician over the course of her years inside the blue doors. Whether she is auditioning for a spot in Nightingale’s Chamber Chorus or embarking on guitar lessons for the first time as an eighth-grader, ask her for a performance—her evolution as a musician is happening before your eyes, and is just one part of the Nightingale experience.