Skip To Main Content


From heightened creativity to improved confidence, music education has benefits for all students — starting with memorizing simple songs in their Preschool years, to exploring Orff percussion instruments in the Lower School, performing with classmates in the Middle School chorus and band, and rocking Kenan Auditorium with our Upper School music ensembles.  

In The Pocket, Durham Academy Upper School's auditioned jazz-rock ensemble, delights audiences at evening shows throughout the school year. ITP also performs at assemblies for younger students, inspiring legions of young fans to dream of their own chance on stage. 

Learn More About In The Pocket

Preschool Music

Preschoolers sing at Fall Songfest.

The Preschool music program integrates song, speech, instruments and movement. Children’s natural affinity for singing and rhythmic action is nurtured through songs and musical games; dances and interpretive movement; ear training (from tone matching to a sense of choral blend); rhythm studies; instrument playing (both barred and unpitched percussion); samples from classical literature; and visits from accomplished musicians.

Preschoolers present three programs during the course of the year: Fall Songfest, Grandparents and Special Friends Day, and Closing Exercises. Special performances provide opportunities for children to work together as a Preschool; to learn stage presence and voice projection; to build poise and confidence; and to share their musical accomplishments with an appreciative audience. 

Whether rehearsing songs for a program, playing scales, steps and skips on the staff or dancing to a folk tune, the twice-weekly music classes have one overriding goal: to be fun and to generate within children a genuine, enthusiastic and lasting love of music. 

Lower School Music

The Lower School's philosophy for music education is rooted in the Orff Schulwerk creative process of exploring music through poems, rhymes, games, songs and dances to actively learn elements of music. Students create their own rhythms, dramatizations, lyrics/words, instrumentals and melodies. Students learn music theory and technique, sing, play instruments and regularly perform at assemblies.

Orff instruction focuses on percussive rhythm, with students learning to play instruments like xylophones, glockenspiels and drums. Children also sing, clap, dance, chant and snap their fingers as part of class instruction and performances.

Lower Schoolers participate in music class twice within each eight-day rotation. 

In addition to the music class offered during the school day, some students choose to take a deeper dive into music through private lessons or group classes offered through the After-School Enrichments program. In recent years, offerings for Lower Schoolers have included Jam Band, Chorus and Music Games.

A Lower Schooler performs at the first and second grade music performance.

Middle School Music


Chorus and Band are two of the six trimester-long courses that all fifth- and sixth-graders participate in as part of the Explorations component of the Middle School curriculum.

In the Band Exploration course, each student learns the basics of playing an assigned wind instrument. The curriculum includes elements of instrument technique and care, rehearsal and performance etiquette, music literacy and ensemble performance.

In the Chorus Exploration course, the main focus is helping students to find comfort with their singing voices and introducing concepts to start them on the path to reading music for singing. Students learn to use their voices effectively in an ensemble and perform at a trimester-end concert.


Through the Electives component of the Middle School curriculum, seventh- and eighth-graders may choose to take deeper dives into music through yearlong courses. 

Upper School Music


The Upper School music program includes courses in vocal and instrumental music.

Extracurricular Offerings

In addition to our curricular offerings, students can participate in extracurricular opportunities to make music. Participants typically rehearse once a week during the lunch period or after school.