Music Curriculum & Information

Traverse City has a long tradition of excellence in public music education. TCAPS’ orchestra, band, choral and general music programs provide quality, rewarding musical experiences for all students in our community. In addition to a talented teaching staff, we are fortunate to have committed students, a very supportive community and a music booster organization that supports all levels of music in our schools.

The Music Department Philosophy

The arts, the universal expression of our common humanity, are essential to living a full life.  Music education provides unique experiences, which cultivate the learner’s emotional and intellectual well being, develop music literacy and bring about working toward a common goal.

The Music Department Belief Statements

We believe that…

  • the arts keep us human in an increasingly technological world.
  • all people are innately musical; therefore schools have an obligation to help each student develop his or her potential.
  • music is an expression of society, therefore it helps us understand and appreciate our own and other cultures.
  • music is a discipline with its own intrinsic value. By its very nature it is an embodiment of many other disciplines.
  • music education addresses all learning styles and develops higher order thinking skills.
  • a balanced music education program must include opportunities in general music, choral music, band and orchestra.

Music Curriculum / Courses

Michigan Curriculum Standards

TCAPS Scope and Sequence

Preschool through Grade 5

Focus in on developing the 7 strands:

  • Singing
  • Playing Instruments
  • Moving
  • Creating
  • Understanding and applying music literacy
  • Listening with appreciation
  • Relating music to history, culture and other disciplines

Middle School

Students participate in courses organized by grade. Focused studies build skills and appreciation for each child’s area of musical interest.

  • 6th Grade
    Creative Arts
    Beginning Band
    Beginning Choir
    Beginning Orchestra
  • 7th Grade
    Concert Band
    Treble Choir or Male Chorus
    Intermediate Orchestra
  • 8th Grade
    Symphony Band
    Treble Choir or Male Chorus
    Advance Orchestra
  • Additional Opportunities
    Jazz Band
    Madrigal or Chamber Singers
    Spectrum Strings

High School

Students participate in ability based ensembles. The skills that have been nurtured and developed at the middle school level are now propelled forward within a program that has a rich tradition of excellence. Students can reach their full potential both individually and in an ensemble member.

  • Band
    Concert Band
    Symphony Band
    Wind Ensemble
    Percussion Ensemble
    Jazz Band
    Pep Band
  • Choirs
    Varsity Women’s Choir
    Concert Choir
    Bel Cantos
    Westmen or Men of Note
    Vocal Majority or Bella Voce
  • Orchestras
    Concert Orchestra
    Symphony Orchestra
    Philharmonic Orchestra
    Select String Ensemble
  • Additional Opportunities
    Madrigal Dinner


Why We Learn Music

From A Student’s Point of View

Music is science.

It is exact and specific. It demands exact acoustics. A conductor’s full score is a chart, a graph that indicates frequencies, intensities, volume changes, melody, and harmony all at once and with precise control of time.

Music is mathematical.

It is rhythmically based on the subdivision of time into fractions, which must be done instantaneously, not worked out on paper, and often in multiple combinations simultaneously.

Music is a foreign language.

Most of the terms are in Italian, German, or French; and the notation is certainly not in English, but a highly developed kind of shorthand that uses symbols to represent ideas. The semantics of music is the most complete and universal language. It speaks to the soul.

Music is history.

It usually reflects the environment and times of its creation, and often even the country and/or racial feelings. It keeps a peoples’ culture alive. It reflects the styles of each historical period, even as do the visual arts.

Music develops insight and demands research.

Patterns are analyzed, similarities and differences identified, and style and period characteristics observed.

Music is technical.

It moves into new technologies as easily as we move into a new house adapting to new electronic possibilities.

Music is physical education.

It requires fantastic coordination of fingers, hands, arms, feet, lips, cheeks, and facial muscles in addition to extraordinary control of the diaphragmatic, back, stomach, and chest muscles, which respond instantly to the sound the ear hears, the symbols the eye sees, and the mind interprets.

Music is art.

It allows a human being to take all of these techniques to express emotion, build character, develop concentration, and establish self-esteem.

This is why we learn music.

Music will give us more love, more compassion, more gentleness…
In short more LIFE!

A young person’s perspective of Why We Learn Music,
adapted from Why We Teach Music by Kathryn B. Hull

Music Audience Etiquette

There is no substitute for the experience of a live performance. The interaction between the audience and performers – whether in music, dance or drama – can be very moving. In fact, the audience is basic to the live concert experience. A supportive audience can actually help a soloist or group exceed its usual level of performance. Likewise, an inconsiderate or uninvolved audience may significantly lower the quality of a performance by distracting the performers.

Basic etiquette for students and audience members to consider when attending a live performance:

  • When attending a concert whether in a concert hall, little theater, cafeteria or gymnasium, those attending the concert must mentally prepare for being still, quiet and listening to the live performance. In today’s culture, we very seldom have to sit and do just one thing at a time.
  • When moving into position on the risers or sitting in chairs, try to avoid climbing over others, be courteous. Be respectful of teachers or other adults who are trying to help the performers get into place by listening and not talking.
  • Performers should not have gum or candy in their mouth or in their pockets. You can’t perform with that in your mouth and chewing/eating while others are performing is distracting.
  • Performers should not have cell phones or other technical devices with them in the concert. All devices in the audience should be turned off so as to not disrupt the performance with unplanned sounds.
  • Everyone should save conversations and comments until there is an obvious break in the performance. Even whispers can be disruptive.
  • It is OK to be responsive in appropriate ways. Applause at the end of selections is always appreciated; whistles, shouts, and calling names of performers is not.
  • If there is a speaker or narrator involved in the performance, give that person your undivided attention. Speakers in live performances are usually there to make explanations that will help you understand or appreciate the performance.
  • Even if you are disappointed in a performance, be considerate of the performers and assume that others have a right to their own opinions. None of us have the right to spoil a performance for someone else by being distracting or unkind.
  • An emergency is the only reason to leave during a performance. Stay seated and quiet for the duration of the performance. Wait for dismissal instruction, and then leave in a quiet and orderly manner.

Elementary Audience Program Awareness

The seven strands of the TCAPS music curriculum are studied during the preparation for elementary music programs.

  • Singing
  • Playing instruments
  • Moving
  • Creating
  • Listening
  • Understanding and applying music literacy
  • Relating music to history, culture and other disciplines

For your listening pleasure, please keep your non-performing children with you during the entire performance and please refrain from talking, even between pieces.

  • Strand 6.5 states: Demonstrate appropriate concert audience behavior.
  • Strand 7.5 states: Begin to develop the cooperation and interdependence that are essential to a meaningful music experience.

The students are working diligently to complete transitions silently. The audience can help them by silently listening and watching the transitions. We urge you to watch your child(ren) throughout the program. This is what you should see:

  • Singing: eyes on the director, good posture
  • Playing: preparing instrument (before and after), keeping steady beat, keep “one eye” on the director
  • Moving: quickly and silently getting into position, knowing the steps, moving within the beat, good posture
  • SILENT TRANSITIONS: student knows where to go, which song comes next. If remaining on riser, wait patiently for the next cue from director

Traverse City Music Boosters

About Music Boosters

Traverse City Music Boosters, Inc. is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization formed more than 50 years ago to support TCAPS K-12 Music Education. “Membership” is open to all parents and community members who support music education in our public schools. The Traverse City Music Boosters supports all music education at TCAPS, from the youngest pre-kindergarten learners through the most advanced high school students. If you have a child in a TCAPS music program,you are a Music Booster!

Music Boosters Mission

Supporting all music students and teachers in Traverse City Area Public Schools today; visioning for the music education needs of tomorrow.

How You Can Help

Donate an instrument, make a monetary donation to the endowment fund or operating budget, attend a TC Music Booster meeting, purchase a flower for your favorite high school musical star or simply attend a TCAPS music concert and enjoy the talent! See details below about how to GET INVOLVED!

Donate to the Traverse City Music Boosters

All time and monetary donations to the Traverse City Music Boosters are gratefully appreciated. Music Boosters runs on a tight budget with many services and supplies donated by active members. There are several ways to donate:

  • Make a general donation to the Traverse City Music Boosters Operating Budget: Checks may be made payable to “TC Music Boosters” and mailed to TC Music Boosters, 412 Webster Street, Traverse City, MI 49686 (or dropped off in the TCAPS Music Office). Donations will help pay for student scholarships, costs associated with the Annual Benefit Concert in the spring and student award plaques.
  • Make a donation to our growing endowment fund held at the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation: Help grow this fund so that the annual disbursement is sufficient to fund ALL Music Booster scholarships. Checks should be made payable to “GTRCF – TC Music Boosters Endowment” and mailed to GTRCF, 250 E. Front Street, Ste. 310, Traverse City, MI 49684.
  • Donate an instrument to the TC Music Boosters for use by a TCAPS music student: Contact the TCAPS Music Office at 231.933.7570 for more information.
  • Support a TCAPS music ensemble by contributing to their individual fundraising efforts: The TC Central and TC West Band Parent Organizations each have a SCRIP fundraising program. Here’s how it works: you purchase a retail store gift card from the band at face value and the band earns a percentage of your purchase. Contact the West or Central High School band program or the TCAPS Music Office for more information.

Annual Boosters Events

  • Annual Used Instrument Sale
  • First Saturday after school starts in September. Held at West Middle School, 15% of all sales benefit the TC Music Boosters scholarship program and classroom mini-grants.
  • TC Music Boosters Annual Meeting
  • Late September. Learn what TC Music Boosters do and how you can help while enjoying light refreshments and a performance by a TCAPS music ensemble. TCAPS music staff, parents and students are encouraged to attend.
  • TC Central High School Fall Musical
  • Early November. The TC Music Boosters sell flower bouquets at all performances as a service and a fundraiser.
  • TC West High School Spring Musical
  • Early March. The TC Music Boosters sell flower bouquets at all performances as a service and a fundraiser.
  • Annual Benefit Concert
  • Late May. An annual music extravaganza featuring the best band, choir and orchestra ensembles from TC West Senior High School, TC Central High School, West Middle School and East Middle School. Donations accepted during the concert to benefit the work of the TC Music Boosters.

TC Music Boosters’ Scholarship Program

TC Music Boosters offers 18 – $350 student music scholarships annually. The scholarships are awarded to current TCAPS music students (grades 7-11) through an audition process in January/February and can be used for private lessons or summer music camps. Three of our scholarships are funded by Endowment Fund monies: The Reggie Box, The DeWitt, and The Morris Memorial Scholarships. Three others are privately funded each year: The Elsie Mannor Randall, the Jessica Rogers Memorial and the Hannenberg Moving and Storage Scholarships. The remaining twelve scholarships are funded from the Music Boosters Annual Operating budget. 

TC Music Boosters’ Classroom Mini-Grants

TC MB provides up to $3,000 in music classroom mini-grants (about $300 each) to TCAPS music teachers for music classroom enhancements. Grant application deadline is in the fall and all grants are awarded from the TC Music Boosters operating budget annually.

Music Booster Outstanding Student Contribution Awards

Each spring, 12 TCAPS music students in grades 7 – 12 are recognized for Outstanding Contributions to their music ensembles. Awardees are chosen by their peers and director. They each receive a plaque at their spring concert, and their names are added to their ensemble plaque.

Board Meeting Dates

TC Music Booster meetings are open to all who wish to attend. Please contact the TCAPS music office for more information: 231.933.7570 or