Hockaday’s program in the performing arts is wide-ranging and varied including choir, dance, orchestra, theater, and technical theater. Students have exceptional opportunities to hone their performance skills on campus and on the larger stages beyond the School.
Starting in PreK, students are introduced to the basic elements of music through singing, rhythms, ear training, movement in dance, and the use of instruments. The First through Fourth Grade music curriculum encompasses music history, theory, Orff techniques, and study of the symphony orchestra. Each student is challenged through the curriculum to develop skills on her own level. There are various times during the year for students to perform at school, learn from guest musicians, and attend musical productions in the Dallas area. The First, Second, and Third Grade students present an inter-disciplinary musical production at each grade level, while the Fourth Grade students present a musical production based on a classic literary work. In addition, Second Grade students are introduced to stringed instruments (violin, viola, cello, or string bass). There is an optional Lower School orchestra for students who take private lessons, as well as a Third and Fourth Grade chorus.
The tradition of the Hockaday musical goes back to 1954 when Hockaday became the first school in the Southwest to do a full-book musical – the tradition of the Eighth Grade musical followed soon after. The Hockaday Theater Company is a class taught during the school day that allows students significant acting and technical theater experience, and in this class, they stage two plays a year. In addition, there is an Upper School musical every February that is open to all Upper School students. Throughout the many theater productions during the year, students take an important collaborative role in set design, props, costumes, lighting, and stage management.
In Fifth Grade, all students take a dance course, and in Upper School, students audition for a place in the five dance companies. A distinguishing aspect of Hockaday’s dance program is the opportunity for students to do choreography. A special endowment brings guest artists and choreographers to campus each year. Past guest artists include Lauren Adams Clement ’05, Zac Hammer, Kevin Jenkins, Alex Karigan Farrior ’03, Jennifer Mabus, Alex Nowlin ’10 and Jamal Story amongst many others.
The Hockaday choral program begins as students learn the basics of singing in their general music classes in Lower School, but continues with elective choirs in Middle School. The Fifth and Sixth students sing in the Cantate Choir and the Seventh and Eighth students sing in the Bel Canto Choir, both giving two concerts a year as well as their school performances. In Upper School, singers join the Concert Choir and, in addition to their winter and spring concerts, also have opportunities for numerous community service outreach performances and side-by-side concerts with professional-level choral ensembles in the area. All choristers are encouraged and prepared to audition for TPSMEA All-State, and have enjoyed participating in the festival in large numbers each year. Other choral opportunities include student-run clubs such as the Gospel Choir and Hockappella. Hockaday halls are frequently filled with the sounds of singing, and performing groups have an impressive series of performances throughout the year.
Hockaday’s youngest orchestra is found in Lower School comprised of students in First through Fourth Grades. In Middle School, we have three orchestras (based on experience and ability) that combine for their major concerts. In Middle School, students are eligible for TPSMEA Honor Orchestra. The Hockaday Upper School offers two orchestra classes, the Concert and Chamber orchestra classes, which both focus on developing musicianship and instrumental skill. The Hockaday Chamber Orchestra partners with the Institute for Social Impact focusing not only on advanced repertoire, but the many positive roles music plays in our community. Additionally, as part of the curriculum in both classes, students are placed into small ensembles which perform throughout the school year at varying locations and events. All instruments are accepted into the orchestra. Students in the Upper School Orchestra program are eligible to participate in both TMEA and TPSMEA activities.