Senior School Departments

Senior School Departments

Senior School Departments

At the Senior School level, the breadth of course offerings is considerable. For information on the different departments and the courses, make a selection from the list below. For a complete guide to course requirements and detailed descriptions, see the Course Handbook, also below.

Music is part of our daily life at SMUS. Passion, creativity, skill and precision all come into play through our ongoing engagement with music. Student musicians perform at concerts, create original music for service fundraisers and play for peers during lunchtime concerts. Our courses cover technique, history and theory.

Most students who join SMUS in Grade 9 or 10 usually have between two and four years of musical experience. All Grade 9 students are required to take Band, Strings or Choir. At the Grade 11 and 12 level, some courses require auditions and acceptance is based on the discretion of the music director. For students who want extra training, SMUS can organize personal lessons with accredited professionals.

Our band program prepares students for performance-oriented ensembles and allows them to:

  • understand and appreciate the value of teamwork;
  • develop individual skills on their instrument of choice;
  • express themselves through improvisation; and
  • compose music.

Group Options

  • Concert bands
  • Swing Band
  • Brass Ensemble
  • Jazz Ensemble
  • Orchestra
  • Orchestra for the Musical Production


Title Grade
Concert Band 9 9
Concert Band 10 10
Concert Band 11 11
Concert Band 12 12
Jazz Band 9, 10, 11, 12

Strings students play a range of music, from classical to contemporary. Musicians form a complete classical string ensemble and combine to create the school orchestra (violin, viola, cello and bass).

Our strings program prepares students for performance-oriented ensembles and allows them to:

  • understand and appreciate the value of teamwork;
  • develop individual skills on their instrument of choice; and
  • study professional repertoire.

To enter the strings program, students need to have some previous training and new students joining SMUS enter the strings program at the discretion of the musical director.

Group Options

  • Jazz Ensemble
  • String Orchestra
  • Full Orchestra
  • Orchestra for the Musical Production


Title Grade
Strings 9 9
Strings 10 10
Strings 11 11
Strings 12 12

Our program instils an appreciation and command of choral music as well as improving vocal skill. The program develops each student’s innate musical ability and exposes them to professional standards through performance in concerts and musical productions.

Students learn the basic techniques of choral training, including:

  • technical competency
  • diction
  • style
  • arrangements
  • sight reading
  • ear training

Group Options

  • Concert choirs
  • Vocal Jazz Ensemble
  • Orchestra for the Musical Production
  • Various small ensembles


Title Grade
Concert Choir 9 9
Concert Choir 10 10
Concert Choir 11 11
Concert Choir 12 12

Schaffter Hall, our music building, boasts individual practice rooms and classrooms where students can study and practise.

  • Three large ensemble classrooms (Band, Strings, Choral)
  • Four practice rooms
  • Two student lounges
  • Ample instrument storage space
  • Two rock band practice areas


  • Grand pianos
  • Upright pianos,
  • Drum sets
  • Upright basses
  • Electric guitars
  • Electric bass
  • Roland Juno synthesizer
  • Guitar and bass amplifiers
  • Electric stand-up bass
  • Acoustic guitars with pickups,
  • Percussion (vibraphone, marimba, timpani)
  • Many other band and strings instruments

Day students are to provide their own instruments, which may be rented or purchased from one of the local music stores. Rent-to-purchase plans are available through these stores. The Senior School owns several instruments that can be leased to students while attending the school. Boarders will be provided instruments rented to them by the school.

Student-Run Groups

When musicians assemble, music happens. Our students can create their own rock bands, jazz trios, string quartets – whatever interests them. These independent groups use school music facilities and our teachers support them, often finding them performance opportunities.

Annual Musical Production

Every student can take part in our annual musical production, but singers and musicians have a special role. Lead and supporting roles require strong vocalists. Some of our band and strings players are selected to play in the pit orchestra, which performs the complete musical score.

Music Events

Our Arts Council produces open music events every year. Keep the Beat, a fundraiser for War Child Canada, offers students a chance to perform at school or record original music for an annual album. Musicians and singers can also play for other students at lunchtime acoustic concerts.

International Opportunities

For musically-inclined students, SMUS often offers a trip to a music hot spot. Previous trips have been to Cuba, Europe and the United States. Students perform at concert halls and attend musical events during these trips. The tour includes cultural and historical context for music.

BCMEA Honour Ensembles

More advanced players can audition for the BCMEA Honour orchestra, concert band, concert choir, jazz band, or vocal jazz ensemble. Students from all over BC partake in this intensive four-day workshop and perform at the BC Music Educator's Conference with a professional conductor.

Education Extension

Over summer and school breaks, the Education Extension Office offers day and residential programs for students who sing or play an instrument. From opera to junior jazz band, students have an opportunity further develop their talents or discover new ones. 

Senior School Course Handbook 2019-20

Senior School Course Handbook cover

Senior School Course Handbook 2019-20

Published: March, 2019

A guide to Senior School courses with descriptions to help our students plan an optimal school year.

1.28 MB