Making a Difference with Music

From the soaring space of the Cathedral to the auditorium of Gresham Hall, you cannot enter Cathedral School for Boys without being aware of the vitality of the music program. In every grade music plays an important role in the lives of the boys.

Teaching Music
Lower School boys enjoy weekly small group classes in the music room. Singing is taught through the renowned Kodàly method. Kodàly believed that music is necessary for healthy human development and his system enables each student to master the rudiments of music notation in a fun way. In addition to learning to sing, the boys learn percussion, guitar, recorder and hand bells as they progress through the school. 

In the Upper School classrooms, music and drama enrich learning in every class from Mandarin to math. Throughout the grades, music classes expose the boys, hands-on, to a wide range of instruments and musical styles. The joy of making music and appreciating it is a lifelong gift.

Building Community
Music at Cathedral School is also about community. Beginning in the fourth grade and continuing through eighth, boys can choose to learn either a woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument and participate in the school band along with faculty. Instrumental instruction is offered free of charge by jazz musician and teacher Bonnie Fraenza. A string ensemble period once a week during the school year enables current string players to meet and rehearse. Jazz electives in the Upper School are an opportunity for piano, guitar, woodwind, and bass players to participate in jazz combos. On Friday mornings, parents and friends are welcome to attend Hymn Sing in the Cathedral. The boys help choose the hymns, singing along enthusiastically when their favorites get picked.

Singing in the Choir
In second grade, boys may audition for the Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys. The school was originally founded in part to train boys for the choir. This is an enriching musical experience for those who are selected and decide to join. As well as a musical training, it gives the boys the chance to work daily with boys older and younger than themselves for a communal goal. Once trained, each chorister receives an annual scholarship towards his tuition.

The choir sings Sunday morning and Thursday evensong services during term time and these services are broadcast to thousands of listeners over the Internet. The choir ends the year with the famous Grace Cathedral Christmas concerts. They also sing the national anthem at a Giants’ Game each season. The week before school starts, choristers have fun regrouping at their summer camp in Sonoma. The Choir of Men and Boys tours domestically and internationally and has sung at Notre Dame, Chartres Cathedral, and in Westminster Abbey.

Encouraging Minds, Hearts, Hands, and Voices
Much research has been done on the advantages of learning music to enhance brain development, especially in the areas of math and languages. CSB’s strong musical tradition is reflected in the motto of the school: Hearts, Hands, Minds and Voices.

Music has also been shown to build confidence and enhance social intelligence. It offers the boys a way to express themselves that is an international language and is about building community too. Hearing the magical strains of a visiting harp player or the majestic organ in the Cathedral, singing rousing hymns once a week, playing the hand bells at Lessons and Carols on the last day of the winter term, being part of a jazz quintet with your teachers and boys from other grades, playing guitar while you march around the plaza with your classmates--all this and more makes up the unique experience offered by the Cathedral School for Boys' music program.

Cathedral School for Boys

1275 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94108 Main phone 415.771.6600 Fax 415.771.2547
Located in San Francisco, CA, Cathedral School for Boys is an independent elementary school for boys in grades K-8. Our mission is to provide an excellent education through intellectual inquiry and rigor that is centered in the Episcopal tradition and is respectful of and welcoming to people of all religious traditions and beliefs.