TPHS music program boosted by two new classes

The TPHS music department is set to introduce two new classes for the 2024- 2025 school year: Musical Instrument Digital Interface (Recording Arts) and Instrumental Music.

The two classes — which “all the other high schools [currently] have and have had for years,” according to Amy Gelb, the music department director — will allow students with no prior musical experience to learn.

Both courses are open to students of all grades, but due to its last-minute inclusion in the course selection, only freshmen were able to select the classes. Students in other grades could submit a course change request to opt into the classes.

Instrumental Music focuses on allowing students to learn music at their own pace. At the beginning of each class, students will be able to decide which instrument they want to use for that day, according to Gelb.

“[Instrumental Music] is not a performance-oriented class like the other ones, but hopefully students will come in and learn and be motivated to … join one of our ensembles,” Gelb said.

MIDI is designed to teach aspiring musicians how to produce music using “current industry music technology tools,” including software and interfaces like Digital Audio Workstations, according to the course profile.

Currently, Gelb teaches both classes at San Dieguito Academy. One of Gelb’s MIDI students at SDA, junior Kayla Osborn, said that she would “definitely recommend the class for beginners or even intermediate levels.”

“MIDI is definitely an essential class for students who are interested in music because it really goes beyond just teaching ‘how-tos’ and music theory,” Osborn said. “We recently had a project where we were required to use a minimum of eight instruments. This really pushed me outside of my comfort zone, but when I was finished I was really proud of what I’d composed.”

With the addition of the two courses, Gelb is expected to leave her position at SDA and return to TPHS full-time. Reinstating Gelb’s position at TPHS was one of “the primary factors” in adding the new classes — in the hopes that with a teacher available to instruct them, they would promote more interest in a “robust music program here at Torrey Pines,” according to TPHS Principal Rob Coppo.

“Especially with the Instrumental Music class, the hope is that if a student is interested in music — maybe they played a little when they were young — now they have a place to land to get them into the music department,” Coppo said.

In an effort to add the two classes Gelb conferenced with Coppo, sharing similar insight.

“This is the first time in 20 years that I haven’t been full time [at TPHS],” Gelb said. “I haven’t been able to do as many extracurricular things with the students, so I went to him and asked how can we fix this to get my five classes at Torrey? That’s when we discussed these two new classes.”

Although the official status of the classes will not be clear until the start of the fall semester, some students have already shown interest.

One such student is Taya Meluk (11), who is in the process of looking deeper into MIDI for her senior year.

“I think a lot of people … want to try playing instruments of our choice, not necessarily in Orchestra, but in music production and recording arts,” Meluk said. “I think it’s going to be really cool and a good support to students who are interested or want to try something like that.”

Although she has not signed up for either of the classes next year, Raisa Tuerxun (11), a member of Jazz Band, also sees promise in the classes.

“Having new introductory classes will definitely help students be able to harness their skills with their instruments, which then means they’ll be able to branch out to other opportunities like those in Band, Jazz Band and Orchestra,” Tuerxun said.

Photo by Anna Opalsky/Falconer

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