Riverdale High School offers a comprehensive music program. The band has seen remarkable growth over the past 5-6 years, increasing membership from less than 20 to over 80 this past year. There are numerous opportunities to perform in ensembles beyond the standard marching band and concert band. A student in the Riverdale band program will learn essential musical skills during their years in the program. Even more importantly they will be a part of a strong community where they will become a better person, and make lifelong friends.
There is also a strong and growing talented music program that many of our students are a part of. These students get supplemental music education weekly that challenges and pushes them, and have the opportunity to rehearse and perform with other talented music students from accros the parish.
We also offer IB music as part of RHS' IB program. This is a two year course where students will learn college-level music history, theory, performance as well as composition and arranging.
Our ensembles include:
- Marching Band
The Riverdale High School Marching Band is our primary ensemble during the Summer and Fall, as well as during parade season. We perform at all the football games for pregame, in the stands during the game, and on the field during halftime. Our major event in the Fall is the District VI Marching Assessment, where our scores have consistently increased over the past four years (which was the first time the RHS band had a full field show in over a decade). The marching band performs at pep rallies and other events throughout the year as well, and we are planning on expanding the pep band to play at more games beyond football season. The Marching Band is also active during Mardi Gras parades season, marching in parades in Jefferson and Orleans Parish. The Band has placed in the top 3 in the Rhythm on the Route Contest in the Metairie parades.
- Concert Bands
In the Spring, students will perform in one of two concert ensembles - concert band and symphonic band. Both of these bands prepare for our two major Spring Assessments - District VI Festival at Chalmette High, and the JP Superintendent's Festival. They have both had the opportunity to work with guest conductors from universities and we are always looking to expand festival performance opportunities. The Symphonic Band also performs at the Loyola Band Festival annually, where students have the opportunity to perform for, and receive a clinic from a guest composer of one of the pieces we worked on.
- Jazz Band
The Riverdale High School Jazz Band is an extracurricular ensemble that has grown tremendously over the past 2-3 years. From having little to no jazz band 3-4 years ago (although I believe they had a succesful stage band in the 80s when Charlie Hernandez was director), we have had a full big band (17-20 people) the past two years. Most students will be enrolled in a PDR (study hall at RHS) that meets ~40 minutes daily, and we rehearse once a week after school. The jazz band has had opportunities to perform at events such as the Loyola Jazz Festival and Bunny Fest in Lafreniere Park, and will hopefully have even more performance opportunities as the program continues to grow. Students in the jazz band have also enjoyed masterclasses with numerous professional musicians from New Orleans, and we have a regular staff of professional musicians to help instruct throughout the year as well.
- Brass Band
The "R Project" is Riverdale High School's Brass Band, which is another ensemble that has seen tremendous growth thanks to Talented Music Teacher Desmond Venable. Students in the Brass Brand learn the repoirtoire and style of the New Orleans brass band tradition, and have a number of performance opportunities. Over the past two years the Brass Band has performed at:
- WWOZ's School Groove
- French Quarter Fest
- Luna Fete at the Jazz Musuem
- Class got Brass - Brass Band competition hosted by Jazz and Heritage Foundation
- and many others
- Small Ensembles
There are often opportunites throughout the year for students to perform in small ensembles - such as brass or woodwind quintets, which have performed at the Winter Concert and other events in the past. These small ensembles give students the opportunity to work together musically with a smaller group of people, and require more leadership and nuance from each student. We hope to have more students participate in Solo & Ensemble Festivals this year as well.
- Honor Bands
We have had many students be selected for District VI Honor Bands, Jazz Bands and All-State ensemble over the past years. These are incredible opportunities for students to perform with other excelling students from across the district (or state), work with stellar guest conductors, and get recruited by college band programs from across the region.