Students in Menlo's Instrumental Music program perform at the Spieker Center for the Arts.

Upper School Creative Arts

Instrumental Music - Jazz, Orchestra, and Electronic

Bringing people together through music-making.

A community of musicians—who are also thinkers, artists, and athletes—the Menlo School instrumental music program welcomes intermediate and advanced musicians interested in creating music with their peers.

Menlo’s Upper School Instrumental program includes Chamber Orchestra and Jazz Band. The repertoire is chosen to celebrate and develop the unique musical identities of each student in the ensemble.

Upper School students in Menlo's Jazz Band peform.

Upper School Instrumental Music Faculty

Leo Kitajima Geefay

Instrumental Music Teacher and Department Chair


Upper School Instrumental Music Course Offerings

Grade: 101112

Advanced Topics in Music Theories (H)

This is a year-long course.

This class will develop your musicianship skills through a creative and comprehensive study of music making. Using the musical norms established by western tonal music as a common point of reference, we will explore musical styles from a wide range of countries, cultures, and eras to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the power of music. Expand your understanding of how musicians have uniquely organized sound and silence using a wide variety of theories. Students will deepen their understanding of each theoretical concept through creative assignments, arrangements, and compositions. This class will challenge and change the way you listen to, think about, and perform music. If you are interested in the AP Music Theory exam (which only covers western tonal music theory), some of the curriculum will be applicable, but you will need to supplement extra practice for certain skills specific to the exam.

Prerequisite: Experience with vocal and/or instrumental music highly recommended. 

Grade: 9101112

Chamber Orchestra

This is a year-long course.

This ensemble welcomes all melodic instrumentalists who are interested in a creative and collaborative process of making music. The repertoire is based on student interest and the rehearsal process goes beyond developing ensemble skills and integrates discussions of historical context, harmony, and form. This ensemble will change the way you approach music and challenge the convention of genres performed by orchestras. The orchestra performs several concerts throughout the year and past performances have included music by Tchaikovsky, Astor Piazzolla, Joe Hisaishi, Hozier, and Billie Eilish. Chamber Orchestra may be repeated for additional credit.

Prerequisites: Fluency on a melodic instrument and reading standard Western music notation

Grade: 9

How Music Works: Exploring and Expanding Your Musical Taste (FAX)


This class is for all music-lovers who want to deepen their understanding of how music works. We will use your musical preference as a starting point and dive into the magic and technique of how musicians engage our hearts and imagination. To explore the power of organizing and manipulating sounds, there will be many hands-on projects using digital audio workstations. Learn how beats, chords, and melodies work together to create moods, messages, and stories that resonate with you. You will also have opportunities to collaborate with your classmates to create music that you could not have produced alone. No previous musical training necessary, but if you have some musical experience, this class will take your musicianship skills to the next level. Not only will you improve your music making skills, but the experiences in this class will also deepen your capacity to listen to others

Grade: 9101112

Jazz Band

This is a year-long course.

Jazz Band is open to all instrumentalists interested in elevating their musicianship through developing their performing and improvising skills through jazz and other jazz-related genres. In addition to learning standard tunes, students will learn to create their own arrangements and original compositions for the band. The Jazz Band will perform at casual and formal events throughout the year. Past performances have included music by Art Blakey, Wayne Shorter, Stevie Wonder, Esperanza Spalding, and Vulfpeck. Jazz Band may be repeated for additional credit.

Prerequisites: Fluency on a melodic or percussive instrument

Grade: 101112

Push Play: Electronic Music (1S and/or 2S)

This class can be taken as in either SPRING or FALL as a semester-long course or taken both semesters as a year-long course.

Learn to work with the tools and techniques of electronic music-making. No previous experience or knowledge is necessary, but if you do, this class can take your skills to the next level. Learn to shape sounds with hardware and software that have historical and cultural significance since the 1960s to present day. All genre preferences are welcome and we will use your playlists as musical inspiration. Deepen your listening skills by recreating familiar beats and create new songs from scratch. Limited to 10 students.

Music Program Video Highlights

Highlights from the 2022 Spring Vocal and Instrumental Music Concert

Content from previous site pages, can be copied into new design as needed


Leo Kitajima Geefay

Instrumental music teacher Leo Kitajima Geefay is an active musician and educator with an eclectic background in violin pedagogy, improvisation, composition, and arranging. He earned his Master of Music Education degree at Northwestern University and is interested in creating lessons that intentionally connect different disciplines. Leo has co-founded a music education think-tank, WE ARE LIKE MUSIC, to promote creative musical projects for young musicians. He has also taught at the Colburn School of Performing Arts, Pasadena Conservatory of Music, and is a masterclass teacher for many music workshops around the country.

Video: Sketches for 5 musicians

Video: Menlo Orchestra leads the Upper School in live karaoke

Video: Menlo Jazz performance at the annual holiday assembly