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: 9101112

AP Music Theory

This is a year-long course.

This class will develop your musicianship skills through a creative and comprehensive study of tonal music. Throughout the year we will listen to various musical styles from a wide range of countries, cultures, and eras to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the architecture of music. You will be able to recognize common chord progressions by ear, understand how melodies are created, embody complex rhythms, read and write music notation more fluently, and nurture your musical creativity. The curriculum of this course will prepare you for and beyond the AP Music Theory exam. 

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

Grade: 9101112

Chamber Orchestra

This is a year-long course.

Chamber Orchestra welcomes 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 by integrating the discussion and analysis of history/context, harmony, and form. This ensemble will change the way you approach music and challenge the convention of which genres orchestras can explore. The orchestra performs several concerts throughout the year and past performances have included music by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Astor Piazzolla, Joe Hisaishi, and Billie Eilish. Chamber Orchestra may be repeated for additional credit. Watch a video overview of this course here.

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

Grade: 9101112

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


Studies show that musical preference is most strongly impressed during your teenage years. So what better time than now to learn more about how music works? Let’s explore your musical taste and dive into those sounds! Learn about how beats, chords, and melodies work together to create music that resonates with you. All genre preferences are welcome and you will listen to lots of music you never knew about. No previous musical training necessary; you will learn to analyze what you hear. This class can also benefit advanced musicians who want to gain a deeper understanding of the music they are formally studying. The primary goal of this class is to expand your love and appreciation for music. Watch a video overview of this course here.

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 also 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. Watch a video overview of this course here.

Prerequisites: Fluency on a melodic or percussive instrument

Grade: 101112

Push Play: Making 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.

Video intro:

Ever wonder how Aphex Twin, Skrillex, and TOKiMONSTA make their music? This class will get you working with the tools and techniques of electronic music and no previous experience or knowledge is necessary. Learn to shape sounds with hardware and software that have historical and cultural significance since the 1960s to present day. Hone your listening skills by recreating familiar beats from your personal playlist. Create new songs from scratch and build a portfolio of your work. Limited to 10 students. Open to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors. Watch a video overview of this course here.

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