Visual and performing arts courses at the Lower School are taught by instructors who are practicing artists in their individual disciplines. Projects are often integrated with the social studies curriculum and may incorporate visits to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
The visual arts program aims to offer children opportunities for self-expression, creativity, innovative thinking, and the development of confidence and pleasure in the creative process. During the Beginner year, students work with their homeroom teachers using a variety of creative materials. In Kindergarten through Grade 6, students work more formally with art teachers to develop basic skills in visualization, observation from nature, design, painting, and three-dimensional construction.
The woodworking program begins in Grade 1, where work with paper-making, origami, and cardboard helps children learn to visualize three-dimensional forms and understand how different parts fit together to become a whole. In woodworking shop, students learn to use a variety of tools in safe and effective ways; they work on projects such as pine birdhouses and replicas of Egyptian sarcophagi.
Our lower school drama program engages our 5th and 6th grade students in improvisation work, small group scenes and monologue work, as well as performance opportunities. Students learn to create characters, and dialogues in both small and large groups. Learning to analyze scenes and scenarios, and make connections to real life are all a part of the importance of theater for our brick building students. Our students have the opportunity to explore their creativity as well as develop their skills in observation, attention, imagination, physical expression, emotional awareness, interpersonal awareness, and narrative ability. The program also aims to stimulate and challenge those students already familiar with some aspects of theater. Emphasis is on the cooperative process of creating and working toward a goal. The 5th grade performs a one act play by homeroom, while the 6th grade participates in a full length musical with singing, dancing, costumes, lighting and special effects.
The music program at the Lower School encourages children to find the musician within themselves. Students become knowledgeable about beat, rhythm, and notation through activities such as clapping, tapping, and stepping. They are given opportunities to respond to changes in tempo, dynamics, pitch, and melodic themes through movement. Good vocal habits are developed through singing folk and composed songs, rounds, and singing games. Students learn from a variety of musical styles, including those from folk and ethnic cultures as well as those composed music from Western traditions. They sharpen their listening and analytical skills through creative movement and dance, illustration, written description, discussion, and dramatization.
Percussion instruments are used at all levels for accompaniment and for reinforcement of the concepts of beat and rhythm. All students learn to play the soprano recorder in Grade 4 and have the opportunity to choose the alto recorder or barred instruments in Grade 5. In ensemble experiences, students gain self-discipline, concentration, and appreciation for the process that carries them from first rehearsal to polished performance. Ensembles include chorus and orchestra for students in Grades 3 through 6. The young children also share songs in weekly and special assemblies.