Course Descriptions

During the freshman year, all students take a full year of art courses designed to be an introduction to the elements and techniques in two broad areas of art: Visual Arts and Performing Arts. Students choose a one-semester course in each of these areas (freshman students who participate in Jazz 9 or Orchestra 9 take these courses for the entire year).

In Grades 10-12, students must complete at least one full credit of art, though the school encourages students to continue their study of art well beyond this minimum requirement. See the individual course descriptions for more information about the amount of credit granted for each course. Full or partial credit toward satisfying the Arts requirement may also be granted, as determined in advance by the Arts Department Head, for significant participation in theater productions. In Grades 10-12, full credit courses meet four times per week and half credit courses meet two times per week.

Grade 9 Visual Arts

Photography 9

Students learn camera operation, film development, and darkroom skills while exploring the power of black and white photography. Students wishing for a deeper exploration of darkroom and digital photography should take the full year course in Grade 10-12.

Woodworking 9

Students in this course design and build a variety of woodworking projects such as wood boxes with hand-cut joinery, clocks, and lathe turned bowls. Student become proficient in the safe and proper use of both hand tools and power tools such as the lathe, scroll saw, and drill press. This course offers a unique opportunity to learn the fundamentals of woodworking.

Art Across Boundaries (Studio Art 9)

This course provides an opportunity for a student to explore their creative imagination in a studio setting. Students will cut “across boundaries” to experience drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, and mixed media while developing the ability to think visually. Past projects included learning to make personal images, fabricating expressive sculptures, painting a fantasy landscape, and building a world in a box. The emphasis of this course is on process, not product.

Grade 9 Performing Arts

Chorus 9

The Grade 9 Chorus sings a repertoire that includes songs from the American musical theater tradition, folk songs from American, Latin American, Eastern European, and Asian cultures, as well as repertoire from the western music tradition. Students sing in unison as well as in parts, and there are several opportunities for solos. Class rehearsals focus on breathing, diction, intonation, and sight-reading skills. Students learn the basics of music theory, which provides excellent preparation for participation in the BB&N Chorale, Knightingales, or Voices of the Knight in Grades 10-12.

Dance 9

This course exposes students to a variety of dance styles and choreographers from the twentieth century. Students learn about classical jazz, contemporary hip hop, swing, and musical theater dance while completing progressions across the floor and short routines based on the style being studied. Beginning and experienced dancers are welcome.

Drama 9

Stage acting is the main focus of this energetic and highly interactive course. Using physical and vocal warm-ups, prepared pieces, and improvisation, students explore character work and the dynamics of stage movement and design.

Film and Video 9

In this course, students are introduced to the basics of cinematic and narrative form through short, self-directed projects. Using video cameras and computer-based non-linear editing suites, participants explore shooting vocabulary and formal concepts such as matching action and the power of the edit. All projects are made in small groups and edited via iMovie. Every student gets a chance to be a camera operator, director, performer, and editor. A primary goal of media literacy is achieved through a combination of hands-on projects and in-class viewings and discussions.

Jazz 9

The emphasis of the Grade 9 Jazz Ensemble is on improvisational techniques and group playing, with musical selections composed by jazz greats. In addition, students will explore the history of jazz music and various jazz styles. There are at least two performances per year. Admission to Jazz 9 is based on audition (held during spring or during the first week of school), as well as on the specific instrumental needs of the ensemble. The maximum size of this ensemble is fifteen, and there is a limit of two on the number of guitarists, pianists, bassists and drummers. Freshmen participating in Jazz 9 continue with the course for the entire year.

Orchestra 9 (Grades 9-12)

TThe Upper School Orchestra is an ensemble for string, woodwind, and brass players. Comprised of 30-35 players from Grades 9-12, the Orchestra focuses on music written between 1700 and 1940. Past performances of complete works have included Mozart Symphonies No. 25, 35, 39, 40, 41; Beethoven Symphonies No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7; Schubert Symphonies No. 5, 8; overtures by Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; concerto movements by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Chopin; as well as individual pieces ranging from J.S. and C.P.E. Bach to Fauré, Bartok, and Copland. The group gives two formal performances per year. Admission to Orchestra is based on audition (held during the first week of school). Orchestra is not open to pianists. Freshmen participating in Orchestra 9 continue with the course for the entire year. Orchestra 9 meets two times per week with the entire Orchestra and in the third meeting each week, students participate in a small ensemble.

Visual Arts Course Offerings (Grades 10-12)

Advanced Placement Art History (Grade 12)

Students survey the history of painting, sculpture, and architecture, from antiquity through the Post-Modern era, with particular emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The class meets three times weekly, the Friday double block includes a weekly visit to local museums. During the museum visits students lead the class with presentations about masterpieces from these collections that illustrate the history of art. Friday classes will take place not only in the Museum of Fine Arts but also in the Harvard Art Museums and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Students are expected to take the AP exam and remain in the course throughout Senior Spring Project. This course does not fulfill the required second year of the Arts Department graduation requirement. This course is limited to 12 students. Prerequisite: Completion of the two year Arts Department graduation requirement.

Afternoon Arts (Grades 9-12)

All levels of skill are welcome in this exciting course where students focus on drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, or multimedia. Students should have a true interest in exploring art in the afternoon hours. Students sign up for two days per week (Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday from 3:30-5:00 p.m.) For students in Grade 9, this course is only available during winter and spring seasons. Afternoon Arts receives 0.25 arts credits for each trimester of participation and must be taken in conjunction with two Health and Fitness classes per week to meet the athletics requirement for that season.

Ceramics(Grades 10-12)

This course provides students with a formal introduction to traditional and contemporary ceramic forms and processes, using a variety of hand-building techniques, including pinch, coil, and slab. Students refine skills and learn advanced modeling techniques such as throwing and mold making. They develop aesthetic ideas through intermediate and advanced ceramic practices. Students are introduced to clay bodies, mold making, stamp making, glazing, and firing processes. Critiques are held to discuss design/creation, aesthetics, art history, and art criticism.

Advanced Ceramics(Grades 11-12)

This course is a continuation of the introductory ceramics course with an emphasis on skill, techniques, and form. A variety of hand-building techniques will be used to create advanced forms. Students are also introduced to more advanced techniques and forms on the pottery wheel. Students practice the development of aesthetic ideas through intermediate to advanced ceramic hand-building practices. Students gain knowledge of ceramics (historical and contemporary) and an appreciation of the aesthetics of three-dimensional form as manifested in ceramics objects. A portfolio of work will be completed by the end of the year.

Prerequisite: Ceramics

Design & Architecture(Grades 10-12)

This course focuses on an exploration of design as a creative process and typically includes a mix of graphic and architectural projects. There is an emphasis on identifying and addressing real-world problems and solving them imaginatively and often collaboratively. Whether it is building full-scale furniture out of cardboard, crafting a small living space that could survive a flood, or designing a visionary model city of the future using recycled materials, the challenge remains the same -- keeping an open and curious mind and developing the ability to fully focus on the task at hand.

Drawing and Painting (Grades 10-12)

This is an introductory level course designed to familiarize students with the basic elements of drawing and painting. Students work primarily from observation. While concentrating on the formal visual elements such as line, shape, value, and color, students explore such concepts as figure/ground, proportion, scale, positive and negative space, perspective, volume, light, compositional issues, and pictorial unity. Students use a wide range of materials and a variety of sources, with the class consisting of work sessions, lectures, discussions, and critiques.

Advanced Drawing and Painting (Grades 11-12)

Open to experienced drawing and painting students, this course is theme-oriented, with a strong emphasis on the development of a sense of each student’s unique personal vision, as well as an exploration of new materials. A portfolio of work will be completed by the end of the year.

Prerequisite: Drawing and Painting

Film and Video (Grades 10-12)

The goal of this hands-on course is for students to become informed viewers and creators of their own multi-media digital video productions. Through the study of film and video history, along with in-class discussions and critiques, this course focuses on developing an appreciation of the complexities of time-based media. Using digital equipment and state-of-the-art editing software, students will develop an understanding of both the conceptual and technical elements that compose a video production. Emphasis is placed on self-expression, creative problem solving, and investigation of the influence of the medium, from its earliest forms to the prevalence of web-based phenomena such as YouTube. Class projects are collaborative and students use digital audio and video to create short studies, documentary, commercial, and narrative pieces. This course is limited to 12 students.

Photography (Grades 10-12)

This course explores the art of black and white photography, beginning with basic camera and darkroom techniques and moving deeply into the expressive power of the medium. Regular shooting assignments encourage students to explore form, abstraction, portraiture, documentary, and subjective photography. Periodic critiques and slide presentations focus on developing a critical vocabulary in the visual arts and a sense of the history of photography. Second trimester students are introduced to digital imaging and color photography. An extended project of the student’s own choosing concludes the year. The estimated lab fee is $140 (financial aid may be available).

Advanced Photography (Grades 11-12)

This course is for students who are serious about extending their exploration of the photographic medium. Students begin with advanced techniques in fine printing, including exposure control, different film and paper developers, and toning. Several alternative processes, including cyanotype, liquid light, and Van Dyke Brown prints, are then studied. In addition to a deep study of color photography, students will complete a portfolio of their work by the end of the year. Throughout the course, the relationship between personal vision and technical decisions is the central concern.

Pre-requisite: Photography

Woodworking(Grades 10-12)

This course provides a unique opportunity to gain a solid foundation in woodworking and design skills. Students design their own projects while developing a repertoire of standard and advanced woodworking techniques, including the safe and proper use of the power tools in the studio. Projects range from woodturning and cabinet making, to the construction of large furniture pieces. Some of the projects made by Woodworking students include bowls, stereo cabinets, jewelry boxes, chairs, mirrors, frames, tables, and baseball bats. This course is a great option for those that like to work with their hands.

Advanced Woodworking (Grades 10-12)

This course is open to students who wish to develop their design, artistic, and woodworking skills through a series of individual projects. Students explore lathe turning, carving, steam bending, and other woodworking and cabinet making techniques to create a portfolio of individualized projects. Students also become proficient in the safe and proper use of hand and power tools. Projects can include: sculpture, shadow boxes, secret compartments, cabinets, chairs, tables, jewelry, carvings, and a variety of lathe turned projects.

Prerequisite: Woodworking

Performing Arts Course Offerings (Grades 10-12)

Chorale (Grades 10-12)

The Chorale is a select performing ensemble of approximately 45-50 students. The repertoire includes spirituals, gospel, jazz folk songs, musical theater, and standard choral music from the Renaissance period through contemporary music. Students sing in four to eight parts depending on the size and experience of the group, and occasionally perform all-male or all-female part songs. The group gives formal concerts twice annually as well as numerous performances at school functions, in neighboring communities, and at high school choral events such as the GospelFest and the Wick Choral Festival. The ensemble tours internationally every two to three years and produces a CD of the best performances. Admission to Chorale is based on audition (held during the spring, or, for new students and those returning from semester-away programs, during the first week of school). This course meets two times per week and receives 0.5 arts credit for each year of participation.

Participation in Chorale is a requirement for those wishing to audition for the School’s two extracurricular a cappellagroups: Voices of the Knight and Knightingales.

Drama/Theatre (Grades 10-12)

The first trimester of this course includes an exploration of theatre performance. Dramatic works are studied as scripts to be brought to life by actors and designers. Monologue and scene work from the plays are supplemented by exercises to develop physical and vocal technique. During the second and third trimesters, students continue their work and focus on contemporary dramatic works created since 1970. Scene work, vocal training, and physical training are accompanied by a more extensive use of improvisation.

Advanced Drama/Theatre (Grades 11-12)

Throughout the Advanced Drama/Theater course, students continue their acting work and script analysis with an emphasis on period acting and the challenges of style. Work during the first trimester focuses mainly on Shakespeare acting. As a final project, students choose either to direct a main stage play in the spring trimester or to prepare a series of scenes and monologues for public presentations.

Prerequisite: Drama/Theater

Jazz Ensemble (Grades 10-12)

Participating within a small jazz ensemble, students rehearse and perform compositions by jazz greats such as Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, and others. The art of ensemble playing and improvisation is the primary focus of this course. Students with the appropriate backgrounds may also contribute as composers or arrangers. There are at least two performances per year. Admission to the Jazz Ensemble is by audition only (held during the first week of school). This course meets one time per week (Monday or Thursday evenings) and receives 1.0 arts credit for three years of participation.

Orchestra (Grades 9-12)

The Upper School Orchestra is an ensemble for string, woodwind, and brass players. Comprised of 30-35 players from Grades 9-12, the Orchestra focuses on music written between 1700 and 1940. Past performances of complete works have included Mozart Symphonies No. 25, 35, 39, 40, 41; Beethoven Symphonies No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7; Schubert Symphonies No. 5, 8; overtures by Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; concerto movements by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Chopin; as well as individual pieces ranging from J.S. and C.P.E. Bach to Fauré, Bartok, and Copland. The group gives two formal performances per year. Admission to Orchestra is based on audition (held during the first week of school). Orchestra is not open to pianists. This course meets two times per week and receives 0.5 arts credit for each year of participation.

Chamber Music (Grades 10-12)

Advanced instrumentalists may elect to participate in smaller music ensembles, called Chamber Music Ensembles. String, woodwind, and brass players can participate four days per week in Chamber Music Ensembles and receive 1.0 arts credit for each year of participation. Alternatively, students may choose to participate in the Orchestra for two days per week and in Chamber Music Ensembles for two days per week, which also receives 1.0 arts credit for each year of participation. Pianists can participate in Chorale two days per week and Chamber Music Ensembles two days per week and receive 1.0 arts credit for each year of participation. Students who only participate in Chamber Music for two days per week (without another music commitment at BB&N) earn 0.5 arts credit for each year of participation. Admission to the Chamber Music Ensembles is by audition only.

Independent Study (Grades 11-12)

Independent Study within the Arts Department may be available for students who have a passion for art and a strong commitment to a specific performing or visual art. Students must apply for the Independent Study Program, be highly motivated, capable of working independently, secure an Independent Study teacher, and receive permission from the Arts Department. The Independent Study Program is generally only available to seniors who have completed the advanced course in their area of interest.

Courses Not Offered in 2016-2017

Dance (Grades 10-12)

Upper School Arts Video

All School Arts Calendar

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Pratt Chorale Room
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US Theater
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