Arts in the Middle School
The US Secretary of Education recently published a report on "The Value Added Benefits of the Arts," in which he states, "Studies have shown that arts teaching and learning can increase student's cognitive and social development. The arts can be a critical link for students in developing the crucial thinking skills and motivations they need to achieve at higher levels."
Middle school art focuses on skills development, building confidence and increasing imagination through a series of projects. Students explore various media, two dimensional design, and three dimensional sculpture.
The first project focuses on scale and perspective related to landscape painting. The landscape collage begins with a lesson about scale and perspective. Students choose a master landscape artist from whom to draw inspiration. Each student studies a chosen painting in a series of drawings. The final composition is a painted paper collage showing scale and overlapping to convey depth.
Concepts:perspective, horizon line, scale and overlapping
Skills: painting, drawing, cutting and gluing.
Art history: landscape and seascape painters and printmakers
The second project is a texture sampler. Students explore various printmaking and drawing methods to capture visual textures. Each student designs a shape or unit as a template to trace on all her textures. She creates textures using rubbing, printmaking and computer generated methods. She then cuts out each texture and composes a “creative” grid while maintaining an active negative space.
Concepts: texture, grid, negative space, value, balance
Skills: printmaking, drawing, frottage, gluing, designing and composing
Art History: tessellations, mosaics, quilts, grid structures in art, modern art and graphic design
The Grade 7 project focuses on the study of one animal through various media. Students study an animal of choice through a variety of media including graphite drawing, watercolor, pastel and paper mache sculpture. They are directed to capture the gesture, proportions, textures, and colors of the chosen animal. Girls use iPads and books to find visual resources from which to study.
Concepts: gesture, color, texture, form and proportion
Skills: drawing, painting, fabricating/ construction and research
Art History: animals in art
The first project focuses on self-portraiture through various media, understanding concepts such as proportion and sculpture.
Students make a series of self-portraits using a variety of materials such as graphite, colored pencils, and watercolor crayons. Each portrait focuses on a different concept such as proportion, form, and emotional and/or symbolic color.
Concepts: proportion, form, emotional/symbolic color
Skills: drawing, painting, blending color, synthesis of idea/materials
Art History: portraits and self-portraits of artists in many cultures and in many media
Found Object Head
Students look at what is essential to convey the idea of “head”. They then begin to gather found materials to construct a head that can be viewed 360 degrees, stand on its own, and can be read as a head by the viewer.
Concept: What is essential to make a head?
Skills: construction, gluing and synthesizing disparate materials.
Art History: assemblage, found object art, sculpture, dada art (c.1910)
In the Middle School Music classroom, we expand our knowledge of music history, theory, and performance by listening to instrumental music recordings, playing the guitar, singing songs from around the world, performing a full-scale musical, and analyzing musical form and texture. The grade-level choruses prepare for two choral concerts and numerous other appearances each year. Middle School Select Chorus is offered for those students able and willing to sing challenging choral music.
In Fifth Grade Music, we first explore instrumental timbre through the study of wind, string, brass and percussion instruments. The students then design and construct their own wind, string, or pitched percussion instruments. Throughout the trimester students learn/reinforce music theory and composition skills. The culminating project is to play a short original composition on their original instrument as well as an ensemble composition with other classmates and their instruments. Through these hands-on, STEM-integrated projects, students learn music theory and composition skills, sound quality and construction and the value of teamwork.
Sixth Grade Music is designed to build interest in composition by using critical listening skills, conducting and finally using GarageBand to compose their own pieces. The students will first review the basics of melody and rhythm with a focus on percussion instruments. Students continue their rhythm studies by learning conducting patterns and expressive conducting techniques. Using their multimedia textbooks and the internet as a guide, students listen and learn about the timbres of orchestral instruments. Students critically analyze examples of well-composed, artistic and expressive pieces of music. Finally, the sixth graders utilize their knowledge by spending the rest of the trimester composing pieces individually and in groups with the GarageBand app.
Seventh Grade Music reinforces music theory, music history and performance skills by focusing on basic guitar skills as the center of our music study. Students begin by learning the basics of tuning, resonance and pitch as related to the guitar. Students develop the skill of chord playing as they learn basic guitar chords. Appreciation for music grows as students simultaneously learn to sing international and popular songs with the accompanying guitar chords. Students work on their own and in pairs to carefully play each chord and rhythm accurately while simultaneously singing the melody. The final project is to successfully play and sing a song of their choosing that is appropriate to their level and abilities.
Students have the option to choose either choral or instrumental music in each grade level. In this class students rehearse easy to intermediate choral or instrumental literature for performance at Evensong, Spring Concert and Middle School Prize Day. The objective is to reinforce music and vocal/instrumental skills and to build community by rehearsing and performing to their highest potential.
Stuart’s instrumental program begins in the Middle School and continues into Upper School with our advanced ensemble. All students enrolled in the instrumental program are required to have lessons for their chosen instrument either at Stuart or with an outside teacher. Instruments that are supported in the ensemble and lesson program include strings, woodwinds, and brass. Ensembles will meet by grade once per cycle and by ability group once per cycle.
Beginners Ensemble - Middle School Students
In this exploratory process and learning group, students will work with the music instructor to learn about the instrument and playing as an ensemble without performance expectations.
Intermediate Ensemble - Middle School Students
Students will continue to work toward secure instrumental technique and collaboration as an ensemble. This group may, at the discretion of the instructor, perform in an appropriate venue such as morning announcements or lunch time.
Advanced Ensemble - Open to advanced Middle School and Upper School students
This ensemble will work towards a performance at the Spring Concert as well as other opportunities at the discretion of the instructor. This group will strive towards higher-level repertoire and more developed instrumental technique. The advanced ensemble will meet three times per cycle and Wednesdays after school. Members of this group may be eligible for Regional and All-State auditions.