Our Fine Arts program is an amalgamation of visual and performing arts at all age levels. Starting in Early Childhood, children are introduced to many aspects of art, drama and music, mostly in the classroom. At the Elementary and Middle School levels, in addition to classroom work in the arts, they spend time with teachers who are specialists in these areas.
In the Art program, our goal is to guide students in mastering the many techniques of art production, as well as encouraging an appreciation of Art and of Art History. At the same time, we focus on an integration of the art lessons with subjects being taught in the classroom, an important aspect of a Montessori education. At all levels, students are given presentations of Art History and the work of great artists, and discussions are welcome to encourage critical thinking and confidence in expressing ideas. When possible, these lessons are chosen for their integration with historical periods being discussed in the classroom. Our Performing Arts program includes public performance both at school and in a professional theatre, and music and acting lessons. The goals are to develop self confidence in public presentations, and to foster a cooperative, creative and supportive community.
In Early Childhood, the emphasis is on introduction to and practice using art materials, including pencils, pastels, paint, paper, scissors, brushes, clay, and more. All of this helps with fine motor skills and creative expression. We also look at the work of artists and discuss it, developing skills of observation and verbal expression of ideas. In Lower Elementary, we move on to more detailed projects that may take a few weeks. A lesson in Art History or about an artist is presented, then the students work on a project relating to that presentation. They are expected to develop a design, and then master the use of the materials to complete it. The materials are those that the children have already been introduced to in Early Childhood, and that they are now able to develop at a higher skill level. They can then focus on expressing their ideas more accurately. Long term attention to the projects is encouraged. Their hand to eye coordination and powers of observation will improve. Being allowed ample time, having the ability to work in detail, and being given guidance, usually results in a piece of work that instills confidence in the student. In Upper Elementary, these skills continue to be practiced, with an expectation that the artwork will become more refined and the students will have more confident control of their skills. Drawing is emphasized all through these years, for it’s value in developing motor skills, hand to eye coordination, powers of observation and focus, and so the students will develop the skills to create the works that they imagine. In Middle School, the lessons become more integrated with the students’ other studies than at any other level. The Art teacher works in tandem with the classroom teachers to develop projects related to classroom work. The students at this age enjoy building things, and hands on lessons. By bringing the classroom lessons into the art studio, an atmosphere of high engagement and creativity is expected and fostered. At the same time, the technical skills gained in Art class can be brought back to the classroom for creative projects. Students enjoy seeing their work exhibited in an annual show.
In the Music program, exposure starts at the beginning in the Early Childhood classroom. The children sing songs, play percussion instruments and incorporate movement. In Kindergarten, they are introduced to the bells. As the students enter Lower Elementary, in addition to music in the classroom, they attend Music class with a specialist. They are introduced to Music Theory and Music History, and begin to explore percussion instruments. In Upper Elementary, they continue playing instruments, with the addition of the recorder. The Upper students also enjoy games that make it fun to learn about Music History, different genres and composers. Elementary students at all levels sing as well. In Middle School, the focus turns to Music Appreciation, and more sophisticated interaction with the instruments, including drumming circle. Motivated students have the opportunity to compose their own musical pieces. The children’s music education culminates in public performance. For Early Childhood, it is the Winter Show and Kindergarten Graduation. For Elementary and Middle School students, it is the Spring Show, performed at a professional theatre.
The Fine Arts are an integral part of a child’s education. Not only do we expect our Fine Arts program to help improve the students’ creative thinking, math, and other academic skills, we also expect the children to benefit greatly from the knowledge and practice of the Arts themselves. Fine Arts contribute greatly to developing well rounded, compassionate and thinking human beings.