At Studio, we believe that the visual and performing arts are necessary forms of human expression. In fact, The Studio School derives its name from the image of an artist working in their studio, continually exploring and trusting their intuitive responses to materials. We encourage passion, creativity, and self-expression within the core curricula of the visual arts, vocal and instrumental music, movement and dance, and theatre.
The visual arts program is cumulative, and each year’s work is progressive, building upon the concepts, experiences, and skills acquired in previous years. Our program includes four aspects of the visual arts: studio work, art history, art criticism, and aesthetics, with the emphasis on the creation of artwork and the learning that takes place through this process. Students develop new ways of seeing, thinking, and expressing themselves.
Starting in the Early Childhood classes, children are offered basic unstructured materials, such as clay, paint, crayons, chalk, string, fabric, paper, scissors, glue, and tape. Materials are presented in a non-judgmental way and without specific instructions on how to use them or what to do with them, allowing students to experiment and examine the properties of the materials, reaching deep inside themselves to express their creative vision with the integrity of intellect and emotion. As children grow, they work with a greater variety of materials, which widens their repertoire and helps them delve deeper into the process.
As students continue to experiment throughout their elementary years, they use their curiosity, talent, and intellect to build a unique artistic vision. When ready, they are encouraged to share their ideas and begin to work with others. Together in this process of give-and-take, exchanging ideas and discussing artistic decisions, students learn to synthesize their individual vision into one complete artistic expression.
In Middle School, students are introduced to formal art techniques as tools for furthering their abilities and future explorations. By the time they graduate, students have had a wide range of artistic experiences.
Children from the early childhood years through Middle School sing, play musical instruments, learn movement and dance techniques and genres, and develop skills in the theatre arts.
The younger students and their teachers enjoy singing and making music together daily. Songs are varied, engaging, and in world languages, and help the children to appreciate melody, rhythm, patterns, and the meaning of each song. Elementary children join the middle schoolers in Chorus class and learn to develop their talents and blend their voices together for melody and harmony. They are encouraged to perform as an ensemble and as soloists at community events throughout the year, including the Thanksgiving Gathering, the Multicultural Festival, and Graduation.
For young children, instrumental music classes begin with imitating and sustaining various rhythmic patterns, using their heartbeat, body parts, and percussion instruments. This skill is mastered as students work with variously pitched Orff instruments that produce harmonious music when played together. In the elementary years, children learn to play the recorder, and begin piano keyboarding and reading music. By the time they are in Middle School, the children learn to compose music and play the piano and stringed instruments, such as ukuleles and guitars. Classes in music history familiarize the students with the works of great composers and develop their appreciation and preferences for a wide variety of music genres and musicians.
Beginning in the early childhood years, children move their bodies in space to find their own inner rhythm in Movement and Music class. As the piano follows their every movement, students gradually become able to work together, expressing their individuality as part of the group and in accord with the music. Elementary children study a variety of elements and styles of dance, including isolation exercises; modern, classical, and folk dances; and beginning choreography. Middle schoolers choreograph and perform their own original pieces, practice dance interpretation and improvisational exercise, and learn intricate dance arrangements from other cultures and eras. Over the years, dance becomes a channel for a student’s feelings and ideas, inspiring creative self-expression.
The origin of theatre is tied to a history of pantomime and improvisation. In early childhood, children delight in repeating the words of a beloved character and interpreting the parts of a beloved tale. As a story comes to life in the classroom, students act out the roles of the various characters. By the time they are in elementary school, they begin to write their own stories to perform together. Puppetry, another genre through which they are inspired to create and perform stories, leads to increasingly complex and original theatre experiences, including the writing of skits and plays.
When they reach the Middle School, students read and study the works of great playwrights from ancient to modern times, including Aristophanes, William Shakespeare, Edmond Rostand, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Maxwell Anderson, Thornton Wilder, Lorraine Hansberry, and Carson McCullers. In recitation and elocution classes, they memorize and read poems and famous speeches and hold lively debates on current and relevant topics. This range of increasingly complex experiences culminates in the spring trimester when the middle schoolers write, produce, design, and perform an original play, with the theme drawn from what has captivated their interests in their studies, while at the same time conveying the particular group dynamics that evolved over the year.