In the Middle School arts curriculum, students create, imagine, and explore new ways of engaging with the world. Through a wide range of experiences in drama, music, and visual art, students develop the physical, aesthetic, and critical thinking skills that enable them to see and respond to the world with empathy and discernment. We recognize that in Middle School students are self-reflective, and we cultivate artistic behaviors with which they can express their ideas. We value performance and exhibition and provide opportunities to present student work to a wider audience.

All sixth and seventh graders take drama and visual art in a semester rotation. Music meets twice a week throughout the year in performance ensembles. In eighth grade, students choose from two quarter-long and one semester-long elective. They may also choose to stay in their performance ensemble.

Sixth Grade

Drama

In this introductory course, students increase their confidence, discipline, and observational skills through group warm-ups in movement, mime, speech, and focus at the beginning of every class. Class improvisations and scene assignments provide opportunities for skill development in character, plot, and conflict resolution. Through the process of “learning how to rehearse” in their small scene work, students are encouraged to explore a variety of interpersonal relationships and real and imaginary environments and emotions. These scenes are then evaluated by other members of the class as a means of developing good critical analysis skills.

MUSIC

The overall goals of the Middle School music program are to help students become more knowledgeable about the world of music and to become more skilled performers and listeners. Students are given opportunities to experience the challenge and joy of making music with others. Playing music and singing together helps students build a repertoire, which in turn provides a context for specific musical concepts. Playing music from diverse genres, incorporating student interests, and providing opportunities to improvise and create are a priority. Through their ensembles, Middle Schoolers develop skill with their instruments and with music theory and notation. Each group will have opportunities to perform at assemblies, the Winter and Spring Concerts, and at various events throughout the year.

In addition, sixth and seventh graders may elect to audition for the Advanced Ensembles (also Chorus, Concert Band, and Strings) that meet once a week before school, or for the Jazz Ensemble that meets once a week after school.

curricular ensembles

In sixth and seventh grade, students are required to participate in one music ensemble during the year. In eighth grade, students can elect to continue in ensembles, although they are not required to do so. Students choose between chorus (Middle Cs), band (Concert Band), and strings (String Ensemble). Ensembles meet twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 1:30 and 2:20 p.m. Course descriptions are below:

Middle Cs
The Middle School non-auditioned chorus sings folk music from around the world, arrangements of show tunes and popular tunes, and composed art music. The choral curriculum includes study of music theory, sight singing, vocal technique, rehearsal and performance practice, and the international phonetic alphabet. Middle Cs perform at assemblies and seasonal concerts.

Concert Band
Concert Band is comprised of beginning to intermediate woodwind, brass, and percussion players with 1-4 years of experience playing their chosen instrument. The group develops instrumental ensemble skills through practice and performance of folk music, traditional band repertoire, jazz, and contemporary pieces. Concert Band performs at assemblies and seasonal concerts.

String Ensemble
String Ensemble explores a variety of classic and contemporary string orchestra and chamber music repertoire. Students expand their interpretive and technical skills, learn alternative styles, and develop ensemble skills through coaching and rehearsals. String Ensemble performs at assemblies and seasonal concerts. In order to participate in String Ensemble, students must have at least a year of experience on violin, viola, cello, or double bass.

3-DIMENSIONAL STUDIES

In sixth grade art, the class focuses on 3-dimensional work. Students engage with a variety of sculptural materials and methods while exploring their own imaginative and self-expressive directions. The theme for the sixth grade is “Art inspired by Art.” Each class visits the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), drawing and studying the wide variety of sculptural forms in their collection. Students are given time to focus on several specific works in the Museum as they search for inspiration. After returning to the classroom, they design and create works of their own inspired by new ideas, methods, and materials, which they learn about at the Museum. The goal of the trip is to help students learn about the sculpture collection at the BMA, to experience sculpture as it is meant to be experienced, and to discover sculptural works that they find personally meaningful. Some of the sculptures students will see are: Endless Ribbon by Max Bill, Seventh Decade Forest by Louise Nevelson, Three Piece Reclining Figure No. 1 by Henry Moore, Head by Joan Miró, Tower of Mothers by Käthe Kollwitz, Eight-Part Circle by Michael Heizer, Noh Musicians by Isamu Noguchi, and 100 Yard Dash by Alexander Calder.

Seventh Grade

Drama

Seventh grade drama builds on the skills acquired in the sixth grade course, with an added emphasis on character development through original student dramatic writing, professionally written scenes, and “scene starters.” Students are expected to take greater responsibility for all aspects of dramatic improvisation than in the sixth grade year, and every student is assigned a day in which to lead the class through a warm-up game of their choice. Group projects include a “Composition Assignment,” in which teams are given a list of props, sounds, actions, and texts to include in their devised scenes, and a four-week character development and original soliloquy project.

MUSIC

The overall goals of the Middle School music program are to help students become more knowledgeable about the world of music and to become more skilled performers and listeners. Students are given opportunities to experience the challenge and joy of making music with others. Playing music and singing together helps students build a repertoire, which in turn provides a context for specific musical concepts. Playing music from diverse genres, incorporating student interests, and providing opportunities to improvise and create are a priority. Through their ensembles, Middle Schoolers develop skill with their instruments and with music theory and notation. Each group will have opportunities to perform at assemblies, the Winter and Spring Concerts, and at various events throughout the year.

In addition, sixth and seventh graders may elect to audition for the Advanced Ensembles (also Chorus, Concert Band, and Strings) that meet once a week before school, or for the Jazz Ensemble that meets once a week after school.

curricular ensembles

In sixth and seventh grade, students are required to participate in one music ensemble during the year. In eighth grade, students can elect to continue in ensembles, although they are not required to do so. Students choose between chorus (Middle Cs), band (Concert Band), and strings (String Ensemble). Ensembles meet twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 1:30 and 2:20 p.m. Course descriptions are below:

Middle Cs
The Middle School non-auditioned chorus sings folk music from around the world, arrangements of show tunes and popular tunes, and composed art music. The choral curriculum includes study of music theory, sight singing, vocal technique, rehearsal and performance practice, and the international phonetic alphabet. Middle Cs perform at assemblies and seasonal concerts.

Concert Band
Concert Band is comprised of beginning to intermediate woodwind, brass, and percussion players with 1-4 years of experience playing their chosen instrument. The group develops instrumental ensemble skills through practice and performance of folk music, traditional band repertoire, jazz, and contemporary pieces. Concert Band performs at assemblies and seasonal concerts.

String Ensemble
String Ensemble explores a variety of classic and contemporary string orchestra and chamber music repertoire. Students expand their interpretive and technical skills, learn alternative styles, and develop ensemble skills through coaching and rehearsals. String Ensemble performs at assemblies and seasonal concerts. In order to participate in String Ensemble, students must have at least a year of experience on violin, viola, cello, or double bass.

2-DIMENSIONAL STUDIES

In the seventh grade, the focus is on 2-dimensional work. Four major media areas are covered: drawing, painting, printmaking, and collage. Students gain skills in each medium while working both realistically and abstractly. An emphasis is placed on the role of drawing: students work both observationally and conceptually. The class looks at the work of artists who have contributed to our understanding of abstraction in art, such as Kandinsky, Mondrian, Picasso, Matisse, and Rothko, among others. We explore collage through looking at surrealist concepts as well as the work of Romare Bearden. During the term, students look at a variety of sources of inspiration that artists utilize, and allow them to serve as points of departure for class work. The role of personal interpretation and individual point of view in art is continuously emphasized during this seventh grade course of study.

Eighth Grade
Students have two quarter-long and one semester-long arts elective in eighth grade. Many art electives are based on student interest and surveys. Past electives for the second quarter and semester have included Playwriting, Radio Drama, Clown, Performance Ensemble, Nature and Art, Paint Lab, Sketchbook, and Animation.


ceramics: hand-building

In this ceramics course students will learn to make functional objects such as cups or mugs, as well as non-functional objects like a self-portrait bust and a figure sculpture. Students will learn hand-building techniques such as soft slab and hard slab construction, as well as coil building. Throughout this course students will explore personal meaning while developing skill and craft.

fantasy worlds

If you enjoy fantasy (think Stranger Things) and would like to experiment with making the impossible possible without messing with the laws of physics, this is the class for you. Create tricks of the eye with the help of the photo editing program Photoshop. This is an introductory course in using Photoshop to alter existing photos and create images from scratch. We will explore techniques like double exposures, creating miniature worlds through tilt-shift, creating optical illusions, and more.

make it, paint it, light it! – the art of theater design and production

This co-taught class will introduce students to all the elements of theater design and production. Students will have mini-workshops in set construction, scenic painting, make-up, and lighting. In class, students will work together to design, build, and light all of the visual elements for this year’s eighth grade production. No previous experience necessary — you may even decide at the end of the class that you’d like to stay on as part of the lighting, sound, props, and running crew for the show during the second quarter!

strings 'n' things

Work on your strumming and plucking skills while learning more about “pop notation” and reading chord charts. Create arrangements of classic and modern tunes, then form a small group or learn songs solo. Open to all levels of experience. Be ready to develop your chops and practice your craft. We will be doing a lot of hands-on learning. Instruments used in this class include guitar, ukulele, bass, and possibly mandolin or violin.