At The Country School, art education is at the core of the educational experience for all students. Art is a universal language that crosses all disciplines, cultures, and history. It provides the catalyst for student learning, problem solving, and expression of the young artist’s unique creativity, interests, abilities, and emotions. The inventive spirit is an important attribute, not only in the visual field, where ideas inform the work, but in every field, which is why, at The Country School, the Arts are a critical element in our signature STEAM program.
Students educated in art learn to become critical observers of their environment. They are able to invent, reflect, and set quality standards for their artistic growth and development. They are able to articulate the meaning of their artwork and that of artists they have studied. The collaborative, cooperative, and stimulating atmosphere of the art and music studio provide the opportunity to develop teamwork and self-esteem, and create a positive, inclusive school atmosphere.
The visual arts program begins in the earliest years, with our youngest students enjoying in-the-classroom, hands-on arts activities. Clark House, our Early Childhood Center, also has its own art space, including a wet room and kitchen for creative endeavors.
Starting in 1st Grade, students begin visiting the art studio, which is equipped with a kiln, dark room space, and woodworking materials. Student work is actively honored, with rotating displays across the campus and specially designated opportunities to celebrate the arts routinely scheduled.
As a school that sees the value of experiential education, our students also participate in a range of off-site field trips to cultural venues. Recent destinations include the Whitney Museum for American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, Yale Center for British Art, the Yale Art Gallery, the Florence Griswold Museum, Storm King, and the New Britain Museum of American Art.
All students participate in the performing arts throughout their years at The Country School. A gradual progression during the course of a child’s tenure at TCS allows students to master various skills and techniques as well as to explore new areas of interest.
Regular performance opportunities (both low-stakes and high-stakes) begin as early as PreSchool. With support and guidance from both the music teacher and classroom teachers, students in grades PreSchool through 5 share their musical learning and speak publicly at weekly WTCS meetings, which are hosted by grades 4 and 5. The Intermediate and Middle School band, chorus, and select chamber chorus perform concerts in the winter and spring every year, and all students in PreSchool through Grade 8 participate in a holiday performance in December. In addition to a variety of public speaking opportunities, students in grades 7 and 8 are encouraged to participate in a yearly Broadway-style musical production. Many of our alumni go on to perform at their respective high schools and colleges. Several continue to perform professionally.
Choral singing begins in the earliest grades with regularly scheduled music classes that focus on basic tonal and rhythmic competency. The choral curriculum intensifies in the intermediate and middle school grade levels, when students sing in the 4th/5th grade chorus, the 6th/7th/8th grade chorus, or audition and participate in the select chamber chorus. On the instrumental music side, the Lower School uses a blend of Kodaly, Orff, and Suzuki teaching methods, and students are introduced to Solfege, recorder, xylophone, and various percussion instruments. Students may opt to study instrumental music, first with the 5th Grade Band followed by the Middle School Band.
In addition to the regular performing arts curriculum, TCS provides many after-school and outside-of-school arts opportunities including the Young Musicians Program, which provides additional private instruction for interested students; optional choral and band auditions and festivals; as well as various theatrical opportunities.
The Country School seeks to expose students to ideas, culture, and art forms from all over the world. Through our vibrant Cultural Arts program, professional artists and performers visit campus several times throughout the school year. Cultural Arts visitors have included salsa dancers, members of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and Connecticut Ballet, puppeteers, African drummers, a mask maker, an interactive display of Colonial Day activities, alumni performers, a hip hop dance troupe, authors and poets, and the world-renowned a cappella group, Blue Jupiter.
The goal of the program is two-fold: to help students learn about the world through artists and their work and to expose students to art forms that they may wish to explore themselves. Country School graduates work as movie and stage actors, directors, and producers, as opera singers, musicians, composers, and dancers. They are writers, painters, sculptors, and fashion designers; many report gaining an interest in their chosen field while a student at The Country School.