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.
Kindergarten - 5th Grade
In this dynamic environment, students learn about the elements (or visual components) as well as the principles of art that artists use to organize their work. The elements are line, shape, form, value, space, color, and texture. The principles include rhythm, balance, emphasis, proportion, gradation, harmony, variety, and movement.
These principles and elements are taught through the lens of the history of art. Throughout the school year, students are introduced to a variety of artists and art forms, ranging from Ancient Egypt to the work being created by contemporary artists from around the globe. All artists and styles explored offer the opportunity to learn about how their work incorporates the elements and principles of art.
Throughout the year, the art studio collaborates with core- and co-curricular teachers to implement STEAM initiatives. These allow the opportunity to incorporate the arts into every area of learning. Likewise, many of the elements and principles of art are naturally occuring in STEAM, such as shape, proportion, form, balance, value, the science of color, and more.
The art studio should be a place where every student feels empowered to assert their creativity. To this end, the focus is on kindness and creating a work space where students feel confident and eager to express their ideas.
French artist Henri Matisse said, “Creativity takes courage.” In the art studio, students are given tools to find this courage to create and grow across the arts and the STEAM curricula.
6th - 8th Grade
Middle School students participate in visual arts practice that includes both two dimensional and three dimensional work. Students study a variety of art historical movements and figures while creating a bridge to their own visual art practice. Particular emphasis is placed on the connection between the creativity of studio work and the real-world application of art making. Students take part in STEAM projects that allow for collaboration, problem solving and design practice through the connectivity of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.
General Music - PreSchool through 4th Grade
In PreSchool and PreKindergarten, students participate in the joy of musical learning through certified Music Together classes. Families in PreS and PreK will receive Music Together cds and booklets so the songs can be shared and enjoyed both during and outside of school. Families will also be invited to one or more singalongs at school with their children during the year.
In Primary grades, students engage in four foundational concepts of musical learning (Sing, Move, Listen, and Play) and Kodaly-based active music making. Particular emphasis is placed on the learning of echo songs, call & response songs, and song tales for further development of pitch matching and rhythm skills with the body (clapping, marching) and rhythm sticks. Listening skills are developed through exposure and discussion of musical genres (Folk, Classical, Jazz, World, etc) with emphasis on verbal and written reflection (“What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you see? What do you wonder?”).
Intermediate grade levels participate in the development and practice of note reading and writing skills through a variety of pathways (songs, games, assessments). Students make creative connections to academic learning through studies of musical genres (Folk, Classical, Jazz, World, etc) in relation to instruments, musical expression, improvisation, and cultural literacy. Classes perform throughout the school year at Morning Meetings and at the Holiday Program. Students also participate in Celebrations of Learning through collaborative STEAM projects during the year.
Choral Program - 4th - 8th Grade
The TCS Choral program has three vocal groups: Intermediate (4th/5th) Chorus, Middle School (6th/7th/8th) Chorus, and an audition-based Chamber Chorus (grades 6-8). In rehearsals, there is an emphasis on ear training and pitch matching through the use of vocal warm-ups, scales, and exercises. Reading and understanding vocal music, 2-part harmony (Intermediate) and 2- or 3-part harmony (Middle School), vocal dynamics, expression, and blending are also core components of the learning process. Students perform vocal repertoire throughout the school year at the Winter Concert, Holiday Program, and Celebration of the Arts Spring Concert.
First year beginning band covers instrumental basics. Proper assembly of woodwind and brass instruments, proper care of percussion instruments, and correct use and care of reeds. All woodwind, brass and percussion instruments work from Standard of Excellence Book I by Bruce Pearson. First year curriculum includes: Introduction to clef signs, time signatures, key signatures, note values and 1-3 major scales. Students have one sectional per week and one band rehearsal.
Sixth Grade band is an intermediate band, a transition to upper band and covers the following: They continue in Standard of Excellence Book I. More extensive musical terms list, more major scales and extending the range on their instruments. Students have one sectional per week and one band rehearsal (also one rehearsal with the 7th and 8th grade band). Students have the option to audition for the CMEA Regional Music Festival.
7th and 8th Grade
The 7th and 8th Grade band plays with the 6th grade band to form the concert band. Both grades cover more major scales, musical terms, sight-reading, ensemble playing and chamber music. Students branch out to more difficult music and have two band rehearsals per week. Students have the option to audition for the CMEA Regional Music Festival.
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 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.
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.