Primary School Fine & Performing Arts
Central to the Primary School curriculum, the fine and performing arts program provides many means for self-expression and avenues for understanding others. Children develop their interpersonal skills and self-confidence as well as an appreciation of the arts from their earliest years at MKA. Classwork in the arts is done in close conjunction with the homeroom teachers. Students have opportunities each year to take part in productions and exhibitions, including plays, dance concerts, and musical performances. The arts stimulate and expand children's communication skills and provide invaluable teaching tools for exploring all areas of learning.
The studio arts program is a sequential visual-art education that provides depth of knowledge, skill acquisition, and achievement. It is intended to help students fulfill personal potential as well as to enrich and deepen their lives through the study of art. It is a school subject with distinct goals, content, and methods. The content begins with the study of the elements of design: line, texture, value, shape, and color. As students move through the grade levels, the tasks become more sophisticated and complex. When concepts become clearer and the vocabulary increases, a greater emphasis is given to problem solving, use of materials, skillful execution, and use of the artistic elements based on important principles of design. Children explore ways to create art using a wide range of materials. They come to understand and apply some basic principles of aesthetics as they learn how to look at and respond critically and analytically to works of art, including their own. They learn to examine their ideas about art and to support their judgments as they discover that some works of art are more appealing than others.
By the time students leave Brookside, they are expected to communicate at a level in art that includes knowledge and skills in the use of basic vocabularies, materials, tools, techniques, and cognitive methods that are developmentally appropriate. Student work is held in a portfolio for review and assessment during the year so that performance skills can be noted. While developmental markers are referenced, each child is unique in regard to how, when, and in what ways abilities unfold. The art curriculum is intended to help children in their process of developing self-awareness, self-esteem, self-discipline, cooperation, and motivation; and it is geared to help them feel successful.
The art Core Works at Brookside include studying Paul Klee in pre-kindergarten, Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water in second grade, and African Forms and Masks in third grade. There is also an architectural component for students at every grade level.
The music program creates an environment in which children develop an appreciation of the many styles of music, and it fosters their ability to express themselves through music's many mediums. Two specific methods are used to teach structure, rhythm, and vocal music: Orff and Kodaly. The music teacher works closely with teachers and students in preparing for weekly assemblies, class plays, winter and spring concerts, and Grandparents' and Special Friends' Day.
The vocal program allows each child to enjoy and experience a variety of music activities. The Zoltan Kodaly method, used in all grades, is a developmental, sequential method of teaching music literacy to young children through the development of pitch and hand signs. Authentic folksongs and the music of great composers are used to comprehensively train the children vocally through imitation, and to teach the basic skills of reading and writing music. Research has shown that this method of music instruction enhances learning in all subjects, particularly mathematics and science.
The instrumental program is based on the approach of Carl Orff, who believes that “feeling precedes intellectual understanding.” It utilizes the basic elements of music and rhythm, and the unique Orff xylophones provide children with an immediate way of making instrumental music. The instruments also cultivate a deeper response to rhythm and melody. In second grade, students learn to compose their own pieces. In third grade, the students are introduced to the recorders and hone their skills in reading and writing music.
The second and third grade choirchime and handbell choirs introduce the students to basic orchestration techniques. Harmony, chords, and performance strategies build self-esteem and poise, and develop more sophisticated music skills. Second and third grades meet together for a 20-minute rehearsal period once a week to prepare for special events.
Brookside’s fine and performing arts Core Work selection in music is introduced at the kindergarten level. Camille Saint-Saens exposes the children to Carnival of the Animals, a musical suite that portrays the movement and idiosyncrasies of animals in a zoo through orchestral instrumentation. It is designed to expose the children to fine music, to educate them to listen critically, and to help them develop a lifetime appreciation and love for music.
The dance program creates an environment for children to express their feelings through movement and develop an appreciation of a variety of styles of dance. The subject of dance has specific content and assessment. Educational dance focuses on space, rhythm, line, shape, and energy. As the children grow, the pathways, patterns, and sequences become more complex. Creative movement engages the mind in ways that require innovative problem solving and analytical reasoning. This process builds students' self-esteem and confidence.
Pre-kindergarten dance classes explore movement through games and imagery that create an awareness of how the body parts can move through space. The children observe each other and exchange ideas, forming their own patterns. In kindergarten, the patterns become more complex. Children explore a variety of music as they listen to the rhythm and instruments; they study Carnival of the Animals in support of the music curriculum. They also perform in a full-kindergarten play production.
First, second, and third grade classes participate in individual class productions, which are developmentally appropriate. In first grade, children combine their movement skills with proper terminology and begin learning choreography for the class show. They learn ballet and modern dance vocabulary as they increase their skills and create simple dances of their own.
Second grade students continue to work on understanding the fundamentals of dance movement with a focus on space, rhythm, energy, and line. They learn Labanotation and explore different cultures through movement while working toward creating their own style.
Third grade students explore a variety of techniques throughout the year, which culminate in a dance concert. They build many skills as they compromise and exchange ideas when choreographing their dances. As they work to achieve their goal, students implement skills of cooperation, problem solving, and discipline, and strengthen their self-esteem. The dance program is designed to make children feel successful and provides opportunities for them to experience freedom and joy of movement in a supportive atmosphere.