At ISO, we are committed to nurturing our students’ development in Music and the Dramatic Arts. Courses in the Arts are offered at each grade level, PK-12, and are integrated into various school activities throughout the year including the Day of the Arts, WAISAL Sports tournaments, assemblies, performance and instruction from West African musicians and high school graduation.
Formal music instruction begins in Pre-Kindergarten with an emphasis on music and movement and vocal exploration. The elementary general music curriculum focuses on providing connections between music and our students’ lives, culture and history by expanding their music skills in the areas of vocal expression, performance, and composition, along with developing their ability to evaluate and analyze various forms and genres of music. Instruction includes use of various non-pitched percussion, xylophones, metallophones, Boom Whackers, West African instruments and 4th and 5th grade students study the recorder. Performance is an integral part of ISO’s music instruction and all elementary students perform in Celebration of the Arts evenings in December and May, in addition to, cross-curricular events with their homeroom teachers.
In upper school, music is an elective. 6th, 7th and 8th grade can join the Middle School band in which they will deepen their theoretical and musicological knowledge through projects and collaboration with other classes or special guests. They are introduced to web-based resources such as Noteflight to work on composition units. Each student learns to play a wind instrument and to perform standard band repertoire. The High School band focuses on jazz repertoire and includes the drumset and electric bass as instruments. The students work with the Guitar class to put together well known songs for special events. In 2014-2015, one quarter will be dedicated to various aspects of West African music, including the learning of an instrument.
The Guitar Class, another High School elective, is designed as a chance for students to pursue musical passion, proficiency, and appreciation from alternative perspectives. The class is open to high school students at all levels of experience and proficiency, including those who have been playing guitar for years as well as those who would like to try a new instrument. Topics include: Basic skills and techniques, developing an ear to play with other musicians, chord theory, improvisation, performance, the basics of composition, digital music production, modes of audio-visual storytelling (the music video).
Performing Arts are mandatory quarter classes for students in the 6th through 9th grade, and an elective at the high school level. In middle school, students are introduced to a variety of short projects covering multiple aspects of the performing arts: pantomime, improvisation, lip sync, dance, percussion, magic, radio theatre, shadow puppetry as well as the basic techniques of acting. They are given many opportunities to perform for their peers and do collaborative work with Visual Arts students. In high school, the course is geared more towards acting techniques and playwriting. In 2013-2014, all students participated in a short musical in December and performed a play in May.
After school, our students are able to expand their intellect and participate in the Spring Musical production either through performance & singing, design and creation of stage props or behind the scenes. For the 2013-14, ISO proudly presented Once on this Island Jr., a Caribbean feeling rendition of Hans Christian’s The Little Mermaid, where over 30 elementary and middle school students demonstrated their talent and creativity in the Arts.
For 2014-15, the Performing Arts Department will be presenting One Smart Pig in early March 2015. Watch out for more details in 1st quarter.