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Arts Courses

Credits: 3

Creative problem solving and new avenues of self-expression are at the core of Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Fine & Performing Arts (FPA) program. We offer a full range of learning in theater, music, and the visual arts, including digital media, which benefit the entry-level student as well as the advanced artist or performer seeking a higher-level experience. We strive to teach students the skills and thought processes that ensure a deeper understanding of both their immediate and global cultural environments. The faculty members in the FPA Department offer in-depth studies of current practices within their respective disciplines. The department encourages personal growth and the pursuit of both individual and collaborative excellence. Therefore, the process is equally as important as the final product. To help achieve this end, courses are tiered allowing students to build both their confidence and their skill level. All of the instructors in the department are working professionals, actively engaged in their art. We believe students are better prepared for the challenges of the 21st century by understanding and engaging in the complex and diverse human expression inherent in these disciplines.

Three credits in the Fine & Performing Arts are required. Three trimester electives or one yearlong class can meet this requirement. It is recommended that students work to meet their Fine & Performing Arts requirement early in their time at WMA to allow flexibility for AP courses and special interest electives in grades 11 and 12. Computer graphics and web design courses do not meet the Fine & Performing Arts requirement.

Fine Arts

STUDIO ART

Credit: 1

Level: Introductory, prerequisite to all other courses in the visual arts

Overview: Students in this course gain an understanding of the fundamentals of drawing, design, and three dimensions through studio practice. The course addresses aesthetics, criticism and art history. Students will be assessed on sketchbook assignments, major projects and class participation.

Prerequisite: none

DRAWING

Credit: 1

Level: Intermediate

Overview: This course is especially designed to improve drawing skills as well as the ability to visually represent an idea. Throughout the course, students will use a variety of drawing materials ranging from pencils to watercolors and collage materials. Using various means of representation, abstract and realistic, students will develop a personal style that they will use to interpret their life in a visual way. Assignments will include practicing drawing skills on their own and researching imagery that will be used in class projects.

Prerequisite: Studio Art

PAINTING

Credit: 1

Level: Introductory

Overview: Students explore the use of paints and color for self-expression and to gain an understanding and appreciation for paint as a medium personally and historically. They will learn basic color theory by doing simple painting studies and progressing to more complex/abstract paintings. Art history, as well as various techniques of painting, is also discussed. Students are assessed on effort, creativity and the productive use of time to fully explore the medium, as well as the quality of the work produced.

Prerequisite: Studio Art

ADVANCED PAINTING

Credit: 1

Level: Intermediate

Overview: To further explore the use of paint, students build on knowledge and experience of color mixing to create paintings with much deeper and personal meaning – to understand art is a form of self-expression. The focus is on the review of color theory and development of a unique style. The course encourages students to develop self- expression and appreciation of paint as a personal and historic medium.

Prerequisite: Studio Art and Painting

CERAMICS

Credit: 1

Level: Intermediate

Overview: This course is an introduction to ceramic construction and glaze techniques. Students will explore various visual problems and ways to solve them with a creative solution. Projects will begin with a brief history, followed by individual research that develops into the creation of the project. Research of images and historical ceramic pieces will serve as visual and functional inspiration for projects. Projects are assessed for originality of approach and solution to a visual problem. Work will be collectively viewed, discussed and graded using a rubric. Weekly participation grades will reflect a student’s effort, productivity, conduct, attitude and clean up habits.

Prerequisite: Studio Art

ADVANCED CERAMICS

Credit: 1

Level: Advanced

Overview: This is the second course in the ceramic series. After students learn the basics of constructing and glazing in Ceramics, they are ready to start exploring the possibilities clay has to offer. Projects will consist of unique assembling and glazing techniques, exploring conceptual solutions to visual problems. Students will research outside of class to gain inspiration, which they will use for their class projects.

Prerequisite: Studio Art, Ceramics

SCULPTURE

Credit: 1

Level: Intermediate

Overview: Through studio practice and research students are exposed to a variety of approaches and considerations in order to arrive at a completed piece of work. By direct experience students learn to problem solve material and aesthetic concerns, understand and apply 3-dimensional concepts in a variety of challenges, resulting in a portfolio of work.

Prerequisite: Studio Art

PHOTOGRAPHY

Credit: 1

Level: Intermediate

Overview: Students learn the fundamentals of traditional darkroom photography through work with the SLR camera and in the darkroom, gaining experience in how an image is formed and printed. Students will also develop awareness of composition, subject matter, and lighting. Black & White Photography by Henry Horenstein is the text. Daily effort, projects, and a willingness to explore the medium are important to success in this course.

Prerequisite: Studio Art

ADVANCED PHOTOGRAPHY

Credit: 1

Level: Advanced

Overview: Students will build upon existing knowledge, continue to develop skill in the darkroom, and increase technical understanding with various cameras while striving to deepen creativity. While working in the darkroom to demonstrate basics and refine printing, students will also apply their knowledge of composition, subject matter, and lighting. Students will produce a portfolio of work.

Prerequisite: Studio Art, Photography

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Credit: 1

Level: Intermediate

Overview: This course will help students to understand and apply the creative processes involved in creating imagery for web or print while considering the visual impact of the Internet on our lives. Through various projects students will learn Adobe Photoshop basics to manipulate and manage files in computer labs. Each student will produce a digital portfolio that combines photography with design basics. Weekly preparation and participation are important.

Prerequisite: Studio Art

CREATIVE MEDIA AND VIDEO

Credit: 1

Level: Introductory

Overview: This course exposes students to the fundamentals of video programming for both extra- and intra-media use. Teachers will take students through technical, aesthetic and ethical considerations with a view to video production. Students will learn to create programming, such as news, arts and social commentary, through various approaches to digital media. The importance of understanding point of view is critical to a more thorough comprehension of our media saturated lives. Moreover, with information and ideas being increasingly spread by channels such a YouTube, students should have a foundation in this important visual language. Rather than being recipients, why don't you create and communicate your ideas. Regular video posts to the WMA website, the student center video feed, and other media will provide ample opportunity to interact and share.

Prerequisites: none

FASHION: DESIGN STUDIO

Credit: 1

Level: Intermediate

Overview: This course will focus on the global understanding of fashion and its cultural and aesthetic implications. Students will consider how fashion changes over time, comparing fashion trends on a global scale and investigating the social and historical aspects that directly influence these trends. The controlling forces of global economics, politics, social hierarchy, and how these forces dictate what people wear, are major thematic components of the course. Students will also examine the history and progress of fashion, and the differences between cultures, particularly Western ideas in comparison to Asian, African and Middle East aesthetics. Students will consider the global aspects of clothing design, fabric design, production and the economics of the fashion industry. In order to create a portfolio of clothing designs, students will learn to draw the human figure, focusing on proportion and anatomy. Various reading assignments will be assigned, as well as a comparative classroom presentation.

Prerequisite: Studio Art. Drawing is recommended.

FASHION: PRODUCTION STUDIO

Credit: 1

Level: Intermediate

Overview: This course will give students a foundation in garment construction, sewing techniques, fabric and fiber qualities, and the use of a sewing machine. Students will have the opportunity to prepare and produce sewn garments from their own designs. The course will culminate in a fashion show.

Prerequisite: Fashion: Design Studio

PORTFOLIO ART

Credit: 1

Level: Advanced

Overview: Offered in the spring trimester only, this course reviews and elaborates on basic design principles through drawing, design, and printmaking. Students learn and apply basics, and demonstrate an eagerness to explore and refine their techniques. Students will prepare for AP Studio Art by beginning preparation of an art college portfolio.

Prerequisite: Studio Art and departmental permission

AP STUDIO - 2D DESIGN

Credit: 3

Level: Advanced Placement

Overview: Through the completion of a range of assignments, students develop individual themes and approaches to a variety of two-dimensional media. With a focus on the elements and principles of art and design, students also develop objectivity, personal critiques and an understanding of the historical and global impact on the arts. The course utilizes the text Living with Art by Mark Getlein. The course will prepare advanced art students for the AP exam and the creation of a portfolio for application to study art in college. The AP exam in May is mandatory.

Prerequisite: Studio Art and Portfolio Art, and/or departmental permission

AP STUDIO - 3D DESIGN

Credit: 3

Level: Advanced Placement

Overview: This course offers an in depth exploration of the many aspects of 3D Design. From plaster casts to recyclable materials, we learn how to use materials in order to make our vision clear and accessible. Problem solving is a critical part of this course. Students are expected to experiment and follow through with ideas. Research on designers and sculptors shared through student presentation and response informs and inspires the class. The work culminates in a group exhibit in the gallery, as well as participating in the AP Studio 3D Design exam in May, which is mandatory.

Prerequisite: Studio Art and Portfolio Art, and/or departmental permission.

Performing Arts

INTRODUCTION TO THEATRE AND PERFORMANCE

Credit: 1

Level: Introductory

Overview: Students will be introduced to the art and craft of theatre through close study of at least one classic text. The class will conduct in-depth analysis of such plays as Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. We will discuss each text’s historical relevance as it relates to our global understanding, as well as its place in the history of theater. Students will collaborate with one another as we explore the fundamentals of performance. Each will complete a major literary analysis essay as well as a performance and/or design presentation. Finally, we will travel to award-winning theaters such as Hartford Stage and The Huntington Theatre to experience professional productions of each play.

Prerequisites: none

FUNDAMENTALS OF THEATRE PERFORMANCE

Credit: 1

Level: Intermediate

Overview: This mid-level theatre course can be taken as an alternative, or in addition to, Introduction to Theatre and Performance, as a prerequisite for ARC. Through direct study of modern American plays, students in this class will continue to explore the fundamentals of acting through literary analysis, collaboration, and exploration of various theories and methods of the craft. The class may travel to the an area theatre to experience a professional production, after extensive study of the text through performance, exploration of design elements and introduction to dramaturgy. The trimester will culminate in a final public performance - the ARC Spring showcase of monologues and scenes.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Theatre and Performance preferred

ACADEMY REPERTORY COMPANY (ARC)

Credit: 3

Level: Advanced

Overview: Conservatory training in the art of acting and the production of live theatre. This course offers an intense investigation of theatre history, production, style techniques and methods of acting, which include global perspectives. The goal is to enable students to become more adept in all areas of theatrical production through a process of collaboration and individual and creative input. Assessments will include independent script reading and analysis essays, performance, and a culminating performance at the Massachusetts High School Drama Festival.

Prerequisite: Introduction to Theatre Performance and/or Fundamentals of Performance

INTRODUCTION TO KEYBOARD AND MUSIC THEORY

Credit: 1

Level: Introductory to Intermediate

Overview: This trimester course is open to all students including those who are not in performing ensembles. The materials covered will include basic music theory concepts as well as important fundamentals of musicianship including keyboard skills and musical literacy. The emphasis on note reading, keyboard skills and music listening to help students to be able to read music as well as play the piano.

Prerequisite: none

WORLD MUSIC APPRECIATION

Credit: 1

Level: Introductory

Overview: This course introduces students to traditional and contemporary global music from China, India, Taiwan, Indonesia, Africa, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, Poland, Bulgaria, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Israel and the United States among others with an emphasis on hands-on experience whenever possible. Students are required to write responses to readings from the text that includes biographies of individual musicians as well as context for music from around the world. The course involves extensive listening to CDs as well as viewing of videos of musical, operatic and folk performances.

Prerequisite: none

ACADEMY SINGERS

Credit: 1

Level: Introductory to Intermediate choral

Overview: This yearlong course is for all students who wish to share their passion for music in a community setting with music selected from various pop music sources, including rock, jazz, musical theater, television and movies. The goals of this course are to develop the ability to be part of an ensemble setting; to learn about vocal skills and harmonization; and to gain confidence in performing in front of others. The course meets once per week for the full academic year.

Prerequisite: none

MOSAIC HARMONY

Credit: 3

Level: Advanced choral

Overview: This course features rehearsal-based class style with periodic discussion and viewing of relevant documentaries. Students will strengthen vocal and ensemble abilities; increase understanding of the challenges of performing music from different traditions; acquire greater understanding of similarities and differences between traditions; and consider how the performance of global music has the ability to foster greater communication within the worldwide community. This is a yearlong course with repertoire pulled from three distinct global music traditions, regions to be selected at the start of each school year.

Prerequisite: audition

MUSIC (TITAN JAZZ) ENSEMBLE

Credit: 3

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Overview: This class will explore a jazz repertoire including the various styles of jazz swing, jazz-rock, Latin jazz, and original compositions by the director and student. Students gain practical listening experience by staying in tune with the group in scale warm-ups, rehearsals, and concerts and thus becoming a team player. The goals of the course are to increase the students’ knowledge and ability in the performance of jazz music; to increase each individual’s understanding of his or her instrument and how it relates to others in a large band setting; to help perpetuate the concept of a rehearsal jazz band – a dying art form; and to prepare a concert exciting to both the musicians and the audience. The ensemble will perform public and private functions during the year.

Prerequisite: minimum of 2-3 years of study on an instrument with the following individual skills:

  • Horn players: proper fingerings of notes
  • Guitar & bass players: names of the strings and fret board
  • Pianists & guitarists: basic knowledge of chord symbols
  • Drummers: ability to play rock, swing and Latin beats

CHAMBER ENSEMBLE

Credit: 3

Level: Advanced

Overview: This yearlong class enables students to improve technical abilities on solo instruments, and facilitates play in chamber and advanced ensemble groups. The emphasis is on advanced solo and ensemble technique as well as audition repertoire through participation in auditions and public performances. The course aims to broaden each student’s solo and ensemble repertoire through performances.

Prerequisites: audition or departmental permission

AP MUSIC THEORY

Credit: 3

Level: Advanced Placement

Overview: AP Music Theory will introduce students to advanced musicianship, theory, musical materials, and procedures. The course will integrate the study of melody, harmony, texture, rhythm, form, musical analysis, elementary composition, history and style. Students will be required to read, notate, write, sing, and listen to music. Musicianship skills such as dictation and other listening skills, sight singing, and keyboard harmony will be included. Students must have the ability to read and write musical notation and should have at least basic performance skills in voice or on an instrument. The ultimate goal of the AP Music Theory course is to develop the student's ability to recognize, understand, and describe the materials and processes of music that are heard or presented in a score. AP Music Theory provides an opportunity for students with advanced musical ability to hone their skills as musicians and increase theoretical knowledge as a means to develop mastery of this subject. There will be regular homework assignments, quizzes, and tests on all of the required skills. The AP Music Theory exam in May is required.

Prerequisite: departmental permission

Additional Requirements

Arts Enrichment

We believe that participating in the arts, as an observer, is a valuable and enriching experience and one that differs meaningfully from strictly being an active participant. To encourage this artistic interchange, we support our Arts Enrichment Program by making the following obligations a graduation requirement:

  • Each upper school student must complete two (2) Arts Enrichment credits each trimester, for a total of six (6) credits per year. These credits may be earned either on or off campus at designated offerings.
  • Students will receive one (1) Arts Enrichment credit for each on-campus Arts Enrichment opportunity attended and two (2) credits for each school-organized off-campus Arts Enrichment opportunity. If a student attends an off-campus cultural Fine and Performing Arts event (concert, museum, dance, etc.) with his/her family the student may earn one (1) credit for that activity by writing a one page paper describing what the event was, when the event occurred, where the event occurred, who participated, and a review of the event.
  • Students who do not fulfill the Arts Enrichment requirement in a given trimester will be assigned to an additional, and specific, Arts Enrichment opportunity the following trimester. If the student fails to meet this make-up obligation, they will receive four hours of campus work detail for each unfulfilled credit.
  • This is an ungraded requirement which does not count as a course.
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