View the Middle School Curriculum (Grades 6-8)

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Barrie Prep: Visual and Performing Arts


Visual Arts

The Barrie Prep Visual Arts program begins with a strong foundation in the sixth through eighth grades. The Middle School curriculum is guided by the common Barrie themes for these grades with the following essential questions specific to Visual Arts:

  • 6th grade theme: Respect for the Environment
    Visual Art Essential Question: How can art represent the environment?
  • 7th grade theme: Respect for Self
    Visual Art Essential Question: How can art represent the self?
  • 8th grade: Respect for Others
    Visual Art Essential Question: How can art breed empathy and respect for others?

These themes tie in to Visual Arts classes as students exhibit these themes in their artwork and to express themselves creatively. For example, seventh grade students participate in a recurring interdisciplinary project in which they learn about and work on self-portraits in Art while they simultaneously learn how to speak and write about themselves in Spanish. The project culminates with a trip to the National Portrait Gallery.

Art lessons in Middle School are tailored to fit the developmental needs of the learner, which allows time for experimentation as well as guided use of materials. Lessons also begin to transition students working from their imaginations to using memory and observation to inform their art. Students learn how to look at and discuss visual elements that surround us, from fine art, to architecture, artifacts, product designs, student artwork, and other everyday objects. Although specific foundational skills are taught in each grade, and a variety of materials and tools are used, students also provide feedback that influence their art units. For example, in the sixth grade, students learn perspective drawing, but the class influences the subject matter and media used.

Upper School Visual arts electives range from Applied Arts (in which students can explore artistic careers) such as Illustration, Design, Advertising, and Digital Photography, as well as Fine Arts electives, such as Portraiture, Ceramics, Community Arts, and Nature Art. If a student becomes interested in something not offered as an elective, or a specific art subject, he/she has the opportunity to create an Independent Study. Independent Studies in the past have included Extruded Ceramics and Sequential Art.

The goals of the Visual Art electives provided in the Upper School are to:

  • Excite and invite students to learn and develop new artistic passions,
  • Prepare students to apply to and succeed at an arts college,
  • Provide the physical and emotional skills needed to become life-long creators,
  • Build confidence and skills needed to display art,
  • Create visually literate young adults who are observant and critical of their world.

Performing Arts

Music Program

In the Barrie Prep Music program, students participate in the process of selecting music, learning songs on a variety of instruments, and preparing for performances throughout the year. Students also develop the ability to read tablature and notation as needed, and they are expected to develop and train their ears to recognize changes that determine musical structures. Close listening activities are a key part of this process. Although students have varying levels of experience, individuals may continue to build upon their skills or try out an instrument they have never played before. Students may or may not have access to their instrument at home, so there is no expectation that they rehearse outside of the time provided in class.

The Music program for students in grades 9-12 is elective based. Electives vary from one year to the next in response to interest and the interests of students. Advanced Band is the one course that runs consistently each year. Much like the program in grades 6-8, students in Advanced Band select and rehearse material in preparation for performance. There is an expectation that students in Advanced Band rehearse outside of class. Finally, the Music program at Barrie Prep values student voice and choice when determining content. Students have a significant role in selecting material to examine, and the role of the instructor is to help determine the best options based on student input.

Voice Program

The Voice & Movement class at Barrie Prep covers the following areas in grades 6 through 8:

  • Drama (Monologues; Scene Studies; Script Analysis; Character Development; Dramatic Composition; and Playwriting);
  • Public Speaking
  • Voice for the Singer
  • Dance and Movement (Expression without words)

Content for the Voice and Movement class reflects grade-level themes. For example, monologues selected for 6th graders address content that speaks to Respect for the Environment, while the 8th grade class performs a song or scene that is a lyric or story about respect for people less fortunate than themselves.

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