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Arts at the Middle School

The Middle School offers students a structured and sequential studio and performing arts program to develop each student’s creativity and appreciation of the arts. Each year, students rotate through a trimester each of music, studio art, and drama. Arts classes meet three times a week.

Drama • Middle School

Grade 6 (Meets during the 1st trimester)

In sixth-grade drama classes, students are introduced to improvisational acting techniques, basic staging elements, and methods for developing vocal abilities. Activities are designed to break down insecurities and encourage collaborative work. In September, students explore their own natural abilities by bringing creative ideas to life and building on emerging plots and characters. The remainder of the term is spent working on the Greek play unit that reinforces content from other areas of the sixth grade curriculum. Students make masks, costumes, props, and set pieces for each of their productions. The term ends with a festival day when students perform their final scenes.

Grade 7 (Meets during the 3rd trimester)

Seventh-grade students discover theater through participation in a full-scale, one-act production. Course activities stimulate the imagination, develop problem-solving skills, and encourage group interaction. The overall goal is to provide an environment where students can...

  • Be themselves among their peers
  • Get up in front of a group and share an idea
  • Accept an idea offered by another, and offer appropriate feedback

The objective is for students to develop an appreciation for theater as both performers and audience members.

Grade 8 (Meets during the 2nd trimester)

In grade eight, students again explore theater through participation in a full-scale, one-act production where emphasis is on stimulating students’ imaginations, developing problem-solving skills, and encouraging group interaction. Throughout the trimester, students learn...

  • Audition skills
  • Script break-down and analysis
  • Ways to learn (not just memorize) lines
  • Character development
  • Performance focus
  • Care and cultivation of their acting instruments (voice, body, and mind/imagination)
  • The value of ensemble work
  • How to onquer stage fright
  • The technical aspects of production

This theater arts program offers students the chance to create and perform a high-quality, polished production to be enjoyed by their peers.

Music • Middle School

At Thayer, students can learn about music through...

1) The required music curriculum offered in the classroom (See course descriptions below.)
2) Private instruction in piano, voice, guitar, bass, winds, and stringed instruments, and
3) Participation in a performance group: Chorus or Instrumental Ensemble

Classroom Music Curriculum

Grade 6 (Meets during the 2nd trimester)

The sixth grade music curriculum is based on discovery and exploration of the ten basic elements found in all styles of music:

•  Melody• Harmony• Pitch  
 • Dynamics • Tempo • Plan (Form)
 • Texture • Tone• Color 
 • Instrumentation  





Students learn these concepts by listening to music of varied styles, participating in class discussions, and composing pieces with music software (MusicAce).

Using MusicAce in the lab, students practice basic compositional techniques including: production of note patterns, repetition of those patterns, and organization of patterns into a variety of commonly used musical plans (or forms), for example: an ABA form, theme & variations, or layering.

In class, students have the opportunity to listen to many styles of music that implement these plans, so they can apply them to their own compositions.

Grade 7 (Meets during the 1st trimester)

The seventh grade music course is about creating, listening to, and discussing a wide variety of musical styles. To inform class discussions, students research and study the development of past and present popular music from 1950s  Rock'n Roll of the to the British Invasion of the '70s. Students also create their own music in the computer lab, using GarageBand software, and burn a CD of their composition as a final project.

Grade 8 (Meets during the 3rd trimester)

In eighth grade music class, students learn to play the acoustic guitar. Each student is given a guitar to use in the classroom, as they learn...

  • The six string names 
  • How to tune a guitar
  • Interpretation of chord diagrams
  • TAB (tablature) and chord progressions
  • Various strumming patterns and how to play them with the rhythm of the music

Students learn to apply all these skills by playing many musical styles. At the end of the trimester, students have the opportunity to perform as a group.

Studio Art • Middle School

Grade 6 (Meets during the 3rd trimester)

Students study line, color, shape, space, texture, illusion, and composition through experiences with a variety of methods and materials.  In the context of their own personal expression and creativity, they explore...
• Collage
• Drawing
• Painting
• Printmaking
• Ceramics

Grade 7 (Meets during the 2nd trimester)

Students continue the exploration of a variety of media with emphasis on understanding visual communication. Projects include...
• Stained glass
• Developing drawing skills
• Clay pottery
• Sculpture

Additionally, they study the Masters of the Renaissance and apply the principles and illusions of linear and atmospheric perspective to acrylic paintings on canvas. Experimentation and individuality are encouraged.

Grade 8 (Meets during the 1st trimester)

Students develop their creative style through work on longer-term projects:

  • Each eighth grader produces a personal 6" x 6" ceramic tile to be permanently displayed on a wall in the Middle School. (This is more than just a project. It is a gift to the school and a veritable rite of passage for the student.  It is a way of saying goodbye to the middle school years and marking the transition into upper school and beyond. Thayer students have built a tradition of coming back as upper school and college students to re-visit their tiles and remember what they accomplished as middle schoolers.)
  • Additionally, students are exposed to mask-making from diverse cultures around the world, and they plaster-cast their own decorative masks.
  • Students also paint on canvas using the dream-world of surrealism as a starting point. Open-mindedness to new ideas and risk-taking are encouraged.

   Arts By the Numbers

    In the Middle School, we have…

  • 100 % of our students participating in the arts program
  • 5 faculty members in the arts department
  • 9 different arts courses spanning the visual and performing arts
  • 1 annual floor-to-ceiling Student Art Show in Thayer Gallery
  • 6 annual music, dance, and theatrical performances each year
  • 1 Instrumental Ensemble
  • 1 vocal performing group
  • 3 stage productions each year
  • Individual instrumental or vocal lessons on campus
  • Dance scheduled as part of the athletic curriculum
  • Arts courses scheduled as part of the daily curriculum




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