Upper School Arts
At the Upper School, students pursue their artistic ambitions along with their athletic and academic goals.
Our students do not have to choose between their artistic and athletic interests. They are free to develop as artists and athletes at the same time. Our 12 different arts courses comprise an integral part of the overall curriculum, and meet during the school day. This often requires customizing individual schedules so students who are taking AP or advanced level classes can also play in a jazz combo, develop their photography skills, or study the fundamentals of architecture. Rehearsals for extra-curricular theater productions are also purposely scheduled at specific times after school to eliminate conflicts with athletic practices, helping students balance their artistic interests with their academic and athletic pursuits.
Students must earn one full credit in the arts. However, most students take advantage of the department’s wide range of electives by studying music, fine arts, dance, or theater at advanced levels.
Foundations in the Arts (Grade 9)
This year-long creative course is a requirement for freshmen, and it forms the substructure of the arts curriculum. In each trimester, students explore one aspect of the arts: music, visual art, or theater.
- In theater class, students begin to train as actors through exploration of public speaking, voice, movement, sensory awareness, and improvisation.
- In visual art class, students develop basic drawing and painting skills.
- In music class, students use an ears-and-minds-open approach as they learn to analyze the construction of all modern forms of music.
- Architectural Design I, II, III.
- Graphic Design I
- Graphic Design II, III
- Painting and Drawing I, II, III
- Photography I
- Photography II
- Photography III
- Pottery I
- Pottery II, III
- Video I
- Video II, III
- Web Design
Two-dimensional and three-dimensional concepts are explored including historical research, architectural rendering, sculpture, model making, drafting, and various problem-solving assignments. Studies cover edifices of historic note and contemporary innovation. Students are introduced to the "language" of architecture and the practice of architecture as a profession. Second- and third-year students learn computer-aided design along with other projects such as wood frame construction, town planning, etc. (Electives, Grades 10-12; full-year – 2 times per week for 1/2 credit or 4 times per week for 1 credit)
Using a Mac laptop computer as a design tool, students will use a variety of apps, including Adobe Ideas, to create a digital sketchbook that will be used in the classroom and home; Wasabi Paint, a digital painting app that looks and feels like real paint; Colourize, to recolor digital photos; and Photo Wall, to create photo collages. In addition, students will learn how to use Adobe Creative Cloud applications: Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign and Corel Painter 12, used by professional Graphic and Web Designers worldwide. Design Assignments include Optical Illusions, Kaleidoscopes, Poster Design, Color Theory, Logo Design, Chinese Symbols, Illuminated Letters, Print Advertisements and The Wacom Drawing and Painting Tablet. Craft Projects include Mouse pads, Magnets and Fabric Design of tote bags, aprons and t-shirts. Emerging trends and styles of design are studied utilizing online databases from the National Cooper Hewitt Design Museum and the American Institute of Graphic Arts in New York City. Students will learn critiquing skills that will help them improve their work; this includes both for technical and aesthetic aspects of their designs. Student print designs are displayed in the annual student art show in Thayer’s Gallery and on Thayer’s website. (Electives, Grades 10-12; full-year – 2 times per week for 1/2 credit)
Using a Mac laptop computer as a design tool, students will use a variety of apps, including Adobe Ideas, to create a digital sketchbook that will be used in the classroom and home; Wasabi Paint, a digital painting app that looks and feels like real paint; Colourize, to recolor digital photos; and Photo Wall, to create photo collages. Students will learn more in-depth skills about essential graphic design tools used for print and multimedia artwork. More advanced skills are taught to create design portfolios. Design Assignments include: Designers at Work, International Design, 3 Dimensional Packaging Design, Fabric Design, Digital Painting using the Wacom Drawing and Painting Tablet, Commercial Printing Techniques and Paper for Fine Art Digital Printing. Craft Projects include Mouse pads, Magnets and Fabric Design of tote bags, aprons and t-shirts. (Electives, Grades 10-12; full-year – 2 times per week for 1/2 credit Prerequisite: Graphic Design I or permission of the instructor)
This full-year course includes a wide exploration of both drawing and painting methods and materials using real and imaginary subject matter. Students are introduced to varied techniques and processes of drawing and painting including composition, the elements and principles of design, the use of color, and pertinent aspects of art history and self-expression. As students progress, they are free to explore a more independent voice in both their choice of materials and subject matter. Media options include graphite, ink, charcoal, conte crayon, pastel, watercolor and acrylics as well as mixed media. (Electives, Grades 10-12; full-year, meets 2 times per week for ½ credit or 4 times per week for 1 credit)
In this course students will learn fundamental photographic techniques, including use of 35mm digital SLR cameras, downloading, organizing and printing images. All assignments will be done using Photoshop or Lightroom. Students will learn basics of composition and become proficient in Photoshop by the end of the year. (Elective, Grades 10-12; full-year, 2 times per week for 1/2 credit)
This course is a review of the technical aspects of photography, as well as development of student’s ability to communicate an idea effectively. Use of Photoshop and Lightroom to manipulate images is a major component in this course. Students will learn basic retouching techniques as well as montaging skills. All assignments will make use of digital cameras and Photoshop. (Elective, Grades 11-12; full-year, 2 times per week for 1/2 credit. Prerequisite: Photography I or permission of the instructor)
Third year students are expected to have a working knowledge of digital SLR cameras, Photoshop and Lightroom. The emphasis of this class will be on the student’s ability to develop his or her personal vision. Advanced Photoshop and Lightroom techniques will be explored in order for students to create a cohesive body of work. (Elective, Grade 12 only; full-year – 2 times per week for 1/2 credit. Prerequisite: Photography II or permission of the instructor) Limited enrollment—students with prior photography experience will be scheduled first)
An introduction to basic clay working: hand-building and wheel-throwing, decoration, glazing, and firing techniques, introduction to basic glaze preparation. Stoneware, raku and smoke firing are explored. Emphasis is on obtaining comfort and confidence with these techniques through the production of a body of work. Students experiment with functional, non-functional, and sculptural concepts. Pottery history and culture is presented through examples and discussion. (Elective, Grades 10-12; full-year, 2 times per week for 1/2 credit or 4 times per week for 1 credit)
This course is a continuation of Pottery I: Advanced techniques in clay working, introduction to basic glaze calculation and formulation. Alternative firing methods and experimental projects are introduced. Students may explore areas of their own choosing. A variety of clays and firing processes including raku, smoke firing, porcelain and cone 10 reduction are available. Independent exploration is encouraged. Pottery history and culture is presented through examples and discussion. (Electives, Grades 10-12; full-year, 2 times per week for 1/2 credit or 4 times per week for 1 credit. Prerequisite: Pottery I or permission of the instructor)
Video is truly a twenty-first century medium. This class will focus on learning how to make and view video with an informed eye. Each student will learn the entire process of creating a video from planning, story boarding, shooting, using special effects, to editing with digital video equipment. The work of contemporary and classic media artists will be viewed and discussed. (Elective, Grades 10-12; full-year, meets 2 times per week for 1/2 credit.)
Advanced video and audio techniques are addressed in the process of creating video art. Students are also introduced to using video as projection, as sculpture, and within installation work. The class will critically view and discuss student work and contemporary media. Advanced students have additional access to the editing room as needed. (Electives for Grades 11-12, full-year, meets 2 times per week for 1/2 credit. Prerequisite: Video I or permission of the instructor)
In this introductory class to web design, students begin by learning web design basics including color, formatting, and page layout for web pages. Students will build and publish webpages using WordPress and iWeb ‘11 for a variety of industries. Students will learn how businesses use websites to establish credibility as part of their advertising campaign, and how web 2.0 technology is utilized for internet marketing. Web design is more than just creating functional, eye-pleasing web pages; it’s using technical and design skills to create complete digital experiences that drive so many industries. The internet isn’t just on our desktop computer; it’s always with us in our smartphones, PDAs, MP3 players, and more. Understanding how to create media for the ever-changing internet means you can make your ideas reach more people, anywhere in the world—just what today’s companies need. (Grades 10-12, full-year, 2 times per week for 1/2 credit)
Theater & Dance
This course offers students the opportunity to explore various styles of acting in an open and positive environment. Drawing upon a variety of techniques, including vocal and physical warm-ups, theatre games, and dramatic improvisation, students develop their individualized acting technique and stage presence. Students will develop successful strategies for approaching cold readings, improvised scenes, interviews, and other oral presentations. Emphasis is placed on developing self-confidence in front of an audience with projects and class assignments individualized to the each student's interest and experience level. This class culminates in a public performance showcase in the spring. (Elective, grades 10-12; full-year, meets 2 times per week for 1/2 credit)
If you are interested in staging your own music video, or choreographing a Tony Award winning Broadway musical, or if you just enjoy making up dance steps with friends, then this is the course for you. This class will focus on student creativity, techniques of choreography, and staging production numbers in a wide variety of styles and musical choices culminating in a performance of student designed pieces at the winter and spring dance concerts. (Grades 9-12, Full-year, meets 2 times per week for 1/2 credit)
This course will focus on learning the techniques of a variety of different styles of dance. Classes will cover dance styles such as American hip hop, contemporary and lyrical dance, Broadway jazz, tap, modern, Latin dance, swing dance and a variety of ethnic dance styles. Students will work on stretching, flexibility, technique, and "stage presence" as well as learning and performing complete dance numbers to be performed at the winter and spring dance concerts. (Grades 9-12, Full-year, meets 2 times per week for 1/2 credit)
Meet Thayer Academy's next "dance crew"...the first ever all guys dance class. We will focus on learning dance styles, athletic moves, increasing flexibility and strength as well as techniques (and tricks!) for dance suited for men. There will be performances in all dance concerts! (Grades 9-12, Full-year, meets 2 times per week for 1/2 credit)
This choral ensemble welcomes students of all abilities who enjoy singing. This ensemble provides students with the experience of performing songs in 3- and 4-part harmony from a variety of musical styles. Students in Concert Choir give several performances during the year. No audition is necessary. (Grades 9-12 Full-year, meets 2 times per week for 1/2 credit)
This ensemble will offer a wide range of playing and performance experiences. The group consists of brass, woodwinds, strings, percussion and electric bass. The students will play a variety of literature and styles of music, from traditional, to modern, to movie soundtracks. The students have input into the music they study. No audition is necessary. (Grades 9-12, Full-year, meets 2 times per week for 1/2 credit)
These instrumental/vocal groups will play and perform jazz, fusion, and rock-influenced styles of music. Students have input into the music that is learned and performed. Basic chord theory, form arranging, improvised solos and chord structure will be taught. (Grades 9-12, Full-year, meets 2 times per week for 1/2 credit)
What kind of music do you like to listen to? Bring it in! The course combines listening and discussion of rock music and its place in our culture, films, and history. Students will have input and will contribute to the music used in this course. No musical experience is necessary. Although the title remains the same, the course is very different each year. Students are allowed to take it more than once for credit. (Grades 10-12, Full-year, meets 2 times per week for 1/2 credit)
The Fall Musical is an inclusive, highly engaging production with students creating a strong and cohesive theater spectacular while strengthening skills and forging strong social connections across all grade levels. Emphasis is always placed on the experience of the ensemble, and it is an ideal opportunity for anyone who would like to participate in a main-stage production. Rehearsals are scheduled around all of Thayer’s team sports, so students are able to play a fall sport and participate in the musical. With outstanding production values, and casts and crews that sometimes reach 100, the fall musical is one of the most popular programs at Thayer. Recent productions include Les Miserables, Pippin, and Footloose.
The Winter Play is a theatrical experience for students at Thayer who wish to strengthen their acting and performance skills in a more intimate ensemble setting. With a mixture of comedy, drama, classic and original plays, students have an opportunity to delve deeply into text and meaningfully connect with one another in performance. Recent productions include Twelfth Night, The Diary of Anne Frank,and Almost, Maine.
The spring musical is for those students who wish to study both classic and contemporary musical theater in an intense, highly concentrated workshop experience. Enrollment priority is given to juniors and seniors, and those students with a serious desire to pursue musical theater at a pre-professional level. This production features a small ensemble (around 30 members) and will include works by Sondheim, Jason Robert Brown, Kander and Ebb, and other acclaimed writers and artists.