Exploring talents, developing self-expression, making connections—that's what the arts program at Presidio Hill School is all about. An invaluable part of each student's experience, the arts are an integral part of school life as witnessed by the many art shows, performances and musical experiences taking place throughout the school year.
Each discipline follows its own curriculum, but is also integrated into the wider curriculum at each grade level.
The visual arts curriculum at Presidio Hill presents opportunities for students to explore many different methods and materials of art and allows space and freedom for students to deeply connect to the creative process. Some lessons are technique based and teach a new skill, concept or style, which is integrated and practiced through a hands-on project. Others introduce students to relevant art movements, art inspired by ethnic or cultural traditions, or art based largely on personal expression. In all cases, students are encouraged to find their own interpretation and experiment with new ideas and materials.
In Lower School art, students learn the fundamentals of color, line, form, texture and pattern within two- and three-dimensional media. Age-appropriate techniques are taught, while students learn new ways to observe, explore and problem solve with a variety of media. Collaboration with the classroom teacher is a vital part of the program and extends and deepens the experience of learning on all fronts.
In higher elementary and Middle School art, this program builds upon the creative and technical skills the students have learned in their beginning elementary art years. Students further their understanding of the principles of design, painting and drawing and continue to explore three-dimensional materials. Group critique becomes an important extension of the art process, and students learn not only how to make art, but to examine, self-reflect and share their artistic vision.
At Presidio Hill, we teach students that to feel safe taking artistic risks, all members of a class must equally participate in fostering a nurturing environment. Students learn to talk about their art in supportive ways, and engage in creative collaboration and teamwork. Artists learn to not only expect differences in the work of any given classmate, but to appreciate the individuality that makes each artist see the world differently.
In doing song-based musical activities, students learn to appreciate and participate in music. Musical activities, games, discussions and songs create a space for many forms of expression. As students progress in grade level, musical skills grow to include ear-training, use of dynamics and performance, while they are also introduced to music terminology. Part of the music program is rooted in the Orff-Schulwerk approach, a holistic way to teach and learn music. It is based on things children like to do: sing, chant rhymes, clap, dance, and keep a beat on anything near at hand. These instincts are directed into learning music by hearing and making music first, then reading and writing it later. This is the same way we all learned our language. Orff happens in a non-competitive atmosphere where one of the rewards is the pleasure of making good music with others. Students explore music history through recordings, which enhance their connection to a large, multicultural world. They also learn the importance of practice and rehearsal in order to prepare for the three school-wide performances, the winter Follies and spring May Festival and Music Showcase.
Performance/ Creative Drama
Weekly performance classes are designed to engage children's bodies, minds and creative spirits. Theatrical games and improvisational exercises help students become comfortable with being seen and heard, trusting their creative impulses, and expressing themselves clearly and dynamically. Students develop a high level of comfort and confidence on the stage by working with spontaneity and creativity, and expressing authentic emotion on stage. Grades 3 through 5 focus on learning to say “yes” to their own ideas, as well as working collaboratively with others. This culminates in short skits written and performed by the 5th graders, based on characters they created through improvisation. Grades 6 through 8 continue to develop improvisational and collaborative skills. Each class also prepares a formal performance. The 6th graders focus on learning the different roles involved in a theatrical production. They collaborate as playwrights, directors, actors and designers. In 7th grade, the focus is on analyzing the inner life of a character to help develop a role for performance. Traditionally, this has been a performance of one of Shakespeare’s plays. The 8th graders lead our whole-school production of Follies. They also study the tradition of theatre from different time periods and different parts of the world.