Our arts faculty, artists and performers themselves, offer instruction in visual arts, dance, music, and theater. In every course, our teachers strive to foster self-knowledge, a willingness to experiment and take risks, an understanding that through art we create and reflect culture, and a commitment to the creative process. Exhibits, recitals, and productions throughout the year celebrate our students’ accomplishments.
In the Middle School, during both their 7th and 8th Grade year, students are required to develop their skills and creativity by choosing from one of the following performing arts, and visual arts offering.
In order to participate in Jazz Band, Orchestra, Rhythm Section Workshop, Dance Company, and Theater Company, students are required to already have a strong proficiency, and must audition.
Middle School Dance Company
Prerequisite: Enrollment by audition.
Middle School Dance Company is a class designed for students who are passionate and dedicated to dance and movement. Students will study classical and new forms of movement (such as ballet, jazz, break dancing, and contemporary). Students will have a chance to experience traditional forms of movement (i.e.: African) and pop dance (i.e.: hip hop). The history and cultures that surround each of the dance styles is studied. In addition to investigating dance technique, students will explore choreography, costuming, lighting, and set design. Multiple opportunities will be provided to create their own dance pieces and share them with the Brentwood School community. Students will perform both their own works, and the works of professional dancers. Live and recorded performances, as well as guest artists, will further students’ understanding of the diaspora of dance.
Movement explores the fundamentals of dance forms, space, time, and levels. In order to explore these concepts, an eclectic mix of dance styles such as contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, and break dancing, which are a few of electric dance styles will be explored. With focus on choreography, students will gain a deeper understanding of how to design a dance. Learning about tools and viewing live and recorded performances, will help students build on their knowledge to successfully create a well-choreographed dance. Students will create small pieces throughout the semester, which will be developed into a final piece that will be performed for the class. Students will explore creative movement with props. Improvisation, live and recorded 18 performances will be conducted to understand these concepts. Students will perform in the winter or spring dance recital, at the end of the semester.
Students will learn and develop the fundamentals of digital image manipulation using Photoshop. A wide range of open-ended projects will allow students of all levels to explore real life applications to digital artwork. Learning how to make a magazine, and applying the principles of design to create a poster are some of the skills students will gain during this course. Project critiques will allow students to develop their ability to analyze, describe, interpret, and evaluate artwork throughout the course. By the end of the semester, students will have the ability to use digital art as a medium of personal expression.
The art of drama is an exploration and communication of the human experience. From improvisation to character study to playwriting, this class will tap into the creative side of each student and help them develop their own innate abilities as storytellers. Students will develop the ability to relax, to trust, to expand their capacity for empathy, and to analyze creative work with a critical eye. Students will build confidence on stage through playing theater games, performing scenes from plays, and writing original dialogues. This class will work collaboratively as an ensemble to learn skills and participate in a performance for the community.
Semester themes include: monologue, improvisation, playwriting, scene study, storytelling, and pantomime.
Middle School Theater Company
Prerequisite: The MSTC is an advanced-level study of theater, and admission is by audition.
In this advanced theater class, students will work collaboratively as a working ensemble to perform shows in front of their school community. Class time is used to explore the dynamics of an ensemble, to learn skills appropriate to the content of the upcoming production, and to rehearse for performance. In addition to studying advanced acting techniques, students will actively engage throughout the entire production process by writing original material, directing, stage management, and production design. Ensemble members must rehearse after school and on weekends as well as prepare at home for rehearsals and productions.
Past productions include Alice in Wonderland, Voices of the 60s, and The Monster Plays.
Filmmaking is an entry-level course designed to expose students to all the essential skills and techniques necessary to create a film. Through a series of short video productions, students will learn the fundamentals of storytelling, how they apply to the film world, and develop the ability to create their own original film concepts. Students will learn basic camera skills, gain a solid understanding of a variety of different types of filming techniques, and develop a strong foundation in editing and the post-production process. Learning how to apply their critical thinking skills to watching films, students will analyze and appreciate the medium in a more meaningful way. Selected student work will be broadcast to the Brentwood community throughout the semester on our YouTube channel, BWS Eaglevision.
Prerequisite: Studio Art
Considered the “next level” course after having taken Studio Art, this course allows students to further develop their artistic skills and knowledge through a multi-media approach. Students will explore a variety of materials and techniques such as glass fusing, glazing bisque ware pottery, sculptural compositing with found objects, and exploring linear perspective in a tri-dimensional realm (reverse perspective). Throughout this course, students will develop their art making practice by engaging in critiques using discussion as a critical tool for artistic and personal growth.
Prerequisite: Enrollment by audition
It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing! Jazz Band is aimed at students who want to focus on improvisation while playing a wide range of upbeat material from Duke Ellington to Aretha Franklin to Post-Modern Jukebox. This elective is primarily for intermediate to advanced ensemble and rhythm section players with proficient knowledge of their instrument. Incoming students are expected to be able to read basic music notation. Jazz Band fosters a collaborative environment where students build musical relationships, and learn to work as an independent ensemble. With student lead music suggestions, Jazz Band works through both original and standard arrangements. In addition to performing at both winter and spring Concerts, Jazz Band will play for the middle school community at daytime “Jams” throughout the year. In the course of learning, Students will make deep connections about how music has been a part of cultural movements and technological advancements of the 20th century. This course will give students a richer understanding of their instrument and prepares them for the upper school music program.
Prerequisite: Enrollment by audition
From the tiniest whisper to the loudest roar, singing energizes one’s soul. For students who love to sing and want to immerse themselves in a dynamic vocal group, MS Singers provides a unique journey, exploring every aspect of being a vocalist. Working closely with Rhythm Section, this class will incorporate unique arrangements within a wide variety of musical genres. This course will engage singers in a process of how to warm-up vocally, and read music notation for the voice. Students will get the opportunity to work in both large and small groups, as well as collaborate with paired-down student accompaniment or full band. In addition to performing at both winter and spring concerts, MS Singers will sing at daytime “Jams” throughout the year as well as visit CALVET to engage and connect with the veterans. MS Singers will prepare students for meeting future musical challenges including singing in an Upper School vocal ensemble.
Whether a student is a complete beginner or has some experience, this elective is a perfect starting place for a musical journey at Brentwood. Music 101 provides the opportunity to have fun playing in a group as well as honing one’s skills through individual study. Students will learn basic music theory on an instrument of their choosing while engaging with music notation. This class works through both original and standard arrangements of contemporary material. In addition to acquiring skills on an instrument, students will make deep connections about how music has been a part of cultural movements and technological advancements of the 20th century. This course will give students a foundation to continue learning music, and audition for an intermediate, or advanced music ensemble.
Prerequisite: Enrollment by audition or teacher recommendation
Music 102 is great opportunity for students to gain more confidence and control of their instrument. This class is designed to propel intermediate musicians toward increased proficiency. Students will deepen their understanding of music theory, and learn the stylistic subtleties of their chosen instrument. Playing as a group, musicians will delve into the intricacies of various genres while learning to read music notation. Music 102 works through both original and standard arrangements of contemporary material. In addition to acquiring skills on an instrument, students will make deep connections about how music has been a part of cultural movements and technological advancements of the 20th century. This course will give students the ideal push toward being a proficient player, and prepare them for a more advanced ensemble.
Prerequisite: Enrollment by audition
Course Description: From Mozart to Muse, and ABBA to Zeppelin. This class combines the elements of a traditional orchestra with musical ideas from popular, world, and classical genres to create unique performance experiences. This elective is primarily for intermediate to advanced ensemble and rhythm section players with proficient knowledge of their instrument. Incoming students are expected to be able to read basic music notation. Orchestra is a chamber group that incorporates a variety of instruments to produce one-of-a-kind arrangements that challenge and inspire. In addition to performing at both winter and spring concerts, Orchestra will play for the Middle School community at daytime “Jams” throughout the year. Students will experience reading music, and making connections about how music has been a part of cultural movements and technological advancements of the 20th century. This course will give students a richer understanding of their instrument and prepare them for the upper school music program.
Prerequisite: Enrollment by audition
Course Description: This class unlocks the secrets of the rhythm section and allows students to express themselves within a creative musical environment. From rock to reggae, from funk to blues, the role of the rhythm section player is ever changing. In the course of study, students will dig deeper into a song by identifying the unique elements of its arrangement. Rhythm Section is an advanced ensemble for guitarists, bass players, keyboardists, and drummers with proficient knowledge of their instrument. Incoming students are encouraged to be able to read basic music notation and/or chord markings, however all are welcome to audition. In addition to performing at both winter and spring concerts, The Rhythm Section will play for the middle school community at daytime “Jams” throughout the year. Students will make deep connections about how music has been a part of cultural movements and technological advancements of the 20th century. This course will give students a richer understanding of their instrument and prepare them to meet future musical challenges.
*Rhythm Section meets during the same track as MS Singers, and will allow singing instrumentalists flexibility to work with the vocal group at certain times.
Course Description: This course focuses on sculptural concepts including structural elements of three- dimensional forms, materials and design-inspired products. Students will explore a variety of media such as clay, wire, plaster, tape, and mixed media assemblages. Introduction to clay offers students the opportunity to prepare for Upper School Ceramics. Multiple techniques ranging from relief, life casting, coil building, additive and subtractive sculptural pieces will be covered. Students will research, develop and implement ideas by using procedural craftsmanship practices and creative problem solving approaches. Students are encouraged and guided to express meaningful connections in art works and the art making process by incorporating elements of identity and emotional intelligence. Although the course focuses more on process, some artists both past and contemporary will be discussed. Individual and group projects will make use of visual arts language, design elements and principles. As every student works at a different level, each individual is encouraged to excel at his or her own rate and progress is measured based on a personal level of mastery.
Course Description: Studio Art is the “entry level” art class for the Middle School visual art program. Students will study many drawing, painting and design skills at a more sophisticated level. The hands-on nature of this class lays the groundwork for many techniques used in a variety of art media. Students will learn and implement concepts including art elements and design principles, collaboration, and how to communicate ideas visually. A cross-cultural approach to art-creation is emphasized by discussing how the diverse environments that are home to different artists, influences their art work and helps them create unique cultural meaning. Students will refine their critical reasoning skills to effectively write and talk about art in the art-making practice and class critiques. As every student works at a different level, each individual is encouraged to excel at his or her own rate and progress is measured based on a personal level of mastery.