Greene Hill is deeply committed to arts education. Throughout each school day, students have opportunities to represent their ideas visually, creatively expressing their learning in both two dimensional and three dimensional projects. In addition to frequent classroom art-based work, all students participate in regular visual arts instruction. Students have hands-on experiences with a variety of media such as wood, wire, clay, paint, and paper, exploring them in an open-ended fashion in the younger grades and learning more specific techniques as they get older.
Our youngest students work on developing basic art skills through units in drawing, collage, painting, and sculpture, with an emphasis on exploration and experimentation with materials. Young students also learn to talk about art through sharing each other’s work, as well as viewing and discussing works by a variety of artists. As students get older, they focus on work with new materials and using familiar materials in new ways. They also develop visual language through viewing and discussing a range of art work, and through sharing and reflecting on each other’s work as well as by visiting museums. Our oldest students learn graphic design skills, help design our school yearbook, and have support in building a portfolio should they be interested in attending an arts-focused high school.
The focus of music at Greene Hill is group music-making: learning to sing and play songs from various traditions, to accompany music and movement, to improvise words, rhythms and melodies, developing social skills as well as technical and creative skills. Each year, students learn new skills and repertoire, and contribute their hopes, dreams, and questions to their own emergent curriculum which they incorporate with greater complexity and flexibility within an ensemble setting.
In the early childhood years, the love and appreciation for music is introduced through the basic foundations. Students have the opportunity to explore it through singing, movement, listening and the playing of age-appropriate instruments. Material and activities include, but are in no way limited to, group singing, basic ear training, rhythm pedagogy, creative and choreographed movement, listening and responding to instruments and each others’ voices, and music found in literature.
As students get older, music class expands on the elements of music learned in previous years, with an emphasis on melody, rhythm, and form. They develop their music-making abilities through echo-singing, pitch matching, and non-pitched (percussion) instrument playing. They learn about musical opposites (fast/slow, high/low, long/short), dynamics (loud/soft) and play musical games to develop skill and confidence in music-making. Students often demonstrate some of this work at a Winter (or Mid-Winter) Share, featuring dance and music collaborations. In the spring there is often an All-School Musical where older students take on greater responsibilities including instrumental and vocal performance, as well as writing and arranging the production’s songs, and younger students perform in ensemble roles. Students also have opportunities to develop an appreciation for music through attending musical performances at local cultural organizations.
In Lower School students may develop class skits or role play with their classroom teacher as part of curricular work, most notably to make personal connections to historical events or more abstract concepts, such as the 9s role plays in which they embody the United States legislative branch ratifying student-proposed bills. Students’ natural interest in drama and theater also tends to appear in Open Work and WOWs, as they write their own plays or even full-length feature films. In Middle School Drama class, students may learn improvisational games or develop a personal monologue. Additionally, students may connect their reading of Shakespeare in Humanities class to enacting parts of the play with guidance from a partner organization such as Irondale Theater Ensemble. Field trips also often include trips to see performances at Brooklyn Academy of Music, New Victory Theater, and Irondale.