Art —in all of its forms — is woven throughout Speyer’s curriculum. Artistic creativity and individual expression are central in every discipline, from math to science to humanities. As a lens to view units of study in the classroom, Art allows students to make connections and ask questions that extend and expand disciplinary confines.
Speyer’s Art curriculum itself guides and supports students on their artistic journey from Kindergarten through eighth grade, however, creative ways for students to express themselves are found beyond the Art curriculum. From writing and performing plays as part of a Lower School classroom project to Middle School’s Literary Magazine lunch club to afterschool art, musical theater, and photography options for all students, Art is an essential part of each student’s daily life at Speyer.
Art transcends the four corners of the art studio. Through interdisciplinary studies and project-based learning, Art is used as a driving force to integrate other subject matter while creating meaningful and engaging lessons that provide students with an appreciation for art history and strategies to develop various art-making skills.
Throughout the year, students are exposed to hands-on methods such as painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, collage, and weaving, as well as color theory and compositional strategies.
Utilizing the city as an extension of the classroom, regular visits to a range of museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, American Museum of Natural History, New York Historical Society, and Museum of the City of New York, as well as architectural and graffiti tours further enhance an appreciation for the role art plays in creating meaning. Such field studies foster connections between the studio and the broader world of artistic experiences.
Each eighth grade class ends their Studio Art study at Speyer with an intensive, collaborative art project, which then is permanently displayed at Speyer.
Speyer’s music curriculum provides a foundation for our students to become participants in the world of music rather than observers. It combines the creative process of composition and the intellectual exploration of theory and analysis to develop and deepen musicianship.
In the Lower School, Speyer’s music program has two prongs: music composition and musical performance, with each prong supporting and enhancing the other. Using Boomwhackers and Xylophones to explore musical concepts through interactive games and exercises, students immerse themselves in the fundamental elements of music: rhythm, pitch, harmony, dynamics, meter, and more. Using this knowledge, original songs are composed and performed.
In addition, Lower School students explore various points of music history, applying that course of study to vocal technique. Practicing the proper use of the voice, as well as singing in two- and three-part harmony, choral performances are held throughout the year, and collaborations with classroom teachers who desire music to support Humanities curriculum are frequent. Students in fourth grade learn to play the guitar, learning basic chords, picking techniques, and lead work. This instrument work culminates in the performance of an original song.
In the Middle School, students continue to analyze works from periods in music history ranging from Baroque to contemporary classical and current popular music, enabling an understanding of theoretical concepts, which they then use to create their own compositions. Students work with laptop computers and Garage Band, a multi-track recording program, which allows them to create original compositions on multiple virtual instruments. Rock Band and Glee Club are regular offerings as electives and lunch club options for those Middle School students who want to carry their musical instruction and performance further.
The dance program at Speyer is provided by teaching artists from the National Dance Institute (NDI), an internationally-recognized arts education organization that was founded in 1976 by Jacques d’Amboise. All Lower School students participate in this program.
The NDI program provides a comprehensive experience, giving every student the opportunity to move to live music, develop coordination, spatial awareness and movement skills, and perform as individuals within an ensemble. Through an annual theme that propels dancing and learning, Speyer’s dance unique partnership with NDI empowers the bodies and minds of all students. Learn more about NDI at Speyer here.