The arts play a crucial role in our educational model across all grade levels, and figure significantly into our interdisciplinary curriculum. We feel that it is vitally important to encourage children from a very young age to express themselves artistically, and to hone their tools of artistic expression. Art and music are meditative and therapeutic, and art objects and musical pieces have throughout history proved to be great unifiers of groups of people.
In our visual arts program, we encourage students to begin drawing early on, and to use drawings as a way of conveying their thoughts and feelings. Children are not instructed on how to draw one or another object, nor how to craft. For every project they undertake, they begin with their own concept, and are encouraged to gradually reveal that concept through a series of drafts.
Beginning with preliminary sketches, and then a second draft, students finalize material lists, and plan out every aspect of their projects before they embark on creating their final vision.
At HWIS, we regard observational drawing as a means of communication integral to social-emotional learning. Communication of this nature is essential for students to understand each other, explain themselves, and to navigate the world. To this end it is important for our art students to begin to develop their artistic voices very early on. Art projects do not serve as a vehicle for instructors to force a lesson—they are considered invaluable in and of themselves. Arts curriculum is changed out every year, so that students never repeat the same themes.
Every year we explore different artists from all over the world reviewing their work, learning about their techniques, and reviewing their quotes and writings. Recently, we explored the work of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Fred Sandback was our inspiration for a study on line, and the artist Brice Marden’s Cold Mountain series led us to an exploration of Chinese poetry. Bill Viola and Paul Chan provided inspiration for the study of light and shadow.
We will continue each year to explore important artistic movements while expanding our focus to lead to fresh exciting discoveries.
In the Elementary music program students learn to express themselves through weekly musical experiences designed to enkindle an intrinsic motivation for music. With their developmental foundation in place, upper elementary levels are introduced to the guitar. At the beginning of each class, everybody sets up, tunes his or her guitar with a clip-on tuner. We guide the development of their muscle memory, the correct manner of plucking the strings, and the right posture, and teach by showing and encouraging mimicry to help students develop a musical ear. We also teach via take-home videos, which are transmitted to parents through our parent portal.
A benefit of our small class sizes, HWIS can take an individualized approach to teaching music, a great boon in accommodating a class of students who are developing in their studies at different paces. Also, because of this closeness, we can more effectively observe students’ development, and offer extra support where needed.
As a result, all students develop musicianship, acquire aural skills, learn how to sight read in treble and bass clef, learn the system of music notation, study music theory concepts, develop practice skills and gain an appreciation of the music of many cultures, periods & genres.