The arts are a core part of the curriculum at The Elisabeth Morrow School. Our emphasis on instrumental music in particular sets us apart from other threes through eighth grade schools. We believe passionately in the ability of all forms of artistic expressions to enhance children’s lives and numerous studies continue to show that the arts can have a profound impact on students’ overall academic performance.
The arts permeate our early childhood classrooms as students are introduced to a variety of performing and visual art genres, techniques and media and are encouraged to share thoughts or feelings about their own work or the work of others. Students use a variety of two- and three-dimensional media, including painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpting, making patterns and collages and experiment with design, size, weight, symmetry and balance through block building and other open-ended materials in the classroom. They also engage in a weekly sing-along led by a music teacher, explore basic elements of music such as beat, tempo, dynamics and timbre. They are introduced to different musical instruments and how to care for them.
Lower school students experience music through a combination of the Kodály, Orff and Dalcroze techniques at an age-appropriate level. The music curriculum is designed to foster a love of music, introduce musical skills and develop performance skills, with a focus on singing and vocal technique, eurythmics and creative movement and vocal and instrumental improvisation. Orff instruments, such as drums and metallophones, are used for accompaniment and to internalize rhythm.
Instrumental music is part of the curriculum starting in third grade. The program includes group lesson instruction four times per week, ensemble work and a full symphony orchestra experience. Instrumental classes are offered in strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion.
Students study the rudiments of music theory, sight-reading and notation and have the opportunity to perform in several ensembles, including the Little School Concert Band, the Little School Percussion Ensemble, the Cello Ensemble and the Violin Ensemble. All of these ensembles work separately at the beginning of the semester. They come together at the end of each semester in a culminating performance as The Little School Symphony.
An integral part of our STEAM program, the lower school visual arts curriculum helps to promote visual awareness, foster creative expression, and develop imaginative thinking. The program is designed to introduce students to a variety of art media, techniques, and processes. The curriculum incorporates the elements of art and the principles of design through interdisciplinary projects.
Children in fifth and sixth grade are in the EMS Voices Choral Ensemble. Students learn about tone, voice inflection and two-and three-part harmony. The group performs at both the Winter Arts Festival and the Festival of the Arts as well as community outreach concerts. These students also study orchestral instruments in lesson groups, sectionals and large ensembles. Fifth and sixth graders begin their large ensemble experience in the Orchestra. The students experience age-appropriate arrangements of classical music as well as jazz, rock and music by contemporary composers. They also have an opportunity to perform in the Superchamber Orchestra, Stage Band, Jazz Ensemble and Rock Band.
Middle school students perform in a musical theater elective. Students learn how to read and analyze a script, use stage direction, blocking and choreography. The performance includes lighting, sound, costumes and sets. The class culminates in a fully-staged performance for classmates, family and friends.
Students choose subjects of interest for drawing, painting, collage, printmaking, photography and sculpture, to develop aesthetic, analytic and social skills. Through the study of artists and movements from around the world, students gain different perspectives of cultures and history. Projects are designed in conjunction with other subjects such as science, technology and the humanities.