Visual Arts

A middle school student creating a rubber stamp in art class

Art is developed around the six formal components of design: color, line, form, shape, texture and space. Students explore these concepts using many different kinds of materials and techniques through a variety of projects and experiences. Beyond acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to create and respond to visual art, students explore the artistic achievements of cultures, past and present. The art curriculum is often integrated with other school subjects such as science, social science, and language arts.

Lower School visual arts provides students with a well-rounded and cumulative understanding and knowledge of the elements and principles of design. Starting with our three and four-year-old students, we help students develop a basic understanding of color, shape, and line, and teach them how to appreciate art. As we go through the grades, the students begin to explore these concepts on a more challenging level. In addition to exploring key concepts and ideas students will also use a range of media, which will give them a new perspective on working with their hands and creating their own art.

The visual arts curriculum in Middle School focuses on building a vocabulary of skills and understanding used in conjunction with design principles. Through the explorations of line, form, color, negative space, texture, shading, three-dimensional forms, and a variety of materials and techniques, middle school students will develop an array of skills. The visual arts curriculum also encompasses digital media where digital photography, film-making, the use of apps and other emerging technology is explored.


Performing Arts

Performing in front of an authentic audience is an essential Westside School experience. Whether it be preschool student taking their first steps on the stage at our Winterfest celebration, fourth graders performing an interpretive dance, or our middle school students putting on a full scale musical, Westside students gain the confidence, artistic expression and feeling of accomplishment that comes from working hard to put on a show.

The performing arts program in the Lower School brings music, creative movement, drama and dance alive in the hearts and lives of our children. Our students meet twice a week with their performing arts specialist to explore rhythm, creative movement, play instruments, act, sing, dance and perform. Our instrumental music curriculum begins with simple rhythmic instruments in the preschool, pre-Kindergarten, and Kindergarten years, followed by pitched percussion in first and second, recorder in third and ukulele in fourth grade. Our vocal program begins by finding voice and dynamics and grows to more complex part singing by fourth grade. Movement and acting take a similar course of growth as we develop the whole child as a confident performer and presenter to fully prepare them for their Middle School years and beyond.

The performing arts curriculum in the Middle School focuses on building strong vocal, instrumental, acting and movement skills. Students develop talent and interest in the performing arts through active participation in various performing arts electives; such as instrumental ensemble, vocal ensemble, musical theater, acting and dance. Students will have the opportunity to explore different aspects of the rehearsal process and performance in these electives, while learning the essential terms and concepts that they will need as they move into more advanced programs both in and beyond Westside School.

Music education is essential to the physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the whole child, and develops confidence, cooperation, and coordination in our students. Students learn about beat, rhythm, pitch, melody, harmony, dynamics, and form. They do before they label. By the time they learn the name of a musical concept, they will have already experienced it.

At all grade levels, students sing a varied repertoire of music and play a variety of rhythm instruments. As students grow in their understanding of music, they begin to improvise melodies, variations, and accompaniments, and compose and arrange music within specified guidelines. The curriculum develops and reinforces a love and appreciation of music in every student. Our music curriculum is derived from the national standards drawn up in 1994 by the Consortium of National Arts Education Associations.