Milton faculty thoughtfully and deliberately cultivate an arts environment that encourages and empowers students. They foster students’ appreciation; engage students in action; and ultimately, develop in them the ability to express themselves confidently and creatively.
Beginning in Kindergarten, students learn the most basic of musical skills: rhythm and pitch. Continuing through Grade 5, they participate in activities that develop their voices and help them understand their natural inclination toward movement. The Lower School curriculum includes experimenting with a variety of instruments from around the world. Developing listening skills as well as analytical skills supports a student’s understanding of the history and the role of music throughout the world. K–5 classroom teachers work with the music specialist to link lessons and musical pieces with the rich and multicultural curriculum themes in each grade’s academic curriculum. Students in Grades 4 and 5 participate in chorus and those who play an orchestral instrument have the option to also participate in orchestra. In grades 6–8, chorus is a performance class for singers; chorus members enjoy many opportunities to perform for their older and younger peers, faculty and parents at Milton Academy. Among other skills, chorus members learn note reading, ensemble technique and musical blend. In the sixth, seventh and eighth grade, students may take orchestra courses. These courses are performance-based, for musicians. Students in Grades 7 and 8 may also choose a general music course, which delves further into music theory and history. Fun, full and rewarding, the K–8 music program begins a life-long appreciation for music.
The power of expression is important for students to understand. Developmentally appropriate experiences that begin in Kindergarten and progress through Grade 8 give students dynamic opportunities to become confident presenters, performers and public speakers. Kindergarten children may begin by “presenting” a culminating unit celebrating penguins, and eventually perform in the Fifth Grade Play, or participate in the National Junior Forensic League tournament. K–8 builds in many opportunities for self-expression. Grade 3 students develop expressive spirit in their Creative Movement class, and Grade 4 students explore story-telling and poetry recitation during Oral Interpretation class. The Fifth Grade Musical is the capstone drama project of the Lower School. Students are cast and crew; through hands-on experience, they learn cooperation, collaboration, and group spirit. Building upon the Lower School curriculum, Grade 6 students dive into a formal study of Shakespeare. Their immersion provides natural and meaningful recitation opportunities and it culminates with a grand performance. Grade 7 drama is a stagecraft course; students build miniature models of sets and also prepare full-scale scenes for School shows. Grade 8 theatre is a course on improvisation. Students script their own work and develop scenes based on themes of identity.
The Speech Team is a co-curricular activity in the Middle School that trains students in the fundamentals of public performance, literary interpretation and public speaking. Faculty supervise the Middle School Speech Team, and Upper School Speech Team members coach, lead and mentor their younger Milton counterparts.
The Milton Academy curriculum combines exploring historical and cultural perspectives with creating individual work. Lower School children play and discover through traditional and non-traditional art materials. Woodworking is a Lower School tradition in grades K–3. Emphasis is on process, more than product, and students work both individually and together to create their own designs. Projects such as self-portraits, wire sculptures, and plaster armatures of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses are just a few examples. The Lower School art faculty plan classes with homeroom teachers to further the cross-curricular nature of the K–5 program.
In Middle School the emphasis is on meeting students at their own energy level: we emphasize “doing.” Students draw real objects, surrealistic variations of real things and places, and learn some of the formal basics for creating convincing visual illusions. Our art projects in design require clear visual organization of information and elements in patterns and sequences. We ask students to interpret subjects in visual terms, expressing and communicating their interpretations of ideas and personalities they have encountered.
We are eager to help K–8 students be brave and adventurous in capturing the world that they see and imagine. The K–8 visual arts program cultivates self-expression and artistic appreciation; it also develops the creative thinking skills that support problem solving, communication, observation, and interpretation.