The Arts at Fieldston Lower
The Visual Arts
The art program at Fieldston Lower is exceptionally rich, with multiple opportunities at each grade level for ceramics, painting and drawing, and multimedia sculpture. The challenges in each of these media are developed sequentially, with technical and interpretative skills increasing at each level.
There is a balance of projects relating to the social studies or other core curriculum and those relating to the elements of art. There are individual and collaborative projects, both small scale and large, even giant. Work proceeds from observation and from the imagination. The art studio is a place for personal exploration as well as concepts provided by the art teachers that stretch the students.
In addition, we take time to develop the ability to see and the language to talk about art. We discuss our own work and study the work of artists from many cultures, times and traditions. Our trips have included the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan, the Dia in Chelsea, Dia Beacon, the Whitney, and galleries. No matter what field students may enter as they become adult, they will have an intimate connection with the arts from their time at Fieldston Lower.
Music classes at Fieldston Lower are twice weekly for 30 minutes. Fifth grade has one longer class when the whole grade meets for chorus. The focus throughout the grades is on creating an environment of discovery and enjoyment of the art form. Students listen to music from all parts of the world, and time is spent learning about composers, periods, and styles, but the students mostly learn about music by making music themselves. Students have the opportunity to perform individually for each other as well. All grades learn songs in preparation for assemblies; many songs include instrumentation and dance.
PreK and kindergarten students learn many songs: just for singing, songs with movement, and songs for dancing. They listen to stories that include parts for musical accompaniment and take turns acting the parts or creating the music. Much emphasis is placed on the physical aspect of music; playing percussion instruments at specific spots in a song, making a special movement with certain words, keeping a beat with different parts of the body, all help to internalize the abstract concepts to come.
First grade music begins to build on the experiences from PreK and kindergarten. The students are introduced to rhythmic notation and can do all the subdivisions of a beat, first with with call-response, then by simple identification. Students also learn solfege (Do, Re, Mi) and begin to hear how notes are in relationship with each other. All this is in addition to the weekly practice of singing, moving, and playing percussion instruments.
In second grade, rhythm and pitch come together to create melody. The students look at simple tunes and begin to figure out how they sound without hearing them first. Singing, moving, and playing continue as always, but second grade is introduced to pitched percussion such as xylophones and metallophones.
Third grade spends the first half of the year solidifying the basics of reading music; learning letter names for the treble clef and sight-singing simple melodies. In January, they begin recorder study, and apply these skills to the instrument. Students are given homework for the first time and are expected to develop some basic practice habits. After a period of immersion, classes are split between recorder and the rest of the curriculum.
Fourth grade continues with a once weekly recorder class. Students learn about key signatures, time signatures, and different musical symbols in notation. In their other class, they spend the year going through a timeline of music history, beginning with the Gregorian Chant in Europe and and ending with pop music today in the United States. The students listen to musical excerpts which represent each period.
Fifth grade continues with more advanced recorder study, which ties into the social studies curriculum of the medieval period. Their other music class is with the whole grade in chorus; by now the students can be given sheet music and, with help, use the music to learn their parts. Fifth graders learns songs with harmonies and multiple parts, further reinforcing music-reading skills.