Middle School Creative Arts

Menlo School Dance Concert. Photo by Pete Zivkov.

Sing. Act. Dance. Paint. Play.

In the Creative Arts at Menlo, students develop confidence, self-awareness, the creative-thinking skill set and the ability to articulate their ideas.

In the Middle School, we offer students opportunities to try a variety of arts disciplines, including studio art, dance, public speaking, drama, and music—and we provide opportunities to enjoy the creative process and shine as artists. At the end of each quarter, students present their work to the community in assembly. Performance opportunities also include concerts, dance performances, dramatic productions and a musical. 

All Middle School students take Creative Arts courses and have the opportunity to enjoy the creative process and shine as artists.

6th Grade
Students take one quarter of each of the following art classes:

  • Visual Art
  • Chorus
  • Dance
  • Drama

7th and 8th Grade
Students take two semesters of creative arts, choosing from semester-long electives:

  • Music: Mixed Chorus, Percussion
  • Visual Art: 2d Drawing, Sculpture, Photography
  • Drama: Scenes, Improv
  • Dance: Choreography, Style and Performance, Dance for Athletes
  • Other Art Electives: Boys’ Chorus (Boys’ Noise), Yearbook, and Yoga

Additional Opportunities
The Chamber Ensemble meets several times per week. Drama presents two plays and a musical each year, and there are two dance performing groups, IgKnight (6th grade) and Knight Lights (7th/8th grade). Club offerings include girls’ chorus (girls’ glee) and Pixar watching and drawing.

Get the latest information on the Middle School Drama Program.

Course Catalog

  • Art 6

    Students develop a broad foundation that will support their individual journey in studio art. They make their own artistic choices, are encouraged to take technical risks and deal with artistic dilemmas. Students learn to “draw” on the computer. They improve their skills of web research and increase their understanding of art history. The ultimate goal of this course is to increase each student’s ability to shine as an artist and their enjoyment of the creative process.

    The course content of sixth grade art is based on the elements and principles of art. Through a series of projects, students improve their handling of media and ability to draw. They complete additional assignments, which fine-tune their sketching skills. Several days are designated during the quarter to learn to “draw” on the computer. Students participate in several web research projects based on art history topics.

  • Dance 6

    6th Grade Dance focuses on the basic technique and terminology of dance while maintaining the fundamental philosophy that everyone can dance. Dance class meets for 70 minutes 5 days a week. Students will learn to isolate, perform a variety of steps and combos, and the basic elements of choreography. The dancers perform what they have learned in the Middle School Creative Arts Assemblies and in the Upper School Dance Concert in March.

  • Drama 6

    In this quarter-long course students learn the fundamental skills of creative drama.  Through story-telling techniques and introductory improvisational games, students develop a greater sense of confidence, self-awareness, and self-expression.  Students strengthen their creative thinking and public speaking skills by presenting their work to one another within group settings. The skills taught during the quarter allow for integration across the curriculum spectrum as students are able to apply their learned dramatic techniques to other class assignments, such as oral presentations, creative thinking and problem solving.

    Classes begin with physical body, mind and vocal warm-up exercises that encourage spontaneous reactions and stimulate freedom of thought.  Each period focuses on different dramatic exercises that introduce various story-telling and improvisational techniques.  Students learn the power of cooperative role-playing, the importance of story content and the physical creation of dramatic characters.  The improvisational games are grouped together in an “Improv Olympics” where students challenge one another to competitive rounds of improvisation. The course culminates with a Creative Arts Assembly where the students showcase highlights from their semester.

  • Music 6

    The sixth graders will spend a quarter singing and composing music. As they rotate through four stations, students will compose a rock band song, learn the ukulele, create an art piece while listening to music, and write songs using GarageBand. Students will have the opportunity to explore new instruments or play ones that they know. There are chances for students to sing solos, create lyrics, and perform for the class. After spending three class periods working on their songs, students will present their compositions. As a culminating activity, the class will choose their favorite pieces and these will be featured on a “demo day” for all sixth grade Creative Arts classes.

  • Drama 7/8 Scene Study

    In this semester-long course students learn the fundamental skills of performing scripted scenes from plays, musicals, movies and comedy sketches. The class is designed to help students understand the fundamentals of creating believable characters by exploring physical characteristics, voices, behaviors and relationships to others. Students will learn how to break down a scene into specific beats and moments and how to find its most comic and dramatic elements. Throughout the course students will be performing a variety of scripted scenes including conflict scenes, comedy scenes, a musical theater routine, voice-over scenes, due-interpretation projects, and a lip-dub project. The course culminates with a Creative Arts Assembly where the students showcase highlights from their semester. 

  • Drama 7/8 Improvisation

    In this semester-long course, students go deeper into unscripted improvisational acting. Through more sophisticated techniques, students build upon the fundamental acting skills gained in 6th Grade Drama to produce more advanced forms of improvisational acting, including short and long-term storytelling, improvised singing, improvised dancing, clowning and mask work, and improvised one act plays. The course culminates with a Creative Arts Assembly where the students showcase highlights from their semester. 

  • Mixed Chorus 7/8

    This semester-long course is a performance elective for students who enjoy singing or want to improve on their skills. By the end of the course, students will have the ability to sight read music, understand reading rhythms, harmonies and music notation, and become comfortable singing for others. Students also learn to receive constructive criticism in order to improve their singing ability.

    Students will learn voice control, harmony, music notation, choreography, proper breathing, pronunciation of words, and choral singing.  A variety of styles of music is introduced including:  Popular, Broadway Musicals, Traditional Spirituals, Cultural, and Classical.  Students perform for various events throughout the semester (both on campus and in the community) as well as a mandatory Holiday and Spring concert.

  • Steel Pan/Percussion 7/8

    During this semester-long course, students learn rhythmic notation, understand challenging rhythmic patterns, learn proper techniques for playing percussion instruments, rehearse music written for percussion and steel pan ensembles, play in a group setting by listening to one another, follow a conductor, compose music, and perform as a group.

    Student participation in percussion ensemble class includes learning techniques for playing snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, mallet instruments, accessories, concert toms, and timpani. In addition, students will learn to play music on the steel pans. Students learn to read rhythms and melodies as they perform on percussion instruments and learn by rote on steel pans. As a culminating activity, each student will compose his/her own percussion ensemble for three instruments. The class performs at various events throughout the year and concludes with a percussion ensemble performance at a Creative Arts Assembly or Holiday Concert.

  • Sculpture 7/8

    In this class students will further develop their 3D technical skills as they explore a variety of art mediums such as ceramics, claymation, paper mache, sculpting with wire, mosaic tiles, paper relief and carving. Students will explore design challenges and develop spatial reasoning skills as they bring their creative ideas into physical form through additive and subtractive techniques.

  • Photography & Digital Arts 7/8

    Students will explore digital photography and digital arts. Students will work both individually and in groups as they develop skills in visual composition, and learn how exposure and lighting can be used to effect the mood and meaning of a photograph. Students will also learn how to use Adobe Photoshop software to alter and adjust their images, and to create new composite images.

  • Painting & Drawing 7/8

    In this class students will further develop their 2d skill set, guided by elements and principles of design. Students will investigate themes based on their life and interests, and engage in printmaking, watercolor, acrylic painting, copper repousse, and color pencil to convey their ideas. Students will also get to create an independent project in the medium of their choide.

  • Dance and Performance 7/8

    This class is for students who want to dance.  Students will work on across the floor combinations, technique, strength and flexibility.  Students will be introduced to a number of dance styles which may include but are not limited to: jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, lyrical, and instrumental pieces.  Performance opportunities will be available.

  • Dance and Choreography 7/8

    This class is for students who want to dance and are interested in learning more about the how, why and what of choreography. Students will learn performance pieces created specifically for this class, and will begin the process of choreographing their own works as well. The class will cover the fundamentals of choreography for a variety of dance styles. There will be performance opportunities.

  • Dance for Athletes 7/8

    Dance for Athletes will explore the connection between dance and sports (both in practice and games). A warm-up and stretching routine will be created to support students’ goals, and you will learn to dance at the same time. Students will work on flexibility, strength, agility, and pattern recognition. This will be a fun class where you can combine art and athletics. Students will learn original works of choreography created for te class, and there will be performance opportunities.