Upper School Creative Arts

Menlo School’s stage production of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Photo by Blair Sanford.

Think Creative.

Menlo’s Creative Arts programs will inspire you, spark your curiosity, and help you develop the critical creative thinking skills that you’ll be called upon to use throughout your time at Menlo and beyond. You’ll learn the fundamentals of the art forms that interest you as you enhance your ability to articulate ideas, problem solve, collaborate, and think creatively. There are a variety of courses to match your skill level, whether you have previous artistic experience or not. 

Course Catalog

  • Art

    Studio Art students are taught foundation level skills while exploring a wide range of art mediums and techniques. The primary focus is on learning and utilizing the Principles and Elements of Design. Students will have direct instruction in drawing, painting, printmaking, and digital art. The first semester will concentrate on 2-D art concepts while the second semester will introduce 3- D art concepts. Students will research various art movements and participate in class presentations.

  • Advanced Art

    Advanced Art students develop mastery of their art skills and utilization of the Principles and Elements of Design. It is encouraged that students maintain an art journal throughout the year as well as develop a portfolio of original artwork. The instructor and guest artists will give hands-on demonstrations in drawing, painting, printmaking, mixed media collage, and digital art. Students create their own challenging projects utilizing techniques they have learned. Included in the course is an overview of contemporary art history as well as major art movements.

    Prerequisite: Permission of the teacher and preview of student artwork.

  • AP Studio Art: 2-D Design

    AP 2-D Design is a rigorous honors level course where students complete a portfolio of 24 to 29 original artworks in a variety of mediums., including drawing, painting, mixed-media, photography, and digital art. The AP 2-D portfolio is comprised of three sections. The Quality section consists of 5 of the student’s best artworks submitted in their original form. The Concentration section is a body of 12 artworks investigating a strong underlying visual idea in 2-D. The Breadth section consists of 12 artworks that demonstrate a variety of concepts and approaches in 2-D Design. Students are required to work extra hours outside of class and take complete responsibility in time management and project completion.

    Prerequisite: Completion of either Advanced Art or Topics in Fine Art and permission of the teacher.

  • AP Studio Art 3-D

    AP 3-D Design is a rigorous honors level course where students complete three-dimensional artworks in a variety of mediums including clay, paper, wire, fabric and found objects. Digital 3-D art is also accepted. Artworks are judged through photographs of the dimensional works from different angles. The Quality section of the portfolio consists of five-dimensional artworks that demonstrate mastery of 3-D design in concept, composition, and execution. The Concentration section has an estimated 10 artworks investigating a strong underlying visual idea in 3-D design. The Breadth section includes 2 images each of 8 different artworks that demonstrate a variety of concepts and approaches in 3-D design. As in AP 2-D, students are expected to set aside ample time outside of class hours to complete their artworks.

    Prerequisite: Completion of AP Art 2-D.

  • Topics in Fine Art

    Topics in Fine Art is geared toward those students who have completed Advanced Art and wish to pursue their artistic interests further as they create their own challenging projects. Topics in Fine Art parallels the AP 2-Design course curriculum and introduces students to the AP art material. The course is not an AP level course in that final review of the student art portfolio will not be evaluated by the AP Board. Quality art created in this course may be used as part of the AP art portfolio should the student elect to take AP Studio Art in the following year.  Students develop mastery of their art skills and utilization of the Principles and Elements of Design. It is encouraged that students maintain an art journal throughout the year as well as develop a portfolio of original artwork. The instructor and guest artists will give hands-on demonstrations in drawing, painting, printmaking, mixed media collage, and digital art. Students create their own challenging projects utilizing techniques they have learned. Included in the course is an overview of contemporary art history as well as major art movements.

    Prerequisite: Permission of the teacher and review of student artwork.

  • Select Mixed Chorus (Menlo Choraliers)

    The Menlo Choraliers is a non-auditioned group open to men and women in grades 9-12. It is a great place to form new friendships, participate in fun activities, and sing fabulous music! Students assist with choosing and rehearsing songs, and also help come up with ideas for social activities throughout the year. Our singers perform in many exciting concerts and are encouraged to participate in the yearly spring choral tour. (Past tour destinations have included Europe, South America, Canada, Cuba New Zealand, and even Disneyland.) Come sing with us!

  • Chamber Choir (Knights & Knightingales)

    Chamber Singers (Knights and Knightingales) gives Menlo students the chance to experience the joy of singing in a small auditioned ensemble. This course is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors, and is comprised of 12 -16 voices. It is a great place to form new friendships while experiencing the fun of choral performance. There are also opportunities to participate in choral festivals and competitions during the year. Students also help generate ideas for social activities and community performances. Our singers perform in several exciting concerts and are encouraged to participate in the yearly spring choral tour. (Past tour destinations have included Europe, South America, Canada, Cuba New Zealand, and even Disneyland.) Come sing with us!

    Prerequisite: Complete any level of chorus or pass an audition with Ms. Linford.

  • AP Music Theory

    The course presumes a somewhat fluent level in musical reading and notation upon beginning, but the class begins with a complete review of music basics. Time is spent discovering how small patterns such as scales, intervals and triads combine to create larger units such as phrases, periods and two- and three-part form. In class, students work on sight singing and ear training; the goal is the ability to read a musical score without singing or playing out loud. Students are also taught to transcribe musical sounds into notation. Regular melodic and harmonic dictation is given in class. Short compositions are assigned throughout the year to illustrate fundamental principles being studied, and the final project is the composition of a longer piece by each student to be included in a concert at the end of the school year. Critical and analytical listening to major works from the classics of European and American composers from the Middle Ages to the present, as well as representative music of Asia and Africa, is a regular part of the curriculum.

    Prerequisite: Pass an entrance exam through Ms. Linford.

  • Menlo Jazz Band

    Menlo Jazz Band is open to all instrumentalists interested in developing their performing and improvising skills through jazz and other jazz-related genres. In addition to learning standard tunes, students will also learn to create their own arrangements and original compositions for the band. The Jazz Band will perform at casual and formal events throughout the year. Past performances have included music by Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Stevie Wonder, John Hanson ’20, and Leo Jergovic ’21. Jazz Band may be repeated for additional credit.

  • Menlo Orchestra

    Menlo Orchestra welcomes intermediate and advanced instrumentalists who play string, woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. The orchestra presents several concerts annually and performs repertoire from a wide range of styles, traditions, and eras. Students will develop their musicianship through a comprehensive experience including performing, ear-training, and analysis of the compositions being studied. Past performances have included music by Mendelssohn, Copland, Hisaishi (Studio Ghibli), Sufjan Stevens, and Coldplay. Orchestra may be repeated for additional credit.

  • Jazz Dance

    Jazz Dance is open to anyone interested in learning to dance, who loves to dance, or who just loves to move. It is highly recommended for student athletes to help them understand their anatomy, improve their flexibility and alignment and extend their range of movement. The class teaches basic dance terminology, technique, and simple combinations. Choreography is introduced in both semesters and the second semester includes class choreography by the students for the Dance Concert. The class continues to work on progressively more complex pieces in the second semester. Students in all dance classes are encouraged to audition for the performing groups: Knight Dancers, MidKnights, Knight Life and the musicals.

  • Advanced Jazz Dance

    Advanced Dance includes more in-depth technique work and more explosive, controlled movements that require a higher level of strength and alignment. The class works extensively on strengthening, footwork, anatomical terms and new choreography that will lead into a final number for the Dance Concert. This class requires permission from the instructor. Students in all dance classes are encouraged to audition for the performing groups: Knight Dancers, MidKnights, Knight Life and the musicals.

    Prerequisite: Permission of teacher.

  • Drama

    The first semester is intended for both the beginning student of theater and for the student who wants a more in-depth theatre experience. This course provides a brief overview of both the curious non-actor and the experienced younger actor.  The course begins with a series of theatre games and exercises intended to give the student a basic knowledge of stagecraft, ensemble work, character development, and movement for the stage.  Combining a smattering of theatre history along with an introduction to the aesthetic philosophy of theatre, students will learn an appreciation for all forms of theatre and awareness to the world of theatre beyond the classroom and its relevancy in today’s world. The second semester is designed to build on the practices and techniques introduced in the first semester. Through monologues, scene work, and presentations, this semester provides the opportunity to study, act in, and direct various dramatic scenes from full-length plays, which are examined in detail in their entirety.  Students will learn basic technical theatre skills, with a “hands-on” approach to production.

  • Moviemaking

    In this class, students explore and develop their creativity through making movies. The class is individually oriented, so students of all experience levels can focus on improving their specific skill sets and creating a variety of movie projects. Through many hands-on projects, students learn and practice skills such as using lighting effectively, using various microphones and cameras, using green screens, and editing in Final Cut. Students make a variety of movies, from comedies to experimental pieces to thirty-second ads to documentaries. Students learn and practice the IDEO approach to idea development in many of their projects. This is a one-semester class offered only in fall; students who continue for the full year will be in Moviemaking II for the spring semester.

  • Advanced Moviemaking

    This advanced class is for students who have mastered the fundamental skills of moviemaking (i.e., sound, lighting, camera work and editing in Final Cut) and want to put their skills into action creating quality movies. Students will develop original ideas for all their movie projects; each student is encouraged to pursue the kind of movie that interests him or her the most. Students will work with the instructor to develop individual goals for building their skills and completing projects. Students will have access to the full range of equipment and software that Menlo has as they bring to life the movies they imagine.

     

  • Photography

    This is an introductory class that covers the use of a traditional 35mm film camera, lenses, and black and white darkroom printing processes through a series of hands-on projects. In the first semester, students learn to use the manual controls on film cameras and darkroom equipment in order to achieve desired results.

    The second semester covers the use of digital cameras (SLR and mobile) and digital editing processes through a series of hands-on projects. Students learn to use modern SLR cameras and to edit photos with Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop software tools. Students develop practical shooting and editing skills through directed assignments and a variety of self-defined projects, which are recorded through weekly blogging. Classic themes are explored through landscape, portrait, photojournalism, conceptual and experimental photography.
    Cameras and lenses are provided for use during class. Photo paper and film supplies are available for purchase in the Campus Store.

    Prerequisite: Photography class or teacher permission.

  • Advanced Photography

    This class extends the study of photography to include advanced digital SLR and mobile photography, large and medium format film cameras and alternative processes. Emphasis is placed on using the highest quality materials, producing larger prints, advanced techniques, and developing deeper understanding through student-defined projects. Students rotate through individual monthly assignments, which are done in and out of class. Each rotation features a different set of methods, goals or a new piece of equipment. At the end of each rotation, students share, exhibit and critique their results in a group setting. As homework, students maintain a weekly personal blog of their activity. All equipment and supplies are provided.

    Prerequisite: Photography

  • Yearbook: Publication Design I

    PUBLICATION DESIGN I

    Students in this course are part of the yearbook staff. They collaborate with students in the Yearbook Club and any students doing independent studies to create a gorgeous 400-page book each year. New staff members learn about visual design, photography, image editing, and using software for graphic design. Because the book depends on students to create it, the staff must be productive, but the atmosphere in class is casual. It’s a fun change of pace from the usual daily schedule.

  • Yearbook: Publication Design II

    PUBLICATION DESIGN II

    (This class counts for an Arts credit.) In this course, students take part in designing the form and content of the annual book. They learn more about the central principles of design: shape, line, color, repetition and balance. They also dive more deeply into what makes good photography and why in yearbook photography we emphasize faces, action, context and emotion, as well as practicing shooting and choosing photos to create strong page layouts.

    Prerequisite: Publication Design I

  • Yearbook: Publication Design Leadership

    In this third-year class, open to juniors and seniors, students build on everything they learned in the first two years and add to that the challenge of managing peers, leading the staff through a year-long trek to create our book. These publications veterans have the final say in the designs for pages and the book overall. It is their responsibility to incorporate all that they have learned about design in their first two years in an aesthetically pleasing and very practical creation.