Art is an important form of expression across the Nueva Middle School curriculum, allowing students to demonstrate understanding while building artistic skills. The arts are deeply integrated into the curriculum across the grades and disciplines.
Choice is fundamental to Nueva’s student-centered pedagogy; students have a voice in choosing where to dive deeply in many areas of their creative education. Integration combined with student choice enriches understanding as students illustrate topics and make connections in ways deeply meaningful to them. The Middle School offers many programs and elective opportunities for students to engage in a variety of artistic mediums.
We invite you to explore the ways in which the arts are intrinsically woven into the student experience.
The Middle School Visual Arts program and art electives provide opportunities for students to continue developing their artistic skills while gaining exposure to newer media and alternative processes. Students are challenged to generate multiple ideas and solutions, develop and use higher-level thinking skills, and expand their awareness of art and design in everyday tools and techniques.
Students learn about art history and are also introduced to contemporary artists' practices. In addition, they have the opportunity to engage with visiting artists who present their own work and assist with student projects. The art program builds on goals, work, and techniques from Lower School. Students continue to see themselves as capable artists with specific skills and develop a lifelong passion for the arts as a language of expression and discovery.
The Middle School music program provides students with an in-depth understanding and appreciation for the stylistic, musical, and historical characteristics of a wide variety of music. Students learn fundamentals including rhythm, harmony, and composition, all presented in a hands-on, experiential environment.
Fifth graders study and perform music from key cities that shaped American popular music. They investigate genres including country western, rock, folk, blues, funk, and jazz, and research key musicians and musical groups who popularized various styles from each city. As their understanding develops, they make connections with important societal events that occurred at the time this great music was being created.
The emphasis in sixth grade is exploration of Western European music theory through class study and ensemble performance. Students gain a working knowledge of chord construction, rhythm, and ensemble skills.
In seventh and eighth grades, students choose music electives that speak to them, with options ranging from performance-based Groove Workshop or Steel Drums, to more reflective choices such as Like a Rolling Stone: How to Review Popular Music.
Performance opportunities abound for all music students, including lunchtime programs, many community events where they are showcased, culmination concerts, and the spring celebration of the arts. In addition, students also have opportunities to study with professional musicians who visit our campus.
Seventh and eighth graders can choose performing arts courses from the numerous electives open to them. As signature elements of Nueva, these choices include studies that are interdisciplinary in nature and allow students hands-on engagement. Previous projects include “Adaptations of Charles Dickens’s Christmas Carol," where students read the original book, discussed it in depth, watched several film adaptations, and then adapted the work as directors, writers, and actors.
Each year, seventh graders participate in the spring Drama Conservatory, a treasured part of the Nueva Middle School experience. Beginning in February, students meet twice a week with professional directors and actors from around the Bay Area. After rigorous work honing thespian skills ranging from character study to stage combat, students divide up and dive into various productions, including improvisation, Shakespeare, and contemporary or classic works. After performing for the Nueva community, the grade travels together to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where they experience professional performances of shows they just completed.
Private Music Instruction
In addition to classroom music and choral instruction, Nueva students can participate in our outstanding instrumental-music program. Nationally recognized professional musicians from around the Bay Area offer individual instruction on many musical instruments and disciplines, including violin, piano, guitar, flute, drums, voice, and electric bass.
Menuhin-Dowling Music Program
Originally established by Helen Dowling and Sir Yehudi Menuhin, the Menuhin-Dowling program is an exemplary, performance-oriented music program open to instrumental and vocal music students in grades 1–8. The program encourages students to deepen musical knowledge across disciplines, including theory, practice, and performance. Menuhin students make a significant commitment to the study of their instruments, receiving two lessons per week and performing on a regular basis with a focus on great master composers' music.