Throughout the grades, drama and the performing arts permeate our community and learning experience at The College School. Performance arts skills can help students grow in many ways and academic disciplines. These skills are learned through repetition, creative problem solving, and muscle memory. These skills require continual practice, patience and perseverance. Staying with a skill in a committed and determined way until one has mastered it has lifelong ramifications. The process of learning these skills creates new pathways in the brain, increases coordination and builds confidence and self-esteem.
Physical & Vocal Warm-ups / Challenges
Physical warm ups are a combination of modern dance warm-ups and yoga. These exercises stretch, strengthen, and challenge each student's coordination and balancing abilities. Physical warm-ups end with cross centerline challenges. Vocal warm-ups include singing scales to increase lung capacity for volume control and to help students learn to match pitches. Students also learn and master challenging word phrases to increase articulation abilities.
Games and Activities
Specific games, exercises, and activities are often a regular part of drama class. Activities are designed for students to work in an "on the spot" sort of way. Participation in such activities helps students think spontaneously on their feet in front of an audience. Students get used to clearly communicating, expressing themselves and supporting each other in front of many different audiences throughout their careers at The College School.
Preschool students listen to, tell, make up, and act out stories, with an emphasis on characters and creative movement. Students in kindergarten through third grade sometimes take stories a step further by rehearsing and then performing stories, which are related to a current theme. Fourth and fifth grade students participate in a full-scale play in the second trimester. Students are assigned acting, singing, dancing, and instrumental roles. Each student is also responsible for sets and props, costume and make-up or lighting and program in backstage committee work.
Middle school drama classes are assigned more complex and formal plays, such as a three-act American classic, which is rehearsed and performed in the fall trimester and a Shakespeare play in the spring trimester. We have found that the best way to learn about Shakespeare is to rehearse and perform one of his plays.
All students start with balancing skills. Some examples include balancing peacock feathers and juggling clubs on the back of the hand and then on the chin. Students then work on juggling. By first grade some students are onto two and three beanbag cascade patterns. Second through eighth grade jugglers work on more complex patterns, other objects, and increasing the numbers of objects. Circus skill rotation includes tight wire, hula hoops, walking globe, stilts, pedal wheels, unicycle, spinning plates, tossing cups, spinning balls, diabolos, rola bola, cigar box manipulation, hat manipulation, and poi patterns.