Upper School students focus on visually communicating emotion in their mask-making class. Drawing inspiration from Greek theater, the first unit of study tasks students with designing and creating a mask that expresses emotion through a tragic or comic lens. Students sculpt their designs in clay before layering paper mache over the form. Once the mache has hardened, the masks are decorated with paint. At the unit's conclusion, students present their masks to the class and discuss their design choices.
Performing Arts teacher Eleanor Bach accompanies Grade 8 Choir students on the piano as they rehearse “Al Shlosha D'Varim,” a song that underscores the essence of Jewish law, as they prepare for the annual Winter Choral Concert on Tuesday, December 13. Each year, the students perform songs representing different cultures from around the world. The small class size allows for more personalized instruction, helping the students quickly master the work. This year's group has already memorized most of their songs, allowing Bach the opportunity to dive even further into the musicality of each piece.
In the class Stage Combat: The Plays of William Shakespeare students staged the assassination of Julius Caesar using prop knives. After reading the scene in the context of the play, and watching several interpretations of the scene from various productions, students choreographed their own version of the scene under the direction of Performing Arts teacher Mark Silence. Above, Silence demonstrates how students playing the role of the conspirators can safely approach Caesar with their weapons reinforcing visibility and dynamic body movement. Next, students apply this knowledge using larger weapons in the sword fights of “Romeo and Juliet.”
The Grade 8 Band and Strings class has been busy rehearsing as an ensemble in preparation for the upcoming performance at the Winter Instrumental Concert on Tuesday, December 6. Students will perform musical selections on their own in addition to a selection with the Upper School Ensemble. Throughout the year, the class focuses on expanding students' knowledge of musical fundamentals through rigorous playing and performing requirements. Additionally, the Grade 8 Ensemble expands students' opportunities for creativity, self-expression, cooperative learning, teamwork, academic success, and self-esteem.
Fostering confidence and a greater sense of belonging, ensembles perform at various events throughout the year. Earlier in the fall, the Upper School Chorus performed the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the Homecoming football game. In the above-left photo, performing arts teacher Stephanie Gregory instructs the group as they rehearse songs for the Winter Choral Concert on Tuesday, December 13.
Throughout the year, King upper school students and faculty work with Project Music, an after-school nonprofit music program that King hosts on campus. In the above-right photo, the Upper School Combo Band, along with select members from Project Music, performed for prospective families as they entered the Performing Arts Center at our fall admissions Open House. The group also performs during the school year at various community events on campus and around Stamford, including local high school jazz festivals.
The Upper School Instrumental Ensemble class allows students to experience performing in a variety of formats and musical genres that shift dynamically throughout the year. In the photo above, the group rehearses "Hot Chocolate" by Alan Silvestri for their winter concert performance. Later in the year, the group will focus on collective composition for the El Sistema Residency. During the residency, King welcomes over 100 students from around the Northeast to participate in creating an original composition in an innovative collective composition process.
Taking advantage of a beautiful fall day, performing arts teacher Colin Benn held a beginners’ guitar class outdoors on the King campus. Students are currently finishing a unit on playing chord progressions using open chords. During the semester-long accelerated course, participants are guided through different styles, skills, and techniques required to become competent musicians. The course will culminate with individual and ensemble recordings by the students.
Students in Theater Arts begin a unit on the art of pantomime by passing an imaginary ball to each other, changing the size and weight of the ball with each pass. This exercise is part of a variety of engaging lessons that challenge participants throughout the year to think deeply about how as actors, they must develop their bodies, voices, and imagination to tell a compelling story. Individual and collaborative exploration leads to a deeper understanding of one's self and general theater practices.
Students in the Grade 6 String Ensemble are currently working on their first orchestra unit. After learning the pizzicato, or finger-plucking technique, students are introduced to their bows for the first time. With the exception of ukulele units in the Lower School, most of the students in this class have little to no prior experience with string instruments. The year-long graded class alternates between traditional string instruments and classical nylon guitars. Lessons combine ensemble playing and individual sequential assignment playing to help each student progress on their instrument at their own pace.