A Mid Year Reflection on the Arts

Reflection is a key aspect of the Arts programme, and right now seems to be an appropriate time to reflect on what has been done during this academic year. As always, the first half of the year has gone past so quickly, and we are fast approaching quarter four. We are privileged to be physically in school and enjoy face to face interaction with our students (with the proper social distancing, of course), unlike so many of our counterparts worldwide. Having the ability to be in a purpose-designed learning environment and have a range of subject resources is a luxury we sometimes take for granted. Wondering what have we been doing with all these resources in our learning spaces? Let me walk you through just some of the many things we have been doing over the past couple of months.

In Visual Arts Grade 6, students have been exploring many aspects of Vincent Van Gogh’s life. Thinking, exploring, and experimenting like an artist develops authentic skill development and a creative thinker’s mindset. From the beginning of sketching and observations in our environment to creating a still life painting without brushes, the students have developed many new skills through explicit teaching, modelling examples of how artists have used the techniques and how artists create artworks with textured paint with palette knives. This has led the Grade 6 students to develop some outstanding artworks with vivid colours that complement the image. Palette knife painting takes tremendous skill to control the space you are working with, paint’s thickness and texture. The students have practised their control of the painting tool until they felt confident to apply their new-found knowledge and understanding to their sketched still life. The high-level skills demonstrated in the students’ artworks show the progression of the process and all the learning steps to produce an outstanding outcome independently. I am so proud of how the students have developed throughout this unit of inquiry and delighted to show the incredible student’s artwork. Now the students are completing their paintings and reflecting on how they have evolved as artists, what new skills they have developed and how this knowledge can help them to think creatively.

Grade 7 students are completing their textured nucleus to create scientific ideas through art. Art mediums, sand and impasto gels have been used to think about how the texture is raised and not flat. Students have explored the effect of glue and ink as fluid textures to create movement and flow. Once finished, the layers will be placed together to complete the artwork. Look out for them on display in the main foyer soon. The students have recently reflected on their process and productivity to ensure they are working effectively and thinking about their self-management skills.

Grade 8 students have started the year demonstrating curiosity and creativity whilst improving subject knowledge and understanding with their colourful interpretations of the formal elements of art and design principles. They are now exploring displacement art and the power of juxtaposition by combining inspirational artist styles on self-made personalised 3D letters. Each student’s design also includes a clear message or issue of concern that matters to them. Students have reflected on how we can make an impact through art and have embraced the opportunity to explore mixed media.

In contrast, Grade 9 students have enjoyed the challenge of creating their artist books and exploring several different printmaking processes developed over time. Beautiful books were created to demonstrate various themes, mixed media, techniques and even scale and presentation. The printmaking unit enabled students to inquire into scientific and technological innovation and explore traditional and modern-day techniques producing striking and intricate imagery. Throughout each unit, students have reflected on their ability to think creatively and solve problems.

Grade 10 students embraced the focus of portraiture through visual expression, beginning with a journey into photo manipulation. Now we have challenged them with a ‘less is more’ concept. We have provided limited resources and a reduced colour pallet to push them to be more creative and inventive in their use of media when designing sculptural work. Grade 10 students see the value of giving and receiving peer feedback and reflect openly and regularly in all that they do. Look out for the next addition and Art update, which will be showcasing our excellent DP student’s artwork.

In Music, we have enjoyed getting back to practical inquiry through being able to develop instrument playing skills as well as composition skills and exploration of a variety of music.

During the previous semester, our Grade 7 students have explored the idea of culture in music. They explored their own culture, what culture they identify with. They also discussed what it means to be Singaporean and the musical culture it has. Students then explored Gamelan (Indonesian/Malay), Raga (Indian) and finally, Chinese music to understand the culture of Singapore. Students also tried composing music from each style and performed it in front of their classmates.

This semester students have started a modern band programme to explore developing various musical instruments and styles. So far, we have developed drumming and ukulele playing skills. They are also planning to develop keyboard and singing skills.
In Grade 8, students have been exploring music production, songwriting and storytelling through music. Students explored in-depth creative thinking skills and musical formulas to create music. Students were able to explore mood and structure to come with their own original creative compositions.

This semester, students explore the fundamentals of rock and pop music and develop an understanding that most rock and pop music actually plagiarised from baroque and classical greats. Is Stairway to Heaven based on Baroque lute music? Does Selena Gomez use her bass lines from Vivaldi? Did Pachelbel’s Canon inspire Green Day? Students investigate musical differences and similarities to understand what makes rock and pop music today.

Grade 9 students have explored a range of musical inquiry topics from investigating songs of social Justice, developing skills in arranging and remixing music and researching the inquiry question “Is improvisation a form of creativity?”. Students have been learning skills to produce their own music but explore the ideas of creativity and play in music.

Grade 10 explored film music by producing their own mini-films and producing the soundtrack to accompany their films. The students investigated a variety of films, including Psycho, Star Wars and James Bond. That used tension to enhance the visual effects on the screen. Students learnt that they could imply emotive characteristics for the viewer by manipulation the music. Students learnt how to effectively use a variety of compositional devices to create effective soundtracks.

Grade 6-12 Drama offers a great opportunity to develop students’ confidence, public speaking skills and unlock their full potential, which has a significant impact on all aspects of their life. Please enjoy a look back on our activities, as well as the triumph of our most recent musical, ‘Bring It On’.

By Claire Rimmer, Head of the Arts Department & Visual Arts Teacher

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