Through a range of curricular and co-curricular offerings Beaver empowers students to use the Performing Arts as a form of self-expression and an agent for social change. With a focus on creativity, collaboration, and communication – in addition to discipline-specific skills – students are encouraged to develop a unique artistic style and apply their skills at a high level.
As part of our Instrumental Music curriculum, all students learn how to play an instrument or hone their skills if they are already accomplished musicians. Using orchestra and chorus as a model for collaboration, students learn instrument technique and musicianship skills through practicing and rehearsing a range of repertoire. They begin by test driving each instrument (trumpet, trombone, tuba, cello, violin, viola, voice, flute, clarinet) before being matched with an ensemble, taking into consideration the student’s interest, feedback from the teachers, and the needs of the ensemble. Those with previous experience in percussion can audition to join the percussion section which joins with the brass and woodwind ensembles for their combined rehearsals. The ensembles comprising 6th, 7th, and 8th grades are highly differentiated, allowing beginners and advanced students to thrive together by learning multiple parts of the same piece of music. Although this is a music program that builds technical skills and artistry, the impact goes far beyond music, focusing on collaboration, creative problem solving, empathy, and leadership skills.
In 6th grade, students develop an understanding of theater as a collaborative art form and work to create a supportive, trusting, and cooperative ensemble. Through theater games and activities, students learn the importance of communication and problem-solving and grow more confident as collaborators and performers. Students also explore physicality and vocal expression, combining these skills to create unique characters, and they are introduced to the various jobs and responsibilities in a theater production. Lastly, students develop their listening, critical thinking, and reflection skills by learning to give and receive feedback as an essential part of the artistic process.
In 7th grade, students explore and refine their skills as actors, collaborators, and performers, learning how to create spontaneously, rehearse effectively, and perform with confidence. Students practice and perform improvised scenes, learn and demonstrate a variety of stage combat techniques, develop their ability to create a character with the help of background details and an objective, and explore the role of the designer in the artistic process. Students build relationships with one another and strengthen an ensemble that collaborates effectively, focusing on trust, risk-taking, and listening skills. Students also learn the importance of feedback and reflection in shaping their work and have the opportunity to practice these essential skills through writing and discussion.
In 8th grade, students practice theatre as a collaborative art form, learning more about the processes of making, developing, and performing theater. Students work to create believable characters through improvisation and scripted work, express themselves physically and vocally, write and develop original dramatic work that is linked to or informed by other disciplines, and explore the roles and responsibilities of the director. Through ensemble games and warm-ups, students continue to develop an awareness of and responsibility for the ensemble and to build their collaboration skills. Students also continue to expand their ability to evaluate and shape their own work, as well as the work of others, through continuous feedback, critique, and reflection. The culmination of the class is a self-designed Final Project, where students create, rehearse, and present a body of work that represents their growth and understanding as a Theater Arts student.