The Arts Are Alive & Thriving At St. James Academy
From grade-level visual art courses to our student-led Annual Talent Show in January, St. James Academy provides a well-rounded arts education to every student. Students at St. James have the opportunity to take visual arts, vocal and instrumental music, and drama every year!
Primary Performing Arts
In PreK through Second Grade, students experience a wide variety of musical concepts through singing, listening, moving, creating, reading, and performing on classroom percussion instruments. Beginning in PreK and Kindergarten, students learn about opposites in music as they develop a basic understanding of dynamics (loud/quiet), tempo (fast/slow), form (same/different), melody (high/low), and rhythm (long/short). From this foundation, first and second graders begin to learn more specific rhythmic and melodic elements through the Kodaly Method. Students also learn about vocal timbre, pitched and non-pitched instruments, as well as orchestral instruments. Through all of this learning, we are having FUN with singing games and dances, and learning important life skills while we work together to create beautiful music!
Intermediate Performing Arts
In Third Grade through Fifth Grade, students continue to learn melodic and rhythmic skills through the Kodály Method. Vocal music class works towards developing mind/body connections and awareness of the physical sensations of singing, which empowers students to reach their full potential. Students also receive Vocal Cross Training, which keeps the voice flexible and capable of making many different types of timbres.
Our students in Third Grade through Fifth Grade also receive instruction in Instrumental Music. The curriculum is a carefully structured sequence that moves from recorders to bells, to trombone, to guitar. They study chord function and structural elements of songs.
These intermediate grade music classes perform several times each year: Thanksgiving Liturgy, Christmas Pageant, Spring Concert, and Awards Ceremony.
Middle School Performing Arts
Middle School Performing Arts is a comprehensive experience! In Sixth Grade, each student takes a full year of Theory/World Music. This class expands their vocabulary of classical and contemporary music; they study a multitude of genres, composers, and performers from around the world. In Seventh Grade, each student participates in a full year of Introduction to Drama. Students learn about the structural elements of dramatic writing and aural story telling. Students perform scripts from around the world and analyze the authors’ motivations and creative choices. Each class begins with warm-up exercises designed to improve physical awareness and quick thinking-skills (improvisation). These activities allow children the opportunity to create performance art in large group, small group, and individual settings.
In Eighth Grade, students continue their study of Drama and have the opportunity to create “Choose Your Own Adventure” projects, which are long-term assignments based on personal interest. Through self-guided research, teacher dialogue, and peer-review, students will explore many aspects of the theatre. Current projects include: developing a stand-up comedy routine, writing an original one-act play, writing a jukebox musical, studying the history of musical theatre choreography, and learning about costume design.
All students also participate in Performing Arts Electives for the full course of their Middle School experience.
St. James Chorus is a co-ed ensemble that sings unison, two, three, and four-part music.
Singers will learn a variety of techniques for building voices that are flexible, balanced, and comfortable. Rehearsals will be developmental and process oriented; they will encourage vocal exploration and allow students the time to consider the mind/body/soul connection involved in singing. Students will learn how to use solfa and rhythm syllables to improve literacy. Rehearsals will include singing games, movement activities, and drum circles that help foster a sense of fun, trust, and personal investment.
Orff Instrumental Ensemble
Instructor: Mrs. Cindy Miler
This performance group will focus on developing musicianship skills through playing instruments, singing, speaking and moving. Based on the educational philosophy of German composer/educator Carl Orff, all students will be encouraged to discover, create, improvise, share ideas and collaborate in a musical context. Students will primarily perform on pitched and non-pitched percussion instruments and recorders. This class will focus heavily on the PROCESS of music making and developing ensemble skills.
Instructor: Mrs. Tara Vierheller
Students will experiment with athletic exercises and ideas about movement to develop awareness of their physical capabilities. In small and large groups, students will explore rhythm, develop coordination, and grow musicality. Class exercises will include but not limited to warm-ups, games, team building, conditioning and stretching, across the floor exercises, center and circle work, and choreography practice. Each component will help students develop focus, strength, agility, and self-confidence as a performer while enjoying an energetic and fast-paced movement class.
Instructor: Mr. Donald Wolcott
The St. James Academy band is an instrumental music course designed to develop students’ musical knowledge, appreciation, and ability within a traditional large ensemble setting. Students will prepare a variety of musical repertoire, including classical and modern works. This class will focus on music literacy, tone, harmony, articulation, rhythm, dynamics, technical exercises and other musicianship skills necessary for performing at a high level.
Additionally, students who demonstrate high levels of proficiency and personal commitment may be invited to join smaller, advanced ensembles.
St. James Academy produces three musical productions a year. Our fall musical for 4th-5th graders is usually a fun and quirky piece often based on Children’s literature. The Middle School Musical takes place during the winter and is a large-scale Broadway-style production. In the spring, 1st-3rd grades will put on a production based on a selected music genre or theme.
Each musical is accompanied by live musicians and employs sophisticated LED lighting schemes. Professional grade head microphones support our actors’ performances.
Previously produced shows include Godspell, The Pirates of Penzance, Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Hello Dolly!, Alice at the Palace, Charlotte’s Web, My Son Pinocchio, A Year with Frog and Toad, The Wizard of Oz, and Snoopy!