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Arts

Arts at Cambridge School

Cambridge School offers a comprehensive Arts program that includes performing arts, visual arts, instrumental music and movement. Our Arts program maximizes the creative and empathic qualities of the “right-brain” learners who dominate the classrooms at Cambridge. Our students have minds for designing, inventing, storytelling, and dramatic flair.

The program also takes into consideration the latest research on learning through multiple intelligences and brain-based learning. Information regarding the activities and programs we use can be found below.

Performing Arts

Performing Arts

Winter Play (Middle School II – IV)

Each year students are invited to participate in the Winter Play. This winter performance is a play or drama, with all of the rehearsals occurring during school hours. Often the winter play includes a curriculum connection.

Winter and Spring Concerts (School-Wide)

All students participate in two concerts each year. For the Winter Concert, all classes sing a song and/or play a piece on the keyboard. Handbell, recorder, or drum circle classes also perform during the Winter Concert. Middle School IV students traditionally perform a holiday play.

The Spring Concert coincides with the End-of-Year Ceremonies and Graduation. Students sing songs together, the handbell, recorder and drum circle classes perform, and the Middle School IV graduates sing a graduation song.

The Musical (School-Wide)

The school musical incorporates all aspects of the arts including music, drama, visual arts, and movement. Each year, Cambridge School selects and produces a spring musical that is performed by students on an authentic stage complete with state of the art technology. In addition to the pure enjoyment of being a part of a stage production, children benefit from the experience of working cooperatively with their peers and building self-esteem as they gain theatrical skills and musical aptitude. Whether on stage or behind the scenes, every student plays a role in delivering a first-rate performance. The result of performing in front of family and friends provides the students a sense of accomplishment, both as individuals and as a member of a larger group.

Westminster Instrumental Music

Westminster Instrumental Music

The Instrumental Music program at Cambridge School is a collaborative program lead by professors, conservatory faculty members, and music education students from Westminster Choir College located in Princeton, New Jersey.

Recorder (Lower School IV and Middle School I)

The recorder program introduces students to the two primary elements of music — rhythm and pitch — through instruction in the recorder. Proper finger position, embouchure (position of the instrument relative to the mouth), and blowing techniques are demonstrated and reinforced through direct instruction, modeling and practice. Students are taught notation and different note values using Orff and Kodaly methodologies. A variety of exercises, including echoing, reading, and improvising are used to reinforce concepts. Students perform twice annually at the Winter Concert and End-of-Year Ceremonies.

Drum Circle (Lower School I – III and Middle School II)

The drum circle program is used at Cambridge because research finds that dyslexic children are less able to detect beats in sounds, which can influence the way they assimilate speech patterns and impact their reading and writing abilities. Dyslexic students who participate in drum workshops can improve their sense of rhythm, along with improvement in reading and writing abilities (Cohen-Rose, 2008). Beginning with the basics of feeling a pulse as a group, the students eventually work their way to playing 2-3 interlocking parts at the same time. Drum circle exercises hand-eye coordination, rhythmic creativity, and supports an ethos of teamwork and camaraderie.

Handbell Choir (Middle School I and II)

The handbell choir program is used at Cambridge because handbells involve a highly organized and complex system of counting and reading, where each student is responsible for one or two notes in an entire piece. Students must count the entire piece, and listen to the piece as a whole, to know exactly when they need to play their individual bell or bells. Teamwork is at the core of the class. Every person has to know the parts of everyone else, for the score to work. The class includes score analysis, repertoire, and performance.

Private Lessons (Available School-Wide)

Individual instrumental lessons are offered by Westminster Conservatory faculty and occur during one lunch period each week for 30 minutes (Students have 15 minutes to allow them time to eat). Students perform in a recital in the spring. The following lessons are currently being offered:

  • Piano
  • Guitar
  • Percussion
  • Flute
  • Clarinet
  • Saxophone
  • Trumpet
  • Trombone
  • Violin
  • Voice

Research continues to support the cognitive benefits of studying an instrument. To learn more, watch this TedEd video.

Visual Arts

Visual Arts

Fine Arts (School-Wide)

The Fine Art program at Cambridge School stimulates creative thinking and encourages students to feel comfortable using art as an effective and meaningful form of communication. Students with different learning styles often display a strong aptitude for the visual arts.

Our program works to help student:

  • Develop confidence in their creative expression by building skills in a variety of media
  • Work with tools appropriate to their abilities and skill level in order to develop manipulative skills needed for artistic expression
  • Understand basic design elements, including lines, shapes, colors, textures, space, light
  • Explore more advanced design principles, including pattern, rhythm, balance, contrast, emphasis and unity

Our Fine Arts program also allows students to create bridges between art and the world around them through a theme-based integrated curriculum. For examples, students design and create set backdrops and stage props that will be used in their all-school musical production.

Projects are designed to offer enough structure for students to feel creatively safe as well as the freedom for them to make their own discoveries.

Students build a connection to art community through museum/gallery visits, field trips, and visiting artists.

Architectural Design (Lower School IV)

The architectural design program introduces young students to the fascinating and all-encompassing world of architecture. Developed by a registered architect certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, the primary purpose of the program is to stimulate and develop students’ intellectual curiosity through real world application of architectural practices. This program introduces three concepts:  

  • Design – Helping students “see” through the lens of an architect through historically significant architects, and then by incorporating design concepts into projects.
  • Architecture – Building on knowledge learned in major subjects  — math, science, social studies, fine arts, and computer technologies — students learn to apply what is typically thought of as isolated concepts through architecture.
  • Leadership – Developing communication and speaking skills by creating opportunities for student presentation and cooperative group interaction. Students practice communicating ideas and concepts through group design projects and individual design critiques and presentations.

As part of an end-of-year project, students also learn the ins-and-outs of “climate responsive architecture,” where they explore environmentally responsible architecture. Teams work together to research, analyze and design a habitable structure using climate responsive architecture and prepare architectural studies, sketches, and models that are formally presented to parents, students, and faculty.

Engineering (Middle School I)

The engineering program is designed to build on the knowledge and skills gained in the architectural design program. Engineering provides students with the opportunity to apply a combination of skills and creativity to real-world problems through fun, multi-disciplinary challenges. Students explore a number of engineering disciplines, such as naval, mechanical, aerospace, and green engineering. The program provides opportunities for students to identify problems, brainstorm, plan/predict, build, test, re-engineer, and share results. Activities range from building and improving stomp rockets to the classic egg drop challenge.

Graphic Design (Middle School II, III, IV)

The graphic design program provides an opportunity to engages students’ visual-spatial abilities through hands-on and real-world applications of the design process. Graphic design is a creative process that combines art and technology to communicate ideas. Students work with a variety of communication tools from the classroom to convey a message to a particular audience.

The graphic design program is a year-long, project-based curriculum that develops communication skills in photography, print and digital layout design, typography, and production.

Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) BRAVO (Middle School)

Each year two Cambridge School students are selected to participate in Listen Up!, one of the PSO BRAVO! education programs, through which the Princeton Symphony Orchestra invites middle school students to listen to live classical music and respond artistically and in words.

As part of the program, students attend a pre-concert talk with the composer. They then get to work illustrating their interpretation of the piece through visual media such as painting, drawing, or collage. The resulting exhibition is held at the Arts Council of Princeton and then at Richardson Auditorium during a subsequent PSO concert.

Visual Arts Show (School-Wide)

In May, student artwork is exhibited at the annual Visual Art Show. The show presents student artwork created during fine arts, graphic design, and architecture classes. Through direct instruction, hands-on learning, and natural talent, students create intricate pieces that are proudly displayed around the school. Student artwork has also been exhibited at the Straube Center Art Gallery, The Arts Council of Princeton, and a local art studio.

Stage Crew (School-Wide)

Students can join Stage Crew as an extracurricular activity. Stage Crew members are responsible for the design and construction of the props and sets needed for the School Musical. Crew members in Middle School can have the opportunity to work backstage on the night of the performance moving sets and props.

Movement

Movement

Roxey Ballet Dance Residency ( Lower School I – IV)

Through the Roxey Ballet Company, Cambridge School offers a 16-week dance residency program. Implemented through Young Audiences of New Jersey and the Dodge Foundation, the students acquire knowledge of dance elements while simultaneously developing their own creative dance. They experience dance and movement as a vehicle for personal expression while fostering cooperation and teamwork with their peers.

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