Although reading and math often grab the headlines, arts education is a powerful tool for helping teachers reach a wide range of learners by developing reasoning and emotional capacities. The arts enable students to use multiple abilities.
For example, a visual learner may need to take the verbal and visualize it, vocalize it, or even draw it to better understand a concept. As Ruth Murphy, President of Fuqua School, says, “Consistent and frequent exposure to the arts has long been associated with higher academic achievement overall. At Fuqua School, we don’t perceive the arts as ‘a nice addition’ to our program, but rather as an essential part of a Fuqua School education.”
The arts at Fuqua include theater, music, and the visual arts. Whenever possible, they are integrated into the broader curriculum, prekindergarten through grade twelve. A wide variety of media is used for exploration in the visual arts, such as ceramics, paint, drawing materials, cut and worn glass, and craft items. Lower school students attend classes weekly, and upper school students have the opportunity to complete advanced courses, independent studio work, and film studies.
Forrest Layne, art teacher, weaves art history into his classes. His art room displays copies of famous paintings, architectural styles, and reproduction museum pieces. This early exposure encourages students to develop their own creativity, imagination, and individual style. By learning about past cultures, children learn what other people valued as well as about themselves as individuals. Creating art and images is self-empowering and joyful. It is through the arts that we respond to the environment and current events and how we interpret the world around us. Sometimes words are not enough. By making art we can express emotions that otherwise would be left unspoken. Most of what we know about past cultures is through the art that has endured centuries. The art we create today is how we will convey to future generations our daily life and values.
Vicky Dotson, lower school music teacher, showcases the work of her students twice each year in the Christmas program and Family & Friends Day. “So many schools have deleted the arts due to funding which is unfortunate because the arts are so important to a student’s education. We are lucky to have music from pre-kindergarten through the twelfth grade and for it to be in scheduled classes throughout the week taught by specially trained music teachers. It’s not just a subject taught by a classroom teacher when time allows. We also are privileged to have music classrooms rather than having to rely on a traveling music teacher, going from room to room or even school to school. Music has an effect on everything we do because it touches our emotions and has been shown to enhance a student’s ability to learn.”
The purpose of the Fuqua School Band Program is to teach students the musical skills to become proficient on their specified instrument. Fuqua School has long had a tradition of musical excellence both in performance and competition. The band is a large part of the school culture and continues to develop its role in the school community and community as a whole.
The band classes are available for students in grades 5-12 on an elective basis. The Beginning Band (grade 5) performs at Lower School Concerts and at the Upper School Spring Concert. The Intermediate Band (grade 6) performs at a variety of school and community events. The Junior Band (grades 7 and 8) participates in several school and community performances, a competition and a limited number of marching events with the Senior Band. The Senior Band (grades 9-12) participates in many performances at school and community both as a concert band and marching band and competes in the spring. The skills that students learn in these band classes can be carried throughout students’ lives and applied to any musical experience.
It is also the goal of the band program and its directors for the students to learn in a positive environment where they are valued and feel comfortable creating and expressing themselves through music. The nature of the courses requires students to be actively engaged in the learning process throughout class. Students will also be challenged to work together as an ensemble, learn self discipline through practice, and practice critical thinking through evaluation and improvement of performance.
“I realize that music makes up only a part of a student’s education and extracurricular activities. However, it is my desire that the experiences within the band classroom will help students to succeed not only in music, but also in academics and other activities,” stated Camille Rabon, Band Director.