Arts Course Catalog

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Arts Course Offerings

AM501: Chorus

Term: Semester 1

Get in touch with your creative center through your singing voice. Learn singing techniques and the enjoyment of singing in a group. This class will also focus on rudimentary sight reading, ear training and style interpretation skills. There will be several occasions each semester during which the group will perform. This is an opportunity for beginner vocalists to become engaged in the artistic life of the Taft School community. Credit is given on a pass/fail basis. Open to all students.

AM505: Electronic Music

Term: Semester 1

No prior music training is necessary for this course. Students will learn basic principles of music theory and apply them toward original works using the midi studio. Evaluation will be based on quizzes, aural exams, efficient demonstration of technology in the lab, and several compositions, including a three to five minute final project. Open to all students, but limited to 10 per class section.

AM507: Class Piano

Term: Semester 1

This piano course is designed for students with varying levels of piano training—including rank beginners. It emphasizes the necessary skills to play the piano long after the course has been completed. Music reading, counting, hand position, and rudimentary technical skills are stressed through the mastery of beginning piano repertoire. There are written quizzes and tests as well as playing quizzes. Open to all students, but limited to 9 per class section.

AM508: Class Piano

Term: Semester 2

This piano course is designed for students with varying levels of piano training —including rank beginners. It emphasizes the necessary skills to play the piano long after the course has been completed. Music reading, counting, hand position, and rudimentary technical skills are stressed through the mastery of beginning piano repertoire. There are written quizzes and tests as well as playing quizzes. Open to all students, but limited to 9 per class section.

AM512: Electronic Music

Term: Semester 2

No prior music training is necessary for this course. Students will learn basic principles of music theory and apply them toward original works using the midi studio. Evaluation will be based on quizzes, aural exams, efficient demonstration of technology in the lab, and several compositions, including a three to five minute final project. Open to all students, but limited to 10 per class section.

AM520: Chamber Ensemble

Term: Year

This course serves the advanced performers on any classical instrument by providing supervised study of their instrument in ensemble playing. Students are expected to practice daily on their own and to travel outside the school to play for various audiences. The course is graded on the basis of student performance of the pieces studied and may be taken more than once. Open to students by audition only.

AM530: Jazz Workshop

Term: Year

Emphasis in this workshop is on interpreting music in the large jazz ensemble and increasing each student's personal skill in instrumental music, leading to several concerts presented both in and out of school. Commitment to excellence is expected. Students are required to practice daily on their own. The course is graded and may be taken more than once. Open to all students by audition only.

AM540: Collegium Musicum

Term: Year

Taft's showcase choir rehearses as an advanced course in vocal and choral musicianship and is designed for the more serious student singer who is interested in performing the masterworks of the repertoire. Emphasis is on personal, musical, and intellectual responsibility. Critical thinking is stressed; students learn to draw technical and stylistic inferences from the music studied in class. Evaluation is based on both performance and preparation. The group performs often, both at school and away, and in recent years during spring break, has gone on concert tours to San Francisco, China, Spain, France and Italy. These tours, although not required, are an extremely important part of being a member of Collegium and it is suggested that members take advantage of these extraordinary opportunities. Open to all students by audition. New students should contact the Director of Vocal Music by the beginning of the school year to express their interest in auditioning.

AM591: Independent Tutorial in Music

Term: Semester 1

This is an opportunity for a student to work with a member of the Department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open to Seniors by permission of the Department Head and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

AM592: Independent Tutorial in Music

Term: Semester 2

This is an opportunity for a student to work with a member of the Department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open to Seniors by permission of the Department Head and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

AM830: AP Music: Theory

Term: Year

Although designed to prepare students to take the Advanced Placement Examination in Music Theory, this course may be taken by any student who wishes to have a good preparation in the fundamentals of using and manipulating musical notation. Beginning at an elementary level, the course soon has the student composing simple melodies, analyzing songs, and writing four-part chord progressions. Much time is spent upon ear training, learning to recognize by ear melodies and harmonies, and to write them correctly. The student is expected to spend time at the computer drilling himself or herself on the fundamentals of music. Open only to Upper Middlers and Seniors. Interested students must have two years of ensemble participation, or pass an entrance exam.

AM993: Honors Independent Tutorial in Music

AM994: Honors Independent Tutorial in Music

AT501: Acting

Term: Semester 1

This basic course introduces students to the fundamentals of concentration, observation, imagination, sense recall, and improvisation. Theater games lead to an introduction to scene work and characterization. Evaluation is based on daily exercises, homework, individual growth, and projects. Students interested in advanced work are urged to take this course. Open to all students.

AT502: Acting

Term: Semester 2

This basic course introduces students to the fundamentals of concentration, observation, imagination, sense recall, and improvisation. Theater games lead to an introduction to scene work and characterization. Evaluation is based on daily exercises, homework, individual growth, and projects. Students interested in advanced work are urged to take this course. Open to all students.

AT503: Public Speaking

Term: Semester 1

The student learns to design and deliver prepared speeches, including descriptive, informative, demonstrative, persuasive, and humorous speeches. In addition, the student practices impromptu speeches and learns to listen critically and to analyze the speeches of his or her peers and public figures. Ideal for both the comfortable speaker and the shy student interested in improving confidence and oral communication skills. Open to all students except Lower Middlers.

AT504: Public Speaking

Term: Semester 2

The student learns to design and deliver prepared speeches, including descriptive, informative, demonstrative, persuasive, and humorous speeches. In addition, the student practices impromptu speeches and learns to listen critically and to analyze the speeches of his or her peers and public figures. Ideal for both the comfortable speaker and the shy student interested in improving confidence and oral communication skills. Open to all students except Lower Middlers.

AT511: Stagecraft

Term: Semester 1

This course introduces the student to the foundation skills for the realization of stage scenery, costumes, lighting, sound, and properties. The student will learn fundamental construction methods, stage electrics, and theater-specific computer programs. Hands-on projects will be assigned to practice safe and effective technical theater techniques.

AT514: Theater Technology and Design

Term: Semester 2

This course introduces the student to theater technology and stage design, by exploring the question: How is a theatrical production created? From conception to opening night, the student investigates the roles of the producer, director, designers, actors, stage managers, and theater technicians. Special attention is given to the four design fields of the modern theater: sets, costumes, lights, and sound. Projects will include model-making, costume rendering, drafting, and computer-controlled light and sound effects.

AT517: Dance for Everyone

Term: Semester 1

Never taken a dance class? Like to dance—even a little or in secret? Then this course is for you. Through dance conditioning and technique, students will develop skills to promote their awareness of correct body alignment, muscle control, flexibility, and balance. Through problem solving and group interaction in dance improvisation students will discover there are no right or wrong moves, just fun ones. In dance technique class, the students will take part in the creative process of choreographing their final dance project, which they will perform as a group at the end of the semester. Open to all students.

AT518: Dance for Everyone

Term: Semester 2

Never taken a dance class? Like to dance—even a little or in secret? Then this course is for you. Through dance conditioning and technique, students will develop skills to promote their awareness of correct body alignment, muscle control, flexibility, and balance. Through problem solving and group interaction in dance improvisation students will discover there are no right or wrong moves, just fun ones. In dance technique class, the students will take part in the creative process of choreographing their final dance project, which they will perform as a group at the end of the semester. Open to all students.

AT520: Intermediate Dance

Term: Year

Open to students with previous dance experience, the course is designed to maintain and hone the dancer's technical skills and to develop an intellectual approach to dance. Technique classes focus on all styles of Classical Ballet as well as contemporary Modern and Jazz dance styles. The course introduces dance composition where the student develops an aesthetic and practical understanding of dance as an art form. Each student will choreograph one or more dance composition according to his or her level of experience. Students enrolled in Intermediate Dance who wish to extend their technical training to the performing stage are invited but not required to participate in Dance Ensemble by electing dance as an exercise/sport during the winter and either the fall or the spring term. Ensemble members perform year-round in a variety of venues, with the Fall Musical, Winter Dance Concert, and Spring Choreography Showcase. Dance Ensemble is open to students by audition only and is limited to 15 dancers.

AT522: Intermediate/Advanced Acting: Drama

Term: Semester 2

In the first half of this course, students will use various types of exercises to explore the idea of truthful acting—creating believable characters and circumstances on stage. During the second half, students will focus on one play, either a comedy or a drama, and work toward an ensemble performance of the play at the end of the spring. Evaluation will be based on journals, daily class work, and individual investment and growth. Open by permission of the instructor to students who have completed AT508 or by audition to students who have completed AT501 or AT502. Limited to 10 students.

AT523: Intermediate/Advanced Acting: Comedy

Term: Semester 1

This course is designed for the students who have taken Acting and want to develop further comedic acting skills. Students will become adept improvisers and comedy scene writers. They will also take an in-depth look at the techniques of scene study. Students will work independently, with partners, and as a performing ensemble, but will be evaluated in terms of individual growth and investment. Open by audition to students who have completed AT501 or AT502. Limited to 10 students.

AT530: Advanced Dance

Term: Year

By audition only, the course is designed to maintain and hone the dancer's advanced technical skills and to develop an intellectual approach to dance. Technique classes focus on all styles of Classical Ballet and Pointe as well as contemporary Modern and Jazz dance styles. The course introduces dance composition where the student develops an aesthetic and practical understanding of dance as an art form. Each student will choreograph one or more dance composition according to his or her level of experience. Students enrolled in Advanced Dance who wish to extend their technical training to the performing stage are invited but not required to participate in Dance Ensemble by electing dance as an exercise/sport during the winter and either the fall or the spring term. Ensemble members perform year-round in a variety of venues, with the Fall Musical, Winter Dance Concert and Spring Choreography Showcase. Dance Ensemble is open to students by audition only and is limited to 15 dancers.

AT591: Independent Tutorial in Theater

Term: Semester 1

This is an opportunity for a student to work with a member of the Department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open to Seniors by permission of the Department Head and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

AT592: Independent Tutorial in Theater

Term: Semester 2

This is an opportunity for a student to work with a member of the Department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open to Seniors by permission of the Department Head and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

AT993: Honors Independent Tutorial in Theater

AT994: Honors Independent Tutorial in Theater

AV501: Drawing & Design

Term: Semester 1

Drawing and Design teaches foundation skills in drawing: the properties of light on volume, drawing from life and imagination, and one- and two-point perspective. Also taught are basic color theory, and design and composition. Slide lectures are given on examining and interpreting works of art, and students practice those skills. Materials used are charcoal, pencil, watercolor, ink, collage, colored inks, colored pencils, oil pastel, and scratchboard.Open to all students, this course serves as the prerequisite for AV520, AV540 and AV840, except with teacher approval for students entering Taft as upper mids or seniors.

AV502: Drawing & Design

Term: Semester 2

Drawing and Design teaches foundation skills in drawing: the properties of light on volume, drawing from life and imagination, and one- and two-point perspective. Also taught are basic color theory, and design and composition. Slide lectures are given on examining and interpreting works of art, and students practice those skills. Materials used are charcoal, pencil, watercolor, ink, collage, colored inks, colored pencils, oil pastel, and scratchboard.Open to all students, this course serves as the prerequisite for AV520, AV540 and AV840, except with teacher approval for students entering Taft as upper mids or seniors.

AV503: Beginning Ceramics

Term: Semester 1

This course is an introduction to the basic techniques of clay forming: pinch, slab, and the potter's wheel. Students will create both functional and non-functional work. Evaluation is based on experimentation and development of skills. Open to all students, but limited to 10 per class section.

AV504: Beginning Ceramics

Term: Semester 2

This course is an introduction to the basic techniques of clay forming: pinch, slab, and the potter's wheel. Students will create both functional and non-functional work. Evaluation is based on experimentation and development of skills. Open to all students, but limited to 10 per class section.

AV505: Video

Term: Semester 1

The first activities of this introductory course will focus on learning the tools of video production: software, cameras, tripods and microphones. From there we will cover composition, shot types, camera angles and scripting. Once the basics are mastered, students will complete a series of “shoot-to-edit” projects, which become their building blocks for video story telling. Students will be introduced to storyboarding and shot mapping. Working in small groups, they will use a single camera, take multiple shots, and edit them together to tell a story.

AV506: Video

Term: Semester 2

The first activities of this introductory course will focus on learning the tools of video production: software, cameras, tripods and microphones. From there we will cover composition, shot types, camera angles and scripting. Once the basics are mastered, students will complete a series of “shoot-to-edit” projects, which become their building blocks for video story telling. Students will be introduced to storyboarding and shot mapping. Working in small groups, they will use a single camera, take multiple shots, and edit them together to tell a story.

AV507: Photography I

Term: Semester 1

This is an introductory course in black-and-white film photography. Topics will include the lensless techniques of photogram and pinhole photography, principles of film exposure and development, and fundamental darkroom printing procedures. Assignments will establish a foundation of seeing with the 35mm camera. Student work will be reviewed and discussed regularly. Slide lectures, books, critiques, and other sources will introduce students to photography history and photo-based artists. Evaluation is based on technical skills, quality and completion of assignments, and participation in class discussion. Open to all students, but limited to 10 per class section.

AV508: Photography I

Term: Semester 2

This is an introductory course in black-and-white film photography. Topics will include the lensless techniques of photogram and pinhole photography, principles of film exposure and development, and fundamental darkroom printing procedures. Assignments will establish a foundation of seeing with the 35mm camera. Student work will be reviewed and discussed regularly. Slide lectures, books, critiques, and other sources will introduce students to photography history and photo-based artists. Evaluation is based on technical skills, quality and completion of assignments, and participation in class discussion. Open to all students, but limited to 10 per class section.

AV513: Glass

Term: Semester 1

In this art class, the student explores the possibilities of glass. They will learn techniques of warm glass such as fusing, slumping and some flame work. The student will learn to make functional bowls and plates as well as jewelry items and sculptural forms. Discover the beauty of this colorful transparent medium. The emphasis will be on the creative process. Limited to eight students.

AV514: Beginning Sculpture

Term: Semester 2

This course introduces students to the concepts and techniques of sculptural design. Students work in a variety of materials including, but not limited to, paper, plaster, wire, wood, clay, metal, and glass. Work is completed from observational points of departure as well as non-objective design. Both additive and reductive processes are explored. Open to all students, but limited to 12 per class section.

AV518: Intermediate Video

Term: Semester 2

The prerequisite for this class is Video or a comparable experience at another school, or permission from the instructor. A continuation of Video, this class will introduce the art of movie making and some of the specialty software including but not limited to: Final Cut Pro X, Adobe After Effects (special effects) and Garage Band (sound effects and music). Students will further their knowledge by experiencing the following aspects of video production:

  • Chroma key (green screen)
  • Script writing and storyboarding
  • Advanced audio recording and voice over
  • Lighting techniques
  • Shot types and shot angles

Students in this class will primarily create original videos including but not limited to: stories, documentaries, music videos, and advertising.

AV520: Intermediate Painting & Drawing

Term: Year

Intermediate Drawing and Painting is designed for students who have completed an introductory course to the visual arts. Drawing skills are refined through increasingly complex assignments, and painting techniques are taught in acrylics, watercolor, oil pastels, soft pastels, and monotype. Lessons focus on the manipulation of light, composition and color for personal expression. Assignments in landscape, still life, and portraiture are included. Students are expected to participate in classes aggressively, to be able to articulate their intentions in any given work, and to critique their own and others’ work sensitively and knowledgeably.

AV521: Intermediate Ceramics

AV522: Intermediate Ceramics

AV523: Digital/Intermediate Photography

Term: Semester 1

Building on the technical skills of Photography I, this course will emphasize aesthetics and students will begin to develop personal visions. Students will continue to work in film-based wet process in the first half of the semester but will transition to the digital process in the second half. Digital workflow will include scanning, color correction, layers, making selections, masks, and final output to printers. Student photographic work will be reviewed and discussed regularly. Specialized topics may include night photography, the use of flash, digital scanning, and monochrome printing techniques. Open to students who have completed AV507 or AV508 or who have the permission of the instructor. Both film and digital format cameras are required.

AV524: Digital/Intermediate Photography

Term: Semester 2

Building on the technical skills of Photography I, this course will emphasize aesthetics and students will begin to develop personal visions. Students will continue to work in film-based wet process in the first half of the semester but will transition to the digital process in the second half. Digital workflow will include scanning, color correction, layers, making selections, masks, and final output to printers. Student photographic work will be reviewed and discussed regularly. Specialized topics may include night photography, the use of flash, digital scanning, and monochrome printing techniques. Open to students who have completed AV507 or AV508 or who have the permission of the instructor. Both film and digital format cameras are required.

AV530: Advanced Video

Term: Year

The prerequisite for this course is Intermediate Video or a comparable experience at another school. Along with their own creative work, students are responsible for outside video projects including community service projects and producing high quality recordings for school events and performances. Students are expected to compete for various video contests throughout the state including, but not limited to, the Student Film Challenge sponsored by Education Connection and the DMV video challenge. Finally, students are responsible for producing a “Taft TV” newscast / news magazine show highlighting Taft events and news. This will be posted for parents and Alumni on a “Taft TV” website.

AV531: Advanced Ceramics

Term: Semester 1

This course is designed for students who have taken beginning ceramics and wish to further develop their skills on the potter's wheel and with hand building techniques. Students should have experience with ceramics, or have completed the Beginning Ceramics course.

AV532: Advanced Ceramics

Term: Semester 2

This course is designed for students who have taken beginning ceramics and wish to further develop their skills on the potter's wheel and with hand building techniques. Students should have experience with ceramics, or have completed the Beginning Ceramics course.

AV535: Advanced Sculpture

Term: Semester 1

AV536: Advanced Sculpture

Term: Semester 2

AV540: Advanced Studio Art

Term: Year

Advanced assignments in drawing and painting require students to be especially sensitive to the abstract qualities of form and content of their work and others and to be eloquent in class discussions and critiques. In the second term, each student designs and executes a body of work showing his/her commitment in depth to a particular artistic concern. Students who exhibit special interest and talent with a specific medium or in a particular area of study will be given personalized assignments to enable them to pursue that interest. Areas of study include portrait and figure painting, automatic drawing and abstract expressionism, mixed media and installation, illustration, cartooning, and an introduction to sculpture.

AV548: Advanced Photography: Photography and Printed Words

Term: Semester 2

In this course, students will explore the full realm of book making including editing, sequencing, layouts, text, dust jackets and paper options. Students will learn about the tools and technology that are used to create self-published materials from exhibition catalogs to portfolios and books. The course will investigate traditional as well as contemporary design and layout. Students will spend the first half of the semester on narrative photography including essentials of workflow and color management. In addition to photography, students will examine the role that words and text play in the expression of their own personal narratives. The class is open to intermediate and advanced photography students. There is a lab fee for this class and the fees will cover the printed book from Blurb at the end of the semester.

AV591: Independent Tutorial in Visual Art

AV592: Independent Tutorial in Visual Art

AV830: AP Art History

Term: Year

This survey course of the major artistic periods in sculpture, painting, and architecture from ancient to modern times will prepare students to take the Advanced Placement examination in Art History. The focus will be on the Western European tradition, though non-western art will be studied. Open to Juniors and Seniors.

AV840: AP Studio Art

Term: Year

This course is designed for juniors and seniors who wish to submit a portfolio for presentation to the Advanced Placement Program of the College Board and directly to colleges as part of applications. Students are given assignments which require considerable expenditure of time in their development. Admission to this course is only upon approval of the instructor: in preceding art classes, students must have exhibited excellent work habits as well as exceptional ambition. Assignments stress versatility with a wide range of media in several areas of study. In addition, each student chooses a "concentration" project, during which a theme is developed in 20 to 30 works that year.

AV991: Independent Tutorial in Visual Art

Term: Semester 1

This is an opportunity for a student to work with a member of the Department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open to Seniors by permission of the Department Head and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

AV992: Independent Tutorial in Visual Art

Term: Semester 2

This is an opportunity for a student to work with a member of the Department on a project in which they share a common interest. Open to Seniors by permission of the Department Head and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

AV993: Honors Independent Tutorial in Visual Art

AV994: Honors Independent Tutorial in Visual Art

CS534: Computer Graphics and 3D Design

This course gives students hands on experience with 3D modeling and animation while also illustrating how this technology is used across many different industries. Projects throughout the course will highlight real-world problems that artists, programmers, and engineers solve using 3D software. Students will have an opportunity to collaborate as a class to simulate working in a computer graphics studio while learning industry techniques used to accelerate production. By the end of the course each student will have developed a CG Reel to showcase the 3D sculptures and animations they created throughout the course.