Middle School is the time when hidden talents emerge, undiscovered passions surface, and creative exploration is endless. It’s also a time when children gain more social confidence and the arts can provide a successful platform for them to find their voice, and hear others.
The arts bridge thoughts with feelings, helping students in this age group understand emotions and develop empathy for others. They provide an important avenue for personal expression and growth as they refine their one-of-a-kind talents. In sixth and seventh grade, students participate in all three disciplines of music, drama, and visual art, taking the equivalent of 80 minutes of arts instruction a day. In eighth grade, they choose the exact disciplines they would like to specialize in, and continue to develop their creative thinking and aesthetic sensibility in the specific courses that fit them best.
In our Middle School visual arts program, students learn to express themselves confidently as they study the core elements and principles of art and design. As they progress through the curriculum, students develop more advanced techniques and project intent becomes more self-reflective and based on students’ interests. Ultimately, students get all the tools they need to experiment and focus on the creative process and the space to try something new.
With a focus on communication, collaboration, and self-expression, our Middle School theatre program encourages students to adapt quickly, take risks, and problem-solve creatively. Students learn through theatre games and improvisational exercises that translate to any endeavor they may take, on or off the stage. As they progress through the theatre program, students go beyond traditional concepts, such as voice and movement, advancing into exploring the creative process through the eyes of writer, director, designer, as well as actor. Theatre is an excellent way to build self-confidence and public speaking skills and see productions come to life through teamwork.
Our choral and instrumental ensemble courses provide our young musicians with structured rehearsals that cover a wide variety of music skills, including warm-ups, conditioning, ear training, sight-reading and singing, etc. New skills are incorporated into each rehearsal and are reflected in the music choice. As the students increase their technical proficiency and musicianship, more complex music is covered in preparation for the formal performances. Most students who participate in the instrumental ensemble take private lessons outside of school, and many students perform in other ensembles around Cincinnati. Our general music curriculum allows students to study music using an appreciation model. All levels of general music explore the basic elements of music and the cultural impacts of music. This knowledge and interest may lead eighth-grade students to an intensive music elective, which focuses on 20th-century American music, its roots, and history. Additionally, all general music students explore digital technology and use several different programs to compose, edit, and arrange their own music. In our choral classes, students develop musicianship through choral music study, experience, and performance. As they learn to read more complex music and master proper vocal techniques, they become independent musicians, learning to build resilience as they move toward creating music that can be shared with the larger community.
The arts are vital to a Seven Hills education, and all our students in our Middle School participate in arts programs as part of the curriculum. Many go beyond the classroom and develop their passions further, taking a particular interest in an instrument, musical theater, chorus, or some aspect of visual arts. Below, our student artists share how the arts have helped shape their Seven Hills’ experience.
Seventh-grader Allie not only plays violin, she also draws and paints. She says the arts have had an important impact on her time at Seven Hills. “Arts are a big part of my life,” she said. “They have allowed me to express myself in so many ways, and I can be myself when I participate in the arts.” Allie has great teachers who have helped her develop as an artist. “My art teacher, Mrs. Elissa Donovan, helped me understand the color circle by teaching us how to create an exact color by combining others. Music teacher Mr. John Rising has also helped me develop my understanding of music by letting us know how pieces form and if their tempos are steady.”
Grace, an eighth-grader, has a love for painting, ceramics, and acting. Although it’s hard to choose, her favorite visual arts projects have been reverse glass paintings and landscape paintings. She credits her Lower and Middle School art teachers for helping her create based on her interests. “My teachers have helped me make pieces that really express who I am. Art at Seven Hills has shown me a new way to express myself.”
Will is an accomplished performer who has several Seven Hills Middle School productions under his belt. The eighth-grader has starred in several plays and musicals, including 10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse, 13, Twisted Tales of Terror, and Elf the Musical. Will said the arts have made his Seven Hills experience even more enjoyable. “The arts have taught me not to be nervous and try as hard as possible, as well as to get out of my comfort zone and be creative!”