Departments

Expressive Arts Department Mission

We encourage a student's life-long relationship with the arts, challenging her to find her own confident artistic voice and to gain a respect for artistic tradition based on our belief that the arts are an intrinsic part of the human experience.

Music Courses and Ensembles

List of 8 items.

  • Song Studio

    In this course students will be using the music studio as an artistic tool for composing music and writing songs. Students will learn how to create musical compositions in various styles. Topics of study include the practice of lyric writing, various song arrangement formats, basic audio engineering, editing and revising drafts of songs through making demo recordings and listening analysis, recording, editing, mixing and master on a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Students will keep a process journal to track brainstorms, techniques, revisions progress etc. Course work will be project based and include writing / composing and revising original work. Final projects will be designed and determined by each individual students area of interest. The goal for this course is for the student to develop the ability to express their voice through process of creating music.
    Prerequisite: some musical background recommended but not required
    Grade Level; 10-12
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • Music Ensemble

    Student musicians have the opportunity to perform in Music Ensembles organized by the Music Department. These ensembles include Instrumental Ensembles, The Vocal Ensemble, and The Grace Notes. With a full year's participation in a Music Ensemble, students have the opportunity to earn one-half academic credit. Music Ensembles may be taken as a credit bearing course only in addition to the normal student course load.
    (1/2 credit for full year participation in any of the following):
  • The Grace Notes

    The Grace Notes singing group is a student-led a cappella ensemble that is assisted by the School's vocal music director. Membership is selected by audition in the spring semester. In order to be eligible to audition a student must have attended at least one year at Miss Hall’s. The group performs in the School's concert series, during the coordinate concerts with other schools, and on other special occasions. The Grace Notes often function as ambassadors for the school.
    Prerequisite: Audition
    Grade Level: 10-12
  • Instrumental Music Ensemble

    The exact nature of the instrumental ensemble is determined by the temperaments, inclinations, and abilities of the various players plus the size and instrumentation of the group. The ensembles perform in the school's concert series and on other special occasions.
    Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor
    Grade Level: 9-12
  • Vocal Ensemble

    This ensemble is offered for all students who wish to participate in the experience of group singing. The group studies the principles of vocal music: breathing, tone production, fundamentals of articulation and diction. The group performs in the school's concert series, during the co-ordinate concerts with other schools, and on other special occasions.
    Prerequisite: None
    Grade Level: 9-12
  • Music Theory

    A semester-long, team taught course designed to teach at the individual student’s level. The fundamentals of music theory will be introduced through piano keyboard use, dictation, ear-training, and sight-singing. Reading treble and bass clefs, study of rhythm, learning how to notate a melody through dictation, and developing skill in singing with solfeggio are a few of the skills students will study. In this course, each individual student will progress as her mastery of skill allows with the potential to study chord and harmonic structure, musical analysis, and composition. Each student would express a goal/s for their personal interest in taking this course, and a final project would be geared towards that interest. At the end of the semester, a student may choose to sign up for another semester and continue on at her level of achievement. Students who are not able to take the course in the fall may sign up in the spring and start at the beginning of the course.
    Prerequisite: None
    Grade Level: 10-12
    (1/2 credit; first and/or second semesters)
  • Music and Social Rebellion

    This is a one-semester course designed to educate students on the themes of reflections and rejections of societal constraints through music scenes and cultural movements. Over the course of music history people have been voicing their personal, political, and cultural needs through musical expression. Students will explore this phenomena through a variety of popular musical movements over the past century including the origins of Jazz, the development of R&B, the roots of Rock n Roll, the Summer of Love, the emergence of Punk, the birth of Hip Hop, the New Wave movement, Grunge Rock, Electronic music and others. Students will engage in individually designed research projects and presentations as well as short quizzes, tests and essay prompts.
    Prerequiste: None
    Grade Level: 10-12
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • Private Music Instruction

    Private instruction in voice, instruments, and music technology is available to students. The lesson fees vary with the instructor. A signed parental permission slip is required for all students taking lessons. The student has the option of taking the lesson as a credit course. Private music instruction for credit must be taken in addition to the normal student course load.
    Prerequisite: None
    Grade Level: 9-12 (1/4 credit; one semester participation)
    (1/2 credit; year-long participation)

Theater Arts Courses

List of 8 items.

  • Drama and Performance I

    This year-long course is designed to give students experience in the art and craft of acting on the stage and to deepen their knowledge and understanding of theater. Exercises, improvisations, and work on texts will help students free their imaginations, develop flexibility and expressiveness in both voice and movement, and explore the emotions necessary to bring life to a role. Students engage in intensive play and scene study, role analysis, character development and improvisation. Through extended study of plays from different periods, they gain knowledge of theater history and an awareness of various theater styles. The final exam consists of a presentation of scenes and monologues.
    Prerequisite: None
    Grade Level: 9-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Drama and Performance II

    This year-long course is designed to give students experience in the art and craft of acting on the stage and to deepen their knowledge and understanding of theater. Exercises, improvisations and work on texts will help students free their imaginations, develop flexibility and expressiveness in both voice and movement, and explore the emotions necessary to bring life to a role. Students will engage in intensive play and scene study, role analysis, character development and improvisation. Through extended study of plays from different periods, they will gain knowledge of theater history and an awareness of various theater styles. The final exam will consist of a presentation of scenes and monologues.
    Prerequisite: Drama and Performance I or permission of instructor
    Grade Level: 9-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Advanced Drama

    This year-long course is designed to provide continued study in theater for the more experienced Drama student. The focus is on selfdirected study and performance as well as the opportunity to model for the Drama and Performance I & II students as a Teacher's Assistant.
    Prerequisite: Drama and Performance II or permission of instructor
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Independent Study in Theater

    This yearlong course is designed for students who have completed all the available sections applicable to their study of theater. An independent project/study will be developed in collaboration with the instructor connected to a specific area of interest; areas include monologues, documentary theater, assistant teaching, and college portfolio preparation. Students must also be able to present a project proposal, set their own goals, and demonstrate that they are able to work in a focused and self-directed manner. This course gives advanced theater students the opportunity to explore areas of interest in more depth with the guidance of an instructor during an existing scheduled class time. Students are expected to present a cohesive and accomplished performance at the end of each semester.
    Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Dance and Movement

    Are you interested in dance but don’t know where to start? Are you a more experienced dancer and just can’t get enough? Do you want a place to move and express yourself during your academic day? Dance is known to increase joy and connectedness, tone and strengthen your body, make you a more confident person and help you find new ways to express your passions. Acquiring movement skills and discovering confidence and enjoyment through movement are a focus of this fall semester dance course. It is designed to be a fun, interactive introduction to the various forms of dance and dance performance, including ballet, modern, jazz, and Afro-Caribbean styles. Classes will include watching film clips of different styles of dance, dance technique, short movement phrases, as well as dance improvisation. The importance of stretching will be emphasized on movement days. A short dance concert will be presented at the end of the semester.
    Prerequisite: None
    Grade Level: 9-12
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • Dance Choreography Workshop

    In this one-semester course, we will explore different dance styles, watch film clips associated with these styles, and spend most of our class time on movement. Students will choreograph their own dance pieces (solo and in groups) that explore their own passions and interests. A short dance concert will be presented at the end of the semester.
    Prerequisite: None
    Grade Level: 9-12
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • Technical Theater

    Students are given the opportunity to work in a variety of production capacities to learn by doing such activities as set and lighting design, painting. costume production and stage managing. Students learn the technique and craft necessary to realize the scenery of the two dramatic productions presented each school year plus a chance to learn lifetime skills. Technical Theater provides a great opportunity for women to acquire confidence and training in the use of power and hand tools. One-half academic credit is given for a full year's commitment.
    Prerequisite: None
    Grade Level: 9-12
    (1/2 credit; participation in both productions)
  • Theater Ensemble

    Two major productions are presented each year, usually a drama or comedy in November and a musical in late February. Auditions are open to all students interested in acting, regardless of prior acting experience. The plays emphasize commitment to a group project, especially the importance of ensemble theater, rather than the "star system." One-half academic credit is given for a full-year's commitment. Prerequisite: Audition
    Grade Level: 9-12
    (1/2 credit; participation in both productions)

Visual Arts Courses

List of 16 items.

  • Studio Art I

    Studio Art I is a year-long offering and functions as a foundation course in art, helping students establish creative confidence and preparing them for further course work in the Expressive Arts. Students gain a solid understanding of the formal elements and principles of art while learning about the many ways in which to infuse their work with meaning and personal vision. The development of strong observational drawing skills is emphasized through the exploration of various media such as pencil, charcoal, pastel, watercolor, and acrylic paint. Assignments include historical and contemporary approaches to color theory and two-dimensional design. Students are encouraged to analyze and discuss how artists from different time periods and cultures approach problems and questions relating to the visual world. Students keep a daily sketchbook, participate in group projects and critiques, venture out on fieldtrips, and complete individual projects throughout the year. Studio Art I emphasizes success and progress at the individual level, allowing students to find inspiration in the world around them and to communicate their stories visually.
    Prerequisite: None
    Grade Level: 9-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Studio Art II

    Students in Studio Art II continue to develop skills and techniques for the studio, while also strengthening their artistic voice and creative confidence. Students paint and draw subject matter such as still-life, portraiture, landscape, perspective, gesture, and abstract. Familiar and new media are explored such as charcoal, ink, watercolor, acrylic, oil, pastels, spray paint, printmaking, and collage. Graphic and fashion design is also studied. Historical and contemporary examples of art help bring perspective to class work. A sketchbook serves as a key component of the course and is used on a weekly basis for planning projects, experimenting with new techniques, and practicing skills. Field trips complement the curriculum as the class explores the local art community and seeks out inspiration. Through a combination of directed assignments, collaborative projects, group critiques, and independent pieces, students learn new skills, techniques, and concepts to find success as developing artists.
    Prerequisite: Studio Art I or equivalent experience. Students who have not taken Studio Art I must have instructor's approval based on 5 examples of relevant work.
    Grade Level: 10-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Studio Art III

    Studio Art III is for students who flourish when working independently on projects they have designed. Students propose projects for themselves in areas of studio art that challenge and interest them while also keeping them engaged at a rigorous pace. Some directed assignments are given to help expand students' skill sets and understanding of art. A sketchbook serves as a key component of the course and is used on a weekly basis for planning projects, experimenting with new techniques, and practicing skills. Field trips with students at other levels complement the curriculum as the class explores the local art community and seeks out inspiration. Students complete the course with a strong set of pieces to add to their portfolios.
    Prerequisite: Studio Art II or equivalent experience. Students who have not taken Studio Art II must have instructor's approval based on 5 examples of relevant work.
    Grade Level: 10-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • AP Studio Art/ Advanced Portfolio

    This full-year course is intended for students who are seriously committed to the study of visual arts including painting, drawing, ceramics, photography, filmmaking, textile design, and more and who have completed at least the second level of an artistic discipline. Work produced in this course is expected to be both well crafted and conceptually strong. Students work independently at a rigorous pace to complete personal and authentic work with the ultimate goal being a portfolio that is ready for application to a wide variety of programs outside of Miss Hall’s. Students are encouraged to follow emergent ideas but are also expected to present a cohesive body of work at the end of each semester. Students present project proposals on a biweekly basis, set their own goals for growth, and demonstrate that they are able to work in a focused and self-directed manner. During weekly critiques, the group will discuss concepts and challenges related to the art-making process. Twice during the course, an individual Review Board is assembled to give each student recommendations on future exploration of materials and themes. Students in this course will have the opportunity to submit their portfolios for review by the College Board as part of the AP Studio Art portfolio submission for AP credit.
    Prerequisite: Level II art course or permission of the instructor
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Independent Study in Art

    This semester-long course is designed for seniors who have completed all the available sections applicable to their focus in art. An independent project/study is developed in collaboration with the instructor connected to a specific medium or area of interest. Students are encouraged to follow emergent ideas but are also expected to present a cohesive body of work at the end of each semester. Students present project proposals on a bi-weekly basis, set their own goals for growth, and demonstrate that they are able to work in a focused and self-directed manner. Weekly critiques are held with all the students in this course to discuss as a group the concepts and challenges related to the art-making process. Each student is tasked with pulling together a “Review Board” - a team of people from whom they would like artistic advice. The student presents their current work and then the Review Board gives them recommendations on future exploration of materials and themes.
    Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor
    Grade Level: 12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Photography I

    This year-long course introduces students to the concept of the photograph as a means of visual communication and as a path to creative confidence. Students encounter photography through traditional wet darkroom processes, digital techniques, and alternative methods. This foundational course familiarizes students with elements of design and composition, helping them develop their critical thinking skills. Photography I involves students with the basic mechanics of the 35mm film camera and the darkroom through correct exposure, film processing, and printing techniques. Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Elements are used to digitally edit, manipulate, and produce archival digital prints. Students are encouraged to explore subject matter of interest to them, including portraiture, landscape, and nature photography as well as documentary and abstract approaches. Through a combination of darkroom and digital work, group projects and critiques, fieldtrips, and demonstrations, students gain confidence in their ability to communicate strong visual messages with their images.
    Prerequisite: None
    Grade Level: 9-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Photography II

    This year-long course is designed to continue where Photography I ends by building on the knowledge gained in the first year’s study of photography. Rigorous film and digital coursework encourages students to challenge themselves and expand beyond their comfort zone in this ever-changing medium. During this yearlong course, topics such as advanced portraiture, studio lighting, large format, and alternative methods are covered and regular class critiques keep members of the class involved with students at varying levels of photography coursework. In the lively environment of the photography lab, students begin to view their photographs objectively, to exchange ideas and criticisms, and to learn about the broader historical, social, and contemporary contexts of photography. During the second half of the year, students enrolled in Photography II are strongly encouraged to design dynamic and personal photographic projects that build upon areas they have explored in the past, and to continue developing their personal, creative vision.
    Prerequisite: Photography I or equivalent experience. Students who have not taken Photography I must have instructor’s approval based on 5 examples of relevant work.
    Grade Level: 10-12 
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Photography III

    This year-long course offering is for motivated students who wish to pursue an individual area of interest to create a portfolio of personal images. Students work independently at the advanced level and select from an array of topics that have been introduced and explored in Photography I and II. Although students create independent projects, they are part of a larger group that participates in critiques, fieldtrips, and demonstrations on technique. This is an ideal course for a student who has discovered a love of photography and wishes to explore further in an area of interest that is unique to her. At the end of this course, each student has created a portfolio that consists of analog or digital prints in a presentation book, a CD, and an artist's statement.
    Prerequisite: Photography II or equivalent experience. Students who have not taken Photography II must have instructor’s approval based on 5 examples of relevant work.
    Grade Level: 10-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Ceramics I

    This year-long course is designed to introduce the student to the processes and techniques involved in the production of ceramic art, including construction methods, glazing, and firing of work. Students will learn numerous hand-building techniques (pinch, coil, slab, etc.), as well as gain an introductory experience in the use of the potter’s wheel. Additionally, students will be exposed to a variety of historical and contemporary ceramic artworks, including the socio-political issues which have shaped the history and development of this medium’s long and diverse history. Along with developing an understanding of the historic and aesthetic accomplishments of the past, and the formative influences on the contemporary ceramic artist, students will also be exposed to the diverse cross-cultural solutions to humanity’s need for utilitarian and sculptural expression. Emphasis will be placed on developing a functional understanding and employment of the formal elements and concepts of threedimensional design. All this is intended to build a vocabulary of technical and aesthetic skills necessary for the development of individual expression. Formal group critiques of finished works will provide each student with the opportunity to: form and articulate an aesthetic opinion; give and receive constructive criticism; and further the development and exchange of creative ideas.
    Prerequisite: None
    Grade Level: 9-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Ceramics II

    This year-long course is designed to build upon existing skills acquired in Ceramics I. Students will further explore hand building techniques (pinch, coil, slab, etc.), as well as the use of the potter’s wheel. Students will be expected to be more self-motivated and directed as they respond to class assignments. Additionally, students will be exposed to a variety of historical and contemporary ceramic artworks, including the socio-political issues which have shaped the history and development of this medium’s long and diverse history. Along with developing an understanding of the historic and aesthetic accomplishments of the past, and the formative influences on the contemporary ceramic artist, students will also be exposed to the diverse cross cultural solutions to humanity’s need for utilitarian and sculptural expression. Emphasis will be placed on developing a functional understanding and employment of the formal elements and concepts of three dimensional design. All this is intended to build a vocabulary of technical and aesthetic skills necessary for the development of individual expression. Formal group critiques of finished works will provide each student with the opportunity to form and articulate an aesthetic opinion, give and receive constructive criticism, and further the development and exchange of creative ideas.
    Prerequisite: Ceramics I or equivalent experience.
    Grade Level: 10-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Ceramics III

    This year-long course represents the highest level of class offerings in this study area at Miss Hall’s. As such, students have been prepared to engage in more self-directed objectives and avenues of aesthetic exploration. By working and consulting with the instructor, students will set goals for themselves as they pursue their interests in both content and methods of fabrication/construction. Students will be encouraged and expected to engage in establishing greater facility with the medium, deeper understanding of the principles and concepts of 3-dimensional design, and more purposeful exploration of their aesthetic ideas. Additionally, students will continue to be exposed to a variety of historical and contemporary ceramic artworks, including the socio-political issues which have shaped the history and development of this medium’s long and diverse history. Along with further developing an understanding of the historic and aesthetic accomplishments of the past, and the formative influences on the contemporary ceramic artist, students will also be exposed to the diverse cross cultural solutions to humanity’s need for utilitarian and sculptural expression. Emphasis will be placed on further developing and displaying a functional understanding and employment of the formal elements and concepts of three dimensional design. All this is intended to further build and test the vocabulary of technical and aesthetic skills necessary for the development of individual expression. Formal group critiques of finished works will provide each student with the opportunity to form and articulate an aesthetic opinion, give and receive constructive criticism, and further the development and exchange of creative ideas.
    Prerequisite: Ceramics II or equivalent experience. Students who have not taken Ceramics II must have instructor’s approval based on 5 examples of relevant work
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Designing with Glass

    This one-semester course will focus on understanding the qualities and properties of working with fused and slumped glass forms. Students will engage with some of the chemistry and physics of the material, gather experience in producing molds (to slump fire their work) while being challenged to explore the effect of composition, color theory, and overall design.
    Prerequisite: Completion of one credit in a studio art (art, ceramics, or photo) or with department recommendation
    Grade Level: 10-12
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • Filmmaking

    In this yearlong course, students will encounter and investigate the basics of film creation, from beginning to end, by looking at classic films and iconic filmmakers’ directing styles and by learning the vocabulary and genres associated with this medium. As they work toward making their own films, students will practice script writing and story boarding and will create shot lists and field logs. Using DSLRs, students will learn the basics of production including basic camera functions, lighting, shot types, and sound editing. In post- production, students will use industry-standard video editing software to edit their footage and create final short films ready for film festival submission.
    Prerequisite: Any Expressive Arts course or permission of instructor
    Grades: 10-12
    (1 credit; full year)
  • Garment and Textile Design

    This one-semester course introduces students to the fashion industry. The history of clothing and fashion is studied together with contemporary designers and trends, and students gain an understanding of the greater cultural and global context in which everyday clothing is created. The course includes basic sewing skills and knowledge of sewing machines as well as more theoretical design and draping concepts. Students create mood boards, critique each other, and venture off campus on various field trips.
    Prerequisite: Completion of one credit in a studio art (art, ceramics, or photo) or with department recommendation
    Grade Level: 10-12
    (1/2 credit; second semester)
  • Gallery and Arts Administration

    Students will learn about the business side of the art world in this onesemester, project-based class. We will visit galleries and museums to learn about curation, gallerists, arts management, grant writing, and selling of art. Students will work as a team to establish a mission statement for our pop-up gallery, identify a space to curate a show, serve as the jury for the selections, and host the show in the gallery as a final semester project.
    Prerequisite: Application and instructor approval
    Grade Level: 11-12
    (1/2 credit; first semester)
  • Topics in Art History: Images of Women

    This is a semester-long course intended to introduce students to various themes associated with the long and varied persistence of all cultures to produce visual expression. In addition to acquainting students with the skills necessary to analyzing, understanding, and interpreting these expressions of shared cultural and historic world views, this course’s topic will examine the vital role of representing women in ways that define their place in society, the values associated with them, ideals of beauty, and the socio-political messages that these images imply. Emphasis will be placed on recognizing the religious, social, political, economic, intellectual, and technological influences that have fueled cultural evolution in a general sense, while also informing, or reflecting, the cultural attitudes regarding women. Students will examine the history of art from prehistoric cave painting through contemporary sculpture, painting, and photography. Art from around the globe will be studied - from Europe to Asia, from Africa to the US to South America. Slide lectures and video provide the bulk of class presentation and discussion, while field trips to local museums will provide opportunities to directly experience examples of what has been studied in the classroom.
    Prerequisite: None
    Grade Level: 10-12
    (1/2 credit; second semester)

Expressive Arts Core Values

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Find out more about the music, theater and visual arts offerings, including photo and video galleries here...

Meet the Faculty

List of 9 members.

  • Sophia Lane '96 

    Expressive Arts Department Chair
    Maryland Institute College of Art - M.A.
    Wellesley College - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Deborah Duff 

    Director of Music and Choral Director
    New England Conservatory of Music - M.M.
    Wheaton College - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Gary Grosenbeck 

    Ceramics Teacher
    University of Minnesota - M.F.A.
    SUNY Oswego - B.F.A.
    Read Bio
  • Jennifer Jordan 

    Director of Theater and Dance
    Ohio University - M.F.A.
    Marymount Manhattan College - B.F.A.
    Read Bio
  • Yelena Levina 

    Instrumental Music Instructor
  • Bing Liu 

    Instrumental Music Instructor
  • Amy Renak 

    Instrumental Music Instructor
  • Rob Sanzone 

    Instrumental Music Instructor / AV Coordinator
    University of Massachusetts - B.A.
    Read Bio
  • Elizabeth Spangler 

    Studio Arts Teacher
    Colorado College - MAT
    Bates College - BS
    Read Bio
492 Holmes Road • Pittsfield, MA 01201  (413) 443-6401

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Located in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, Miss Hall's School is an all girls private, college preparatory boarding and day high school for grades 9-12.
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