Process and discipline – these two terms capture the essence of performing arts study at McDonogh School. In every division of the school, performing arts classes engage students in active learning. Whether students study singing, creative movement and dance, instrumental music, or theatre arts, they encounter these disciplines in an experiential environment where doing leads to knowing and where knowledge inspires continued commitment to one’s creative abilities. Given the ensemble nature of the performing arts, students naturally find themselves in circumstances that cultivate collaborative problem-solving, critical thinking, and an understanding of how parts make up the whole. Such habits of mind will serve them enormously whether they proceed to conservatory study after graduation, or whether they become engineers, doctors, or business people.
Whether children are learning rhythms in Lower School bell choir, practicing their fingering on the clarinet in Middle School band, or choreographing a piece for the dance concert in the Upper School, they are deeply engaged in the craft of the art they are studying at the same time they are practicing meaning-making itself. As a result, the McDonogh graduate who has studied performing arts emerges with a deep appreciation of craft while being exposed to a wide array of cultures, from the past and present, that the performing arts reflects and shapes.
Whatever their futures hold, McDonogh students who engage with a faculty of working professionals in their fields gain insight into the makings of successful artists. Since immersion in the performing arts exposes students to creative obstacles and conflict – and to the necessity to persevere in the face of such challenges – they will appreciate the virtues of flexibility. They will also understand that success is often the result of dealing well with failure. As a result, our students can be counted on for dedication to setting and achieving superior goals.