Arts Courses

Visual Arts

Studio Art 1  Studio Art 1 is an entry-level course designed to build a foundation from which a student may grow. Through the traditional disciplines of drawing and painting, students are made aware of the thinking that is fundamental to any creative activity. Through work in the studio, they learn to order and to discipline resources. The course deals primarily with the development of a concept and with its expression in graphic form. However, allowance is made for experimentation in other media, with appropriate emphasis placed on technical concerns. Experience gained in the important areas of creativity, imagination, and invention is soon put to work on independent art projects.

Advanced Studio Art  In this class, students work to create visual pursuits designed around each of their particular interests. Focus is on two-dimensional art such as drawing, painting, print-making, and collage. Portfolio development is a large component of this course. Additionally, students will examine significant works of art and artists to help them make stylistic connections and enrich their own work. Individual approached to subject matter and personal expression are stressed.

Ceramics  This course provides students with a comprehensive set of elemental techniques with which to create a variety of finished sculptural and functional ceramic pieces. Hand-building techniques include pinch, coil, and slab construction; students also use a potter’s wheel. Students concentrate on wedging their clay, centering, creating basic forms, and further developing their skills. Throughout the course, students gain an understanding of glazing and surface decoration, discerning how these relate to pottery form. Interested students may acquire a knowledge of different firing techniques, as well as experience in loading and firing a kiln.

Graphic Design  This course is framed around understanding the principles of design (contrast, repetition, alignment & proximity) and will teach students critical skills in graphic design. Working in programs such as adobe indesign, illustrator and photoshop, each student will learn how to effectively analyze and create layouts to send powerful messages. Topics explored include logo design and development, typography, magazine layout and template design. Students will finish the year by designing and creating the school art and literary magazine. They will also create a website showcasing their work from the year. Completing this course will equip each student with an understanding of their own design aesthetic and with the training to explore an interest in the design and advertising industry.

Introduction to Visual Communication Design  With a hands on approach, this course introduces students to the world of visual communication design. Analyzing how media is currently used in our society, students will begin to gain an understanding of how to effectively captivate an audience with new media. Through use of traditional studio materials, as well as digital media, this class includes an in depth exploration of the principles of design, color theory, symbolism, and collage in order to empower students to convey a visual message in the 21st century. 

Media Arts  This course explores expression of art through the use of modern and innovative technology. In addition to the observation of society’s manipulation of image and video, students will be experimenting with creation through the use of adobe photoshop, garage band, adobe after effects, adobe premiere, digital cameras, video production and a variety of other innovative tools. Students will learn to express their own ideas through harnessing media, building on their ability to communicate in the 21st century. Working both individually and collaboratively, students will be tasked with creating projects that embody what they think is important to share with the world.

Photography  This course involves a study of photography from the traditional analog to digital and experimental photographic techniques. The course begins with the 35 mm SLR camera and its component parts (what they are, how they function and how to use them). It also includes composition and darkroom techniques (making and using solutions, film developing, printing and darkroom manipulation). The course will evolve over the year as students apply their traditional training to working with digital SLR cameras and finishing the year with experimental photography. 

Sculpture  This is a course where students can develop their artistic voice through the creation of three-dimensional artwork. The class begins with fundamental 3-d design projects to foster an understanding of balance and aesthetics while developing skills in construction and fabrication. The class continues by exploring both traditional and contemporary sculptural materials, from clay, wood, metal, and plaster to found object works and installation. Each project is introduced with direct instruction highlighting specific movements, artists, and schools of thought to provide historical context to the assignment. Various sculptural methods, including additive, subtractive, casting, and assemblage, are employed to help each student achieve their artistic vision. Students are challenged to consider both their subject and the materials used to create their subject. Assignments explore different conceptual elements and styles from representational and figurative works to abstract objects. Consideration for the display and lighting of finished works are included in each assignment, and sight-specific projects require students to incorporate concept through location in both time and space. The course culminates with an independently developed project based in the materials of the students’ choosing.

Performing Arts

Acting: Techniques   This is a general introduction to the acting skills and techniques used in varied dramatic settings, from classical to contemporary, from tragedy to comedy. Students will understand the concept of believability and establish that concept as the groundwork in acting. The core project of this class focuses on character development. Students will develop and explore a character of their own creation through a series of improvisations with classmates. The core elements of character, conflict, objectives, tactics, and obstacles are rooted in this process.

Acting: Ensemble   Building on the base established in Acting: Techniques, students will work with texts written in the realistic style and explore techniques developed to train actors for performance in contemporary plays. Special emphasis is given to scene study and ensemble performance work. 

Acting: Special Topics  This is a topic course that will cover alternative and more advanced acting techniques. Such topics include: advanced improvisation, acting for film, auditioning, and playmaking. This course will culminate in a student performance showcase. 

Advanced Vocal Techniques and Staging  This is an advanced class in music performance and theatrical staging. It will serve as part vocal master class and part theater studies. Students will study proper vocal health and the physical mechanism of singing. The will also look at the understanding of song and the interpretation needed to bring the music to life on stage. This course covers a wide variety of music genres including pop, rock, classical, and musical theater. It meets year round and provides the Suffield community with three performances each year. This is an audition-based class.

Chamber Ensemble  This group is for strings, woodwind players, and pianists interested in playing classical chamber music. It includes music arranged for various sized ensembles from duos to as many as a dozen players.

Chamber Singers  This is a small group of mixed (male and female) singers. Basic music reading skills and vocal technique are covered while working through a vast range of challenging choral literature. Anyone who would like experience singing in a mixed ensemble is encouraged to join.

Jazz Ensemble  This groups serves as an introduction to playing jazz with an emphasis on learning how to improvise. Basic styles, musical forms, and scales are introduced.

Advanced Jazz Ensemble  This group is for students who have some background in improvising in the jazz idiom. The emphasis is on small group (combo) playing with most of the time spent on improvising and the scales and theory involved in that discipline.

Music and Media  Music and Media is a non-performance based introductory course that requires no prior knowledge of music or a musical instrument. The course explores music through every aspect of your life; the music you listen to on your phone, the jingles from TV ads, even movie soundtracks. Throughout the year-long course, students will create exciting projects such as writing their own theme song, creating their own short film with mood music, and even creating their own music video or video game soundtrack. Students will learn basics of music recording, sound production, and music theory to guide their creative choices throughout the course. If you like music and want to learn more, this course is for you!  

Music Theory & Composition Honors  This class moves quickly through the basics of music into tonal harmony, analysis, and simple composing. The curriculum includes listening and development of skills through dictation. It also delves briefly into serialism and other techniques and uses Siblelius and GarageBand software.

Private Lessons  Private instruction by adjunct faculty is offered on most instruments. Students will receive information about sign-up and cost with registration materials that are mailed in early June. Students are expected to take lessons for a full year, practicing and attending lessons regularly.

Public Speaking  This class will study the principles of public speaking. Students will critically examine their own and others’ speeches through interactive practice. This class studies oral versus written communication in order to help students prepare speeches that are easier to deliver and understand. The class’ focus on understanding the key parts of an argument and drafting clear and concise arguments translates directly to other academic assignments.

Recording Basics  This class serves to introduce students to the basics of the recording studio. Topics will include microphone types, uses and placement, use and care of equipment, and an introduction to ProTools. The basics of live recording, mixing and mastering will be covered, and students will help record the winter guitar show.