A Passion for the Arts at La Châtaigneraie


By Dede Ogden

Instilling a passion and appreciation for the arts is a core value at La Châtaigneraie. At a recent PTA General Meeting, parents were given a superb presentation by Primary and Secondary teachers on the approach and teaching of the performing and visual arts as part of the school curriculum to promote creative and critical thinking.

From the early years of Primary through to Year 9 and beyond, our students are encouraged to express themselves through art, music and drama. The arts faculty teachers, in both Primary and Secondary schools, work to develop passions and skills which build year on year.

In Primary, the children explore different disciplines according to age, ability and relevance to the various Units of Inquiry in the Primary Years Programme. The students are taught in their Language B until Year 4.

Younger students explore the visual arts in a variety of ways such as by transforming common objects and everyday household items into works of art. A focus on the fine arts for Years 4 to 6 teaches the children different art techniques linked directly to their units of inquiry, e.g. the aboriginal “coffins” and Egyptian inspired tile reliefs. This culminates with the creation of a piece of artwork used to reflect the theme of their exhibition at the end of Year 6.

In music, the children in Years 1 to 4 begin by learning songs in both languages and also become familiar with melody, percussion and rhythm. They take up the ocarina and then the recorder as their first wind instruments. In years 5 and 6 they advance to the band program, playing in ensemble instruments such as the trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, and French horn. This culminates with a special performance at the Year 6 Graduation Ceremony. It is expected that by the time the students move to the secondary school, they are familiar with various musical signs and symbols and have developed adequate literacy skills as performers.

Their spirit of drama is captured early, with dedicated drama lessons from Reception to Year 3, which include mime and clowning, creative dance and improvisation.

Students in Years 7 to 9 follow a curriculum that comprises all three subjects of music, theatre, and art. In the final years of school, the students have a more individual choice over which arts subjects they wish to pursue.

The emphasis of music during these years is on listening, performing and composing. Students are encouraged to try different instruments, form groups and go into the recording studio in a spirit of working together (and it allows them to save a tangible copy of their work!) With the IGCSE, these goals become more defined. The IB takes the music course to a new level of intensity where students seek to hone creative skills and thinking through exploration, control and development of musical elements in performance, reflective thought and music-making. Many universities welcome music as a subject to this higher level.

The theatre program in Secondary has grown considerably in recent years. The emphasis in the classroom is for students to understand and analyse what it means to be human. Through this, they also learn that the world of theatre can open doors in many disciplines of life, not just the stage and acting. This year the Department performed two incredible productions: Alice and Almost Maine, allowing students to learn all aspects of theatre and production.

An impressive array of works comes from the visual arts. Students learn about, painting, creating, pottery, ceramics and much more. Like the other departments, students are given a great deal of flexibility and encouragement to be creative in individual expression using different forms of media.

From March 27th -30th, 17h-19h, IB and MATU students will have Exposition of their Art in the Jura Sports Hall. Please take a moment to come view their work. You will be amazed.