Arts and Music
In music class at Wye River, there is no lack of talent or creative energy. In fact, we have found it to be true that those with learning differences are more likely to be musically gifted. More than half of our students are musicians, and some continue to study music in a post-secondary setting. Likewise, we believe that the study of music helps students develop executive functioning skills, manage ADHD, and perhaps more importantly, offers them time to decompress, share ideas, and foster their musical imaginations.
Our students are passionate performers, songwriters, composers, and technicians. During class, they have a good deal of time for exploration and collaboration. Our classes are, in many ways, self-directed. Through a week's rotation of activity, a student may participate in a level-appropriate theory lesson, a private guitar lesson, a band rehearsal, independent practice on piano or guitar, a collaborative session on a self-chosen duet, and a class performance.
Talented students are drawn to other talented students. They bounce musical motives off of one another, jam on the guitar and piano, and harmonize in group vocals. Even those who are truly beginners often grow by leaps and bounds in a very short time. Wye River is not magical school, but there is something extraordinary about finding a place to be comfortable around other students of like mind where they can test the musical waters and be encouraged. We see them grow in confidence as performers and experimenters, develop the technical skills needed to play well, and become creatively adventurous. More experienced students enjoy the chance to teach what they have learned to the newer instrumentalists, and with a great deal of patience and fun.
We also believe in learning through experience. Our students have written and produced their own demo, performed on a live sound stage, participated in local contests, and contributed to school functions. As a culmination of their efforts, students display their talents in the annual Art and Music Expo each spring. Our job tends to be less teacher and more coach, noticing and nurturing talents that may have been undiscovered and fostering the obvious ones. Regardless, we are continually amazed by the beautiful music our students make.
Art also proves to be a wonderful creative outlet for Wye River students, both for our especially talented artists and those just learning to use a variety of media. Using direct observation, imagination, and personal experiences as inspiration for original pieces, our students sculpt, paint, animate, edit photographs, design jewelry, and record their visual ideas and experiences in sketchbooks, on film, and on their laptops.
You might see our Art I or II students sketching the historic buildings of Centreville, receiving a critique on their watercolor from a local artist, or constructing an award-winning float. In the popular photo/video class, students analyze, compare and journal trends in contemporary photography by viewing photographs in periodicals, books, and on the internet.
Our newest acquisition, the 3D printer, has opened our students to a new world of inventing. They model their designs in a 3D environment, export to print, and their creations become reality. This is just one facet of the way art and technology join forces in a 21st Century learning environment. Students learn to edit photographs in Photoshop Elements, maintain a digital portfolio, and marry music and moving images in iMovie.
Throughout the year, art students enter a variety of contests and shows, contribute to school fundraising events, and in the spring, join our musicians to present their best compositions in the annual Music and Art Expo. After graduation, some of our students continue their study of art and technology at places such as the Savannah College of Art and Design, Corcoran College of Art and Design, and Fairmont State University.