Browning has long sought to provide boys with a balanced and culturally enriched educational experience, and the arts play a major role in that endeavor. Academic courses that assure a certain level of competence in the history and critical analysis of art and music are a required part of the curriculum. It is equally important, however, to foster a deeper appreciation for the arts. To this end, students set their hands to drawing, painting, sculpture and related media, and they display their works in school exhibits and publications. Browning grade-level choirs sing at various assemblies and concerts, and individual student musicians are encouraged to perform. Larger groups receive instruction on Orff instruments. Theatrical performances by all age groups are mounted for assemblies, and often the energies and talents of school artists, musicians and thespians are pulled together into one, unifying effort.
The Arts Program
The purpose of the program is to help each boy develop his own creative style while introducing basic art techniques and the proper use of art equipment and materials. Teachers draw on subject matter close to the student’s world: his own experiences, seasons and holidays, family and the environment. Much of the work is interdisciplinary and connected with classroom curriculum. Drawing, painting, clay work and sculpture, printing and general design work are approached in each successive grade at a slightly more advanced level. Field trips to various museums extend the classroom experience.
The Music Program
The purpose of the Lower School music program is to help each boy discover and develop his natural love of music. Five major areas of study and performance are used to heighten awareness and understanding of musical concepts as well as provide a means of self-expression and enjoyment: singing, playing instruments, listening, movement and notation. Singing is emphasized, and movement and dramatization often accompany songs. The students learn to play Orff instruments as well as other percussion instruments individually, in small groups, and in larger ensembles. Hearing “what’s happening” in the music, understanding the role of composers, conductors, songwriters and performers, moving to the beat and feel of the music, and reading and writing at a basic level serve to enhance each boy’s appreciation and assimilation of musical concepts. Focus on rhythm, pitch differentiation, timbre, dynamics, and improvisation is given at each grade level in greater depth. Integrated into the elementary music curriculum is the Composer of the Month series, in which students learn about the life and works of nine famous composers. Class presentations during assemblies are given at various points throughout the school year and at special events. The two culminating performances of the year are the Holiday Program in December and the Lower School Closing Assembly in June.