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. It is important to foster a deeper appreciation for the skills one uses in finding expression through the arts. To this end, students produce drawing, painting, sculpture and related media, and display their works in school exhibits, publications, and in collaboration with theatrical performances and academic projects.
THE ARTS PROGRAM
Form IV Foundation in Art
This semester-long course is required for boys in Form IV. The goal is to expand students’ artistic abilities by having them explore a variety of techniques, with emphasis on drawing and sculpture. Students learn two-point perspective and make drawings of imaginary cities using pencil and ink applied with technical pens and brushes. For the second half of the semester they examine the human skull and discuss how it is significant to art history. After making a detailed drawing, the boys sculpt a skull using clay. Later they are given a block of wax to carve a skull. Once the wax sculptures are complete, they are sent to a foundry to be bronzed.
This elective is offered to Form V and Form VI students. Students investigate different drawing materials and techniques, including graphite, charcoal, pen and ink. Emphasis is placed on control and intentionality of mark making along with accurate observation. Drawing projects include still-life, grayscales, a self-portrait, an illustration of a scene from their own lives, printmaking, and if time allows drawing in Central Park. A traditional approach to these subjects is introduced and students are encouraged to express themselves in a way that reflects their thinking.
This elective is offered to Form V and Form VI students who wish to explore the skills and basic techniques involved in acrylic and watercolor painting. The types of painting studied include landscape, still life, abstract painting, color theory and portraiture. The class works from life as well as photographic resources.
Studio Art—Ceramics I and II
This course gives the students the opportunity to learn and explore the skills involved in working on the pottery wheel, as well as different hand-building techniques. Different forms are explored and students are encouraged to add a creative interpretation to traditional shapes. All works are created in either stoneware or porcelain clay. Students have access to a wide range of low fire and high fire glazes.
THE MUSIC PROGRAM
By the time he enters Upper School, a Browning boy has already received training in five fundamental aspects of music: singing, playing instruments, listening, movement, and reading and writing notation. The Upper School Music program aims to facilitate a musical experience, predicated on the notion that music is fundamentally human; it creates the fingers by which we can reach into the human soul. Credited ensembles give students the platform to create music, and exercise their curiosity. A music history (Music Survey) course exposes the boys to many influential composers and works, as well as affording them the opportunity to discuss how music has evolved through the centuries.
Form IV Music Survey
Music Survey is a required semester-long course that explores Jazz history from Buddy Bolden in New Orleans to the avant garde Free Jazz of John Coltrane. Aspects of musical form, compositional technique, and cultural influence of this music are explored using the text Jazz by Scott Deveaux and Gary Giddins. Students have the opportunity to lead the class in a lesson about two chosen Jazz artists, and participate in discussions and listening activities. A listening identification test culminates the investigation of a particular unit’s material. In addition to work in the classroom, the boys visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum and write a review of their experience.
Forms V–VI Independent Study
This course is a yearlong, half-credit elective for boys in Forms V and VI. Boys meet twice a week with the instructor to examine the species counterpoint and Renaissance polyphony. Substantial weekly composition assignments provide practice in mastering the theoretical concept under consideration. Topics explore fundamental notational and harmonic conventions, as well as the history of the composers of the period.
Forms III–VI Upper School Chorus
The Browning Upper School Chorus is a yearlong half-credit performance elective open to all boys in the Upper School, by audition. Fundamental singing technique is emphasized through the study of music ranging from popular to classical. Three-part arrangements for men’s voices are the standard, but mixed-choral arrangements (S-A-T-B) are prepared for performances with Interschool groups and international choirs held during the academic year. The chorus also performs for a number of school functions including the Holiday Program, Interschool Choral Festival, Alumni Day, Prize Day, and Graduation. Rehearsals focus on increasing musicianship, refining communication and emotional expression, and building ensemble skills.
The Browning Ovation Orchestra is a yearlong half-credit performance elective open to all boys studying a musical instrument, with permission of the Director. Boys study technique on their particular instrument and work together to create a balanced ensemble sound. The repertoire, ranging from Classical to contemporary, is arranged for the particular complement of instruments in the orchestra, and is rehearsed to performance level.
Forms III–VI Browning Jazz Ensemble
The Browning Jazz Ensemble is a yearlong half-credit performance elective open to all Upper School boys with permission of the instructor. Boys study technique on their particular instrument and work together to create a unified and balanced ensemble sound. Jazz and stage band music from the standard repertoire, arranged for the particular complement of instruments in the class, is studied and brought to performance level for several concerts throughout the school year.
Forms V–VI A Cappella ensemble - “A CaPanthers”
This is a yearlong, non-credited ensemble for boys in Forms V and VI, by invitation from the Choral Director. Boys meet once a week with the instructor to rehearse the complex musical material - which requires superior musicianship and vocal ability - as well as performance choreography. Time is allocated to learning the theory behind arranging music, in which basic theoretical principles of music are explored in order to produce music for the group to perform.