High School Curriculum and Offerings

Needham High School
As a core academic subject, students complete eight Fine and Performing Arts credits as part of their graduation requirements. Students can fulfill these credits by participating in a wide variety of year long courses or semester courses in both the visual and performing arts or by choosing to study a specific discipline in depth.

Visual Arts
The Art Curriculum consists of two tracks; the full Year Art 1 through 4 sequence and semester long art courses. Critiques, which are class discussions of student artwork, are an integral part of all Art courses. Students in both the yearlong and semester courses participate in regular exhibitions both within the school and local community of their work.

Full Year Visual Arts Courses: 4 credits each
 Art 1

Foundation course for the Full Year Arts Courses where basic visual arts concepts and vocabulary in 2D and 3D are learned
 Art 2 Honors Builds upon Art 1, where students are challenged to grow as an artist. 
Prerequisite: Art 1, both Drawing and Painting 1 and 2, or Departmental Permission. 
 Art 3 Acc Students work towards mastery of technical skills and developing an artistic. A portfolio of student work will be assembled. 

Prerequisite: Art 2
 AP Art 3 Portfolio Students produced a large portfolio of work to apply for AP college credit an/or art school admission. The portfolio can also be used to supplement college applications. This is an intensive course, with a heavy workload. 

Prerequisite: Art 2 
 Art 4 Senior Studio Acc Students will continue to work towards a sense of mastery and personal growth in their work. Students will continue to add to their portfolio and participate in exhibitions throughout the year. 

Prerequisite: Art 3

Semester Art Courses: 2 credits each
*Please note that these courses must be taken in sequence within a specific discipline such as Ceramics.

Ceramics (1, 2 and 3) Students learn to work with clay as a medium of art expression, will explore the properties and history of clay. Ceramics 1 is the foundational course and prerequisite to continue. In Ceramics 2 and 3 students learn more sophisticated techniques and wheel throwing.
Commercial Design & Production (1, 2, and 3) Commercial Design and Production 1 is the foundational course and prerequisite in order to be able to continue in this sequence. Students learn the principles of design, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign. In the Advanced courses, students are involved in all facets of job production and participate in the running of the Graphic Design Studio which fills a variety of client needs, such as designed event T-Shirts and posters.
Digital Art and Animation This course explores computer generated art including digital painting and animation. This is a foundational course which prepares students for work in Photography and Graphic Design.
Motion Design
This is a continuation of Digital Art and Animation, where students learn to create 3D renderings and more complex animation. 

Prerequisite: Digital Art, Design and Animation
Crafts 1 Students design and create utilitarian and non-functional works using a variety of techniques and materials. A wide variety of crafts media, forms and techniques from diverse cultures are explored.
Digital Portfolio This semester course is designed to allow advanced art students who have successfully completed Photo 3,or Commercial Production 2, to use their digital art skills and accumulated works to create a portfolio of expressive works suitable for submission to college, and/or possibly for AP submission. 

Prerequisite: Photo 3, Graphic Design 2, Commercial Production, or permission of the Department.
Drafting & Linear Perspective (1 and 2)
This course sequence is ideal for those who enjoy a more mathematical and technical approach to drawing. Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of drafting, and the representation of three dimensions on a two dimensional plane by using 1 and 2 point perspective. A 3D construction unit will give students the opportunity to articulate design decisions in real space. Drafting and Linear Perspective 1 is a prerequisite in order to continue with Drafting and Linear Perspective 2. 
Drawing & Painting 
(1 and 2)
These semester courses further develops and refines the fundamental drawing and painting skills. Successful completion of both courses will allow students to join the full year art sequence at the Art 2 level.
Introduction to Sculpture Students explore various 3D media, such as wire, wood, plater, cardboard, fabric and found objects. When the schedule allows, interdisciplinary collaboration with the robotics class will be incorporated in the kinetic sculpture unit. 
 Photography (1, 2, and 3) Photography 1 is only open to students entering grades 10, 11, or 12 and is the prerequisite in order to continue in the Photography sequence. Students learn about shooting, processing, digital photography, and computer enhancing/manipulation techniques. As students advance through the course sequence, students are introduced to advancing techniques.

Performing Arts
The Performing Arts courses are divided into two categories; Performance Courses and Semester Classroom Courses. Students enrolled in the Performances Courses, continually refine their performance skills and are required to participate in public performances outside of the regular school day. The Semester Classroom Courses do not require public performances.

Performance Courses: Mixture of Yearlong and Semester Courses for either 4 or 2 credits as indicated under the course title.

Concert Band
Yearlong, 4 credits
This is open to students in grades 9 through 12 who have previously or are currently studying a band instrument (e.g., Woodwind, Brass, or Percussion) at an intermediate to advanced level. Students will study music of a variety of styles and time periods in preparation for concert performance. The Concert Band performs in high school concerts, evaluation festivals, and community events throughout the year. Public concerts are part of each band’s formal curricula and attendance at them is mandatory. 

Prerequisite: Previous experience playing a traditional band instrument in an ensemble. Membership in Concert or Symphonic Band is required to audition for Jazz Ensemble, District and All-State Festivals
Symphonic Band 
(acc option)
Yearlong, 4 credits
Admission into the Symphonic Band, is based upon audition. Students will study music of a variety of styles and time periods in preparation for concert performance. The Concert Band performs in high school concerts, evaluation festivals, and community events throughout the year. Public concerts are part of each band’s formal curricula and attendance at them is mandatory. 

Students have the opportunity to enroll in an Accelerated option with additional requirements and course work. 

Prerequisite: Previous experience playing a traditional band instrument in an ensemble and successful completion of audition. Membership in Concert or Symphonic Band is required to audition for Jazz Ensemble, District and All-State Festivals
Jazz Ensemble
Yearlong, 4 credits
This course is open to students by audition only. Instrumentation is for standard Big Band (i.e. saxophones, trumpets, trombones, piano, guitar, bass and drums). The Jazz Ensemble studies and performs a wide range of music, including Swing, Latin, Funk, and contemporary Jazz. The Jazz Ensemble performs at school concerts, an evaluation festival, and various school and community functions; these public concerts are part of the formal curricula and attendance at them is mandatory. 

Prerequisite: Students must be members of Concert Band, Symphonic Band, or Marching Band to be eligible for Jazz Ensemble
Jazz Improvisation
Semester Course, 2 credits
Students develop confidence in independent playing and in the art of spontaneous composition in a jazz style. Students start by learning blues progressions, followed by other typical chord changes and progressions. Students are placed in groups according to their ability. 

Prerequisite: At least two years successful performance in a middle or high school performing ensemble, or permission of the instructor.
String Orchestra 
(acc option)
Yearlong, 4 credits
Students pursue the development of instrumental technique and musicianship through the study of orchestral works from various stylistic periods. Students receive coaching in sight-reading, ear training, theory and also explore chamber music. The Orchestra performs at school concerts and at various evaluation festivals and community events throughout the year. Public concerts are a formal part of the orchestra’s formal curricula and attendance at them is mandatory. 

Prerequisite: Previous playing experience in an orchestral style ensemble or department permission. Membership is required to audition for District and All-State Festival Orchestras. 
After School Chorus
Yearlong, 2 credits
 The After-School Chorus meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:45 to 3:45 pm. Attendance at these after school classes is required as with any other credit bearing course. After School Chorus students take part in all major concerts that the other choruses perform in, with the students sometimes singing as a separate ensemble, while also joining the other choral groups for a large choral ensemble experience. These concerts are a formal part of the curriculum and attendance at them is mandatory. After-School Chorus students are eligible to audition for District and All-state groups. As the class only meets for half the time of the daytime choral classes, students will experience and learn fewer selections. As a result, successful After-School Chorus students are encouraged to enroll in the full time daytime choruses when possible. 
Chorus/ Bella Voce Chorus (acc option)
Yearlong, 4 credits
This class is open to all students in grades 9-12 and no previous formal vocal experience is needed. Chorus students sing a wide variety of choral literature representative of different styles by contemporary and historical composers. The chorus performs for high school concerts and community programs throughout the year. Public concerts are a formal part of each chorus’ curricula and attendance at them is mandatory. Membership is required to audition for District and All-State Festivals. 
Concert Chorale 
(acc option)
Yearlong, 4 credits
Concert Chorale is open to students in grades 9-12 by audition. It is an advanced mixed vocal ensemble usually numbering between 24 - 30 students. Auditions for the group take place in the spring. Music studied/performed ranges from the Renaissance period through contemporary genres and is meant to challenge the most serious, advanced student singers.  The Chorale performs a minimum of two public performances each year, as well as at a variety of community events and regional festivals. Public concerts are a formal part of the chorale’s formal curricula and attendance at them is mandatory. 

Prerequisite: Successful completion of the audition. Membership is required to audition for District and All-State Festivals. 
Contemporary Music Ensemble
Yearlong, 2 credits
The course will cover song styles, forms, and techniques in genres ranging from blues, folk, rock and roll, rhythm & blues, pop, and hip-hop. The goal is to provide students with the tools to evaluate and create music by working with each other, and to use critical thinking and teamwork beyond the traditional classroom. Due to the nature of the ensemble, enrollment may be limited with preference given to students with demonstrated contemporary performance skills or experience. This course will meet regularly for the school year outside of the normal school day. The actual schedule of meetings will be established in the spring for the following year with enrolled students notified in advance. Students unable to commit to the course meeting requirements will not be able to remain enrolled.  
Theater Arts (1 and 2)
Semester Courses, 2 credits each
These classes are open to all students, provides practice for the beginning/intermediate actor in voice, movement, and performance using scenes from a variety of plays, as well as improvisation and mime. Theater Arts 1 is the foundation course and required for students to enroll in Theater Arts 2. Class activities will culminate in at least one formal production in front of an audience. Preparation for this performance may require additional instructional time beyond the normal school day. No prior theatrical experience is necessary.  

Semester Classroom Courses: 2 credits each

Technical Theater   
Music Studio 1: 
Song Writing
This course teaches students the skills and concepts needed for songwriting. Students will compose original music using computers, software, and cloud based applications. Students will learn the basics of music technology, computer usage, music notation, composition, arranging, and theory. This course has no prerequisite and is designed for students to be successful without having any previous formal musical training.
Music Studio 2; Production & Film Scoring This course builds upon the skills and concepts taught in Music Studio 1. Students will expand their use of technology and software to explore music production, including film scoring, in greater detail. By the end of this course, students will feel comfortable creating original music and bringing it to a level suitable for recording and public performance. When possible students may have the opportunity to create musical scores for visual art animations and film clips. 

Prerequisite: Music Studio I or permission of the instructor.
Music Theory 1 This one semester course covers the basics of music theory and ear training, including scales and modes, intervals, triads and seventh chords, harmony, non-harmonic tones, part-writing, and form and analysis. Students will use the music technology lab for ear training, music writing assignments, and drill and practice programs. Any student interested in pursuing formal music instruction at the college level should enroll in this course, in addition to their performing ensemble course. 

Prerequisite: the ability to read traditional music notation.
Music Theory 2 AP Students build aural and written music skills through intensive study in ear training, sight singing, melodic and harmonic dictation, part writing, form and analysis, and score reading. Further harmonic study will focus on seventh chords, non-chord tones, secondary dominant and leading tone chords, and modulation. This course is designed to enhance preparation for the College Board’s Advanced Placement Music Theory Exam given in the Spring. 

Prerequisite: Music Theory I or permission of the instructor
Guitar Class ( 1 and 2) Guitar 1 is the foundational course for this sequence and required in order to continue with Guitar 2. In Guitar 1 students will study chords, scales, song forms, voice leading, note reading, and accompanying. Beginning Guitar students and students with previous guitar experience will find the course essential to establishing a strong foundation in their development of Guitar Technique and overall musicality. In Guitar 2 students will develop more complex performance skills such as finger style picking, solos, accompaniments. The majority of music taught will be classic rock, classical repertoire, and contemporary hits.

To review any particular class or course curriculum and to see what our focus for student learning is, please click on Needham Curriculum Maps

and search for the class you are interested in, such as Drawing and Painting I or Concert Band.


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