Course Descriptions

Graduation requirement: One year (10 units)

The department offers courses in five areas:

Visual Arts, Music, Chorus, Dance, Theater Arts

Introduction to Visual Arts (P)

This is the foundation course in the visual arts. Students are introduced to drawing, painting and sculpture with the emphasis on the elements and principles of art and design. Students engage in studio production, explore themes in art history and are challenged with basic art criticism and aesthetic valuing.

Students will be billed $35 for art supplies.

Intermediate VISUAL ARTS (P)

Guideline: Grade of B- or higher in Intro to Visual Arts or instructor approval.

This is an intermediate course for the study of visual arts media through illustration techniques in drawing, painting, graphic design and three-dimensional constructions.  It is a combined studio and continued world art history course which places emphasis upon reinforcing and building on material covered within Introduction to Visual Arts  instruction.  Students will increase proficiency of expression in various media and understanding of historical themes and artistic movements. Students will be billed $35 for art supplies.

Advanced VISUAL Arts (P)

Guideline:   Grade of B- or higher in Intermediate Visual Arts or instructor approval.

The advanced art class is a class for students interested in continuing their studies in the field of fine arts or design. The course is split into two sections allowing students to choose between continuing their education in fine arts or design. The fine arts section emphasizes beauty, aesthetics and meaning over utility with the primary focus on drawing/painting, sculpture and architecture. Instruction in critical analysis of artworks is continued with historical and contemporary artworks. The design section focuses on the arts that are geared more towards function such as graphic arts, industrial design, advertising, package design and fashion design and their practical applications in our daily lives with an emphasis on issues that relate to social justice. There are bi-weekly sketchbook critiques for both sections. Students will be billed $35 for art supplies.

AP Studio Art (H) (P)

Prerequisite:  Portfolio and/or instructor approval. Concurrent enrollment in Art Seminar.

This course is designed to assist the advanced drawing/painting/2-D design or 3-D design student in fulfilling the requirements to complete a first year college-level art portfolio.  In addition, this course will prepare the student to take the AP Studio Art exam in May.  The portfolio is comprised of a breadth section and a concentration section. First semester AP art students concentrate on the breadth section which consists of 12 pieces. Second semester the focus is a concentration chosen by the student and is of personal interest to the student. “Z “ block is available as an open studio time for students to work on their art works with the aid of the instructor on site.  All students enrolled in this course are required to take the AP Studio Arts College Board exam at the end of the school year. Summer work is required. Students will be billed $35 for art supplies.


Prerequisite:  No musical experience required.

Beginning Band provides the foundations of musicianship as an introduction to the Instrumental Music Program. Students will be counseled as to the selection of an instrument to study, and be given instruction toward the development of understanding, manipulation, and proficiency on the instrument. Primary emphasis will be placed on developing skills in reading music and performing on the instrument. There are no audition requirements for this ensemble, however prior experience in music is recommended.

Students will be billed $35 for class materials.


Prerequisite: Prior participation in Beginning Band is recommended.

Intermediate Band continues to explore the foundations and fundamentals of music while providing experience and musical training as students prepare for the performance of music in the symphonic, classical, and contemporary idioms. Students will learn to read both treble and bass music clefs, to understand various time signatures and meters and to understand and manipulate a chosen instrument. Students will also: develop proficiency on an instrument of choice by learning to play major and minor scales in all 12 keys; learn to understand complex rhythms and time signatures; and develop full musicianship by reading and interpreting any given piece of symphonic music. Participation in this ensemble is by audition only. An audition consists of sight reading, playing scales, and playing a prepared solo on your instrument. Prior participation in Beginning Band is recommended.

Students will be billed $35 for class materials.

Music theory, technology and analysis (A)

Prerequisite: No prior musical experience is necessary.

This class is an introduction to music fundamentals.  In the first semester, topics and skills in music reading, interval identification, theory, notation and ear training will be explored.  Emphasis is placed on the creation of melodies based upon techniques of various musical periods. Music from many historical periods and world traditions will be explored and analyzed. In addition, the use of music notation software and technology will be utilized. In the second semester, the course will focus on two areas of study: written analytical and aural skills. Topics will include rhythm, melody, harmony, timbre, structure, texture, style, and contexts for performance and composition.

Musical examples for study and analysis are drawn from the Medieval through contemporary periods in the Western European and American traditions, with supplementary examples drawn from other musical practices when appropriate. Students will be billed $35 for class materials.

Advanced Band (P)

Prerequisite: Audition.

This ensemble, requiring student mastery of the instrument, is a performance-oriented course. Students are exposed to and explore the elements of festival performances and the business of musicianship. Students will: study complex syncopation, read in both treble and bass clefs, study how scales relate to the harmonic construction of compositions, and conduct small ensembles of musicians. Musical interpretation, advanced ensemble techniques, elements of composing and arranging as well as other advanced topics will also be explored. Participation in this ensemble is by audition only. An audition consists of sight reading, playing scales, and playing a prepared solo on your instrument. Prior participation in Intermediate Band is recommended. Students will be billed $35 for class materials.

Advanced Jazz Ensemble (P)

Prerequisite:    Audition.

This ensemble allows students to explore the harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic basis for jazz and pop composition and performance. Students will analyze and perform jazz standards and arrangements in preparation for festival and school-related performances. Students will gain a thorough knowledge of scales and harmonic construction and exhibit their knowledge of composition and arrangement through performances of standard repertoire and their own compositions (where appropriate) throughout the school year. All jazz ensemble students are also expected to perform with the pep band during the year. Participation in this ensemble is by audition only. Prior experience in Advanced Symphonic Band and playing in the jazz idiom is highly recommended. An audition consists of sight reading, playing scales, and playing a prepared solo on your instrument. Students will be billed $35 for class materials.

Chorus (P)

Prerequisite: Audition (for voice placement only).

Students in this performance-oriented ensemble study and exhibit the elements of vocal training in the preparation of popular, liturgical, and classical choral music. Students will prepare for a concert each semester and cooperate with Campus Ministry by singing at school liturgies. Students will: learn basic music notation and read treble and bass clefs; proper physical mechanics for choral singing; demonstrate and apply the basic principles of sight-singing in the reading of choral music; prepare for performances and vocal competitions. Additional out-of-class rehearsal time, dedication and desire are required. No audition is necessary to participate in this ensemble, however prior musical experience is highly recommended. Students will be billed $35 for class materials.


This course is an introduction to movement as an expressive art form.  It will present the basic elements related to traditional forms of dance, including ballet, jazz, Afro-Haitian, folk, and contemporary  idioms.  Students  will be required  to demonstrate  a basic  mastery of  forms  and techniques presented, as well as to prepare written research projects related to the study of specific forms of dance and performance.  Students will also prepare for recitals, performances and special school events.


This intermediate course is an extension of Introduction to Dance.  It will focus on increasingly challenging approaches to movement as a medium of expression.  Emphasis will be placed upon the study and analysis of choreographic interpretation.  Students will be required to study and research a variety of choreographic styles and to develop original choreographic expressions collectively and individually.  They will prepare for recitals, performances and special school events.


This is an advanced level upper division elective dance course which is designed as an extension of the intermediate 3-4 studies.  Emphasis in this course will be upon the development of student choreography in a variety of established dance idioms (jazz, ballet, modern, etc.).  Research projects, both written and choreographic analysis of various styles of dance will be required as well as the study of dance interpretation. Students will prepare for recitals, performances and special school events.


Prerequisite: Audition.

This is an advanced level upper division elective dance course is offered during z-block. The course is designed as an extension of advanced dance studies.   Emphasis in this course will be upon the development of student choreography in a variety of established idioms (jazz, ballet, modern, African, etc.)  Members of this course are also known as the Saint Mary’s Dance Ensemble. Dance Ensemble is the featured traveling performance group, whose dancers tour as ambassadors of the Saint Mary’s Visual and Performing Arts Program. Students must audition to be accepted into this selective specialized course.


This course will study the range of experiences related to the art of acting.  Through lecture, discussion, and demonstration, students will experience and explore acting. Class activities include exercises in pantomime, improvisation, text analysis, character development, collective scene work and individual performance. Students will be involved with self and peer evaluations in oral critiques and written forms through assignments and will prepare for final project performances.


This intermediate course of study is an extension of Theater Arts 1-2.  It will focus upon continued development of acting techniques through the study and analysis of theater and film works, intensive scene works, and performance preparations.  Students will study script analysis, principles of blocking and staging, and will be introduced to the practical applications of stagecraft elements related to mounting a theatrical production.  In addition, students will apply skills in the writing, staging designing and the presenting of original works to elementary school groups as learning service projects.


This advanced course of study is an extension of Theater Arts 3-4 with emphasis being placed upon the practical application of directing skills for theatrical performances.  Students will learn the practical application of the elements of theatrical direction, advanced acting techniques in preparation for public performances such as the Annual Student-Directed One-Act Play and Film Festival Series.

Graphic Design & Journalism: Yearbook Production & Management (A)

Prerequisite:  Grade 11,12; instructor approval; maximum of 15 students.

Yearbook is a one-year academic elective course that offers students extensive instruction in journalistic principles and skills as well as opportunities for critique and analysis of quality yearbook writing and design.  Students will learn the skills essential to producing a quality yearbook: design, layout, photo editing, copy writing, related principles of journalism, computer software applications, cropping and editing and advertising. Students skilled in computer technology, graphic design, photography, and writing are prime candidates for this course.


Prerequisite:  Instructor approval.

This elective course offered during z-block will introduce the primary elements of photographic composition, design, and the art of developing and printing.  Students will develop a creative visual perspective and a sensitivity to the visual world. Students must schedule additional time, beyond the weekly class meetings, to work in the dark room.

MultiMedia Design (A)

Prerequisite:                  Grade 11, 12

This survey course is an introduction to the field of multimedia. Students are introduced to Adobe’s Creative Suite using three of the industry standard programs in multimedia, design and web animation. Students work with Illustrator, Photoshop and Flash. The course covers the background, fundamental concepts and essential skills required for beginning multimedia designers to create compelling meaningful content for the web.  Assignments are geared towards students’ personal interests incorporating the use of big ideas.  Students learn the tools, techniques and terminology to prepare them for further study in web illustration, animation, video or digital photo manipulation or editing.  The class uses the text: Multimedia: Making It Work by Tay Vaughan.


Throughout the semester, students will be challenged to view audio and video works as more than just mindless entertainment.  The art of directing and editing will be studied and applied to produce a variety of projects using the mediums of audio and video.  Students will collaborate with their peers to create works of art that show motivation, planning, and depth.