Enhancing and Enriching the Entire Curriculum
At Hewitt, the arts enhance and enrich the entire curriculum. Arts education at Hewitt affords girls the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and the world by taking creative risks, thinking independently, working collaboratively, and exploring visual and performative art from around the world. Through an array of artistic experiences — classes, rehearsals, dramatic productions, concerts and exhibitions — Hewitt girls have opportunities to explore and nurture their own creative abilities, and to analyze, challenge, and connect.
Hewitt’s enviable proximity to New York’s great cultural institutions enables students to experience and learn from the city’s abundant artistic resources. Whether visiting world-famous art institutions, gathering at local galleries, or observing public works hidden in plain sight, Hewitt students interact with art in a meaningful and intentional way that connects back to their own artistic creation.
In addition to annual concerts and exhibitions organized by division, students also have the opportunity to submit works to a student-juried K-12 exhibition, Hewitt’s arts and literary magazines, and national competitions sponsored by Scholastic and Photographer's Forum. Outside of Hewitt, our musical ensembles perform at the NJSMA (New Jersey School Music Association) Elementary Choral Celebration at Drew University, the Riverside Handbell Festival, and the NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) Solo Instrument Festival.
- Dance and Kinesthetic Movement
- Middle School Musical
- Upper School Musical
- Middle School Shakespeare Production
- Upper School Drama Production
- Studio Art
- Scenic Design
- 3D Art and Design
- Art and Coding
- Digital Photography
Our lower school art studios hum with constant energy, as girls across grades learn to take risks, problem solve, translate their ideas, take responsibility, practice a discipline, and make discriminating choices. Girls work with a variety of materials and ideas and come to trust their own creative process. Each girl discovers a personal haven in the art room where her individual talents are valued and celebrated.
Our art faculty collaborates with homeroom teachers to develop new projects each year that connect thematically to units of study and to exhibitions currently on view around the city. Hewitt artists learn from the outset that there is a wide, diverse world of artistic expression in New York City, and they eagerly embrace its influences. By fourth grade, our artists explore personal ideas and experiences through various artistic media, including drawing, painting, mixed media, collage, wool, and sculpture. We emphasize effort, participation, originality of ideas, and the process of art making, and design art lessons to both increase skill level and to reflect the interests of the students, as the girls work toward demonstrating understanding of concepts, original thinking, and quality of craftsmanship.
Music education is essential to Hewitt’s lower school program. Our girls sing, play instruments, and participate in movement activities that encourage kinesthetic learning. We base our music curriculum on the Orff-Schulwerk method (which focuses on percussions and movement) and the Kodály method (which uses a child-developmental approach to sequence). After the children become familiar with a new musical concept, they learn how to notate it. We also review concepts through games, movement, songs, and exercises.
The girls practice notation by playing a variety of instruments including percussives and wind instruments. By fourth grade, students hone unison singing and learn two-part and choral music. Students expand their musical vocabulary using terminology surrounding dynamics (i.e. crescendo, decrescendo, piano, forte, etc.) and tempo (i.e.: ritardando, accelerando). Building on their recorder playing from third grade, fourth grade students learn notes that require forked fingering positions and larger interval leaps. Fourth graders attend a Young People's Concert performed by the New York Philharmonic and a Metropolitan Opera dress rehearsal at Lincoln Center. We expose students to a wide range of musical genres through recordings and field trips to live performances around New York City, building a lifelong appreciation of diverse musical traditions.
Hewitt educates girls to see the world through multiple lenses. Our visual arts program in middle school exposes them to a wide range of media as they work on 2D, 3D, and digital projects. As part of the Independence theme in grade five, girls learn the power of their voice in artistic expression while also working as a team on set design and costuming. They handle materials responsibly and keep the workroom orderly and calm. In sixth grade, they collaborate on claymation animations, rendering an original written narrative into visual form using clay and video.
A sequence of semester-long courses exposes students in seventh and eighth grades to the kinds of ceramics, painting and drawing, and graphic and digital design courses they would like to pursue in upper school. Learning to manipulate clay, to sketch from a live model, and to design for the multi-dimensional spaces of online worlds inspires girls to bring their emerging sense of purpose to bear not only on personal expression but also as voices for the community, in politics, and as entrepreneurs. Visual arts courses inspire students to grapple with important questions about themselves and the world using a different lexicon, teaching them new ways to think critically and find voice.
With a founding head of school who grew up on the cobbled streets of Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, and whose infectious passion for performance inspired her to establish a school where theatre and drama would enhance and enrich the entire curriculum, Hewitt has long celebrated the role of the performing arts. They play a central role in keeping vital traditions alive while also bringing the best research on music, drama, and dance education to bear on the curriculum.
In middle school, we introduce students to the instrumentation of handbell choir, taking one semester of vocal choir and one semester of handbells in both grades 5 and 6. In grades 7 and 8, they choose one or the other. In addition, the middle school stages three productions a year for girls who can rehearse after school. Our drama program forms an important cog in the wheel of our public speaking program, as girls gain confidence on the stage and learn various modes of speaking and acting.
Dance also provides a resource for our girls in movement and positive body image just as they enter puberty. Middle school dance combines dance foundation, technique, and strengthening with compositional work aimed at expanding creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. The department also offers electives in instrumental music, a cappella singing, and choreography.
Upper school artists are serious practitioners, eager to explore new media and also delve deep into their understanding of form and craft. The introductory courses in grades 9 and 10 ensure that students build a good foundation in key skills to perform advanced work in 11th and 12th grade electives. Students also can explore the life of a curator by designing an exhibition in collaboration with others in our Curatorial Studies elective. And the opportunity to integrate technology and classical arts abounds through the innovative relationship between our upper school technology and visual arts departments. The program emphasizes the power of artistic expression, the rigors of learning to work with material toward a given purpose, the joy of play, the necessity of risk-taking, and the importance of seeing failure as a means to achieving the right end.
The Performing Arts program at Hewitt has deep roots, given our founder Caroline Hewitt’s love of drama and music. Musical study becomes a passion for many students, and our upper school supports a very active vocal choir and handbell program and the Renaissance Consort club. We extend numerous performance opportunities, including winter and spring concerts and events at off-site venues.
The drama program features a dedicated band of actors who study the craft in depth over the course of four years; many more girls participate in our fall play and winter musical, which recently have featured Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan, Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. By offering performance-based workshops, field trips, internships and meetings with outside professionals, Hewitt presents students with opportunities to experience the professional world of theater.
A playwriting course after school and extensive opportunities to work alongside professionals behind the scenes in stage technology allow young women to experience the full range of theatrical work in our professional-quality theater. And our upper school dance program helps students increase strength, flexibility, and coordination through various conditioning methods, and to develop basic dance technique through a variety of movement experiences.