Fieldstone has a unique and dynamic music program, incorporating music appreciation, Orff Schulwerk, and stringed instrument instruction. Every day starts off with “Morning Music,” one half hour of classical music played throughout the halls and classrooms. A chronological survey of classical music, Morning Music teaches the students to appreciate listening to the great musical works of history, and to distinguish between the musical eras, from Medieval plainchant, through to art music of recent years. The recordings are accompanied by text, puzzles and pictures which complement the music the students are listening to. Once or twice a week, students from Junior Kindergarten through to Grade Three have Orff instruction, based on the ideas of the German composer, Carl Orff (1895–1982). The Orff approach combines movement, singing, playing, and improvisation to teach basic musical concepts, such as rhythm, beat and ensemble, through the use of simple and easy-to-play instruments such as xylophone, triangles and drums. From Grade One, all Fieldstone students learn to play the violin or cello. Initial instruction is based on a modified Suzuki approach, supplemented by a system of simple notation which helps the students to learn to play many pieces quickly and easily. By Grade Four, students learn to read from traditional treble and bass clef notation, and the focus shifts to playing with more sophisticated technique and better tone quality. More advanced students are invited to join our String Orchestra, in which the repertoire includes favourite works such as Karl Jenkins’ Palladio and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #3. Our students play and sing in the community. They have performed many times at homes for the aged, such as Villa Columbo, Meighen Manor and a SPRINT lunch at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church. We have also brought a select group of students from Grades One through Grade Eight to play the American and Canadian anthems at the start of Blue Jays baseball games and Toronto Marlies hockey game. All students perform regularly throughout the year at assemblies and events within the school. There are two major concerts annually. The traditional December Holiday Concert showcases students playing stringed instruments and Orff instruments, as well as songs in languages such as French, Hebrew, Portuguese, Italian and German. The Spring Arts Night combines playing and singing with art work produced by the students. All combined, our students receive from 4 ½ to 6 ½ hours of excellent musical instruction a week. This is one of the best musical programs that Toronto schools have to offer.
Shakespeare lives on at Fieldstone Day School. Every year, for over a decade and a half, students in Grade One to Grade Eight are given the opportunity to participate in a Shakespeare Production. The performances are versions of plays by William Shakespeare from the series Shakespeare for Young People. Family and friends have come to see productions of <em>Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, </em>and <em>Much Ado about Nothing</em>, to name a few. Whether a comedy or a tragedy, each year the students’ performance on stage, for one night only, leaves the audience in awe of the talent they have witnessed. The production consists of a play written in five acts and a summary in between the acts, presented in the form of sonnets or rhyming couplets. This often requires a cast of student for the characters in the main play and a group of students for the Rhyming Couplets or Sonnets Crew, also known as “the players.” Students who wish to be in the main play are given time to prepare for an audition and they can request a small, medium or large role in order to ensure that they can attend the required rehearsals, which are scheduled during many months before the production date, and still stay on top of their other co-curricular activities and their academics. Once a student has been a part of a Shakespeare Production, they are almost always eager to be in the next one; they can’t wait to hear which the next play will be, when they can audition, and how soon they can get their copy of the script so they can begin memorizing their lines and becoming their character. Being part of a Shakespeare Production allows students to trust their abilities, strengthen their memory, and gain confidence. It also develops excellent focus of mind, body, and voice, as well as enhances their communication skills through the use of verbal and non-verbal expression. As the director of the annual Shakespeare Productions since 2009, I have been continually amazed with the level of dedication shown by the students during rehearsals, and the talent and energy that they exude when they are on stage is exemplary. The overall positive attitude they each demonstrate towards understanding the play and performing it well is paramount.
Visual Arts at Fieldstone includes much more than simply studio work and art appreciation. Within Visual Arts courses, students’ visual literacy expands and impacts all other learning experiences. Learning in, about or through the Visual Arts at Fieldstone helps students to use their imaginations and make creative choices to communicate their ideas, observations, feelings, and values.
Students explore the expressive character of art, their personal perceptions of art works, and the elements and principles of design. They investigate and produce a variety of art works using various media processes and traditional and emerging technologies. They develop skills using art tools, materials and techniques. Such learning also enhances students’ ability to respond to and interpret existing works. To wrap up the overall Visual Arts experience, the students participate in hanging, displaying, and curating their very own art show for a true, authentic, and complete Visual Arts experience.