The Creative and Performing Arts are an essential and vibrant part of our school, offering experiences within and beyond the classroom. In each subject we aim to position the students as creative artists, equipping them with skills, techniques and experiences to enable their expression in their chosen form.
Engagement in the Creative and Performing Arts benefits students academically, personally and creatively. Researchers have found that students who are involved in the Creative and Performing Arts have higher school motivation, engagement in class and academic aspirations, as well as increased self-esteem, life satisfaction and sense of meaning and purpose (Csikszentmihalyi 1990, 1996; Martin et al., 2013). Engagement in the arts also increases student levels of creativity (Cote, 2010). Not only does creativity enrich our lives and form a fundamental part of what makes us human, but politicians, educators and business leaders worldwide have realized that creativity and innovation are central to business leadership and economic success (Business Roundtable, 2005; Sawyer, 2006, 2013).
As part of their academic program students in Years 7 and 8 study Music and Visual Arts. Elective courses in Dance, Drama, Music, Visual Arts, Photographic and Digital Media and Photography are offered to students studying for their ROSA (Years 9 and 10) and Higher School Certificate (Years 11 and 12).
There are also a wide variety of extra-curricular opportunities on offer including:
- School Musical
- Showcase – An Evening of Performing Arts
- Concert Band
- Rock Band
- String Ensemble
- Theatre Sports Festival
- Visual Arts Club
- Schools Spectacular
- Regional Dance & Drama Festivals
Dance is an integral component of every known culture, providing a means for expression and an extension of work and lifestyle patterns. Students at Castle Hill High School have the opportunity to study elective Dance courses in Stage 5 (Years 9 and 10) and Stage 6 (Years 11 and 12). In addition, extra-curricular opportunities such as the annual School Musical, Showcase, Sydney West Dance Festival, HSC Dance performances and our school's involvement in the Schools Spectacular, as well as other opportunities to perform within the community, provide valuable opportunities for students to develop their skills and understanding of Dance through practical experience.
The Stage 5 Elective Dance Course is based on the study of Dance as an artform. Its framework ensures a multifaceted dance education in performance (Dance technique), composition (creating and constructing movement) and appreciation (theoretical component where students analyse dance works from a social, cultural and historical context. Students develop vital skills and knowledge that will prepare them for success in the Senior Dance Course in the future.
The Stage 6, 2 Unit Elective Dance Course enables senior students to work in a range of capacities: as performers, composers, as students in a co-operative learning environment, through problem-solving tasks and through group work. The HSC requires students to produce three dance works (Core Performance, Core Composition and Major Study Option-composition, dance and film) and prior to performing these pieces students must also demonstrate their knowledge of the compositional process and safe dance practice through via interview. Core Appreciation is the final compulsory component of study where students learn to analyse, evaluate and appraise prescribed dance works from a national and international perspective. During the HSC exam period students demonstrate their knowledge by completing a one hour exam that involves answering two extended response questions relevant to the prescribed artists and works studied throughout the course.
At Castle Hill High School students have the opportunity to study elective Drama courses in Stage 5 (Years 9 and 10) and 6 (Years 11 and 12) as well as pursue and develop their Dramatic talents and skills through the wide range of extra-curricular opportunities available.
Throughout the Stage 5 course students develop an understanding of the elements of Drama and skills in improvisation, playbuilding, physical theatre, acting and appreciating performance. They also learn about and utilise the elements of production, including lighting, sound, set and costume design. Students develop knowledge and understanding through their study of the historical development of particular forms and styles of theatre, with a focus on Mask and Mime, Commedia del'Arte, Comedy and Film-making. Regional and State festivals, Showcase, the Musical and various school assemblies and local performance opportunities, such as the annual Spirit Day and visits to our local feeder Primary Schools, ensure that students have an audience for the performances they develop in their Drama classes. These opportunities also provide students with valuable insight into, and practical experience of, the elements of production.
Throughout the Stage 6 course students continue to develop and build on their skills and knowledge. However, previous knowledge and experience in Drama is not a pre-requisite for Stage 6 and although it is an advantage, many students who have picked up Drama for the first time in Year 11 achieve exemplary results in the HSC course.
Throughout the Preliminary Course students engage in theoretical and practical learning in improvisation, playbuilding and acting, elements of production in performance, and theatrical traditions and performance styles. Year 11 classes enter a play-built piece into the Regional Drama Festival every year and have a strong tradition of being successfully nominated for the State Drama Festival. The Preliminary course focuses on extending the students' performance range and creative risk-taking abilities.
The HSC Drama course has three parts. Students complete a theoretical study of ‘Australian Drama and Theatre', and ‘Studies in Drama and Theatre' through the practical exploration of four playtexts. They investigate themes, issues and traditions of theatre, exploring relevant acting techniques, performance styles and spaces. Secondly, students devise an 8-12 minute piece of original theatre in small groups. Thirdly, students demonstrate their talents and expertise in a particular area through the Individual Project. They choose one project from areas of Performance, Design (Set, Costume, Promotion or Lighting), Script-writing, Director's Folio and Theatre Review.
At Castle Hill High School students have the opportunity to study Music as a part of their academic program at all levels.
Our Music facilities include two large Music rooms, containing two full class complements of keyboards and guitars, a series of small rehearsal rooms and a superior Music Technology laboratory. Students can pursue their interest and talents on a wide variety of instruments through our borrowing program and involvement in extra-curricular bands.
Throughout Stage 4 (Years 7 and 8) students study the Mandatory course. They gain skills in performing, composing and listening through a variety of context areas including the Concepts of Music, Instruments and Rock Music. Throughout this course students are introduced to the Music Technology Laboratory. They also receive basic instruction on guitar and keyboard in Years 7 and 8.
Throughout Stage 5 (Years 9 and 10) students study the Music Elective course. Through the various contexts studied, students refine their ability to listen, perform and compose. Topics covered include:
- Music of other cultures
- Australian Music – Rock, Pop and Art Music
- Musical Theatre
Music Technology remains an important focus of the Elective Course and students utilise the Music Technology Laboratory in order to continue improving their knowledge of a variety sophisticated Music programs.
Students who study Music for their HSC choose between the Music 1 and Music 2 courses. In both courses the students continue to develop their understanding of musical concepts including duration, pitch, dynamics and expressive techniques, tone colour, texture and structure whilst experiences in performance, composition, musicology and aural provide the context for their learning.
Music 1 focuses on contemporary music and students study six topics over two years. For the HSC examination all students will perform at least one piece and choose three electives from performance, composition and musicology. They choose from the following topics:
- Baroque Music
- Rock Music
- Methods of Music notation
- An Instrument and its repertoire
- Music and the 20th and 21st Centuries
- Music for small ensembles (such as Jazz)
In Music 2 students study Music 1600-1900 in Year 11 and Music of the last 25 Years in Year 12. They study an additional topic in both years which is chosen by the students themselves. For the HSC examination, all students perform at least one piece and compose one original work. Students also choose an elective from performance, composition or musicology.
Music Extension is also available to students studying the Music 2 course and provides an opportunity for the students to specialise in performance, composition or musicology.
At Castle Hill High School the Visual Arts program is an exciting and strong component of the Creative Arts. Students explore art making, and historical and critical study by developing their own art making practice and exploring the art practice of a wide variety of artists. Our students study a wide range of media and develop a broad range of Visual Arts skills and techniques in a safe and happy environment which encourages creativity and lifelong learning.
Students learn to investigate and apply structural elements in their visual arts through the exploration of a wide variety of subject matter. The expressive forms available to students include:
- Graphic design
- Photography and digital media
- Textiles and fibre
- Designed objects and environments
- Film and video
- Documented forms
Students not only learn how to evaluate the significance of particular artists, artworks, audience responses and representations of the world, they are encouraged to take creative risks, develop higher order thinking skills, and develop a strong sense of identity through their expression of ideas in a variety of forms.
Business Roundtable. (2005). Tapping America's potential: The education for innovation initiative. Washington, DC: Business Roundtable.
Cote, J. (2010). Arts-based education and creativity. Action in Teaching Education. 32(5-6), 126-143.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990) Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: HarperCollins
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York: HarperCollins
Martin, A., Mansour, M., Anderson, M., Gibson, R., Liem, G. A., & Sudmalis, D. (2013). The role of arts participation in students' academic and nonacademic outcomes: A longitudinal study of school, home and community factors. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(3), 709-727.