For students and teachers alike, the idea of a virtual performing arts classroom is daunting. In early February, as international schools across China began to announce their temporary closure, performing arts teachers were busy thinking of meaningful ways to tailor their units and learning experiences for the virtual learning environment.

In China, it is common for international teachers to join informal professional development groups on WeChat. As it became clear that the temporary closures were going to last weeks, threads with titles such as “MYP Music Teachers in China” were inundated with brainstorming, resource sharing, and peer advice about how to overcome the challenges ahead. As a result, concerned performing arts teachers were busy reflecting on important questions:

How can we transmit the social, emotional, and intellectual aspects of what happens in a predominantly practical classroom environment?

How will the students respond to instructions and tasks without the ability to ask real-time clarifying-questions?

In what ways can we motivate students amidst the upheaval of their routines and geographical locations?

Creative Virtual Performing Arts

At SCIS, the performing arts team has been impressed with our student’s abilities to rise above the obvious challenges and limitations of the virtual learning environment. We have seen high levels of engagement, motivation, and innovation. In many cases, students have managed to produce work of uniquely impressive quality.

In the Lower School, students without access to the instruments available on-campus at SCIS have found incredibly innovative workarounds:

Exploring Patterns and Cycles in Music

In Grade six music, students have been busy exploring patterns and cycles in music. They have produced creative responses to the statement of inquiry “We can notice, represent, and creatively change patterns”. So far, we have seen wonderful creative efforts including pen tapping, beat-boxing, polyrhythmic body percussion (involving grandparents), computer-based remix projects, drum machine compositions, and even the transfer of abstracted patterns found in mathematics or nature to instruments such as the piano.

Student, Katherine Kassab, used Garageband to create a neat remix of Believer by Imagine Dragons. Listen to it here

Click here to listen to a selection of other student responses to these tasks!

Polyrhythm Demonstration:

Creating Original Music and Sound Design

In Grade seven music, students are busy creating both original music and sound design for a short film. Along the way, we have heard some wonderful compositions incorporating influences from Western Classical music, Minimalism, and even Brian Eno’s more obscure works of ambient music. They have also applied western and non-western approaches to using scales and modes to portray emotions and drama.

Click here to enjoy some of their work.

Princess Mononoke:

Exploring how we can improve our skills through preparation and presentation, these talented G8 students have recreated the works of some of their favorite artists using Garageband:

Virtual Performances

Grade seven Drama students created virtual performances of British Pantomime fairy tales acting out all roles themselves. Jane Song (Yein) rocked this task by using digital masks and altering her voice:

Lastly, Grade eight Drama students created virtual performances exploring identity through action and object. Student, Haruka, produced something wonderful:

SCIS. Together.

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