The Arts

A Renaissance Approach

Falmouth Academy’s emphasis on the studio and performing arts encourages students to strive for a Renaissance approach to life that celebrates creativity as well as intellectual growth. Students are surrounded by people who challenge and support them in trying new things, to integrate what they take in through their senses and experience interiorly and express them creatively and authentically. The arts at our school cross disciplines and traditional boundaries.  

The entire school is a gallery of student exhibits that changes throughout the year and features photography, ceramics, sculpture, painting, drawing, woodworking, calligraphy, and graphic design.

Performing arts electives include stagecraft, theatre, film, jazz, instrumental chamber music, and chorus. Actors and stagecraft designers mount three or more theatre productions annually, while student musicians from all six ensembles collaborate to present a major concert each trimester.

In addition to the numerous arts electives students take, every student participates in Arts-Across-the-Curriculum, a unique program that brings art into the academic classes. 

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Arts at FA

"At FA, we were able to work on Tom Stoppard, Molière, Shakespeare, and newer plays like Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman," said Brian Miskell '06. "This is what made me a more versatile actor."

Studio, Graphic, Visual & Technical Arts

List of 11 items.

  • Ceramics

    Students use the Elements and Principles of Art (line, form, space, texture, color) to explore a variety of techniques, using clay. They learn the basics of hand-building: slab, pinch, coil, proper wedging and attaching, glazing, recycling, and firing. They try Sgraffito and slip trailing and make ringed “feet” on their pots. Emphasis is on proper technique, experimentation with design, and the creative process. Students are asked to find creative solutions to their problems.
  • Drama

    Drama I
    The Drama I elective is designed for students to learn all the basics of performance. All are welcome regardless of previous experience. This elective emphasizes improvisation, character-creating theater games, interpreting scripts, and a variety of performance techniques. Students work together collaboratively, creating a safe environment where all voices are heard and there are no bad ideas. This class is not linked to the middle-school play which is an after-school activity.

    In this class, student actors focus on advanced improvisation techniques, as well as scenes and monologues, touching on a variety of historical eras. Actors learn about theatrical styles from other periods in history and how to apply these styles to their improvisational scenes. Students also perform selected scripts to further study various styles. There is an increased focus on vocal and physical preparation in this class, as well. Whenever possible, Advanced Drama students view live performances, both in and out of school, and analyze the effectiveness of the choices made by actors, directors, and designers. Students may take this class multiple times, as the special projects rotate through the years. This class is not linked to the upper-school play which is an after-school activity.
  • Drawing

    This course, designed for students with little or no formal training in drawing, will focus on the traditional techniques of draftsmanship. The emphasis is on accurately translating what the eye perceives onto paper. Projects and themes include contour drawing, creating a dynamic composition, negative space, scaling & proportion, reductive drawing, six divisions of light, one- and two-point perspective, and how to draw from a photograph. Materials include graphite, charcoal, pastels, colored pencils, and ink.

    Building on the technical toolkit of skills and materials from Introduction to Drawing, students are encouraged to consider drawing beyond a physical representation of the world. Each year, students work through benchmark projects including portraiture, figure drawing, landscape, still life, and one-two- and three-point perspectives of interiors and exteriors. It is highly recommended that students maintain a sketchbook and devote at least an hour of drawing outside of class to it each week. While working on these assignments, students will continue to improve their technique and begin to find their own voice. Students are continually encouraged to push their boundaries and try new materials and techniques. Students will begin to ask (and maybe even answer) questions like, “what makes a drawing good or bad?” “is a work still successful if it does not look like what I intended?” and “how does the form of my work relate to the ideas I am trying to communicate?” Materials include charcoal, colored pencils, Prismacolor markers, ink, graphite, and pastels. Prerequisite: Introduction to Drawing.
  • Graphic Design

    This elective will introduce students to Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Character Animator. Term 1 will focus on the principles of graphic design, typography, page layout, and composing documents for print and the web. Using Adobe InDesign students will create an original magazine and promotional marketing materials taking your idea from conceptualization to the finished product for print and the web. Working in Adobe Illustrator students will create vector graphic images, diagrams, infographics, logos, and illustrations.  In Adobe Character Animator students will bring 2-D characters to life on the small screen complete with voice-overs, dramatic acting, backdrops, and camera close-ups.  Students will create their first short animations using stock characters and quickly advance to creating their own  2-D cartoon characters constructed in Adobe Illustrator.
  • Painting

    Introduction to Painting is designed for beginning painting students with experience in drawing techniques. This class is devoted to observational painting, and nearly all of the assignments and exercises are working from life.  The course is designed to be sequential in that we begin with the fundamentals and build on these skills throughout the year. The emphasis is on process, not product. Exercises in class include color theory via color mixing, underpainting, value studies, and painting from a still life.

    Students will apply their technical knowledge of drawing and painting learned in the introductory courses to create more sophisticated and thoughtful works of art.  Each year, students work through benchmark assignments, including portraiture, figure painting, landscape, still life, and interior and exterior spaces. Students have the opportunity to work from observation as well as from their imagination, and materials include acrylic, watercolor, and pastel. For the repeat student in junior or senior year, there is an opportunity to create work for the college portfolio. In addition, every student will research an artist or art movement and create a presentation. In the advanced courses, there is an equal emphasis on the process of making work as well as the final product.
  • 3D Lab

    3D LAB will heighten students' 3-dimensional art skills by exposing them to using a wide variety of materials. Whether they are working in clay, paper, foam, found objects, or finding creative ways to incorporate technologies like 3D printing, they will explore the vast world of three dimensions. They will do site-specific sculpture, installation art, figurative sculpture, product design, and more!
  • Photography

    Through the lens of a 35mm film camera, Introduction to Photography offers students a new way to see and control light. They learn how to use a camera, develop film, and print in the darkroom. Projects include the camera obscura, various shooting assignments on and off-campus, and exposure to other photographers, both contemporary and historical. Students build on technique and vision. In-school 35mm loaner cameras are often available. Spring term students will be introduced to Adobe Photoshop CC and digital photography as a preview to Intermediate Photography.

    With knowledge of camera basics, Intermediate Photography students complete assignments designed to build on vision and technique. Both traditional darkroom and digital projects using Adobe Photoshop will be covered. Students have the option to work in one or both mediums. Projects include challenges in seeing in new and unique ways; bookbinding; and assignments covering nature, sports, fashion, reportage, commercial, and environmental portraiture. Students will choose a contemporary or historical photographer to research, create a presentation in Slideshow, and present it to the class. A digital camera is necessary.

    Given their acquired base of Intro and Intermediate Photography classes, students are able to take their work to the next level. They’ll develop a personal vision and experiment with technique, make Slideshow presentations of historical and contemporary photographers, create a solo exhibition in the gallery, try alternative darkroom techniques, learn how to critique the photographic image, and create a final video project. Seniors will create a final retrospective exhibit of their work.  Students may choose between darkroom and digital photography. A digital camera is necessary.
  • Theatrical Lighting and Design

    This class covers techniques of designing lighting for various stage forms, creative planning, and projection of designs for specific productions.  Covered are the fundamentals of learning how to see, exploring the mind’s eye, and painting with lighting.  Translating theatrical moments and music into lighting sketches, storyboards, atmospheres, transitions from one atmosphere to another, and developing points of view and approaches are also studies.  Fundamentals of the tools of the lighting designer, preparation for the theatre, and production techniques are covered. Students learn how to create and execute their own lighting plot for productions.
  • Video Production

    The emphasis of this introductory class is on learning to shoot and edit.  Students learn the fundamentals of working with a professional camcorder, appropriately lighting the shoot, and audio dynamics.  In addition, we also begin to use professional editing software in learning the post-production process.  It is through the process of creating that we learn from our successes and missteps to hone our craft.

    Using a professional camcorder and editing software, we will refine our skills in the areas of pre-production, production, and post.  There are structured projects to perfect new techniques and open-ended projects to allow students to pursue an idea or passion.  Students also are involved in the creation of marketing projects used by the Falmouth Academy’s Communications Office.
  • Woodworking

    Through a series of independent and group projects, students will learn how to safely work with a variety of hand and power tools to construct projects of their own design.
  • Yearbook

    In the Yearbook elective, students produce the annual yearbook publication (Mainsail) as a pictorial history of campus activities and memorable events for the current school year.

    They are required to create page layouts, take photographs, and write brief descriptions of events. Students also learn how to use Jostens Yearbook Avenue, an online yearbook system, to upload photos and edit yearbook pages. Each student will be assigned certain pages to work on and will be required to meet assigned deadlines.

Performing Arts

List of 5 items.

  • Chorus

    In Chorus, healthy vocal technique and fundamental theory skills are taught through a rehearsal process that draws upon a wide variety of repertoire, from sea shanties to Gregorian chants, to doo-wop, and much more. Singers are welcome whether their voices have changed or not - in fact, learning to sing correctly while approaching adolescence is key for a lifetime of vocal growth and enjoyment. Performances include Falmouth Academy Music Department concerts, programs for local nursing homes and clubs, and Falmouth Academy Graduation. Chorus members may participate in adjudicated choral festivals; guest artists may visit. All singers are encouraged to participate in regional and state choral festivals. Some weekly practice is expected.
  • Instrumental Ensemble

    This class is fun for the instrumentalist who plays any brass, winds, or percussion instrument. Students will play safely together pop, Jazz, and some classics. Scales, chords, song structure, and learning to listen and play as an ensemble will be practiced in each visit. . Students are encouraged to take private lessons to keep pace with the group.

    Students will be challenged with new music and encouraged to learn them at a rapid pace. Jazz, Pop and the classic done in conjunction with the Adv String Ensemble will be performed. Students learn music theory, scales, and chords as well as perform in an ensemble setting. This group performs regularly outside of the school environs in the community and while on a week-long tour every June.  A mixed Instrumental Ensemble or audition is a pre-requisite for this performance ensemble. Students are encouraged to take private lessons to be able to keep pace with the group.
  • Music Majors

    Open by audition or approval from the Arts Department Chair, this class is open to all musicians, choristers, and instrumentalists who are considering music seriously. 

    Students will study music theory from a beginning to an advanced level as well as historical concepts and the classics.  Some playing may be involved but as a sub-ensemble at a high level. Students should be prepared to work hard and practice in order to take their skills to the next level.  This class will prepare students considering music as a major or a minor in college or for the serious student who just wants to be better musicians.
  • Regional Music Competitions

    Student musicians who are members of a school ensemble are eligible to audition for local, regional, and state music festivals: Cape and Islands, Southeast District (Junior High and High School), and All-State. Participation in the festivals gives them the exhilarating opportunity to apply the skills honed in FA’s small ensembles to perform with a full concert band, symphony orchestra, or large chorus.
  • String Ensemble

    This class will be a string instrument instructional/ exploration group class for cello, violin, and viola. The goal is to create a group of new musicians, who after one year of instruction, will become the FA Middle School String Ensemble.  No prior musical experience is needed except a desire to learn!

    Students will learn string instrument techniques, the meanings and execution of string notation, tuning, and intonation, as well as music theory, four-part harmony, and balance. Historical performance practice will be studied through playing compositions from different classical eras, 20th-century genres, and more contemporary composers and artists. Students are encouraged to take private lessons to keep pace with the group.

    Students will learn string instrument techniques, the meanings and execution of string notation, tuning, and intonation, as well as music theory, four-part harmony, and balance. Historical performance practice will be studied through playing compositions from different classical eras, 20th-century genres, and more contemporary composers and artists. Students are encouraged to take private lessons to keep pace with the group.

List of 10 members.

  • Photo of George Scharr

    George Scharr 

    Arts Department Chair/Community Outreach
  • Photo of Lucy Nelson

    Lucy Nelson 

    Art Teacher & GSA Advisor
  • Photo of Susan Moffat

    Susan Moffat 

    Photography & GSA Advisor
  • Photo of Elisabeth Ledwell

    Elisabeth Ledwell 

    English Chair/Drama
  • Photo of Martha Borden

    Martha Borden 

    Director of I.T.
  • Photo of Margaret Bossi

    Margaret Bossi 

  • Photo of Paul Matthias

    Paul Matthias 

  • Photo of Norma Stiner

    Norma Stiner 

  • Photo of Seth Rainville

    Seth Rainville 

  • Photo of Britta Santamauro

    Britta Santamauro 

    Director of Library Services

2023 SISAL Art Competition

"Being in the jazz band and doing improv at FA has prepared me to work with what is presented to me," said Singer-Songwriter Johnny Gwynn '07. "I'm able to keep the ideas flowing and throw something else out there."
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