Departmental Offerings

The following course descriptions detail the likely offerings during any school year, though specifics will vary from term to term and course lineups are always changing. Click on the course titles below for full descriptions.

  • Advanced Ceramics

    This year-long studio course is designed for students who have completed Ceramics I and wish to continue their study of ceramics. It builds upon the work done in Ceramics I with the continued emphasis on the development of technical skills in addition to bringing personal meaning into projects. We will take a closer look at some of ceramics’ more important details including form, utility, surface decoration, and glazing. Working on the potter’s wheel will remain central to the class and we will discuss a variety of issues that potters encounter when creating utilitarian pieces. We will also explore sculpting in clay. Historical examples and contemporary ceramic artists will continue to be examined as inspiration for project assignments.
  • Advanced Music Theory

    How does music work? I’ve been playing or singing for some time, but I don’t really understand what I am doing. What makes something sound good? What is harmony? How do chords work together? How can I better understand music in order to interpret and perform, or write my own? How do the works of composers and songwriters in the past inform music making today? Students will engage in a study of harmony and counterpoint, sight singing, ear training, score study, active listening and dictations. Application is made to classical, jazz, and contemporary popular music styles. This is intended for instrumentalists, singers and composers who want a solid foundation in their musical understanding. Don’t just play—understand the music you’re learning.
  • Advanced Studio Art

    Advanced Studio Art is for students who wish to continue with drawing and painting after Intermediate Studio Art and who are considering Advanced Studio Practices their senior year. Advanced Studio Art will be geared towards developing painting and drawing skills and a personal voice. Students will work in a variety of media and develop their skills in drawing and painting through a variety of projects.
  • Ceramics

    This year-long studio course introduces students to the art of ceramics and is an exploration of the various methods and materials used within the medium. Both utilitarian tableware and sculptural work will be created. The class begins exploring a range of hand-building techniques including pinch, slab, and coil construction. Wheel-throwing becomes central to the class with an emphasis on the development of effective, fundamental throwing techniques. Historical and contemporary examples of ceramic work is explored as inspiration for students as they develop their own style. Glazing methods are learned along with kiln loading and firing processes. Students have the opportunity to share their work, via informal class critiques and formal exhibitions.
  • Chamber String Ensemble

    This is a course of study in repertoire for string ensemble. It is open to students in grades 9-12 who play violin, viola, cello, or concert bass, and is strongly recommended for students taking private string lessons. We will perform a wide-range of musical styles from the Baroque era through 20th Century music, including film, Broadway, and even pop music.
  • Electronic Music and Composition

    Learn the techniques of today’s music producers. This year-long course does not require any previous musical experience. Students will learn the basics of synthesis through the study of analogue models. They will study synthesizer programming and the creation of new sounds, along with a discussion of MIDI and contemporary software applications, including sequencing and plug-in programs such as Reason, Cubase, Ableton Live, and others. In addition, students will be given an overview of the history of electronic music and its pioneers, including Theremin, Moog, and others. Students will apply what they have learned in compositions of their own, based on models that are studied. Also included is a study of digital recording techniques in our studio. The course will culminate in a concert or digital distribution of their work.
  • Honors Chamber Singers

    The Chamber Singers is a group of 12-24 singers open by audition only and is a year-long course. The Chamber Singers study a wide range of music from the Renaissance to the present day and in several different languages. For the past several years they have received gold medal (superior) ratings in festivals and have toured around the world. The group has many performance opportunities throughout the year. Students wishing to take this course must schedule an audition.
  • Honors Studio Practice

    Honors Studio Practice is a class that will allow students to work independently on a series based on a theme of their choosing. They will develop a body of artwork that codifies a thesis. Through critique, development of the theme and technical revision, students will have created a body of art by year’s end that they will exhibit. Students will have the ability to create and develop a studio practice and a body of work in the medium/mediums of their choice.
  • Intermediate Studio Art

    This course builds upon the work done in introduction to the Arts, with emphasis on the development of drawing and painting skills. Students work from live models, still life, and the environment. The effective use of the measuring systems are practiced along with linear and tonal studies in pencil, charcoal, and oil paint. Students are encouraged to express their imagination and originality, along with works emphasizing careful observational rendering. Those interested in preparing a portfolio for the AP exam should take this course.
  • Intro Arts

    Through this year-long program, students learn to communicate at a basic level in three-dimensional and two-dimensional art, in music, and in theatre. Through hands-on work and study they learn to develop and present basic analyses of works of art. Students gain an informed acquaintance with exemplary works of art from a variety of cultures and historical periods, and become able to relate various types of arts knowledge and skills within and across the arts disciplines.

  • Introduction to Photography

    This year-long course in photography will introduce students to the art of photography. Students will learn how to use features such as the aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and how to use a light meter. The class will research methods to obtain proper exposures and creative control and composition to improve image quality. 

    Weekly in-class work will cover various types of photography such as portraits, landscape, sports, still life and conceptual images. Students will study various photographers and expand on their own styles.

    The class will be using digital cameras and students will be introduced to basic editing skills using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Four periods per week will be divided between working periods, lectures, and critique. Critiquing and learning to discuss composition and intent are an important part of this class. A majority of the work is done during class time, but some projects will require work outside of class. 
    Students will need a DSLR camera. The School has a limited number, so if students have their own DSLR camera, they are encouraged to bring them. Students will also need to have an external hard drive to store all their work.
  • Introduction to the Arts

    Introduction to the arts immerses ninth grade students in three artistic disciplines: art, music, and theater. Students rotate through the disciplines by trimester and gain experience and exposure to fundamental aspects of each. In all three, students have the opportunity to share their work, via informal and formal performances and exhibitions.
  • Jazz Combo

    This audition-based small ensemble will rehearse and perform jazz standards and modern tunes, and perhaps some originals. Musicians will be expected to do the work needed to perform, and improvise on, medium and advanced level jazz repertoire, and keep up with the rapid rehearsal pace. The class will be challenging, but a lot of fun!
  • Jazz Ensemble

    This is a performance class open to all players of winds and brass, as well as rhythm musicians (guitar, bass, piano, drums). Students meet for a double period twice a week and study big band and jazz arrangements. There are several performance opportunities throughout the year.
  • Wood Design

    With the advantage of a fully loaded professional facility, this course will take students well beyond the traditional “wood shop” class. In this full-year art elective, you will study design theory and history, hand and computer-aided drafting, as well as traditional woodworking techniques to design and construct a unique piece of fine furniture built to the standards of a family heirloom. 

    While the actual building of your furniture piece will require hands-on work in our campus workshop, all the design work, project creation, and drafting of building plans can be completed through on-line work if we need to begin the year with virtual classes.

    We will start the course with elements of design that include the use of line, space, scale, proportion, and grain orientation. Through sketching, drafting, making scale models, and sharing plenty of creative discussion, you will explore the design of your piece. As you begin construction, you will learn how to use hand and power tools safely and accurately, dimension and mill lumber, and construct accurate joints. The year culminates with a campus gallery show of your beautifully crafted furniture.

    While completing a piece of fine furniture requires plenty of individual work, we foster a creative, collegial atmosphere in the class, a space where students feel welcome, supported, encouraged, and inspired.


  • Photo of Gregory Haggard
    Gregory Haggard
    Chair of the Arts Department and Director of the Music Program
    University of California, Los Angeles - BA
    University of California, Los Angeles - MA
  • Photo of Evan Avery
    Evan Avery
    Director of the Chamber Ensemble and the Jazz Ensemble
    University of North Texas - BA
    University of Southern California - MA
  • Photo of John Bueti
    John Bueti
    Wood Design Teacher
  • Gianna Burright
  • Photo of Megan Hooker
    Megan Hooker
    Ceramics Teacher and Riding Instructor
    University of California, Santa Barbara - BA
  • Photo of Elizabeth Mahoney
    Elizabeth Mahoney
    Visual Arts Teacher and Riding Instructor
    Skidmore College - BA
  • Photo of Lisandro Malissia
    Lisandro Malissia
    Theater Technical Director, World Language--Spanish Instructor
  • Photo of Bo Manson
    Bo Manson
    Wood Design Teacher, Rock Climbing Instructor
    University of Virginia - BA
    University of Virginia - MEd
  • Rubén Salinas
  • Photo of Megumi Tatsuzawa
    Megumi Tatsuzawa
  • Photo of Alan Thornhill
    Alan Thornhill
    Guitar Instructor
  • Photo of Gallia Vickery
    Gallia Vickery
    Mathematics Teacher and Dance Program Director
    Princeton University - AB
  • Photo of Carin Yates
    Carin Yates
    Photography Teacher, School Photographer
    Antioch University - BA
  • Photo of Martin Young
    Martin Young
  • Photo of Julija Zonic
    Julija Zonic
    Voice Instructor
Notice of nondiscriminatory policy as to students: The Thacher School admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other School-administered programs.