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 Placement Art History

    This is a demanding course that is equivalent to an introductory survey course at the college level. The two primary educational objectives are to offer students enough understanding of art so that they develop a knowledgeable affection for it and to develop in students a visual literacy that provides them with a way of analyzing what they see. Students learn how to describe the formal elements of art, including subject matter, media, style, and composition. They learn how to place a piece of art in its cultural context and discuss how the various theories of art intersect with its practices. The course surveys the history of world art, with an emphasis on a global perspective. It follows the curriculum necessary to prepare students for the AP Art History examination. The course is arranged chronologically but is organized so that students are aware of the connections and the similarities of artistic practices globally. There is a larger emphasis on student presentation and collaboration, including oral presentations of specific works of art. Assignments, whether for essays or presentations, require a significant amount of outside research.
  • Advanced Placement Music Theory

    In this course, students learn the material of a first year college music theory course. It is intended for instrumentalists, singers, and composers who want a solid foundation in their musical understanding. The objectives are to gain an increase in audiating skills through sight singing, dictation, and study of harmony; to develop writing skills through composition; and to acquire a broad perspective of music through the study of the literature. This course prepares students to take the AP Music Theory exam. Prerequisites: Previous study of an instrument, voice or previous theory study, and consent of instructor.
  • Advanced Placement Studio Art

    This course is open to students who wish to submit a portfolio to the College Board. This is an independent study class for students serious about pursuing art and developing their ideas beyond what they have done in various elective classes. The ability to work independently and at a fairly fast pace is of great importance. Twenty-four pieces of work will be due in May, though some work done during the summer or during elective courses may be included. Prerequisite: Intermediate Studio Art, one year of studio art electives, and/or intensive summer study at an art school.
  • Ceramics

    This year-long course is an exploration of the methods and materials of the art of ceramics. Students learn a variety of hand-forming techniques including pinch, slab, and coil construction. Both utilitarian and sculptural forms are produced. Wheel throwing instruction is offered for those interested. Glazing methods, theory, and techniques are learned, along with kiln loading and firing processes. Open to sophomores and juniors.
  • Chamber Ensemble

    This is a course of study in repertoire for string ensemble. It is open only to string players and is strongly recommended for students taking private string lessons. The ensemble meets for a double period twice a week and has several performance opportunities throughout the year. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
  • Chamber Singers

    The Chamber Singers is a group of 12-24 singers. This year-long course is available by audition only. Students 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. The group has many performance opportunities throughout the year.
  • Electronic Music and Composition

    Learn the techniques of today’s music producers. This year-long course doesn’t require any previous musical experience and teaches students the techniques of today’s music producers. They learn the basics of synthesis through the study of analogue models. They 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 are given an overview of the history of electronic music and its pioneers including Theremin, Moog, and others. Students apply what they learn in compositions of their own, based on models that are studied. Also included is a study of digital recording techniques in the studio. The course culminates in a concert or CD of their work.
  • 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. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Music Theory, History, and Practice

    This year-long course picks up from where the AP Music Theory course left off in its theory study. Students continue to analyze music from the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition, students explore the structure of contemporary idioms such as minimalism, serialism, and jazz. Students study the history of these developments with an emphasis on specific composers and their works, in addition to composing a number of pieces of their own. This course is highly recommended for students who plan to continue their study of music in college. Prerequisites: AP Music Theory or consent of instructor.
  • Performance Studies

    This course if divided by trimester into three areas of performance, but all related to speech and drama. This class targets those who want to develop their presentation and acting skills, those who feel that they need more confidence speaking in public settings, and those who want to help develop Thacher’s theatre program in significant ways. Toward the end of each trimester, public presentations are scheduled in order for the participants to show their progress as speakers, interpreters, and actors.

    1. Public Presentation: Students are introduced to the basics of public speaking, including the standards of voice mechanics: projection, inflexion, articulation, and physical expression. Students practice and present both short speeches from history and original pieces in narrative, expository, and opinion modes. They will study and practice the TED Talks oral presentations of the kind required in the classes, and monologues. These sessions help students in their academic classes and in the presentation of Senior Exhibitions.
    2. Oral Interpretation and “Forensics”: In this segment of the course, students study the practice and discipline of oral interpretation of literature and the kinds of activities and presentations practiced by The National Speech and Debate Association. In essence, this is the performing of monologues, dialogues, and group scenes chosen for their emotional intensity and provocative subject matter. Students further polish the vocal and physical mechanics of the first trimester, with the objective of increased range, sophistication, and subtlety.
    3. Acting: In the final term students study the Stanislavski method of scene study and apply it to both contemporary and classic dramas. Emphasis is on group scenes, from comic to “serio-comic” to serious. Greek tragedy as well as Shakespeare and other great playwrights provide the acting material as students work toward formal spring presentation of scenes or a one-act play for the community.
  • Photography

    This year-long course introduces the basic skills of black and white photography with special emphasis on the expressive and creative possibilities inherent in the medium. Darkroom procedures of developing and printing are covered, as well as camera operation and theory. Four periods per week are divided between work in the darkroom, lecture, and critique. Critiquing and learning to talk about composition and intent are an important part of this class. During the second trimester students explore photography as a tool and a medium of artistic expression. They begin broadening the foundations upon which they will continue to master technical skills and start to work more conceptually. They become more familiar with black and white photographic tools and materials, and learn to manipulate, alter, and experiment with these materials and tools. Relative to other art electives this class requires extensive time and work outside of regular class time. A 35mm camera (SLR or Rangefinder) is required.
  • Wood Design

    With the advantage of a fully loaded professional facility, this course takes students well beyond the traditional “wood shop” class. In this full-year art elective, students design and construct a unique piece of fine furniture that is built to the standards of a family heirloom. The class begins with elements of design, which include the use of space, scale, proportion, and grain orientation. Through sketching, drafting, full-scale mock-ups, and plenty of creative discussion, students explore the designs of their pieces prior to construction. They then draft full-scale drawings. As they construct their pieces, students 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 the year’s projects. While these projects require plenty of work, a creative, collegial atmosphere prevails in the shop, a space where students feel welcome, supported, encouraged, and inspired.


  • 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
  • John Bueti

    Wood Design Teacher
  • Megan Hooker

    Ceramics Teacher and Riding Instructor
    University of California, Santa Barbara - BA
  • Callard Jensen

    Performing Arts Technical Director; Admission
    Davidson College - BA
  • Elizabeth Mahoney

    Visual Arts Teacher and Riding Instructor
    Skidmore College - BA
  • Bo Manson

    Wood Design Teacher, Rock Climbing Instructor
    University of Virginia - BA
    University of Virginia - MEd
  • Peter Robinson

    Art History and English Teacher
    College of Wooster - BA
    Vanderbilt University - MA
  • Gallia Vickery

    Mathematics Teacher and Dance Program Director
    Princeton University - AB
  • Tracey Williams Sutton

    Performing Arts Teacher and Drama Director
  • Carin Yates

    Photography Teacher, School Photographer