Instruction in The Fine Arts
The art and culture of Western civilization has flourished under the patronage of the Catholic Church because it views beauty as the “attractive radiance of the truth” of Divine Revelation. The study of the fine arts is integrated throughout the Academy’s curriculum as a complementary and vital part of the student’s education. The students also receive separate instruction in both music and art. Students are exposed to masterpieces in music, art and architecture which comprise Catholic culture through the centuries. The music program includes the study of the theory and notation of music and trains the students to sight read. The student body sings pieces from the great treasury of Catholic music, including Gregorian chant.
Recent research has confirmed what educators have always known: music develops the mental abilities of students and increases academic performance. But music should not be studied for that reason, but rather because it is a universal language of enormous power. Children must be trained to discern and love the good, true, and beautiful in all of the arts, but especially in music.
Music completes the triad of universal languages, but it has its own special attributes not possessed by the other two. Mathematical at its base, music expresses thoughts and emotions with an almost divine power to touch the soul. Music is comparable to Latin in its potential to form the character of a student and define the culture of a school. Like Latin and mathematics, music is a core subject, required of students every year.
Our ultimate goals are to train every child to hear - with discernment and appreciation - the music of every era and culture and to experience the consummate joy of a well-trained voice joined to others in performing the masterworks of our Western tradition. Because most of the great choral literature of that tradition is sacred, much of it in Latin, our choral program is closely aligned to our goals as a Classical School for Christian students.
Just as students would not be asked to compose a musical masterpiece without first having heard good music and learned the notes which make up the composition, students at SFA are not expected to create masterpieces of visual art without first being given the tools with which to work and learning about the great masterpieces of art. Students learn the alphabet before learning to write words and sentences. They learn how to put sentences together to compose paragraphs and written compositions and at the same time learn the structure of language - the grammar. Modern art education ignores the grammar of the subjects and expects students to be "creative" without first giving them the materials, tools, and techniques needed to draw. We are not all gifted in the same areas, but we can all learn basic drawing skills just as we all learn basic writing skills.
During the primary and grammar stages, students learn about art through exposure to great works and at the same time are taught the language and techniques of the visual arts. Breaking the act of drawing down into shapes and strokes which the child can easily recreate gives them the tools to use when they are then taught how to combine those strokes and shapes into a composition of their own. Students also work with a variety of materials, using charcoal, pastels, and watercolors.