Students should have artistic experiences that allow them to have fun, be creative, and build personal skills that last a lifetime. Our program is designed to teach fundamental skills, especially in the Lower School and Middle School, and to help even our most serious students grow as performers.

Lower School Performing Arts

Beginning in kindergarten, students in each grade take dance, drama, and music classes where they learn general skills, such as posture, storytelling, rhythm and pitch. Our youngest students are incredibly brave, and it’s remarkable what they can accomplish given the right opportunity — writing plays in kindergarten, harmonizing in the first grade, and directing in fifth grade. In the fourth grade, students select a music specialty (band, choir, or orchestra) and begin more formal skills-based training.

Middle School Performing Arts

Middle School students continue their broad performing arts education through the Middle School Arts Rotation, which includes dance, theatre, and band, choir, or orchestra. Students in Middle School also have the opportunity to try out for two one-act plays that are performed in the spring.

Upper School Performing Arts

In the Upper School, students take a minimum of two years in the visual and performing arts to develop advanced technical skills and a nuanced understanding of their instruments and fields of study. They also have the opportunity to join many small and large performance groups. In some classes, students can earn credits transferrable to the University of California and California State University arts programs.

Performing Arts Curriculum

Each discipline is built around the national and state standards in the arts. The curriculum includes performing opportunities, showcases, competitions, involvement in fundraising and philanthropic event school assemblies, field trips, master classes, workshops, and collaborations with artists-in-residence.

List of 4 items.

  • Lower School Classes

    Beginning in kindergarten, students in each grade take dance, drama, and music classes where they learn general skills, such as posture, storytelling, rhythm, and pitch. In the fourth grade, students select a music specialty (band, choir, or orchestra) and begin formal more formal skills-based training.
  • Middle School Classes

    See The Buckley School Middle and Upper School Course Catalog (Grades 6–12) for detailed course descriptions.

    Drama and Dance
    Courses include acting techniques, literature, history, stagecraft and design, playwriting, improvisation, and performance. Students learn through active practice, rehearsal, and creation or performance of artistic works, including concerts, dramas, and musicals. Middle School classes lay the foundation for involvement in advanced classes and performance in Upper School.

    Courses include:
    Introduction to Dance (Grades 6–8)
    Advanced Middle School Dance (Grade 8)
    Middle School Boys Hip-Hop (Grades 6–8)
    Theatre 6 (Grade 6)
    Middle School Theatre I (Grades 7 and 8)
    Middle School Theatre II (Grade 8)
    Scriptwriting (Grades 6–8)

    Music
    The music department offers courses in vocal and instrumental music, composition, music technology and production, and experiential classes. Students have extensive opportunities to perform in various ensembles. Sixth- through eighth-grade students are enrolled in introductory classes as part of Arts Rotation.

    Courses include:
    Choir 6 (sixth-grade choir)
    Choir 7–8 (seventh/eighth-grade choir)
    Middle School Concert Band (Grades 6–8)
    Orchestra 6 (sixth-grade orchestra)
    Orchestra 7–8 (seventh/eighth-grade orchestra)
    Experience Music: Jazz and Blues (Grades 6–8)
    Experience Music: Rock and Roll (Grades 6–8)
    Introduction to Music Composition and Technology I (Grades 6–8)
  • Upper School Classes

    See The Buckley School Middle and Upper School Course Catalog (Grades 6–12) for detailed course descriptions.

    Drama and Dance
    Upper School offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels of dance. Classes require a one-year commitment, and enrollment is based on auditions and past performance. Students develop their technical skills, physical awareness, and choreography in a variety of dance styles as well as improvisation. In the second semester, students perform in the annual Spring Dance Festival.

    Courses include:
    PA410: Beginning Dance (Grades 9–12)
    PA420: Intermediate Dance (Grades 9–12)
    PA430: Advanced Dance (Grades 9–12)
    PA164: Upper School Boys Hip-Hop (Grades 9–12)
    PA091: Theatre I (Grades 9–12)
    PA102: Theatre I (Grades 10–12)
    PA124: Theatre III: Performance Lab (Grades 11–12)
    PA125: Theatrical Design and Production (Grades 9–12)
    PA126: Upper School Improvisation Workshop and Performance (Grades 9–12)
    PA120: Upper School Playwriting (Grades 9–12)

    Music
    The Music department offers courses in vocal and instrumental music, music composition, music technology and production, and experiential classes on music appreciation, active listening, and music history. Students have extensive opportunities to perform, write, score, and produce music and to participate in Jazz Band, Upper School Advanced Strings, and various chamber and small-group performances.

    Courses include:
    PA231 Chamber Orchestra and PA233: Advanced Chamber Orchestra (Grades 9–12)
    PA211: Concert Band and PA214: Advanced Concert Band (Grades 9–12)
    PA251: Concert Choir and PA255: Advanced Concert Choir (Grades 9–12)
    PA215 and PA 216: Music Composition, Production, and Technology I, II (Grades 9–12)
    PA504: Advanced Placement Music Theory (Grades 9–12)
  • Extracurricular

    Fall Musical
    Spring Drama
    Middle School Play
    The Monotones (small advanced singing group)
    Advanced Strings Ensemble
    Tri-M (Music Honorary)
    World Dance Workshop
    Symphonies for Schools (Los Angeles Philharmonic)
    Music: Choral groups, Concert Band, Chamber Orchestra
    The Buckley Middle School Advanced Strings
    Additional drama and dance productions

Performing Arts Awards

School Awards
  • Bravo Award from the Music Center for innovation and creativity in the performing and visual arts
  • Creative Ticket Schools of Excellence Awards for California from the Kennedy Center for outstanding achievement in the performing and visual arts
Student Awards
  • Spotlight Award from the Music Center semi-finalist in instrumental music
  • For many consecutive years, the Concert Band, Chamber Orchestra, Concert Choir, and the Monotones all have received gold and silver awards in the annual Heritage Festival Competitions held in Chicago, San Diego, and San Francisco
Buckley Teacher of the Year Recipients in the Arts Department
  • Vincent Houser, Performing Arts Teacher – 1998
  • Steve Rollman, Performing Arts technical director and video production/film studies teacher – 1999
  • Neil Nash, chair, Department of Drama and Dance – 2008
  • Dr. Steven Totland, Lower School drama teacher – 2009
  • Laura Bamford, Middle and Upper School dance teacher – 2011