Middle School Performing Arts

Music, dance and drama are an important part of the liberal arts education at Hathaway Brown School. The creative process provides opportunities for exploration and performance that reinforce skills, encourage cultural literacy and cultivate artistic growth. After school enrichment classes and the Musical Arts Program, which offers private instrument lessons, provide additional opportunities for students passionate about the performing arts to expand their learning. The Artist-in-Residence program enriches the curriculum each year by integrating the arts with the academic classroom.

General Music

General music is a structured program that develops fluency with the musical language by playing instruments, active singing, exploring and creating movement and building critical listening skills. Students learn to play the recorder and Orff instruments while studying a variety of musical and cultural styles.

  • The fifth and sixth grade music classes, taught by Ms. Deborah Southard, are rooted in the Orff Schulwerk philosophy, which was begun in the Primary music program. The Schulwerk integrates singing, moving, improvising, speaking and playing percussion instruments and recorders in an environment that strives to empower students to reach their musical potential. The process of active music making encourages students to create their own music and movement that is both skilled and uniquely expressive.
  • Seventh and eighth grade music classes, taught by Ms. Jessica Allen, incorporate a body of culturally diverse resources while exploring the music of West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Students experience the culture in authentic ways through playing instruments, singing and dancing. Students develop aural skills and musical independence through opportunities to improvise, create rhythms and lead as master drummers.

Instrumental Music

  • The Middle School Orchestra, led by Ms. Linda Simon-Mietus, provides an opportunity for students to discover the musical treasures of orchestral music by developing musical skills and expression in the context of a mixed ensemble. The orchestra performs throughout the year in the HB community and participates in tours, both nationally and abroad. Any student who has studied a string, wind, brass or percussion instrument for at least one year is eligible to join the Middle School Orchestra. Students are encouraged to continue private lessons on their instrument to ensure solid skill building. Private lessons are available after school hours on a variety of instruments through the Musical Arts Program. For additional information, please visit the HB Orchestra website.
  • The Recorder Program, led by Ms. Deborah Southard, is a unique two-year ensemble dedicated to the exploration and performance of historic music played on the full range of recorders. 
    • In seventh grade, students are invited to join the Early Music Ensemble based on their interest and recorder skills in sixth grade music. This ensemble strives to re-create the rich musical textures of early Renaissance and Medieval music.
    • The ensemble continues in eighth grade to play in the Recorder Consort, where the repertoire expands to include music from the Celtic, jazz and folk traditions. Both ensembles share their music within the HB community and are committed to a wider outreach to the greater Cleveland community and abroad.
  • The Guitar Ensembles, led by Ms. Deborah Southard, are an elective for grades five through eight, where students learn the very basic of folk guitar. In the following years, students expand their knowledge as they study a variety of styles of guitar music, including flamenco, contemporary rock and blues. The students have ample opportunities to play in informal school Hootenannies scheduled throughout the year.

Choral Music

  • Seventh or eighth grade students who enjoy singing are welcome to join Chorus, a year-long elective taught by Ms. Deborah Southard and Ms. Chelsea McCallum. Healthy vocal pedagogy is a goal of the Chorus curriculum, while building a rich choral repertoire from diverse time periods and world cultures. Chorus members continue to build their musical skills through choral warm-ups and music reading in two- and three-part harmony. The singers work together as a team, find their own musical voices and celebrate their contributions to the communal choral sound. There are many opportunities for independent leadership as section leaders, soloists, announcers and student accompanists. The Middle School Chorus has many impromptu and formal concerts throughout the year, which are a natural outgrowth of the musical process.
  • Chorus members are eligible to audition for Bella Voce, a select ensemble of talented singers who also perform throughout the year.


Drama is introduced in seventh grade as a skill-building course to enable students to improvise, role play and develop confidence on stage.

  • Each seventh grade student participates in drama class, taught by Ms. Molly Cornwell. Dramatic activities are designed to build confidence and expand the imagination of the young actor. Students explore their creative potential and increase their acting skills through the study of character development, the physical movement for the actor, storytelling and the process of creating an original piece. Students share their scene work with their peers and invite classes from the Primary school to enjoy their performances. 
  • The eighth grade musical, directed by Ms. Deborah Southard, is a time-honored tradition in the Middle School and a natural culmination of the Performing Arts curriculum combining music, dance and drama. Eight-grade students who love Broadway musicals may choose to participate in the production as performers, choreographers, stage crew, student directors and designers. The musical is announced in November and the students who have chosen to participate will be prepared for their audition in January. Most rehearsals are during the school day with additional rehearsals scheduled closer to performance time. The musical is performed in assemblies for the Middle and Primary Schools and twice for the public


Eighth grade Dance is instructed by Ms. Jenny Burnett, and is designed as an introduction into the world of movement and choreography. Students develop choreographic and improvisation skills through creative movement experiences. The dance curriculum is structured for students to explore several dance idioms, such as musical theater dance, jazz and modern dance techniques. The course content is driven by the class and involves a creative component that allows each student to broaden her creative skills and ideas while instilling an appreciation for the art form of dance.

Performing Arts Academies

  • Dancing Outside of the Box, taught by Ms. Jenny Burnett, explores contemporary dance technique in a friendly, inclusive environment! We will begin the trimester with technique class, then transition into the study of choreography with students developing their own movement vocabulary. The choreography portion of class will also focus on fusing different dance forms (ballet, jazz, hip-hop, Irish) into a contemporary dance choreographic project. Students of all levels and abilities are welcome!
  • Acting Up! is a theater academy for any aspiring actor and is instructed by Ms. Molly Cornwell. The focus is on the actor's checklist: objectives, action, circumstances and settings, physical and emotional traits of the character and scene analysis. Character development is also explored through vocal and physical improvisation. Other behind-the-scenes elements, such as set and costume design, playwriting, props and stage makeup, are included.
  • Stories on Stage! is an academy designed by Ms. Jessica Allen for students who love musical stage productions and want to learn more about them. We will study and watch a series of Broadway musicals, operas and operetta with attention to plot, character development, musical expression and style. Students will be given opportunities to create through re-enacting scenes, performing songs and other activities. If possible, the experience will culminate with a group field trip to attend a live show in the area.

Shaker Heights, Ohio Girls K-12 Coed Early Childhood

19600 North Park Boulevard Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122 P: 216.932.4214
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