International School Manila

Integrity - Service - Merit

Fine & Performing Arts

The Fine and Performing Arts program in the Middle School covers four subject areas: Visual Art, Music, Drama and Dance. It is enhanced by the diverse opportunities available within and beyond the classroom. It seeks to emphasize the importance of process while striving for excellence in performance or product. Recognizing the importance of reflecting the ethnic and cultural diversity of the school’s community, the program encourages individual expression while developing respect and appreciation for others.



All students in Grade 5 and Grade 6 take one semester of Art. In Grades 7 and 8 they can choose optional art electives from a range of elective choices. This includes the following Grade 7 and 8 Art electives: 


This is a semester elective course which is aimed at providing a more in depth exploration in to two dimensional fine art. We experiment with a variety of drawing, painting, printmaking, design, and collage techniques and use our sketchbook to research, media-test and develop our ideas. Students are introduced to a variety of famous and historical artists and are encouraged to keep an online portfolio showing process and product. Students are a part of a supportive classroom which is collaborative and encouraging.


This is a self-directed semester elective course for the art student who wishes to create his/her own creative journey. Students make and plan their own assignments and have the freedom to choose their conceptual based projects. Projects range from drawing, photography, painting, sculpture to mixed-media, film, and cultural crafts. This is a DIY class for creative creatures who love a space to make, build, and design. Students are often sharing and critiquing one another and constantly collaborating to make each other better artists.


Students in Grades 7 and 8 can take this semester long elective. This class will create conceptually based projects.  Students will learn basic hand building techniques; pinch, coil and slab. Functional as well as sculptural applications will be explored through the use a variety of ceramic production methods techniques which include molding, pressing, and extruding. Traditional, historical and modern ceramic artists will be incorporated into units. Students will carefully document their building process through the use of a working sketchbook and electronic portfolio.  This will enable them to thoughtfully reflect and continue to build at a higher level.  Students who wish to further their experiences in ceramics, may choose to take a second semester of the course.  Students will build upon their previous experiences and be introduced to the craft of wheel thrown vessels. Students will be introduced to advanced glaze techniques which include using glazes of varied cones (temperatures).  


This is a contemporary fun semester art elective course designed to inspire the digital aged student. Artists use drawing and painting applications to render projects. They learn how to strengthen their photography skills and edit using a variety of programs, including Photoshop and Snapseed. Students are introduced to website design, film, and colour and design. Students enjoy the open classroom which allows freedom to explore personal connection and improve technical expertise.



It is believed music learning activates various areas of the brain and synchronizes the mind for learning at a fast pace while stretching the memory to a higher level of retention. Music enhances cognitive learning and facilitates growth in many areas of human development, i.e., motivation, social skills, time management, situational awareness, aesthetic appreciation, etc. As we learn more about the integration of emotional intelligence and cognitive learning patterns, it is ever apparent the study of music has a direct relationship to the measured success of the individual/student via reasoning, creative thinking, decision-making, and problem solving. 


-Tim Lautzenheiser, Teaching Music Through Performance


The ISM middle school music program focuses on four distinct musical disciplines: Choir, Strings, Band and General Music. The goal of all classes is to enhance the musical growth of students at whatever level and musical interest they may possess. Classes focus on musical expression through performance, composition and improvisation while also developing technique and music reading fluency. The study of music plays and essential role in the development of social skills and emotional awareness in students. 

All students in Grades 5 and 6 must choose either a semester or year-long music elective. Students in Grades 7 and 8 have the option to choose a year-long or semester music elective.

General Music

Students can explore a broad range of musical topics in General Music. Students look at the elements of music and experiment with different instrument groups on how these can be employed. Students also use loop-based software to create electronic compositions. Seventh and eighth grade students enrolled in Music Madness further extend their music experiences through units such as guitar, music theory, computer-based composition and the history of rock and roll.


Students may choose to develop their vocal talents by taking a semester or full year of Choir. Singers in every grade, at every level of ability and stage of physical transition, are encouraged to develop their vocal skills and musicianship in Choir. 

Band and Strings

Students interested in learning to play an instrument may choose to take Band or Strings. String students choose to play violin, viola, cello or bass while the focus in band is on playing instruments in the woodwind, brass and percussion families. Band and String classes are taught year-long and students may enter these programs at a Beginning, Intermediate or Advanced skill level.

All performance groups in the Music Department are highlighted at several concerts throughout the year.



Middle School Drama develops and stimulates creative thought, collaboration and teamwork, improvisational skills and physical awareness. Our program is inclusive, enriching and geared towards developing self-esteem, lateral thinking and problem-solving skills, all of which can be transferred to other disciplines of the ISM Middle School curriculum. All middle school students complete one semester of Drama in Grade 5 and in Grade 6. They can then choose from a variety of Drama electives as semester courses in Grades 7 and Grades 8. 

Grade 5 and 6 Exploratory - Content and Skills Overview 

Grades 5 and 6 Middle School Drama students learn the basis of performance through interactive and active lessons. Students develop collaborative skills as they work in whole-class and small-group settings to explore drama in different forms. In Grade 5, students investigate the drama building blocks through ensemble games and storytelling. In Grade 6, students further expand their skills through looking at ensemble building, improvisation and physical comedy. In addition to being designed for students of any experience level, both Grade 5 and 6 Drama are hands-on and practical in their approach to both onstage and behind-the-scenes features of the theater.

Grade 5 Drama Units 
Introduction to Drama

This unit is designed to introduce student to the building blocks of Drama. The student will participate in practical activities which will develop ensemble skills, group work, communications skills as well as the fundamentals to build a performance. Student will reflect on their learning within class discussions and journal entries.


This unit is designed to give students exposure to the importance of storytelling. The students will examine what are the elements of drama and how they are used to create scripts and characters. They will learn how to work collaboratively to produce original plays. The students will work to perform their final scripts to an invited audience.


Grade 6 Drama Units 
Ensemble Building

The focus of this unit is to build a sense of community and collaboration. The importance of being able to work together as a group effectively is an essential part of becoming an active citizen. Through working as an ensemble the students will focus and enhance their leadership skills, such as speaking in public, reading non-verbals, and facilitating group work and discussion. This will be undertaken through exercises, collaborative challenges, research, and reflection.


The ability to think on the spot and use your creativity is a 21st Century skill. Through this unit, students will examine how to challenge themselves by thinking creatively and working collaboratively. The art of improvisation will be defined, developed, and extended through exploring the basic building blocks of improvisation and applying those skills to the creative framework of Theater Sports.

Physical Comedy

Physical comedy is a unique form of theater that allows actors to leave the voice behind and focus on body and expression to communicate a message or story. Students will develop physical comedy skills in class exercises, investigate the genre of street theater, and create their own street theater performance, which will then be performed live to an audience. They will have opportunities to become more aware of their bodies and learn how to communicate intentionally without sound, as well as collaborating in small groups and reflecting upon their acting experiences in journal entries and group discussions.

Grade 7 and 8 Electives - Content and Skills Overview

Grades 7 and 8 Middle School Drama students continue to build upon the skills explored in Grades 5 and 6, including improvisation, collaboration, use of voice and body, and group performance. Students are able to select four different courses to supplement their drama needs.  Each course offers them a unique viewpoint on Theater as well as continuing to build the important life skills of communication and collaboration. 

Grade 7 and 8 Drama Units 
Storm the Stage: Theater 101 (Semester or year-long course)

Students learn the processes behind analyzing play scripts and realizing them in performance. These processes include: physical explorations of character, narrative and themes; developing a performance vision; rehearsal and performance techniques. Working alongside students from Technical Theater 101, the group will utilise all elements of the theatrical experience (lights, sound, costumes, props, ensemble acting) to “put a show on!”

Triple Threat Training: The Art of Musical Theater (Semester course)

Students explore how acting, singing and dancing work together to not only create spectacle but also drive the narrative and character development in Musical Theater. After initial explorations of these skills, students select, choreograph, and perform ensemble scenes where all three performance skills are utilized. The course is structured so as to support both beginning and experienced performers to develop both their individual abilities and an understanding of the power of ensemble performance.

Realizing Visions: Technical Theater 101 (Semester course)

This course focusses on how to design and create a vision for the stage with lighting, sound, and set design. The students will explore these different aspects of technical theater in the first part of the course and then specialize in areas of interest by designing and implementing the tech for performances.  In order to provide these practical opportunities for working with actors, Technical Theater 101 will run alongside Storm the Stage, Triple Threat Training and/or the Semester 2 Middle School musical.

Theater “Improv-able”: Becoming a Devising 007 (Semester course)

Building on the skills learned in Improvisation in Grade 6, this unit focusses on the 21st century skills of devising.  Through creative games and fun, students will learn that anything can be developed into a performance. One of the key concepts of the unit is that creativity, collaboration and communication can be developed whilst having enormous amounts of fun. Through a mix of theater games, improvisations, and devising the students will create original performances that will be based on a theme.