The Arts

Trinity-Pawling offers a wide selection of visual, musical, and performing arts courses, ranging from introductory to advanced levels. Students are encouraged to explore new mediums and cultivate their artistic expression while thinking creatively and critically. From Studio Art to Instrumental Music, Broadcast Journalism to Physical Theater, the Arts Department prides itself on our diverse course offerings, the strength of our small class sizes, and the expertise of our accomplished artist instructors. 

Fine Arts Courses

Art 7 • Middle School

This Middle School art class is spent studying both past and present innovators from within the art world. We begin the term researching 19th century painter Georges-Pierre Seurat and his Neo-impressionist pointillism techniques. Students complete self-portraits emulating the precise mark making and careful observation of value that Seurat invented. In the second half of the term, students switch their focus to the modern environmental installation artist Andy Goldsworthy. Students work in pairs to develop, draw, and construct site-specific sculptures on campus behind the upper pond. Throughout the project, students must think both creatively and pragmatically in order to complete an interesting, well-built sculpture using only organic material.

Art 8 • Middle School

This Middle School art class requires students to stretch their artistic abilities between the detailed, precision work of an architect and the innovative construction of a sculptor. The course begins with studying perspective in order to capture both the three-dimensional quality of buildings, as well as a sense of distance. After a number of studies, each student chooses a building on the Trinity-Pawling campus that they would like to capture on paper. In the second half of the course, the classroom transforms into a factory of sorts as students begin collecting found objects for a sculpture project. Students must think outside the box to transform trash into treasured art pieces. 

2D Foundations Art

This course fosters students' understanding of the visible world around them through the exploration, practice, and reflection on the methods of foundations, such as Drawing, Painting, and Printmaking. Students in this course develop greater confidence in the technical understanding of these mediums as an expressive outlet for their own ideas. Various methods and subjects are explored as a means to cultivate students' own perceptual ability and core design skills. A vigorous and uninhibited artistic practice is developed throughout the course, including a dedicated sketchbook for each student. Outside of class work is integral to completing this course. This is a year-long course, open to students in grades 9-PG. 

Year-long course

3D Foundations Art

This introductory-level studio class introduces students to creating in a three dimensional mindset. Students explore a variety of techniques, tools, and materials used in making sculptural forms. Emphasis is placed on idea generation, improving tool skills, observation, and critical evaluation skills. Materials such as plastic, wood, metal, and cardboard are used. Work in the studio outside of scheduled class time is integral to completing this course. This is a year-long course, open to students in grades 9-PG.

Year-long course 

Traditional Photography

This course introduces students to traditional black and white darkroom photography. Students learn the functions of a 35mm film camera, fundamental black and white film developing, and wet darkroom printing. Students build on visual language skills, learn composition techniques, and develop one’s own photographic eye through a series of assignments both on and off campus. Students are introduced to a variety of photographers to inspire their work and expand their understanding of making images. Work in the darkroom outside of scheduled class time is integral to completing this course. 

Digital Photography

This course is an introduction to Digital SLR cameras, scanners, printers, and digital darkroom processes. Adobe Photoshop and other imaging applications from the Creative Cloud are used to explore creative possibilities for manipulating digital images. Studio work emphasizes printed still imagery, but students are also encouraged to devise new uses for their digital materials. Topics may include photojournalism, documentary photography, sports photography, and studio portrait lighting techniques. Work and photo editing outside of scheduled class time is integral to completing this course. 

Offered in the winter term

Digital Media, Digital Design, Digital Fabrication

This course introduces the basic principles and practices of design, utilizing contemporary and rising technologies. The course emphasizes hands-on instruction, experimentation, and exploration in new media through a series of assignments centered on digital photography, graphic design, and industrial design practices. Adobe Creative Cloud, 3D modeling, and open-source software are used throughout the course. Traditional fabrication tools, along with 3D scanners, printers, and CNC fabrication tools, are used to create prototypes. Particular emphasis is placed on imaginative innovation, critical thinking, and the exploration of new technology in contemporary art, design, and entertainment. Open to students in grades 9-PG. Students may join the course at any point or enroll for the full year.  

Year-long course (Fall-Digital Imaging, Winter-Graphic Design, Spring-Digital Fabrication)

Broadcast Journalism and Filmmaking

In Broadcast Journalism and Filmmaking, the focus is on digital storytelling and the use of technology to craft meaningful stories. Students investigate the different styles of visual storytelling, learn how to be critical viewers of films, and share what inspires them as creators of digital media. Students learn the basic structure of a story and how to effectively sequence using storyboards, capture interviews and supporting footage (B-roll) with DSLR cameras, and edit with Adobe Premiere Pro. Students enrolled in this class have access to the entire Adobe Creative Suite. Additionally, all students collaborate in the production of a weekly video series, T-P Sports Nation, either as an on-camera anchor, commentator, or field reporter. Each episode is posted on the School’s YouTube Channel. Teaching and learning happens on our feet in Broadcast Journalism and Filmmaking, both during and outside of class, and is synchronized with assignment requirements. Students are given basic instruction of tools and resources and receive hands-on support to create stories that matter to them. 

Studio Art

Designed to teach students traditional skills in the arts, this full-year class is geared to students in grades 11 and 12 or underclassmen with recent experience in art courses. Each student develops his own personal style, whether rendering drawings in charcoal, matching colors in a still life portrait, or building a container in clay. One term each is devoted to learning the skills of drawing, oil painting, and ceramics.

Year-long course

Advanced Art 

This course builds upon the student's skills in art and prepares him for continued work in college. More rigorous assignments in drawing, painting, pottery, and sculpture challenge students to look critically at their work and solve problems in their artwork.

Art History

Students learn how to look at paintings and architecture with a discerning eye and learn to understand the cultures that produced great works of art. In class students are asked to observe and describe what they see and then relate that to things they know from their world. Discussions are lively, especially when it comes to contemporary art! Field trips include a walking tour of churches and cathedrals in New York City, museum visits focusing on Renaissance Art, Impressionist Art, and Modern Art in New York City, New Haven, and Williamstown, and a fifth trip to see a current exhibit or architectural gem.

Year-long course for seniors

Music & Voice Courses

Middle School Music • Instrumental and Vocal

Students in grades 7 and 8 may audition for the Trinitones, are invited to sing with the Trinity-Pawling Choir, and play with the Jazz Ensemble. All Middle School students are expected to take music classes as a part of their Trinity-Pawling education. No prior experience in music is required. Students learn the basics of music literacy, including reading and writing music, notating, playing an instrument, and techniques in vocal production. 

The Trinitones

 The audition-based Trinitones, consisting of approximately 12 singers, represents the long-standing tradition of musical excellence at Trinity-Pawling. Founded by former director Paul Nelson, this group has performed at such prestigious venues as the United Nations and Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. Performing everything from a cappella doo-wop to Renaissance madrigals, the Trinitones are the flagship ensemble for the School’s choral program. They regularly sing around campus for important events and are often invited to our sister boarding schools for collaborative performances and social events.


This ensemble is Trinity-Pawling’s largest choral group. Students sing a wide range of choral styles from classical to jazz to folk songs, often performing large-scale works with orchestral accompaniment. The goal of this group is to develop a strong foundation in choral repertoire and technique, while contributing to the cultural life of the School through concerts and other performance opportunities throughout the year. Music literacy and vocal skills are taught in the classroom, then reinforced and assessed during performances. Students are expected to work diligently and practice regularly, fostering the improvement of individual musicianship, as well as a polished, cohesive choral ensemble sound.

AP Music Theory

AP Music Theory is designed to develop a firm foundation in the mechanics of music for the continued study of both the performer and music scholar. Students learn basic musical language and grammar, including note reading, musical notation, harmonic analysis, and part writing — which leads to a thorough understanding of music composition and theory. Students master ear training skills and skills required for sight reading musical literature. This course also challenges students to compose original pieces by developing technical skills using the latest in music notation software.

Instrumental Music

The instrumental music program at Trinity-Pawling is determinedly low-pressure, with a premium placed on individual and collective expression. It's open to boys at all levels of musical development, from beginning to advanced. The focus is on American vernacular styles, especially jazz, blues, and rock & roll, with an added emphasis on improvisation as a vehicle for creativity. During the course of the year, students are offered ample opportunities to perform, culminating in one of the year’s biggest campus events — the annual Trinity-Pawling Rock Concert. The Rock Concert is a standing-room-only, professional production that gives our students the chance to showcase their musical abilities in front of the entire School, as well as the greater Pawling community.

Theater Courses

Drama 8 • Middle School

One of the highlights of the school year, and an experience unique to Trinity-Pawling, is the Middle School Drama program. During the spring term, the boys create and perform an original theater production. The boys themselves create fantastic stories and then bring them to life in a theatrical setting. By utilizing knowledge gained from various aspects of theatre, academics, and collaboration, this creative process enforces the lessons learned in the classroom.

Theater Practices

Through individual and ensemble work, this active and exploratory course introduces students to the essential tasks of the actor’s imagination and technique. We develop vocal, physical, and emotional technique and engage in exercises that develop and enhance imagination, characterization skills, and empathy. Students apply this work to improvisations, monologue and scene work, movement, storytelling, and other project-based work.

Advanced Theater Practices

This course continues the training of the student-actor with a focus on scene work, script analysis, devised material, voice, and movement. It allows students to develop an approach to character, text, and story beyond their own culture and experience. Exercises build on Theater Practices and encourages in-depth interpretation and character choices. Vocal and physical training focuses on developing techniques to explore heightened material. Students develop and workshop a devised piece of new work to be presented to the Trinity-Pawling community.

Theater Arts

This course explores what makes theater a unique and relevant art form. Each term, students work from a different perspective — those of actor, designer, and playwright. In addition to practical exercises, we read and analyze representative scripts from important movements in the theater. As a final project, the class produces a festival of short plays written, directed, designed, and acted by the students.

Public Speaking

This course teaches the discipline and skills necessary for speaking effectively to an audience. Students learn about various types of speeches, their style, and their delivery. These include speeches to inform, to persuade, to entertain, to introduce, and other various forms of speech. Students participate in speech making, group discussions, debates, and other project-based areas of interest. They also learn the related skills of critical listening, the analysis of the audience’s nature, and the use of rhetoric.

Playwriting and Directing

This course is a laboratory for students to gain a deeper understanding of their personal voice and vision, as well as various approaches to manifesting that vision theatrically. Students write extensively, workshop their plays, and learn rewriting techniques. Students also learn how to direct and stage scenes and short plays. Plays developed in class are presented to the school community as part of the student-directed plays.

Improvisation and Theater Games

This class introduces students to the fundamentals of improvisation. Through exercises and games, students learn the basic skills of Improvisation, develop their spontaneity, playfulness, imagination, and confidence. Improvisation is an essential skill for anyone — and it’s a useful skill for life as well! All classes are active — students are on their feet, learning by doing, in a culture of mutual support and playful risk-taking. Students devise and design work based on class discoveries, and the focus of the class will be project and process-based.

Physical Theater/Stage Combat

This class is focused on integrating elements of physicality, stage combat, movement techniques, voice, and devised theatre. Students explore projects of scripted and non-scripted performance material. Various techniques, philosophies, and exercises are covered, and class work is active, engaging, and movement based. This class is an acting class and students learn and develop safe and dramatically effective techniques of choreographed stage violence, along with pieces rooted in movement and storytelling. The class provides an opportunity to use the whole self — body, imagination, intellect, voice, and spirit. Students are introduced to safe and effective portrayals of violence for the stage and camera and to the training and practice of unarmed stage combat skills. 

Students tend to embrace something they understand intuitively or experientially. Almost every project in Art reveals a slice of a boy's personality.

Ned Reade, Art Department Chair

Meet the Arts Department

Kent Burnham

Director of Theater Arts

Chris Kelsey

Director of Instrumental Music

Joe Poon

Art Teacher

Ned Reade

Art Department Chair

Mark Templeton

Director of Vocal Music