19 Oct The Chronicles of Going to an Arts High School
Is an art school just like how it appears in High School Musical? Do people dance on tables at lunch and randomly break out into song? Going to an arts school was nothing short of interesting. Being surrounded by a variety of art made for quite a unique experience. Art had shaped each person in a very unique way, contributing something special to the environment. This was particularly unique as it embodied raw creativity at a time where youthful adolescents only had potential; their boundaries yet unknown. Every day, at all times, I was surrounded by cellists and brass quartets playing in the stairwells, dancers pirouetting in the halls, actors running their lines, and visual artists painting on school walls all hours of the day.
The interesting thing about going to an art school was how every art area had a stereotype like in regular public schools. The dancers and drama kids were equated to jocks or the ‘cool kids.’ The visual students were seen as quirky and perhaps a little strange, (but in my opinion, they were just edgy and alternative). Within music, one could find the stereotypical nerdy students, including me – a music student.
I’ve realized that often these stereotypes are mere reflections of how the arts have shaped each student. Dancers as jocks because they carried themselves with confidence. This is something I assume came with being a dancer as it taught them to embrace their bodies and move with outward confidence and grace. Drama students were often quite loud, projecting their voices and making their confidence known. The quirkiness I ascribed to visual students, in my opinion, comes from their way of viewing the world. Their strength came from a focus on visual perspectives and thus they developed it differently than most. Lastly, as a music student, I hold that we were the nerds of the art hierarchy. This could be seen through the constant inside jokes about music, many relating to 17th-century musicians, like Beethoven or Mozart. Also, music theory often included mathematical relations and thus music students often excelled in math. Furthermore, not only were these students’ nerds in music but also widely recognized as math nerds too.
I found myself in an environment where everybody wanted to excel in both their art and in their education. This gave rise to a community where people were competitive with one another, but also encouraged each other to grow. Individuals offered both constructive criticism, and kind words of encouragement whenever one did not perform well, either in their art or academically.
I also found that the creative environment had a very positive impact on my mental health. Every student was passionate about their art and had the opportunity each day to focus on that art. We had periods each within each school day, in addition to after-school practices, just to focus on our skills. I often found it to be a time of day where all the stress I experienced from my surrounding classes was temporarily forgotten; all my worries faded away when it was time for music. Instead, I could focus on the present, and now.
While everybody in my school had different gifts, the one thing that united us all was our passion for art. Although each art area, let alone each student, was very unique, what united every student was their love for whatever their skill was. I am forever grateful to have been surrounded by people who encouraged me to push my creative boundaries, and for those who inspired me by their talent.
ILLUSTRATION : JANICE CHANG