Arts Curriculum

Bay is alive with the artwork our students produce, the monologues they’re preparing, and the compositions they’re playing.


We believe in the power of creative thinking. The skills of observation and making that artistic processes impart can be broadly applied beyond specific artistic disciplines to help us solve problems and see things from a different angle. 

The Creative Arc at Bay

All first-year students take Creative Process, a course that examines how we generate, grow, and communicate ideas and then put them into action. Through projects that focus on design, experimentation, and collaboration, students examine how the creative process works, both collectively and individually. And while we describe it here under "the arts," this class lays the groundwork for students’ project management and design thinking skills, which will be deepened throughout their coursework at Bay. 

The Creative Process anchors the arc that culminates in Signature Projects, when our students demonstrate their ability to design and execute a complex project. 

After 9th grade, students benefit from a required yearlong sequence in a single artistic practice of their choosing—drawing, painting, digital imaging, drama, jazz, design, video production, or electronic music. The stage is set for deeper explorations, allowing them to indulge a passion or discover a new one. 

We are fortunate to be located near many organizations in the Presidio and to have relationships within the local visual and performing arts community—this network provides collaborative partners for teachers and students, and enhances instruction through studio visits as well as our classes, Immersives, and Signature Projects.

The question that drives much of the work in our drama courses is How can the art of performance inform how we move through and engage with the world and others? Students study works of theater, history, and theory, while the fundamentals of personal expression, vocal technique, and movement help to build and strengthen their confidence and self-knowledge. In the advanced courses, they will delve into plays, postmodern theater, directorial technique, and stagecraft.

The popular Bay Theater extracurricular program provides opportunities for students to experience all aspects of theatrical production, including acting, technical work, stage management, and more.

Flickr album: The Bay School Production of Pippin | Height: 450px | Theme: Justified


Our semester music performance classes center on the art of jazz, from listening critically to playing as a combo. Students will train their ear, work on sight-reading, and develop skills in their chosen instrument as they craft performances for the school and community audiences. They also attend shows around the Bay Area to listen to jazz in its natural habitat: the jazz club. Advanced musicians can take the honors Jazz 2 elective more than once to deepen their engagement in this art form. Our extracurricular jazz club extends the experience with opportunities to play as a group and perform live. 

The two-semester Music Production course teaches recording, mixing, and editing. Students produce full-length songs that are released on Bandcamp. Listen to some of their recordings

In 2022, Bay introduced the vocal music elective. Students sing not only as a choir, but in all kinds of configurations, exploring musical styles and vocal techniques, all with an ear toward making a beautiful performance.

Students interested in playing but not necessarily performing might want to take Strumming, a two-course series that introduces them to guitar, bass, and ukulele. They'll learn the basics of strumming and fingerpicking and progress to learning songs and then playing together as one big ensemble and in small groups. Singing is optional but welcome! Students experiment with a variety of instruments and submit videos of themselves playing in order to refine their performance.

Bay’s vibrant visual arts curriculum has students producing sophisticated work while gaining an understanding of the movements within art history. Guided by instructors who are practicing artists themselves, students learn the importance of process, critique, and intention in their approach. Courses include drawing, painting, digital imaging, design, and video production; honors-level courses are offered in each of these subdisciplines. Our curriculum takes full advantage of the museums, galleries, and public art around the Bay Area.

Drawing and painting students address the challenges of composition, color, line, and brushwork, and—just as important—learn to understand their potential as artists in the world. Our signature Artist as Activist elective combines political, social, and art history with hands-on studio work to explore the ways in which the arts are a tool for social change. It is co-taught by an art teacher and a social studies teacher for a dynamic, cross-disciplinary experience. 

Flickr album: Visual Art at Bay | Height: 450px | Theme: Justified


Aspiring filmmakers and videographers can learn photography, video, image manipulation, and graphic design skills. They’ll learn the technical ins and outs of camera use and visual technique as well as production and post-production skills. Our digital arts offerings develop timeless knowledge in what makes good, compelling aesthetics in addition to how to work as production team members. 

Immersive terms offer incredible opportunities to inhabit the creative life: They can create a short movie from script to final cut, spend three weeks in their own studio space crafting a body of work, or criss-cross disciplines to study the Mathematics of Digital Animation or the Mathematics of Islamic Art.