The visual and performing arts play an integral role in the curriculum and life of the School. Under the guidance of Brearley’s highly skilled arts faculty, students gain in technical proficiency, attain a high level of artistic literacy and come to know the joy of discovering and sharing their talents.

The seventh floor of Brearley’s main school building features three dedicated rooms for painting, drawing and sculpture, along with a ceramics room and a photography lab and darkroom. The fifth floor contains teaching and rehearsal space for music. The Assembly Hall is the scene of theater productions, concerts, recitals and rehearsals, while smaller group events are often held in the Common Room on the first floor.

The students’ evolution as artists is richly evident in the exhibits and performances they present for the School community throughout the year. Sketches, paintings and photos are displayed on the gallery-like walls of the seventh floor, the first floor lobby and common areas throughout the School. Frequent musicales, dance and dramatic performances are given during the weekly assembly period and in the afternoon and evening in various venues at the School.


Explore the Dance Program

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    The dance studio on the fourth floor at Brearley is always full of movement—leaping, stretching, bending and skipping. Our youngest students are encouraged in their creativity and self-expression at the same time as they learn to appreciate traditional dances from around the world. The curriculum in Classes K through IV focuses on the use of body shape, patterns in space and speed of movement, and every year Class IV prepares and presents a dance program for Lower School assembly.

    In Middle School, the curriculum emphasizes formal modern dance technique; the Middle School Dance Troupe performs at an assembly in the fall. In Upper School, students participating in Dance Troupe work on all aspects of producing a yearly show, with choreography by both faculty and students. Elective dance classes are also offered to Classes IX through XII, including modern dance, jazz and choreography classes.


Explore the Drama Program

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    Drama at Brearley offers girls the chance to learn the art of theater in ways both practical and intellectual. The program stresses attention to detail, the strengthening of the power of observation, the development of empathy and the use of language to explain, persuade and describe. Many types of theater are explored, including Ancient Greek drama, Shakespeare’s plays, modern drama, musical comedy, operetta and farce.

    Theater succeeds only when every participant supports the larger effort. Students design lights and sound and work with a costumer on wardrobe, hair and makeup. Girls also generate their own opportunities to make theater happen. Class VIII works with drama teachers to script an original play for performance in early spring. In Class XII, students may receive academic credit for writing, directing, producing or appearing in a production.

    Brearley’s after-school productions give a broader taste of what playmaking is. Student crews design, build and paint scenery and work with faculty and visiting artists. In the Upper School Tech Club, run by students working with a faculty advisor, girls who want to learn technical theater are mentored by more experienced students and may later become mentors themselves. Boys from other schools are invited to audition for these major productions.


Explore the Music Program

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    Starting in Kindergarten and continuing through Class VIII, music is taught twice a week. Instruction is based on the Kodály curricular approach for all students in K through VIII; from Classes III through VIII, girls are also taught to play a variety of instruments. Private lessons are available for an extra fee to students in Classes II through XII.

    Brearley has a long history of fostering the development of musical skills, and our program provides students with a wide range of opportunities to demonstrate their expanding musical engagement. Our curriculum also promotes the understanding and appreciation of many different types of music by both performers and listeners.

    One third of the approximately 680 students in Classes K through XII are enthusiastically involved in extracurricular music-making. Girls eagerly join the Middle School Singers, Middle School Orchestra, Middle School Jazz Band, Recorder Ensemble, Upper School Chorus, Upper School Orchestra, or the B-Naturals, our auditioned a cappella group; all perform several times throughout the year, both at School and elsewhere in the city–for their classmates or for neighborhood nursing homes, at schools elsewhere in the city or in other states, and at Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall.

    Students are not the only ones making music at Brearley. We have a Brearley rock band and a pep band made up of faculty, staff and students, and a faculty-staff group of bell ringers who are conducted by an Upper School student. The Brearley Singers, an independent community group comprised of parents (past and present), alumnae and friends of the School, rehearses at the school on Monday nights. A faculty concert is presented by the Music Department each year.

Visual Arts

Explore the Visual Arts

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    The Art Department at Brearley provides a supportive and structured environment in which students are given solid training at every step of an increasingly independent creative journey. Lower School girls are introduced to a variety of media and tools through projects that are both playful and thought-provoking. The Middle and Upper Schools draw inspiration from the world of art throughout history, honing the girls’ skills in observation and execution as they cultivate individual expression and analytical understanding.

    Extracurricular art activities include photography, sculpture, drawing at the museum and bookmaking in a relaxed and self-motivated atmosphere. Juniors and seniors may participate in intensive art electives to pursue their interests in depth and prepare portfolios for college admission.

    Our goal is to give each girl the confidence to express herself visually and to design assignments so that all students enjoy participating in the creative process. The work of every art student is celebrated through displays around the school, in the school calendar, and at two comprehensive annual art exhibitions.

Art Activities

The Art Department offers trimester classes for Middle and Upper School student’s that broaden what is learned in academic Studio courses. Students may select Bookmaking, Carpentry, Ceramics, Digital and Darkroom Photography, 3-D Printing, and Drawing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Small groups of girls meet weekly for an hour or hour and a half to explore the various disciplines. The curiosity and invention of our visual thinkers is captured, in part, by this slide show.  

The Brearley School is a K-XII independent day school for girls in New York City. Empowering girls of adventurous intellect to think critically and creatively.
610 East 83rd Street
New York, NY 10028
(212) 744-8582 

590 East 83rd Street
New York, NY 10028
(212) 744-8582