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Visual & Performing Arts

The visual and performing arts are an important focus at the Khabele School. Unlike many schools that require one or two years of study in the arts for high school graduation, we believe that practice in these creative forms is imperative for development.  In our high school we require four years of study in the arts and provide options for advancement in many creative genres.

Visual Arts

Students who learn to express themselves through art tend to be more confident, happy and focused academically.  Current research supports the concept that analytical education is alone not sufficient to prepare young people for an ever changing world. According to  the Washington Post, “In our competitive and evolving economy, being logical and analytical is no longer enough. Left brain is out. Right-brain noodling, the kind of processing that is intuitive and creative and synthetic, will soon rule the day.”  Khabele offers classes in studio art (from beginning painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking to AP Studio Art), film-making, media arts, journalism, and digital photography.

High School Studio Art: Critical skills in visual expression
The Studio Art course at Khabele enables students to become visually literate. The course teaches students to use and understand art as a form of visual and tactile communication and to have confidence and competence in reading and evaluating visual images and artifacts. It also aims to develop students’ design capability, their capacity for imaginative and original thought and experimentation, and their capacity to learn about and observe the world in which they live. In addition to these aims, students will develop their ability to articulate and communicate ideas, opinions and feelings about their own work and the work of others. Students will study art-making techniques, art history, aesthetics, and art criticism. Students will work in the mediums of drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, and design.

AP and Advanced Studio Art
The AP Art program is designed with the goal of preparing students who are highly motivated for a potential career in art and/or design or who are interested in attending art school. Students who had previously shown a passionate interest in visual art and who expressed a willingness to work exceptionally hard to develop their skills further are invited to participate in the program. During the first semester, students are given a series of projects to complete which will allow them to experiment with a variety of media, techniques and concepts. Students are expected to develop strong skills in the use of materials and techniques, as well as conceptual and compositional planning.

Take a look at what our Photography program is up to on Tumblr.


Music is an integral part of the Khabele School curriculum.  Over half of our students are currently taking coursework in vocals, jazz, world music, or theory.  Music is one of the most integrative arts courses as it crosses paths with history, culture, math, art, and philosophy.  The Khabele School music program covers almost every instrument and offers courses from beginning music to AP Music Theory.

The Khabele music program is unique in many ways:

  • We focus our program on learning jazz and improvisation. While students do gain important fundamental skills such as sight reading and scales, the main thrust of the program is creativity and improvisation. Student performers learn to create music from within themselves, not just to re-create notes from a page.
  • In the Middle School, students are allowed to learn rock instruments—guitar, bass, drums, and piano—and still participate in the school jazz band. Most middle school ensembles are either orchestras or symphonic bands, and exclude the instruments most young students are most interested in.
  • The Middle School music class is generally unlike any other class offered in Austin. Students nominate the songs they’d like to learn and the teacher whittles that list down to eight songs that are learned over the course of the semester. Every student is required to sing lead vocals on at least one song, and to play an instrument on at least one song. Other than that, nearly anything goes! In addition to the basics of learning an instrument and learning how to learn material by ear, students learn a number of essential soft skills: how to overcome stage fright; how to work with a group to accomplish a shared goal; and how sustained, hard work towards an objective can not only be rewarding but can be incredibly fun. In addition, they learn that music really is for everybody, and that anyone who wants to can learn to play something on an instrument—regardless of whatever natural “talent” they may think they have.
  • Instrumentation and repertoire is flexible in nearly every ensemble at Khabele.  We try to work with students’ interests as much as possible, and give them as much leeway as possible to explore the music that interests them.  We also try as much as we can to make the repertoire we learn connect with the music that students listen to on their own—even as we try to broaden their horizons and get them to love jazz, classical, and other types of music that they might not hear on a daily basis.Learn more about the music program on our Music Blog.


Engaging in a theatre arts program teaches leadership, self-confidence, teamwork, and creativity. Our Middle & High School offers drama classes and an after-school theatre program. Students learn techniques in acting, stage design, production, music, lighting, and costuming. Recent productions include The Wiz (May 2014) and Godspell (February 2013).