Art, theater and music reduce stress. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering taking art classes in grades 11 and 12


This article is one in a series providing students with evidence-based advice on choosing subjects in their senior years.

If you are planning to take a performing arts or visual arts subject in Grades 11 and 12, you are probably weighing a few considerations. It could be your passion and interest in the subject, how one or two arts subjects might affect your entry into college, and what you might do with the skills you learn.

Almost 30% of all grade 12 students in Australia (53,311 grade 12 students in total) chose to study visual or performing arts in grade 12 in 2019. But twice as many girls took a subject. artistic (40%) than boys (18%).

The selection of art subjects you have will depend on the state in which you live. But these are the types of subjects that you can widely choose from in visual arts and performing arts.

Visual arts

The visual arts are a theoretical subject. You will discover different works of art and the role of artists in society. You will participate in discussions and writing assignments about the meaning of works of art. This includes ideas from historical and contemporary arts and culture.

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In the Arts Studio, you will learn about the practices of artists and the art industry while developing your own art.

You will experiment with artistic techniques and processes in the mediums of your choice. These include photography, painting, drawing, printmaking, film, digital arts, ceramics or textiles. You will develop your own artwork, document this process, and exhibit your work.

In studio arts, you can work in any media form you choose, including photography.

Media arts involve researching and learning storytelling through different forms of media. You will demonstrate your understanding of production processes by designing and presenting a media product (such as a film or photographic exhibit).

Product design and technology involve learning and experimentation with materials and processes. Materials will vary from school to school, but you may be able to choose between wood or wood, metal, fabrics, polymers, glass or ceramics. You will learn how to design and put these designs into production.

Performing arts

Dancing will teach you about dance traditions, styles and works from different cultures. You will discover musical theater, the work of tap dancing or jazz or street artists, ballet and modern dance, and choreography. By learning this content through theory and practice, you will engage in dance analysis that will help you develop your own choreographed performance with others.

Theater is the study of practice and theory to understand how theater and performance can communicate stories and ideas. You will explore different dramatic traditions, including costumes, set design and lighting, makeup, masks, props, puppets, and sound design. You will eventually create, develop and present a solo performance.

Girl playing the guitar.
In music, you will learn by listening, playing and composing.

Music has different paths depending on the state you live in. In the Victorian curriculum, there are three pathways culminating in Units 3 and 4 of musical inquiry and musical interpretation. These courses require at least four years of experience in learning an instrument. Another avenue, the VET music industry, focuses on performance in public.

While each track and skill is different, you will learn by listening, playing, and composing. You will apply creative thinking skills to analyze and critique contemporary and historical music and musicians.

What benefits will I get from my artistic studies?

From my research and practice as a 15 year old artist and college teacher, I know that any of the 11 and 12 year art topics will allow you to learn from extended creative processes. Developing a set of paintings will require experimenting with techniques, learning from other artists, developing a theme or message to convey, and ensuring that the subject of your paintings is suitable to convey the message and appropriate for the style. in which you work.

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Your technique must be mastered to get good grades. You should also document the development of your research and ideas with visual images you have created and statements written in journals. It’s a bit risky because you are exposing yourself. It also has to take place within a certain amount of time, which can be difficult and stressful.

But it will pay off, as research shows that arts education has many benefits.

Beyond technical knowledge and skills, the benefits include real pleasure and stress relief. Senior years can be stressful years, so adding an artistic subject to the mix can actually be a way of taking care of yourself. It is well documented that the arts provide mental health benefits, as the emphasis on artistic creation is a form of mindfulness.

Students improvising in theater class, dressed in black.
Drama and other arts can be a great form of stress relief.

Artistic creation is a process of bringing together a subject, a technique and a creative experience to communicate a story or an idea. The ability to express your feelings through the arts is a form of liberation. And thinking about its meaning can give insight into your self, which is therapeutic.

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In addition, you will develop a range of skills that will help you in all areas of life. Beyond creativity and thinking skills, research shows that arts education will help you improve your communication and expression skills, as well as boost your confidence and self-esteem. Teamwork is also a big part of the arts, and learning this skill will come in handy in college and in your future job.

The presentation, communication and performance skills you learn are adaptable to public speaking, community and public speaking careers, as well as teaching.

Will doing arts bring down my ATAR?

ATAR is a university system that determines the number of students who will participate in private lessons. Like a queue, it ranks you against everyone else in the 12-year-old age group.

But entry to university, especially when it comes to the arts, does not depend on ATAR. This often requires an interview process with presentation of a portfolio.

If you are not looking to do arts in college, it is always important to choose graduate subjects that interest you and are good at. Plus, the skills you learn in the arts can improve your prospects for entry. For example, entering a medical degree requires a high ATAR. But most universities also hold an interview to test your empathy, collaboration, and ethical reasoning skills, all of which are enhanced by the arts.

What will I do with these skills after school?

Many students who study higher art continue their studies in visual arts and / or performing arts at university. Some become independent artists. Others practice art alongside and it helps them maintain a good balance in life.

Woman's hands making pottery.
Many people continue to practice the art in addition to their full-time job, to help create a healthy life balance.

A former student, now in her twenties, studied visual arts and music at school, but is now a psychiatric nurse and also part of a band. She said being a musician helps her cope with the stress of her job.

Another alumnus, a 20-year-old male, studied VCE VET in the music industry as well as media arts, studio arts, visual arts, psychology and literature. He is a full-time intern in a technology company. He said the networking he does now is very close to what he had to do for the documentary he made in media arts. He also said his creative skills were useful in the marketing materials he was designing.

You have to be a creative strategist to get people to devote time to you in sales and marketing.

Read the other articles in our series on choosing senior subjects, here.

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