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Orchestra members with instruments

The Power of the Arts

Clarkston Community Schools' fine and performing arts programs are designed to provide an environment in which students can pursue interests and skills in a variety of performing and creative arts. Students experience the joy of expressing and appreciating art through a variety of mediums.

Elementary Self-Portraits
CHS Drama Students

Pursuing Passions Through Self-Expression

Our fine and performing arts courses are designed to function using a spiral curriculum, where skills are introduced in beginning coursework, revisited and refined throughout subsequent grade levels. Through exploration, play, and experiential learning, young artists and musicians are building toward developing skills that have the power to propel them into a career in the arts. Higher level thinking skills spring from personal expression as students pursue their passions and develop their unique talents and artistic crafts.


Michael Lewis, Music Subject Area Coordinator
P: 248.623.3600

Amy Seaman, Theatre Manager
P: 248.623.4026

Student Photography


Clarkston fine and performing arts programs have an excellent reputation for producing outstanding young musicians and we owe much of that success to the support of our students' families.

  • The Clarkston Schools Instrumental Music Association (CSIMA) provides both moral and financial support to the 6-12 grade instrumental music programs of Clarkston Schools. CSIMA members serve as a resource to the instructional staff of the Clarkston Schools instrumental music programs by volunteering our individual skills and performing the fundraising necessary to enhance the school district’s funding of instrumental music programs. CSIMA meetings are the second month of every Monday of the month from September through May.
  • The Clarkston Choirs Booster Organization (CCBO) was created to support and promote all Clarkston choirs. All Clarkston residents are welcome to attend CCBO meetings, which are held each month (usually on the second Thursday) from August through May.

Developing Arts Appreciation

By Natalie Pagel, associate director, SMS & CJHS

A girl plays a ukelele in musicAs a musician and educator, I often mention the value of "music for music's sake." It's a phrase used commonly in our field, but what does it really mean?

There are many benefits to learning to read and make music, and there is plenty of research to support these benefits. From advances in reasoning and problem solving to increased scores in math and reading, the ways in which music makes a better learner are endless. But these skills can be honed in a number of ways in a number of classes. So what is it that makes music special and unique?

Consider the history of civilization

For as long as humans have existed, so has art. A flute made of bone, cave wall paintings and ivory carvings, elaborate Egyptian burial decor, a keyboard made of mammoth bones. We see evidence of art from tens of thousands of years ago that surely wasn't created or utilized because of a need to improve M-STEP scores.

Why are the arts important then? Well, why did you brush your hair this morning? Why did you paint your walls or sing "Twinkle, twinkle little star" to your babies? Why did you pick out that card for your grandma's birthday? What was the point? Surely not simply to meet some physical need, like food and water. And yet, like food and water, we've never existed without the arts.

To understand its role, we have to be willing to look beyond our tangible needs. We are more than the hours of sleep we steal or the pounds we weigh. We have emotions, feelings (dare I say, souls?) and a desire to express and communicate them with one another. How many people today do you know who are out of touch? So many lack the ability to empathize, especially in a digital landscape. But with art, we come a little closer.

Music has the power to move those invisible pieces inside of us. It lightens our bodies when we feel tired or weak, allows us to sink into our sadness and pain, explore our power and motivate our minds. And as we play in the band or sing in the choir, we allow those experiences to become shared ones. We no longer suffer or celebrate or laugh alone. We feel, and we make our audiences feel. Is there a reason beyond that?

Is there a reason needed?

We welcome the opportunity to teach your children the beginnings to a life of music and we hope you will join us in furthering the role of music in our lives... for music's sake. As Karl Paunack said in his welcome address to incoming freshmen studying music at the Boston Conservatory:

"You're not here to become an entertainer, and you don't have to sell yourself. The truth is you don't have anything to sell; being a musician isn't about dispensing a product, like selling used Chevies. I'm not an entertainer; I'm a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You're here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well."

(To read Paunack's fantastic speech in full, click here)

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