Secondary Arts

GEMS American Academy has established itself as a centre for excellence in the arts. We recognize the importance of these disciplines in the nurture and elevation of each learner.

Students in Secondary will learn in the Arts through creating, responding, connecting and presenting. All courses in grades 6-10 utilize the National Core Arts Standards as the foundation for study and is the backdrop for development of appropriate habits and routines in Visual Arts, Music (Band, Vocal), and Theater Arts.


Students participate in Concert Band, Choir and Digital Music as we merge tradition and innovation to encourage lifelong engagement with the arts. Supported by an excellent team of educators, our students are encouraged to exceed their own expectations and the school concerts, public performances and annual arts festival are demonstrations of just that. In addition to our formal events, we provide weekly showcase opportunities such as the ‘Tunes on a Tuesday’ initiative; not to mention developing recording, mixing and production techniques in our state of the art studios.

At GAA, we offer curriculums from both the National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) as well as the International Baccalaureate (IB) in Music. We are proud to be associated with the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF) as well as members of the Association for Music in International Schools (AMIS). 

In addition to our concert band program, GAA has a strong jazz tradition. We were proud to host nine-time Grammy Award winner; Wynton Marsalis in 2017. He worked closely with our flagship 18-piece GAA Big Band as we celebrated this American art form. In 2019, GAA began a partnership with UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador; Herbie Hancock in support of International Jazz Day. Our talented students ensure that GAA is regularly represented at the AMIS festivals. They have succeeded in joining the highest calibre of musicians in the Middle East, Europe and Asia to collaborate in the High School Honor Choir, Concert Band and Jazz Festival respectively. Many of these students have gone on to pursue their education at prestigious institutions including the Manhattan School of Music (USA), Berklee College of Music (USA) and Leeds College of Music (UK).

Visual Arts

Exploratory Visual Arts:

The course will provide survey overview of:

  • media, techniques, and processes
  • developing more advanced applications of ideas, materials and techniques
  • the application of technology in the art making process

Individual and group projects will be explored with presentations and group exhibitions. Students will learn in the Arts through creating, responding, connecting and presenting.

Novice Visual Arts:

This prerequisite course is designed to establish foundational skills and knowledge for more advanced study in High School Visual Art studies.

Observational Drawing, Design Dynamics and basic Investigative Study will be primary areas of instruction in this course. Drawing skills will involve intense practice and development of drawing mechanics, techniques for seeing and observation, sketching, and tonal and color rendering. Design Dynamics studies will engage students in learning activities that focus on creative thinking and concept development skills; as well as approaches to artistic composition with elements of line, space, shape, form, color, texture, and various forms of art making media. The academic study of artists, art works, artistic styles, and art making processes will be featured as well.

Studio Visual Arts:

This upper-level art course addresses the needs associated with more advanced experience, skills and motivation in visual arts studies.

IBDP Visual Arts:

The IBDP Visual Arts core syllabus at SL and HL consists of three equal interrelated areas: visual arts in context, visual arts methods, communicating visual arts. Students are required to understand the relationship between these areas and how each area informs and impacts their work in visual arts.

Theater Arts