St John's College

St John’s offers a rich and diverse Arts programme encompassing music, visual arts and dramatic arts. The programme is designed to align with the St John’s mission, to ensure pupils leaving the College are rightly trained in body, mind and character. 

Apart from academics, where creativity, enquiry, and self-learning is emphasised, we believe pupils should be exposed to as many varied activities as possible. This develops the mind and promotes meaningful experience. Pupils are continually extended and challenged to expand and grow, by a demanding, professional, and encouraging staff who have a passionate belief in the potential of every pupil.

Dramatic Arts

Drama has always been seen as a civilising force in society and at St John’s it is no different. The self-discipline and sense of self-management it promotes has an inestimable value to us as human beings.

The Drama department has a full annual calendar that encompasses the teaching of the Drama modules to the Removes and Lower IVs and of Dramatic Arts to an ever-increasing number of students from Upper IV to Upper V. 

Dramatic Arts has become an attractive subject choice option for many pupils, despite its academic rigor and the demands it places on the pupils’ time in terms of the practical component. We believe that this is as a consequence of the undeniable benefits of the subject, as it engages the pupils with the need to work with the so-called “soft skills” of the 21st-century workplace.

Empathy, conflict resolution, effective communication skills and creative thinking are just some of the skills that Dramatic Arts develops in the students, but the benefits extend beyond this, offering students the opportunity to manage their emotional lives in a safe and nurturing environment.

The Drama department offers an extensive co-curricular and extra-curricular programme. In terms of the former, pupils meet with us on a one-on-one or small group basis to work on their practical pieces throughout the year and to consolidate their understanding of the theory component if they require assistance. 

The Upper V pupils, in particular, are tutored extensively to prepare them for their IEB Practical examination in September.

All Prep boys participate in weekly Drama classes and every boy is given the opportunity to perform on stage annually.

At Pre-Prep level Drama assists in the development of confidence, good speech, clarity of communication, imagination and free expression.

A weekly drama lesson ensures that the children grow in confidence and in the ability to express themselves.


The Music department has an extensive music programme that affords all boys at St John’s College the opportunity to enjoy music lessons – ranging from weekly introductory lessons for pupils at The Bridge to Music as a formal academic subject for boys at the College.

Music forms part of College life either as part of the general Arts and Culture curriculum (Remove to Lower IV); as a formal academic subject in its own right (Remove to Upper V); or simply as an extra-mural activity with individual lessons and participation possible in a host of ensembles.

All pupils are encouraged to consider taking music as an academic subject in the College. Each Music (music as subject) pupil has one practical lesson per week on his chosen instrument. Practical lessons are taught by nine full-time members of staff and 38 visiting teachers.

Music is offered in the Preparatory School as an extra-mural activity, with individual lessons and participation possible in a wide variety of ensembles, or as a formal subject. Concerts are held for each year group every term, where boys perform to their peers and parents.

Music as an activity takes place on many different levels: instrumentalists may learn to play an instrument and play in an ensemble; choristers may sing in the Senior Choir and specialise in the smaller Schola Cantorum.

Pupils may opt for the Music (as subject) course, during which music theory lessons are offered during class music in Upper II, Lower III and Upper III.

Music lessons are offered from Grade 0 to Grade 2, with three instrumental concerts per year taking place in the Pre-Prep auditorium. The Pre-Prep boys have three class music lessons per week. Basic music notation, drumming, movement, Orff and recorder lessons as well as African music is also offered to Grade 1 and 2 pupils.

Annual events include a Mother’s Day and Father’s Day service in the chapel, a Grade 2 Easter Cantata and play. At the end of the year, the Grade O classes participate in their annual nativity play. There is a Christingle service in the College chapel and the Carols by Candlelight evening in the amphitheatre. The annual prizegiving includes favourite Christmas carols.

Instrumentalists are encouraged to enter the Johannesburg Festival for the Advancement of Music and the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity College of Music examinations.

Once a week, a specialist music teacher encourages a love of music through interactive sessions with the boys and girls.  These unique lessons allow the children to actively participate in a range of musical experiences exploring to an array of musical concepts and elements as they develop a variety of different musical skills.

Visual Arts

The St John’s Art department aims to offer an art education for all pupils. This includes pupils who have a particular gift and interest in this subject and also those who do not intend to take Art as a matriculation subject. The aim of our programme is to contribute to all pupils’ general enrichment.

The College Visual Arts department offers a multidisciplinary environment within which pupils can explore their creativity, expand their intellectual boundaries and develop critical thinking. The boys engage with Visual Culture Studies (theory) to inform and contextualise their art own practice. 

In keeping with developments in contemporary art and design, the department’s ethos is multidisciplinary, supporting pupils working in all aspects of new media, including the digital arts, as well as offering a solid foundation in traditional visual arts practices. Within these areas a variety of media and techniques are taught, including photography, Photoshop, drawing and painting, printmaking, sculpture, land and installation art. 

The art department at St John’s Prep aims to broaden the boys’ understanding of art by moving away from a conventional approach of a craft-based curriculum to a more proactive one, allowing the boys to develop their imaginations and creativity.

The art curriculum focuses intensely on the experiential side of different media. The boys have the opportunity to work with a variety of media, as well as develop their understanding of important art concepts and history. The aim is for boys to be given both the skills and the knowledge to understand and appreciate art.

During art classes at the Pre-Prep, boys are given an opportunity to express themselves according to their own level of ability and to encourage creativity in drawing, painting and craft.

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