The Lower School places importance on the visual and performing arts. Visual art, music, movement, and drama are taught by specialists working together with classroom teachers. This approach encourages children to find personal and meaningful connections across disciplines and to find creative outlets for their ideas.

Dance: Ailey Arts in Education Residency

Every January, dance educators from Ailey Arts in Education come to the Lower School for a two-week residency that introduces children to Alvin Ailey's life story, choreography, and commitment to social justice. The children work with the Ailey instructors daily and perform a demonstration at the end of the period.

Ailey Arts in Education Residency 

A range of themes, including arts, culture, history, and identity, come together during the Alvin Ailey residency at the Lower School

Visual Art

  • The Lower School has four art teachers.
  • Beginning in kindergarten, children explore painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, and printmaking. They are introduced to many materials, including watercolor, tempera, acrylic, clay, pastel, ink, papier-mâché, and mixed media. Each year, new techniques are introduced and prior skills are strengthened.
  • Collaborative projects, such as murals, large collages, and three-dimensional projects, are inspired by classroom studies. Trips to museums and instruction in art history further enrich the children’s appreciation and understanding of art.
  • Children are encouraged to work from observation and imagination at all grade levels. In good weather, classes meet outdoors and draw inspiration from the natural beauty of the gardens and landscape.


  • The Lower School has seven teachers who teach general music, band, and orchestra.
  • In pre-kindergarten through first grade, music is team-taught and integrated with creative movement and Spanish. 
  • In first and second grade, Kodaly-based vocal technique is introduced. Children make frequent use of Orff tonebar instruments.
  • In third grade, recorder instruction begins. Composition and improvisation are frequently employed both for their own sake and as a tool to consolidate concepts and skills.
  • In fourth grade, children choose to pursue either a full year of instruction on the violin or cello, performing repertoire tailored to include both experienced players and beginners, or they may study "General Music". General music students spend half the year working on vocal technique and music literacy and the other half on the study of recorder, composition, and exposure to wind instruments.
  • Fifth-grade students choose to participate in one of three ensembles: band, chorus, or strings. Band students may choose from a range of wind instruments while String students are offered instruction in violin, viola, cello, or bass. Choral members are broken into two vocal parts, soprano and alto. In addition, fourth and fifth graders with previous instrumental experience are offered the opportunity to participate in a chamber music program.
  • Concerts are presented by the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten as well as the third-grade recorder students, the fourth grade, and the fifth-grade ensemble groups.

Meet Marie Verde

Marie Verde, the Lower School music teacher, teaches children that singers use their bodies as their instruments.


  • The Lower School has three drama teachers who work with first through fifth grade.
  • In first through fourth grade, the drama teachers work alongside the classroom teachers. Each classroom stages its own production.
  • In fifth grade, students write and perform a play that reflects what they are studying in class. This is a grade-wide collaboration.

Interdisciplinary Learning in Fifth Grade

In fifth grade, students read books about contemporary social themes, and then work with the drama and STEAM integrators on projects associated with their reading. The interdisciplinary approach allows students with different strengths and interests to shine in their own way.

Ailey Arts in Education Residency

Since 2009, dance instructors from Ailey Arts In Education & Community Programs have conducted an annual two-week residency at the Lower School, leading dance workshops for all students. At the conclusion, students put on a performance demonstrating their choreographed routines. The Ailey team links Riverdale's academic curriculum and character themes, providing another outlet for the lessons taught in the classroom to be explored elsewhere.

Riverdale Country School

Mind • Character • Community



Lower School
1 Spaulding Lane
Bronx, NY 10471
LS: (718) 549-7780

Middle/Upper School
5250 Fieldston Road
Bronx, NY 10471
MS/US: (718) 549-8810

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Riverdale teaches students to become lifelong learners by fostering "growth" mindsets. Go There ><

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The River Campus offers a spacious, natural setting for our youngest students, inspiring learning and play. Go There >

Riverdale offers "STEAM" (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) teaching to Lower School students. Go There >

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Middle School students explore hands-on learning through the Riverdale Maker program. Go There >

Project Knowmad allows Middle Schoolers to learn in a different way, using NYC as their classroom. Go There >

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Riverdale teaches students to make connections through our interdisciplinary programs. Go There >

The club and activity program encourages students to explore their passions and try new things. Go There >

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About 80 percent of Upper School students participate in athletics. Go There >

Riverdale's Hill Campus has an indoor pool, football stadium, weight room, and 3 playing fields. Go There >

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Riverdale has entry points in Pre-K, Kindergarten, 6th, and 9th Grades. Visit our campus today. Go There >

Approximately 20 percent of Riverdale students receive some level of financial aid. Go There >

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Last year's Annual Fund totaled nearly $5 million in gifts from alumni, parents, and friends of the school. Go There >

Have you included Riverdale in your estate plans? Please let us know and join our expanding group of Hackett Planned Giving Society members today. Go There >

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