The Arts

The arts are a universal form of human expression and a unique way of knowing that engage us in affective, imaginative and productive activity. Learning through the arts helps us to explore, shape and communicate our sense of identity and understanding of the world, while providing opportunities to develop self‑confidence, resilience and adaptability.

The Arts curriculum at NIS allows for both responses to and the creation of artwork, whether musical, dramatic, or through the visual arts.

Performing Arts

The Performing Arts are an integral component of student life at NIS. From PYP through MYP and DP, students have the opportunity to perform in a multitude of ways.

In the classroom, Drama is used as a tool to build confidence as well as a means to see the world from different perspectives - there is no better way to understand a point of view than to act out and feel the emotions behind it. Drama encourages empathy.

Students at NIS have a multitude of opportunities to pursue their performing talents out of the classroom too. All PYP students perform in a production in our main theatre and all MYP and DP students have the opportunity to perform in a number of productions and activities in our main theatre and other venues.

The Performing Art Centre at NIS hosts a 548 seat theatre which has retractable seating allowing creative use of space. This venue is fully equipped with professional lighting and sound technology. Added to this is a Black Box classroom/theatre which also comes equipped with professional lighting and sound facilities. Students are able to learn how to operate the sound and lighting equipment in both performance spaces during productions, music concerts, dances, festivals and other seasonal performances.

International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA)

NIS is an active participant of ISTA. We regularly attend PYP, Middle School and High School ISTA events in China as well as hosting ISTA events. Go to for more details about ISTA.


Music education at Nanjing International School is enjoyed in all three IB programmes – PYP, MYP and DP. It utilises a holistic, inquiry-based pedagogy that focuses on building practical playing skills within authentic contexts. This is accomplished through two areas – classroom curricula and After School Activities.

Within our classes, students use hands-on, practical activities to explore the musical world around them. This is accomplished through the use of the creative cycle, which encourages students to study a topic and to then put together student-led performances and compositions using creative thinking that responds to stimuli around them. Outside classes, students engage in a variety of music activities that are both teacher and student directed. Teacher-directed activities focus on skill building; they include choirs, orchestras, and drumming clubs. Student-directed activities focus on ensemble work; they include rock bands, drumming clubs, DJing, chamber orchestras, and more. Private tuition is available only through independent Nanjing conservatories and NIS is happy to provide contact details to those wanting music lessons.

All this hard work is showcased in a variety of performances throughout the school year. Since NIS’ focus is on student-led inquiry, some students choose to organize their own concerts; this teaches them valuable skills in not only performing, but also in booking venues, organizing tickets, arranging publicity, etc. Some student-led performances support other areas of the school, such as when rock bands play at hosted sporting events. Nanjing International School’s mission focuses on international mindedness, and as such its musical programmes seeks to engage with the local communities. Its ‘Arts in the Community’ programme allows students to perform at a variety of local venues, including the Amity Benefit Concert, NIC Holiday Benefit Concert, Ting Ting Deaf School, local Chinese Kindergartens, and more. All of these performances lead to the end-of-year final performance, which is a formal evening entitled “A Little Night Music.”

Students studying music at NIS learn that music is authentic and real. They have excellent skills on their instruments; however, and more importantly, they have practical skills in independently putting together ensembles, organizing events, and performing. They are life-long learners and life-long musicians.

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