Category Archives: Education

Matilda’s Bookshelf: Top Ten Children’s Books to Enjoy

Coffy Creations Photography

Coffy Creations Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading is a valuable part of everyone’s life, but more importantly, the effect of reading with your children is something that will nurture them the rest of their life. Research has proven time and time again that reading positively develops one’s health across the board – physically, mentally, emotionally, academically… all the -ly’s! In Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical, books are a way of escape for Matilda – travel, friends, education, etc. So, here’s Matilda’s “must haves” for your child’s bookshelf!

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Photo Credit: Jeff Sprang Photography

Photo Credit: Jeff Sprang Photography

Ah! The english language – the first subject that I was involved with in school that I excelled at… but also probably one of the worst subjects I was involved with.  Unlike many other languages that have a basic format that can be used time and time again and make perfect sense, English continues to confuse people and students alike.  In many circumstances, there are different spellings for the same place or thing (grey vs gray, disc vs. disk, ax vs. axe, etc.).  For theater (or is it theatre), there are two spellings, but what are the rules when using them? Continue reading

If Your Song Doesn’t Have Artillery Fire In It, Then You Are Doing It Wrong

Before you get your hopes up, the answer is “No, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture will not be on the upcoming Mansfield Symphony Orchestra’s “Russian Spectacular” concert on February 9.” [The crowd begins to shriek and gasp!]. Seriously – the Renaissance Theatre just can’t possibly afford the damage caused by five cannons!

With all kidding aside, this work is to most people THE masterpiece of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s, or at least in the top three. With our inspired all-Russian concert coming up, I thought I would briefly review this masterwork, as it happens to be the piece that inspired me to become a musician.

Battle of Borodino 1812

Battle of Borodino 1812

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Why Aren’t You Going to the Symphony When It Improves Health?

According to a 2016 study by the League of American Orchestras, “Overall, [symphony] audiences declined by 10.5% between 2010 and 2014…”.  However, there is overwhelming evidence of a plethora of health benefits to listening to classical music.

I feel confident the majority of people want to feel and be healthy. So the question becomes, why aren’t you going to the symphony?

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Arts Education in a Digital World

“Every day, American young people spend more than 4 hours watching television, DVDs, or videos; 1 hour using a computer; and 49 minutes playing video games. In many cases, youths are engaged in two or more of these activities at the same time. Little wonder this era has become known as the “digital age,” and Americans born after 1980 have become known as ‘digital natives’.”

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Tellin’ Ain’t Teachin’

Think back to your favorite teachers.  Were they teachers who sat at their desk and had you read while they nodded their head and hoped you were understanding?  Were they teachers who stood in front of a chalkboard and just read from a book while you looked dazed and confused?  Or were they one’s who gave you information and then began to story-tell in different ways such as having you create a play based on a topic, or took you to a museum to explain great art?  Most likely it is the latter.  I am positive not all teachers want to be just a talking head, they want to be memorable so you learn!  However, teachers often need to learn themselves in order to not just be a talking head, and that is why programs like the Kennedy Center Partners in Education Arts Integration Institute are so important.

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How to Win an Audition

With auditions for Annie coming up in September, and then Mamma Mia in January, now is the time to make a serious beginning to preparations in order to win the audition!  If you are a follower of this blog, three weeks ago in a blog titled “Mistakes and the Art of Perfection” I mentioned a mantra that has always helped me get to the best of my abilities: “It is a question of time, patience and intelligent work”.  For auditions, all three do apply, but I truly believe, based on personal experience, that intelligent work will help you win that audition.

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Mistakes and the Expectation of Perfection

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Many moons ago, I was the flute instructor at the Cazadero Performing Arts camp in Northern California for seven summers.  One summer evening, a wind trio from the San Francisco Symphony came and performed at the camp.  After a delightful set, the musicians of the trio stayed on stage and opened up for a Q & A.  After a number of questions like “How did you get so good?” and “Is this your day job?” were asked, one young student inquired “Do you ever make a mistake?”  The clarinetist of the group said frankly “All of the time.”  He went on to explain by describing a recent recording session of one of the San Francisco Symphony’s Mahler recordings.  There was a small section of just a few measures that were just “not right”.  So, after the whole set was done, the musicians went back into the studio and re-recorded the measures for an hour to make it sound perfect on the finished album.

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arts activities for school break renaissance theatre

Five Affordable Arts Activities for School Breaks

by Colleen Cook

When the routine changes and your kids are home on break, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out what to do to keep them learning, entertained, and engaged – especially if the weather isn’t ideal. Here are five fun and educational activities you can do with children of any age – without spending a million dollars!

Experience local art

Breaks from school are the perfect time to engage with your local arts scene, in part because of your extra free time, but especially because you can stretch bedtime a little later than you normally would on a school night. Check your local newspaper’s online calendar to see what’s happening near your home. If you live near us, here are links to a few events calendars:

Mansfield News Journal Events Calendar

Richland Source Events Calendar

Binge a musician

If the weather isn’t cooperating, instead of a Netflix binge, deep dive a musician or composer. Pick an artist or composer, listen to some of their greatest works on Spotify or Apple Music, visit the library and check out their biography, watch YouTube videos of the artist performing or great performances of that artist. Make food together that represents the artist’s local culture. At the end of the day, you’ll all be experts on the musician and you will have created some excellent memories together.

Build a sculpture out of recyclables

We’ve gotten better as a family about separating out our recyclables, and each week we have quite a lot that hits the curb for pickup. Before you send them out, though, grab those leftover Amazon boxes and oatmeal tubs and some masking tape and build a sculpture together. If you have a few children you could challenge them to create the tallest structure together, or a prompt like “build your favorite animal” or “create a dollhouse.” Just be sure to wash out any plastic or glass containers well and watch out for sharp edges on any containers.

Read a story together 

Stories don’t have to be just for bedtime! School breaks are the perfect time to read an extended story together over a handful of days. When choosing your book, consider your child’s attention span and interests, as well as the content of the book. Your local library’s children’s librarian likely has some great suggestions and free, easy access to your ideal book, but you can also utilize tools like this one to select something appropriate and engaging for your family.

Write and perform a play

Have a free day? Create a story together! Start by mapping out your story (you can use this free, handy printable or any graphic organizer like it). Then, create your set utilizing whatever you have available – cardboard, bedsheets, furniture, whatever! Gather costumes for your characters around the house, or visit a local thrift store and find your needed items. Write your script from your story map, or simply map out your scenes and improvise the dialogue. Rehearse it a few times, then invite family and friends to come and enjoy your play. Be sure to pop some popcorn and film it!