Monday, December 5, 2011

Preparing for the Winter Preview

Amanda Compton, COT Teaching Artist at Reilly Elementary

This week at Reilly Elementary was both challenging and exhilarating. We worked with the students to prepare them for the upcoming Winter Preview on December 17 by practicing their solfege scale, a musical vocabulary song set to the melody of "Twinkle, twinkle little star," and began working on "Feliz Navidad," complete with dancing! Many of the children come from a Spanish background, so they were very excited about our song choice. Linden asked how her pronunciation was, and one little girl said with a shy smirk, "It's ok..."

As we near the end of the semester, we are beginning to lay the groundwork for our spring production. Our goal during these last class sessions is to ignite the kids' creativity in crafting their own storyline based on the theme they already invented, "college and high school students in New York.". So, we had them play a collaborative story improvisation game where we sat in a circle and each student built upon the story one sentence at a time. Tuesday's class had some trepidation at first, saying practically the same thing the student before them said, but their interest was piqued when someone introduced a love interest and suddenly the kids were wriggling in their seats in anticipation of their turn.

The highlight of this week was the performance of "Cinderhood," in which the OFA kids got to play a special part. They sang, "in a mixed up, turned around, jumbled, inside out story," to punctuate the characters' confusion on stage. The kids were incredibly excited, and told me how they had bragged to their friends about their part in the show. The Reilly violin students participated too! The show was a big hit, and during the question and answer session at the end, many of the students not enrolled in OFA expressed extreme interest in getting involved next semester. This program has clearly already made an impact at Reilly, and I am confident that our endeavors in the spring will only increase students' passion for learning about opera!

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