Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chicago Opera Theater Young Artists Sing and Share

Jessica Lane, COT Education Assistant

It's as simple as the title sounds.  3 musicians from our Young Artists program (pianist and 2 singers) come with us for a day to each of the Opera for All schools and share what it is like to be them!  They sing arias and some selections from musicals for the students, connect it to what they are learning in the classroom, and talk about how they became opera singers.

In the past week I was able to see Matthan Black, Megan Williams, Catherine Spitzer, and Sarah Jenks (pianist) work with the students at Reilly Elementary, Chase Elementary, and Cameron Elementary.  There are two more days and three more schools to go and I cant attend, but I know the students will love their Sing and Shares as well.  (Loren Battieste is also performing for the students, but I couldn't make it to see him.:( )
Matthan makes Catherine, Sarah, and Cameron Elementary School laugh.

As far as I can remember, in childhood, I believed that whatever you became, you started working towards that goal in high school, or even middle school, or maybe even elementary school.  Now, I know that is not true, but as a kid, that is the perception of career that I held onto.  The students in our Opera for All program think the same thing about opera singers sometimes.  They believe that you are almost pre-destined to become an opera singer, and that it is not something they can attain.  Through the Sing and Share we were able to address some of the myths our students had about opera singers and how you become one.

Megan, for example, started as a ballet dancer and fell in love with opera when she danced in one.  Matthan started as a guitarist and rock and roll singer.  Sarah wanted to be a doctor!  Once the students heard how the path to becoming a singer was a choice that anyone could make, we started getting questions about how they could do it too.

Megan, Matthan, and Sarah talk to students at Chase Elementary School.

After the class at Chase Elementary School we had a group of about 5 girls asking what they could do now to become singers in the future.  It is so exciting to see them interested in opera, a type of music many of them didn't know anything about until this fall! 

I also want to take this chance to give a huge bravo (bravi tutti?) to our Teaching Artists.  In every school I was able to visit the students were prepared, knew what was going on, and were engaged in the performance the entire time.  All of the students are already familiar with opera and most of them are comfortable talking about it.  I am incredibly amazed at what they have accomplished over the last 12 (ish) weeks and cannot wait to see the final performance at the end of the year.  Our Teaching Artists travel all over Chicago, to places not that easy to reach by bus or train, every week to work with these students and teachers.  You guys are doing an incredible job and I am so thankful to work with you and learn from you.

We are finished with our fall semester on December 14th, but between now and then the students practiced singing and acting, created a storyline and written the lyrics to their opera, attended the Adler Planetarium, the Magic Flute, the Young Artist Sing and Share, Chicago Opera Playhouse's Knightly News, and performed for their parents in the Winter Showcase.  The first semester has been packed, but the students are soaking it all in and are already gearing up for their opera in June!

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