Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Young Composer

Bryna Berezowska Tallman, COT Teaching Artist
After years of working with students, I have found the immense value of adding music to children’s shows, especially when it is their own music. Students seem exponentially more interested and excited about singing and dancing to their own songs. In addition to adding music, dance and movement are equally helpful.
In our class at the St. Vincent de Paul Center, the students wrote their own lyrics. We worked with a composer to notate some melodic ideas they thought of during the process. The songs came back slightly altered and perhaps a bit un-intuitive for the kids to sing. As we were practicing, the students were having a hard time remembering rhythms in some of the parts, mainly when extra rests were added.
The last class at St. Vincent de Paul, worked on putting their own choreography to the songs they wrote. The improvement in their rhythmic timing was ‘night and day’. When the students had actions to correlate with the rests, they never forgot to wait and rest!
Dancing and creating music helps students feel the beat and music with a flow and consistent meter.  Dancing keeps kids active, helps them burn that extra energy and maintains their focus. 
So, we are excited to have our choreographer, Amanda Compton, visit for the next two classes in April, and continue our own student choreography!

Friday, March 22, 2013

FunderHut Campaign

Jessica Weber, COT Education Assistant

Today was my first experience with being part of a funding campaign going live!  We started our 90 day $10,000 campaign to raise funds for the Opera for All program.  This money will be a great way for us to expand the program to hundreds of more needy students in Chicago.

Check out the program, make a donation, and receive one of the awesome Kudos, many of which are straight from our current OFA students.

Oh, and if you are lucky, you will get a thank you note from me!

Click here to donate!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Creative Chicago Expo

Linden Christ, Manager of Education and Outreach

As the Manager of Education and Outreach for Chicago Opera Theater, I had the opportunity to network with many other arts organizations.    The Chicago Cultural Center hosted a two day event on March 1st & 2nd for arts organizations.   We were a vendor and shared out information with over 7,500 interested people passing through.   Our Education Assistant, Jessica Weber, was an immense help with sharing our information about COT's season and our Education programs.   In addition, our vendor table had a clear view out the Cultural Center second floor of the Harris Theater which was quite helpful in pointing the way for new patrons to attend our performance that night of 'The Fall of the House of Usher'.

We made new connections and reconnected those we already knew.    We were happy to see the Atheneaum Theatre booth, which had COT pictures in their anniversary video from when the Atheneaum used to be our home theater.   This week I'm following up with many different people like Dan from Funderhut, Stephen Carmody a set designer, David - the intrepid songwriter, and many other artists to see what collaborating opportunities we can think of over coffee.  

It was especially exciting to hear people's positive comments about COT and several people knew a bit about our education programs!

Jessica and Linden at the Chicago Opera Theater Booth

Friday, March 1, 2013

Art Day at Reilly Elementary School

Mandy Compton, COT Teaching Artist

Monday was the day that our students have been anticipating for quite some time--Art Day with Ms. Sonja.

 As each class filed in to begin their all-too-short class period, they were treated to the wondrous materialization of their imaginations that Sonja had designed.  Alien Dogs made out of crunched scrap paper and brightly colored tape, Star Cars made out of foam board with push lights for headlights,

and three-dimensional canvasses for the Green Sun, Ummm Burgers, Worm Waffles, and Squid Sandwiches that comprise our "Alien Buffet." 

As we assigned projects for our first class to work on, we had so much interest for each project that we had no trouble putting everyone to work right away.  As the painting and decorating got underway, it was encouraging to see how invested the kids were in the importance of their work.  One little girl was so specific with her project that she insisted her dog have a collar so she could write his name on it.  During the two second-grade classes, we focused on creating their alien antennas (pipe cleaners attached to headbands) and alien skin (puffy paint designs on knee highs for their arms). 
The kids were really dedicated to putting just the right colors in just the right place , and finishing their projects.  

In fact, one little girl who was only able to attend the last five minutes of class was intently focused on finishing her headband and having the googly-eyes in a specific pattern.  We stayed a little late to help her finish and she was thrilled when we let her take her newly created treasure home with her. 

Art Day during Opera For All exemplifies one of the many reasons that I am proud to be a part of this outstanding educational program.  We teach kids about every element of an operatic performance, not just singing or music.  Giving each child an opportunity to shine during the different guest artist visits and diverse projects we assign gives them a sense of ownership of the final performance, and a new means of connecting to the operatic genre.  Keep checking back for more news about Reilly's progress in 2013!