Sara Litchfield - COT Teaching Artist
Teaching Artist, Justin Callis and myself have
had the privilege of working with two exceptional classes (Ms. Kolb’s 4th
grade class and Mrs. Dayer’s 3rd grade class) at George B. Armstrong
International Studies Elementary School.
For having started almost a month later than the other schools
participating in OFA, we have been able to cover quite a bit of material with
them to lay the groundwork for the creation of our spring operas.
For our Winter Showcase, the students began
by teaching their parents one of our favorite theater games, Zip Zap Zop. We then performed the following jazz songs
for our audience of students and parents: I’ve Got Rhythm by Gershwin, Moon
River by Henry Mancini, It Don’t Mean A Thing and Take the A Train, both
written by Duke Ellington. Each
song was introduced by a pair of students who were also asked to include an
interesting fact about the piece or composer that they had researched on their own. Justin
and I even learned a few things from these informative introductions, in
particular that Duke Ellington’s last words were, “Music is how I live, why I
live and how I will be remembered.”
between songs, the students shared poems they had written in preparation for
the songs we will be writing this semester.
We had poems ranging in topic from Duke Ellington, who was described as
a “Swellington” to Justin Bieber, who tends to pop up a lot, much to my chagrin. Justin Bieber aside, these students are
always eager to participate, share and learn and very often approach Justin and
I with really thoughtful questions or facts about jazz or opera that they have
discovered on their own time.
In one of
our final classes, a young man asked me if he could use some free time to
sketch set and costumes ideas in his opera journal and then explained how his
mom recently bought him his very own opera journal so that he could start
composing his own opera at home. Talk
about a, “cup runneth over” moment.
From the creativity and originality that I have already seen from these
two classes, I could not be more excited to observe the opera creation that
will unfold in the months ahead.