Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What I Have Learned as an “Opera for All” Assistant Teaching Artist

Heather Keith, Opera for All Assistant Teaching Artist

Last year when I was interning for Chicago Opera Theater, I learned a great deal about the Opera for All program and how to work with other teaching artists as a team. I helped get the production on its feet, but I wasn’t with the students long enough to really get to  know them.

This year, being given the opportunity to bond with the students I teach, I was surprised daily with not only their talent, but also their sheer tenacity. When any one of these students is given the tools to succeed, that is just what he or she does! Not only do they have the challenges of everyday life, being in school, testing, growing up…but also, when given the right direction, they create stories and music compositions that are not only imaginative but really speak to an audience.

This year, we wrote stories that deal with fair sportsmanship, mothers down on their luck, and dinosaurs coming back from the future. We wrote songs that not only are tuneful, but also integrate into the plots of all our stories. We learned dances together that showed us to be comfortable in our own skin, and that dance can enrich the story we are trying to tell. We learned together how to create opera. 

I am so incredibly proud of these students. I am so lucky to be able to work with them to teach them about the things I am passionate about and, in turn, they teach and remind me daily what amazing things can be accomplished just by hard work and being given the opportunity to learn.