Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Importance of Live Musical Performance in Children's Lives

Can you remember your earliest experience with live musical performance in your life? Think way back to your elementary school years...

Well, I'm not sure this was my very first, however, I do remember my very first Broadway musical. I was in elementary school and my cousin Jonny started me on a life-long journey into loving musical theatre. We saw Beauty and the Beast and it was amazing!

Now, I had tons of experience with live performances, music and otherwise, because my parents were very big on including the arts in our lives. I have to thank them, and my cousin Jonny, for really cultivating my love of music early on, and for continuing to see countless amazing performances with me up to this day!

Live music is totally different from listening to the radio, your iPod, or watching performances on TV- it is a true experience. And ALL students should have access to these experiences throughout their lives. 

I know that students in my county are beyond lucky, because my Arts department offers Humanities assemblies in different live mediums throughout the year. Over the past few years at Hoffman Boston, my kids have experienced a hip hop dance troupe, a mime group from Croatia, puppeteers, a drumming ensemble, and many more.

Luis Garay performs a drum solo before his drum ensemble takes the stage with him

I am also so lucky to have generous organizations in my area who are so willing to provide free performances for students at schools that may not have the extra money- specifically Title I schools. As a result, we have also had residences with Mr. Garay (pictured above), a concert by the string section of the Marine Corps Band, and my students have been able to attend children's opera performances by local opera company, Opera NoVA.

This brings me to the reason for my post- today marks the third successful field trip to go see a children's opera. My first year, 2nd grade attended Monkey See, Monkey Do- a short opera based on the story in the book Caps for Sale. Last year, PreK-2nd graders were able to attend the same opera. This year Opera NoVA changed it up and prepared a condensed version of The Magic Flute for students. My 2nd graders were able to attend that performance this morning!

My favorite part about this year's field trip is that my 2nd graders got SO into the story of the opera. For the past two weeks we have explored the characters, plot, and music of The Magic Flute and by the time we went this morning, the students were able to follow the story (even when it was hard to understand the words). 

I was even able to capture the interest of even the most squirrely students with my Magic Flute themed centers: a coloring page of Tamino where the students had to search the foliage to find hidden arrows and animals, a reading center which included a detailed Magic Flute book, and a sequencing center where students had to arrange plot points in order on sentence strips (yesterday's blog post was about the use of sentence strips in centers). Funny enough, the one that really required a lot of thinking and organization was the biggest hit!

My point is that my life was enhanced SO much by the inclusion of live musical performances and clearly they played a large role in the shaping of my future career. My students are also benefiting from the performances, and while most of them will not go on to have musical careers, the presence of the arts in their lives is imperative for a successful future- whatever that may entail. 

I challenge you to think of that first live musical performance in your life and the impact it has had on your choices of entertainment today. 
Are you content sitting at home watching the VMA's on TV? 

Better question- Are your kids? 

If the answer to either one of those questions is no- change it!!
Go check out a local theater production or a high school choral concert! There are opportunities all around you! Take advantage- your kids will be better off having had those experiences, and one day they will thank you for all that you did to cultivate their love of music!

~Ms. Patrician

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