The Arts and Healthcare: How Music Has the Power to Heal

Posted by Aileen Rimando On August - 7 - 2014
Aileen Rimando

Aileen Rimando

Music has been one of my greatest passions for as long as I can remember, and my experiences with it have truly shaped my life for the better. As a performer, educator, administrator, and friend, it is even more rewarding to be a first-hand witness to, and take part in, making positive change in others’ lives through music. The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia’s newest project and collaboration with the healthcare industry through Heart Strings: Music Education for Patients at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has been a wonderful example of the transforming power of the arts.

My name is Aileen Rimando and I am the Communications and Outreach Coordinator for The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. An educational component was recently added to my role, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to expand our outreach offerings to the private healthcare industry to engage and inspire the Philadelphia community. Read the rest of this entry »

Research & Red Flags in Child Development

Posted by Kristy Callaway On March - 22 - 2013
Kristy Callaway

Kristy Callaway

While my blog posts are usually much more lively (even controversial), for this Salon I wanted to provide a few seminal resources.

Teaching the arts to a three-year-old is much different than a six or a 16-year-old. Here are some resources to help parents and educators alike understand some child development milestones so that they are creating appropriate experiences for early childhood arts experiences…

First, some basics of child development:

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) leads the way toward excellence in high-quality early care and education. NAEYC provides a list of empirically based principles of child development during birth through age eight. Below is a gross abbreviation, please visit their website.

1. Domains of children’s development—physical, social, emotional, and cognitive—are closely related. Development in one domain influences and is influenced by development in other domains.

2. Development occurs in a relatively orderly sequence, with later abilities, skills, and knowledge building on those already acquired.

3. Development proceeds at varying rates from child to child as well as unevenly within different areas of each child’s functioning.  Read the rest of this entry »

Art as a Process, Not Just a Product for Young Children

Posted by Judy Witmer On March - 21 - 2013
Judy Witmer

Judy Witmer

About 5.5 years ago, the Chief Operating Officer and Owner of Hildebrandt Learning Centers (HLC), Bill Grant, offered me the trip of a lifetime, a visit to the Reggio Emilia Schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. These programs in Italy are known as to be some of the best early care and learning programs worldwide from which many early care and learning programs strive to emulate or incorporate aspects of this program into their own.

To be able to experience firsthand something that I had read and studied for years was inspiring. At the heart of the Reggio Emilia approach is the belief that children are competent, capable, curious, and able to actively participate in their own learning versus a “blank” slate waiting to be filled with information.

The curriculum is flexible and emerges from the interests, thoughts, and observations of the children. The teachers become researchers and participate side by side in the child’s explorations, providing opportunities, materials and a framework from which children can explore ideas, problem solve, and project conclusions.

The approach is a lot more comprehensive than this quick synopsis, but HLC early care and learning programs embrace many of the same principles and is based on the teachings of educational philosophers, such as Piaget, Vygotsky, Howard Gardner, etc. which are also the foundation for the Reggio Emilia approachRead the rest of this entry »

Play to Make Art

Posted by Lesley Romanoff On March - 21 - 2013
Lesley Romanoff

Lesley Romanoff

The single most important thing I learned about building an appreciation for art in children, I learned from watching my children grow and learn and working with preschoolers and their parents.

Here it is…you have to walk away from paint and paper to have grand adventures before walking back towards paint and paper (and all the other options for creating art).

To fully embrace art as both an observer and a creator, I believe the process should begin with the great outdoors…city, town, neighborhood, or park. Wherever your outside is, begin there.

Experiencing the geography of the place a child lives begins an important conversation that is tangible. It is one of place, of body and mind. Distance holds meaning. Foreground is something that can be reached and touched.

The points where sky meets building or tree line and how these change depending on the light builds an experiential vocabulary for the child that can be connected directly through paint, clay, crayon, or oil pastel. While outside and moving, children are also increasing their gross motor coordination and stamina. This is true of all children moving and growing within the lovely range of abilities represented in humans. Each child will develop strengths and coordination in movement in his or her own unique way. Their efforts to connect and experience the world around them will tumble out into inspiration and more importantly provide them with the ability to express it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Lizard Brains & Other Learnings from the Preschool Classroom

Posted by Korbi Adams On March - 20 - 2013
Korbi Adams (r) with a friend.

Korbi Adams (r) with a friend.

My professional journey into early childhood education surprised me. Childsplay, the theatre for young audiences where I work, was invited to be a keynote experience at a local Head Start conference.

At this time, we were heavily focused on Drama Frames, an Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Education, working with fourth through sixth grade teachers to integrate drama into writing. So we jumped into this preschool venture blind, and totally fell in love. We left the conference energized about preschool and drama. After a glimpse into the work of early childhood education (ECE), we wanted to stay.

Excited about new possibilities, we took our professional development model to The Helios Education Foundation and proposed that we revise this model for drama and literacy in the ECE classroom. They looked at us and said “no,” politely pointing out to us: “you know education, and you know drama, but you don’t know anything about preschool.” We had to agree.

What happened next changed the course of our project forever. Helios gave us an incredible opportunity. Instead of turning us down outright, they gave us a training grant. We suddenly had the luxury of 18 months to bring in experts, read books, ask questions, and observe the world of ECE!  Read the rest of this entry »

Getting Parents On Board With Creative Development

Posted by Bridget Matros On March - 20 - 2013
Bridget Matros

Bridget Matros

The ubiquitous hand-print turkey—to me, a symbol of how artmaking during early childhood is trivialized, as it pertains to the serious stuff of developing (or crushing) critical aptitudes needed in the 21st century.

Preserving and developing the creativity of the young child through quality artmaking experiences—it’s a challenge for those of us who were artistically “squashed” or deprived during our critical years. It’s a tender task, so easily undermined by the well-intended comments of parents who share a “creative deficit!”

Here I’ll share some tips for the “parent issue”—I hope to talk with you about the rest in the comments below!

Making the shift of priorities from “cuteness factor” to experiential value in the classroom is an uphill battle. Teacher prep programs include “process over product” and “there’s no way to do art wrong” as general guidelines, but resources for putting those ideas into practice are scarce; resources, printables, and materials for craft projects that teach conformity, art-for-pleasing-others, and external guidelines over self-expression are everywhere!

What’s more, the latter is what parents (and school administration/program funders, etc.) want: cut-out pumpkins colored orange with black triangles glued on are a kind of currency for early childhood educators.  Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrating Early Arts Education

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On March - 18 - 2013
Kristen Engebretsen

Kristen Engebretsen

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

As the mother of a four year old daughter (Sofia), I have seen firsthand how natural it is for young children to communicate and express themselves through singing, drawing, and dancing.

These mediums allow youngsters a chance to express thoughts, ideas, and emotions that they might not have the words for. They also help them explore the world around them through their five senses—one of the primary ways that young children learn.

As my daughter’s first teacher, I have tried to provide her with materials and experiences that will nurture her innate curiosity and foster a lifelong love of self expression through the arts.

Sofia and I love to do what we call “projects.” The projects usually involve art, music, or nature, but more importantly, they involve discovery, exploration, and a focus on process over product. You’ll see through the pictures below some of the projects that Sofia and I do together.

For example, one project might involve multiple days’ worth of activities:  Read the rest of this entry »

We Aren’t Preparing Young People for Careers at Disney or Apple

Posted by Lisa Phillips On January - 14 - 2013

Lisa Phillips with Steve Wozniak

There seems to be a major disconnect between how creativity is valued in society and the career advice we give our children. We all know that the arts are a valuable means of expression, a means to share stories across cultures and an uplifting and moving source of entertainment.

We revere our cultural icons, whether they are movie stars, literary authors or artists, but we seem to limit the possibility of careers in the arts to only a talented few.

How many of us arts professionals have heard from family and friends, “When are you going to get a real job?”

So, why do we put our cultural icons on a pedestal but undervalue arts education? I think one of the reasons is that as a society we are preoccupied with the idea that the arts are reserved only for those with talent. However, in the reality of today’s job market, we need to change this idea.

There is a significant gap between what children are told is important for their future career success and what business leaders actually want from the emerging workforce. Creative individuals are actually in demand. Not just for arts careers, but for careers in business as well.

For example, Disney and Apple are two of the most successful companies of our time, largely because of the creativity, innovation, and the leadership they have demonstrated in their respective industries.

In an era when businesses are constantly struggling to find creative ways to stay at the top of their market, arts education can be a powerful tool to nurture the creative abilities of our young people, ensuring they are ready for the skills that are in demand. Read the rest of this entry »

The Top 10 Skills Children Learn From the Arts

Posted by Lisa Phillips On November - 26 - 2012

Lisa Phillips

1. Creativity – Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box’ will distinguish your child from others. In an arts program, your child will be asked to recite a monologue in 6 different ways, create a painting that represents a memory, or compose a new rhythm to enhance a piece of music. If children have practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future career.

2. Confidence – The skills developed through theater, not only train you how to convincingly deliver a message, but also build the confidence you need to take command of the stage. Theater training gives children practice stepping out of their comfort zone and allows them to make mistakes and learn from them in rehearsal. This process gives children the confidence to perform in front of large audiences.

3. Problem Solving – Artistic creations are born through the solving of problems. How do I turn this clay into a sculpture? How do I portray a particular emotion through dance? How will my character react in this situation? Without even realizing it kids that participate in the arts are consistently being challenged to solve problems. All this practice problem solving develops children’s skills in reasoning and understanding. This will help develop important problem-solving skills necessary for success in any career.

4. Perseverance – When a child picks up a violin for the first time, she/he knows that playing Bach right away is not an option; however, when that child practices, learns the skills and techniques and doesn’t give up, that Bach concerto is that much closer. In an increasingly competitive world, where people are being asked to continually develop new skills, perseverance is essential to achieving success.

5. Focus – The ability to focus is a key skill developed through ensemble work. Keeping a balance between listening and contributing involves a great deal of concentration and focus. It requires each participant to not only think about their role, but how their role contributes to the big picture of what is being created. Recent research has shown that participation in the arts improves children’s abilities to concentrate and focus in other aspects of their lives. Read the rest of this entry »

Have We Left Out the Fun?

Posted by Alex Sarian On July - 16 - 2012
Alex Sarian

Alex Sarian

(Suggested listening while reading this blog entry: Alice Cooper’s School’s Out...)

As I prepared to write this blog post, two things prevented me from truly being inspired:

1.) I am currently in pre-production for MCC Theater’s Summer FreshPlay Festival, a one-week event in which 10 teenage playwrights each receive a 25-hour workshop process with professional directors and actors in order to bring their plays to life.

In the past two weeks I’ve hired 10 directors, 12 production assistants, and almost 80 actors; and just as (seemingly) impossible, I’ve somehow managed to schedule a combined 250+ of rehearsals in a five-day period. Needless to say, this blog entry, while a refreshing break from pre-production, has been the last thing on my mind.

2.) I was asked to focus my blog entry on one of the following themes: research, evaluation, advocacy, arts integration, 21st century skills, partnerships, common core, assessment and/or national standards.

What’s fascinating about these two thorns is that in isolation, neither one of them would have fully stumped me from spilling my thoughts on paper. But combined…something just doesn’t feel right: the reason I put up with the stress of producing this festival (yes, it is my job) is because at the end of the day, it is arguably the most fun and rewarding of our annual education programs.

Simultaneously, not once in the past few weeks have I stopped to think about research, evaluation, advocacy, arts integration, 21st century skills, partnerships, common core, assessment and/or national standards.

So before I start feeling guilty about being a terrible Director of Education, let me ask this: why didn’t “fun” make our list of themes? Read the rest of this entry »

Tricia Tunstall

When was the last time The New York Times ran four major articles, including one front-page feature, on arts education?

I can’t remember the last time that happened…before a few weeks ago, when suddenly El Sistema, the vast children’s orchestra program in Venezuela, was front-page news. The program has been growing steadily for 37 years, but only recently has it become a hot topic here.

Why has El Sistema made its unlikely leap over the media’s tacit barriers to news coverage for arts education?

It’s partly because Gustavo Dudamel, the Sistema’s most famous product, has become a celebrity conductor in Los Angeles, the crucible of celebrity. In fact, the first article in the Times series last month focused on Dudamel and his star status.

But I think it’s also because El Sistema is not a strictly “arts ed” story. At the very heart of this extraordinary program is a convergence of musical and social goals—a conviction that musical excellence and social transformation can be fused in a single mission.

The real news about El Sistema is that it has given new life and hope to hundreds of thousands of Venezuela’s neediest children, by following the precept of its founder, Jose Antonio Abreu, that “if you put a violin in a child’s hands, that child will not pick up a gun.” Read the rest of this entry »

DREAM & TELL!: Arts Integration Models at Work (Part Two)

Posted by Merryl Goldberg On March - 16 - 2012

Merryl Goldberg

TELL! (Theater for English Language Learners) is a National Endowment for the Arts funded project in Arts in Education.

The program provides 120 fourth grade students at Maryland Elementary in Vista, CA with theater experiences aimed at increasing language acquisition and reading comprehension.

Here are the demographics for the students of Maryland Elementary: 62 percent are homeless, 72 percent are English language learners, and 96 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch.

I was at the school just this week and am simply awestruck by the enormous potential the kids all have and show via this program. As you can read by the demographics—kids at this school come into learning with a fair amount of challenges. Many at 10-years-old have responsibility for watching over younger siblings. Many of the kids come into the program having not been afforded previous arts experiences.

TELL! begins with a chapter book: Clementine, written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Marla Frazee. I chose this book and series because it is extremely engaging and funny, and most kids can identify with the main character, Clementine, who is always getting into trouble, and believes since she was named after a fruit, her brother should be named after a vegetable and therefore only ever refers to him as celery, radish, spinach, broccoli, etc.

Despite being in the principal’s office nearly every day, and constantly getting into trouble for things like cutting her friend’s hair (but it looks wonderful!) Clementine‘s world is full and filled with supportive adults. Read the rest of this entry »

Stop Stealing Dreams (Part One)

Posted by Seth Godin On March - 12 - 2012

Seth Godin

All week, we will be sharing (numbered) points from Seth Godin’s new education manifesto, Stop Stealing Dreams (what is school for?). You can download a free copy of the full 100-page manifesto at Squidoo.com

3. Back to (the wrong) school

A hundred and fifty years ago, adults were incensed about child labor. Low-wage kids were taking jobs away from hard-working adults.

Sure, there was some moral outrage about seven-year-olds losing fingers and being abused at work, but the economic rationale was paramount. Factory owners insisted that losing child workers would be catastrophic to their industries and fought hard to keep the kids at work—they said they couldn’t afford to hire adults. It wasn’t until 1918 that nationwide compulsory education was in place.

Part of the rationale used to sell this major transformation to industrialists was the idea that educated kids would actually become more compliant and productive workers. Our current system of teaching kids to sit in straight rows and obey instructions isn’t a coincidence—it was an investment in our economic future. The plan: trade short-term child-labor wages for longer term productivity by giving kids a head start in doing what they’re told.

Large-scale education was not developed to motivate kids or to create scholars. It was invented to churn out adults who worked well within the system. Scale was more important than quality, just as it was for most industrialists. Read the rest of this entry »

Creativity is the Connection to Corporations

Posted by Michelle Mann On November - 18 - 2011

Michelle Mann

Over the past 7 months, as a loaned executive from Adobe to 1st ACT, I have gained a new appreciation for the difficulties arts organizations face when raising money.

In the heart of Silicon Valley, with its corporate giants and start-up millionaires, there is very little investment in the arts and culture ecosystem. That’s because 70-80% of Silicon Valley’s wealth leaves the region.

I probably shouldn’t have been surprised — understanding the global nature of business. But I am disappointed that more of my peers and former colleagues in corporate philanthropy don’t include arts and culture in their giving portfolios.

Study after study have demonstrated the link between creativity and the arts to higher academic achievement, to attainment of 21st century skills, to brain development and early literacy, and social and emotional development.

Corporate leaders talk about creativity being an essential skill for the 21st century workforce. They want  to hire people who are problem solvers, are flexible and can adapt quickly to new situations, are culturally competent and open to working with others. Read the rest of this entry »

More Than Cash – A Corporation Boldly Support the Arts

Posted by Michelle Mann On November - 15 - 2011

Michelle Mann

As the former Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Adobe, employees often shared with me their passion for giving back. More than just helping at the food bank once in awhile, they sought to spend time in the nonprofit sector, to make a difference.

Recently, I’ve had an opportunity to do exactly that and I’d like to share with you my experiences and view of the arts from a corporate perspective.

For the past six months, I have been a loaned executive to 1st ACT Silicon Valley, a catalytic organization whose mission is to inspire leadership, participation, and investment at the intersection of art, creativity, and technology.

Adobe’s former CEO, Bruce Chizen, had been a founding board member of 1st ACT in 2007 and the Adobe Foundation has supported the organization’s efforts to increase the vibrancy of Downtown San Jose (Adobe’s headquarters) and support the arts ecosystem. Read the rest of this entry »

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.