Thursday, February 3, 2011
Kids learn an appreciation for music, theater and the arts
Contributed by Leslie Farrell, Publicist for the Patel Conservatory
Tracy LeBarbera’s music room at Morgan Woods Elementary School invites exploration. Exotic-looking drums line the walls. Instruments are visible throughout the colorfully decorated room, which silently speaks of discovery and fun.
Fourth graders at Morgan Woods recently got that chance to explore and discover with a visit from Patel Conservatory theater instructor Audrey Siegler. Audrey's visit was to teach these 30 fourth graders about theater, true; but in the process, they learned about conflicts and morals. They discussed the theme of the book, “Shrek,” on which the movie and now Broadway show are based.
As Audrey's animated voice brought the story to life, the children listened attentively. They didn’t pay much attention to me, my journalist companion or even the TV camera.
Audrey returns to this classroom each week as part of the Broadway Education Project. Over the course of several months, the students will learn to make story boards, act and perform a song. Those are the activities, but what they’ll ultimately learn – the joy of the performing arts, camaraderie of the stage and further appreciation for music – will stay with them.
What will stay with me is a yearning for arts education to continue in schools, and a gratitude to my employer, the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center, for making this particular experience possible for these children. And I’m thankful to Tracy and the school system for having the open-mindedness to welcome these kinds of programs.
“We are building a passion for creative learning and we’re learning the process,” says Audrey, who created this curriculum. “I hope each child finds something new or builds on a passion that’s already there.”
Most of these students have never seen a live performance, let alone a Broadway show. But they’ll get that chance when the class culminates in a field trip to see “Shrek - the Musical” in May at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
Through the Patel Conservatory, Audrey teaches the same curriculum to two other schools in the Tampa area, Lockhart and Mueller.