What I’m Teaching – May 9

The title of this is a misnomer. I’m not directly doing the teaching.

As an artist, understanding the context of work is part of my responsibility in preparing for performance. Through that research I learn more about the human condition. I believe this has helped me frame a fair amount of empathy for others.

As a teacher, I sometimes look to other teachers to improve my pedagogy. As a parent, I turn to other teachers to help my raise our children better than we could ever do alone.

We hope that our children learn empathy; to understand and share the feelings of another. From the day they were born, we sang to them, read stories aloud, had pets… We also encourage them to keep exploring through other teachers. As a parent, I’m tapping into the “village” of teachers available to help nurture my children into decent human beings.

Last night, I wrote about my son’s rock band experience with the Rock Youth program of the Rocking the Lehigh Valley project. He wouldn’t have gotten there without the support of The Lesson Center, where he takes drum lessons with a wonderful teacher, who also happens to be the lead singer for a local tribute band, Start Making Sense. (Jon Braun’s David Byrne representation is really great.)

My son’s relationship with his drum teacher has been a great balance for what he’s learning in his school program, and also helping him dream about all the possibilities that teens can think of. Drums + girls = hero status, right? At least his drum teacher gets him to focus on rudiments and sticking techniques. The “girl” lessons will still need our oversight; a whole other post, I’m sure.

My daughter started dancing with the Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley when she was six years old. I encouraged her to study here because of their excellent pedagogical approach to the tradition of ballet. They are not about the costumes or solos. They are about form. My hidden intention is to have her strengthen her ankle support muscles so she doesn’t have the osteoarthritic knees I have. Her ankles still incline a little today; but she holds herself tall and has a grace and strength to her that only comes from studying classical ballet. She loves the feeling she gets from a challenging class. She has a goal to dance in the company’s 50th Nutcracker. She may keep dancing through high school. She chooses to stay with it. We don’t force her.

In 2013, they both started a summer program at Touchstone Theatre called “Camp Touchstone.” That was the program that gave them both the stage bug. My daughter actually told one of the teachers, “I feel like I belong here.” Since that summer, my husband and I have supported the annual Young Playwrights Festival which is the showcase of small plays written by area students of the Young Playwrights Lab. They produced a promotional video for the event, which will be this Saturday evening:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTstoneTheatre%2Fvideos%2F1638288886199772%2F&show_text=1&width=560

(You may have to log into Facebook to see this video – but it’s worth it)

While our kids engage in all of these art activities, they’ve met friends. We’ve met new groups of people. Each one of these organizations teaches our kids about expectations, standards of excellence, and good citizenship in addition to the art experience.

So many kids in our community gain much from these kinds of experiences. I only hope that if a child want to pursue any of them, there are others who support the small business, artists and arts organizations who provide these opportunities to our community.

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