Thursday, January 22, 2015

Nurturing Future Arts Lovers

Best Wishes for 2015!

Most of my writing about movement has focused on the importance of providing children opportunities to participate in the arts.  Today I am writing about nurturing engaged and interested arts audience members.

An important part of learning to appreciate dance, music, theater and other arts is to learn how to be an attentive and courteous audience member.    
We can do that with young children in the classroom by dividing the class into two or more groups and allowing each group to show, describe, perform, etc., whatever artistic endeavor they happen to be exploring.  The non-performing group or groups in this case becomes the audience.  I like to use this opportunity to explain what it means to be a polite audience member.  First of all, of course, I remind them that this is the other children's chance to perform, and the audience must be respectful of them and give them their full attention.  For very young children, I give them a task while they are watching, which becomes their focus and helps them to concentrate.

For example, let's say we are playing a movement game about making snowflake shapes.  

Making a snowflake shape!
Another snowflake shape!

Another snowflake shape!
I give the audience group a "watching task" such as:  "Watch the other children and see if you will see someone making a pointy snowflake shape, and also watch for a curvy snowflake shape!"  Before you change groups and it is their turn to "perform," follow up by asking them what they saw, and allow them to offer other ideas about what they noticed the other children doing.  They may also want to tell you what they are going to try when it is their turn to dance.  This has the added benefit of stimulating ideas for all of the children as they explore the movement game.  

I give a similar but different set of tasks when it is the other group's chance to "perform." ("Watch for a snowflake shape that is turning!" "Watch for one that is low to the ground!").  If I do this exercise periodically over the course of the year, the children become more comfortable waiting for their turns, and also are more involved in the whole activity of the group.  It has the added benefit of adding to a child's excitement to perform when it is his or her opportunity to shine.  These are all positive outcomes for an activity that on its face is passive (watching other children while waiting their turns), but it is not difficult to turn it into one that is engaging for the children.  

Most communities offer concerts, performances, museum exhibits, and other art events that are geared toward children.  Another suggestion I would make is to look for opportunities to attend dress rehearsals which are often open to the public and have a more informal atmosphere than the actual performance.  I obtained permission from the Cincinnati Ballet to bring my granddaughter to a dress rehearsal of Peter Pan.  She had just turned one, so my daughter-in-law and I didn't know what to expect.  It turned out that my granddaughter sat quietly for about a half hour, completely enraptured by the music and dance.  And, because it was a less formal setting than if we had taken her to see the full-length ballet, we could leave quietly when she was ready to go, without disturbing anyone.  

Other quick tips for taking children to and getting the most out of arts events, include checking the arts organization's website for educational enrichment related to the presentation, making sure to arrive with plenty of time for the children to become accustomed to the space, and checking for opportunities to meet the performers after the show.

In addition to introducing children to many different art forms and ways of looking at the world, you will help to foster lifelong appreciation in the delights of art, theater, and dance.

Keep on dancin' in 2015,



  1. I so enjoy your posts - and not only because there is so much crossover into music (my area). Thank you, once again, for clear and meaningful ideas/activities.

  2. I completely agree on significance of providing children chances to participate in the arts for their better future. For nurturing future we should enroll our kids in best Phoenix pre-k so that his basics gets cleared and he can learn all activities for his lifetime.

  3. Thank you, Brigid, and I enjoy yours. You are right -- there is so much crossover between music and dance, that with young children, it is difficult to imagine one without the other. And the children reap the benefits of both!


We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment below....

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...