Art Quotes We Love–Art is What Others See

Art is Not What You See

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is art what others see?  My husband and I took a vacation to Florida last week.  We traveled to Florida in the past, but never in February.  It was warm, sunny and wonderful. Our favorite part was watching the sunset every evening over the horizon.

While there, we visited the Ringling art museum.

If you haven’t heard of this museum before, don’t be surprised.  It’s quite a gem.

From Wikipedia:

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is the state art museum of Florida, located in Sarasota, Florida.[1] It was established in 1927 as the legacy of Mable and John Ringling for the people of Florida. Florida State University assumed governance of the Museum in 2000.

Designated as the official state art museum for Florida, the institution offers twenty-one galleries of European paintings as well as Cypriot antiquities and Asian, American, and contemporary art. The museum’s art collection currently consists of more than 10,000 objects that include a variety of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs, and decorative arts from ancient through contemporary periods and from around the world. The most celebrated items in the museum are 16th–20th-century European paintings, including a world-renowned collection of Peter Paul Rubens paintings.[4] Other famous artists represented include Benjamin West, Marcel Duchamp, Diego Velázquez, Paolo Veronese, Rosa Bonheur, Gianlorenzo Bernini, Giuliano Finelli, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Frans Hals, Nicolas Poussin, Joseph Wright of Derby, Thomas Gainsborough, Eugène Boudin, and Benedetto Pagni.

I enjoy listening to people as they take in the art.  Everyone notices something different.  For me, I noticed the use of light and shadow by some of the Masters.  I learned from an art teacher to get as close as you can to the art piece to see the brush strokes and techniques the artist used.  Just imagine, you are actually looking at the brush strokes by Ruben.  Wow!

That’s art for you.  It’s incredibly personal.  All of us have lived different lives filled with different experiences and while viewing art, those memories color our perception of the art.  Isn’t that interesting?

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

How to Make Your Drama Class More Successful–Lessons Learned from 38 Years of Teaching Drama-Elementary

This is part one of two. Click here for post two and three:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/09/how-to-make-your-drama-class-more-successful-part-two/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/12/how-to-make-your-drama-class-more-successful-lessons-learned-from-38-years-of-teaching-part-three/

Novice drama teachers ask me what is my secret to success in the classroom. How do I make my drama classes so successful? Heck, I don’t know really.  I’m intense, have high expectations of all my students, energetic and enthusiastic about the subject matter.

I’m guessing those are innate descriptors of me, but not of everyone who teaches drama.  (Although I am acquainted with many drama teachers who are quite a lot like me.) But I have taught drama for thirty-eight years with students of all ages from all walks of life. Generally, I retain them, too.  How?  Smoke and mirrors folks, smoke and mirrors.

The first part of these series of blog posts are about teaching drama to elementary students.  If you want to remember the reason that you loved the theatre so much, teach a creative dramatics class.  In the words of a second grader, “I love drama class.  It’s awesome!” That pretty much sums up an elementary kid.

Here is a list of lessons I have learned from teaching drama for 38 years. I can’t believe it’s been that long.  Really?

img_0359These cast members of Aladdin, Kids who were hanging out during rehearsals.  I found that coloring pages worked wonderfully this last summer during camp.

Here is a bit of advice for a Creative Dramatics class (grades second through fifth)

  • Think of each class in 15 minute increments. If your class is about sixty minutes in length, you’ll need about three to four activities per class. This includes a warm up exercise at the beginning and cool down at the end.

  • Be flexible with your time allotments.  Sometimes the students will wear out quickly or want to play the game longer or practice their performance a little more. Or you have too many students absent from class that day and you are unable to move ahead on the lesson or rehearsal. This one is tough to learn.  Just because you have planned for three days on some unit of study doesn’t mean you are going to get them. 

  • At first, the students will wear out very quickly–want to get drinks, go to the bathroom, etc. if you are studying creative movement in particular. Over time, say several days, they will be able to go longer stretches of time. Usually, we take a bathroom/water break half way through class.

  • If students exhibits signs of wearing out too quickly, help them to temper their energy. Give them permission to slow down or rest for a second, but we stay on our feet so that this doesn’t become a crutch.

  • Use drama games, read aloud age appropriate books about theatre as filler or warm ups or cool downs at the end of class. Vary the exercises–do some that are for sitting down, a few physical execises and/or working in teams or individually.

  • It is my opinion, improvisation is something that young students do not fully understand.  Better to play games where they must think quickly or practice using one’s imagination than to jump head long into improvisation.  They could study how to create a story with a beginning, middle and end.  Your Language Arts teachers will thank you.  🙂

aristocats-kids

  • Avoid doing all the movement exercises with them, but allow them to discover the movements themselves. If you do all the movements for and with them, they stop creating and just imitate you instead. I believe in the “Suzuki Method of Acting” (my own title)–I model for them a few times and afterward encourage them through side coaching.

  • Steer clear of costumes for class performances. I know this seems like a mistake, but think of it this way: if one student brings a fantastic costume from home and the other students forget or their parent was unable to find one or is unable to purchase one, it makes for problems.  Collect costume pieces yourself and use those instead.  Or ask for donations for a “costumes box”.  It will fill up quickly!

  •  The use of props can become a crutch for a beginning student. However, if a    wooden spoon can be used as a wand and then in another scene it is used as a sword, that’s a better choice.  By substituting one object for another, the students begin to think creatively.

  • The students love creating masks. I can recommend ones that work well.  (write me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or Deborah@DeborahBaldwin.net)

  • Have plenty of extra scripts, pencils and hi-lighters for the students to use. They lose their originals a lot.

  • If your students have never performed a script, you’ll need to teach them the fine art of hi-lighting their lines. Also, you’ll need to show them how to write blocking down in their script and the importance of notating.

  • Practice bowing!  There are several styles you can use, but take a bit of time and teach them how to bow.

  •  Practice applauding for one another. This isn’t that “everyone gets a trophy” philosophy, though. We practice applauding to show support for one another not the quality of the performance.  For some students, merely standing in front of their peers is frightening to them.

  • Practice stage etiquette, especially those manners we practice during rehearsals.  I stress teaching them to say, “thank you” when I give them a note.  Also, learning to stay quiet while others are rehearsing is tantamount with me.

 

  • Refrain from planning performances on shortened school days.  Some students have a difficult time with changes in the routine and will act up on those days.  Avoid parent/teacher conference days, school holiday performance or end of the year performance days for your class plays, too.

honk-jr

  • Lastly, have fun!  Above all, youngsters who are just beginning to act should enjoy themselves. This doesn’t mean you have to have chaos or unbridled silliness. On the contrary, having boundaries helps all involved. If the students are having a great time with you, they are learning.  Laughter encourages sustained learning and we laugh a lot in my classes. I find the more fun I have teaching my students, the happier we all are.  Don’t you?

I am certain there are more tidbits of advice I could extoll, but these come to mind first.

Read part two of this post.  It’s all about middle and high school drama class.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com  or Deborah@DeborahBaldwin.net

I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

Bumbling Bea: The First Chapter

BB chapter 16

There has been a lot of traffic on the blog lately and I can’t help but wonder if folks are wondering about my book, Bumbling Bea. So, here is chapter one:

Chapter One

It was Peter’s fault.

“P!” I yelled to get his attention, “do I look like old Macdonald on the farm to you?”

I was splattered all over with the gross stuff. I swear it was already curdling and the entire cafeteria of students could see it. I smelled putrid–like yucky old, blackened, moldy cheese long forgotten in the back of the refrigerator. It made me wretch a little but I still managed to get in his face.

“Why don’t you drink juice or water? Now I smell like I’ve been working in a cheese factory. You’re such a dweeb, P.”

When I was mad at Peter, I called him “P.” He’d been P. ever since we were in kindergarten when he stuck a couple of peas up his nose and had to go to the hospital to get them out. And like those peas, the name stuck. And he was clumsy, BUT only with me. He defended himself like he always did which irritated me.

“Jeez, sorry Beatrice. I didn’t mean to nearly flip over your backpack and spill two miniscule drops of lactose on your precious jacket. It was blocking the aisle between the tables like always. You are so mean these days.” Peter huffed, stomping away from the lunch room.

It wasn’t me speaking to Peter. It was Bumbling Bea. I’ve discovered I have an alter ego who I call Bumbling Bea. Strange and mean thoughts come flying out of my mouth. They didn’t even sound like something I’d think or say! Bumbling Bea hadn’t been around for long, but when she did rear her scary head, it was at the worst times.

One of the most memorable of times Bumbling Bea showed up was when we gave our choir director a tennis racket as a going away present. He was getting married and leaving our school. He was obsessed with tennis and was a pretty decent player. I thought it was neat, even though he had knobby knees and skinny, hairy, Minnie Mouse legs which looked kinda’ weird in his way too short tennis shorts.

I thought of the present when I saw him hitting tennis balls on the tennis court after school one day. He was mumbling something and from seeing his temper in class, I figured it was about his students.

            It was the first time Bumbling Bea arrived. I was class secretary for him (which made me feel super important even though he had a class secretary for every other class, too.) I thought I had power and the other kids listened to me. Bumbling Bea liked that a lot! At lunch one day I was sitting by myself, as usual. I turned to the table with the popular kids sitting behind me. “I think we should buy our music teacher a going away present since he’s getting married and leaving us. How about we give him a tennis racket since he loves the game so much?”

Everyone agreed with me (which was a first) and those who didn’t, gave me a dollar per student donation anyway. If giving money for a teacher’s going away present kept you in or near the popular kids, you gave it. And they did!

I was so excited. I checked out tennis racket prices on the internet, Dave’s Discount and the hardware supply store. Dave’s had the best price. Most everything was less expensive at Dave’s Discount. My Dad told me it was because Dave bought up all the things other businesses couldn’t sell. Dad thought Dave’s had good deals even though sometimes their stuff fell apart after one use. Their price for the tennis racket was awesome and one my class could afford.

Since I found the tennis racket right away, I had a little bit of time left over before Dad picked me up so I looked around at the girls’ clothes. Normally, I didn’t look at your typical girls’ clothes because they were always way too pink and way too fluffy. Not at Dave’s, though! I found a black and white polka dotted bikini swimming suit, matching flip flops and a package of panties—things were so cheap.

“You want me to put them in a Dave’s Discount box, honey?” wondered the clerk lady who smelled like cigarettes and chewing gum.

I heard about the Dave’s Discount boxes before. People used them to store about anything in them after they got them home: extra cat litter, broken toys, a bed for a puppy and so forth. They were sturdy, kind of a brownish tan color with black stripes printed on one side of them and the words “Dave’s Discount” plastered over the stripes.

Being so proud of myself for a. finding the tennis racket and b. buying the bikini, flip flops and panties all by myself, I accepted two boxes instead of one. I mean, they were free, you know? Dad said not to turn away free stuff if anyone at a store ever offered you anything free. I thought Dave’s Discount box was one of those free things he was talking about.

“Mom, we got a deal. The racket only cost thirty-six dollars.” I announced as I arrived home.

“Don’t forget to take off the price tag before you wrap it, Beatrice,” my mom reminded me as she whisked off to teach her art classes.

Mom! Sheesh. Sometimes she thinks I’m a baby…

My brother, Edmund, helped me wrap the box rolling it two or three times in wrapping paper and tying it with gobs of ribbons and a bunch of bows on it. We put the box in another box which went in another box. We thought it was so fun to unwrap when you received one of those sort of presents. Edmund laughed and laughed each time we played the trick on him.

This is so awesome. I said to myself. And when I tell him I chose the present, he will think I’m one of his coolest students for doing this for him.

That was Bumbling Bea talking. You see? Why would it matter whether my teacher thought I was the coolest student he had ever taught during his teaching career? He had thousands of kids he’d taught already and I was a lousy singer.

It was finally time to give the present. On the last day of classes before summer vacation, we usually sang through the year’s music one more time. The whole choir was singing happily, but they kept turning and looking at me. I was singing loud the way I never do because I was so excited about our present. Well, Bumbling Bea was singing exceedingly loud because she thought I was a better singer since I thought up the present.

It was the second time Bumbling Bea appeared.

Finally, the end of the hour came and it was time for the present. I stood lifting my head proudly, “We are sad you are leaving Oak Grove Middle School. We wanted to give you something to remember us when you are off in your new life.” I gave him the big box saying, “So, here is a little something to use to take out your frustrations on your new wife.”

Huh? What was that I said?

I was kinda’ nervous which was unusual for me and it freaked me out. So I tried again. “I meant, here’s a little something to use to take out your frustrations in your new life.”

Oh man. That wasn’t right either.

I tried one more time, “Oh, you know when you have a bad day at your new school and want to strangle your students, you can use this instead.” I cringed.

My teacher stared at me. “I don’t know what you are talking about, Beatrice. I’m never frustrated with my students.” He smiled at the rest of the class and ignored me.

I felt different on the inside of myself. Kinda’ smart aleck-y, but I didn’t know why. Maybe I was way too excited or nervous or awkward? When I am, I do dumb things to cover. It was how I felt that day. I wanted to sound grown up and cool and in charge, but I said three super dumb things to my teacher.

But I did more than say three dumb things.

Way more.

When Edmund and I were wrapping the tennis racket, Edmund’s pet ferret, Bernie, got loose from Edmund’s clutches and darted around my room. We were so busy screaming at Bernie that while trying to catch him, I guess my big fat foot accidentally pushed the box with the tennis racket under my bed. I picked up the other identical box with my new swimming suit, matching flip flops and the package of new panties and wrapped it instead.

Yes, you read it right: it was the box containing my new bikini swimming suit, matching flip flops and the new panties.

NEW PANTIES! NEW PANTIES!

But see, I didn’t know it was the wrong box because I wasn’t looking at my teacher when he finally opened the last box. I was busy picking up the left over wrapping paper.

Somebody whispered, “Beatrice, you left the price tag on the box.”

“Embarrassing,” another snickered.

THE PRICE TAG WAS SHOWING. THE STUPID PRICE TAG WAS STILL ON THE PRESENT.

I looked up and before I knew it, Bumbling Bea quipped, “There’s the price tag. It shows you how much we like you and I wanted you to know all us chipped in for it.”

Again with the dumb statements!

My teacher opened the box and there was no tennis racket.

BUT, there they were: the panties. Oh, the swimming suit and flip flops were there too, but all I saw were the PANTIES. It was as if they grew from a regular size to the size of a goal post on a football field. HUGE.

I stammered, “What? How did those get in there?”

My confused teacher said something to me, but the whole class was laughing so loudly I couldn’t hear him. I grabbed back the box and ran out of class and hid in the girls’ bathroom.

People called me “Panties” for days afterward until my mother heard them one too many times and threatened to call their parents.

Later I got the right present to my teacher but by then every kind of damage had already been done and I still forgot to take the price tag off the stupid present. I gave up.

Peter said later in the summer he saw my teacher hitting balls with our present tennis racket out on the court. He was back in town visiting his mother or something. I guess he hit one ball a little too hard, because the tennis racket’s webbing unraveled and when it fell to the ground, the handle fell apart, too.

Yup. Bumbling Bea steps into my skin right at the wrong time. Lately, there are more times she appears than I have until a crazy girl who wore cat ears visited from Japan. She made me see what I was doing by taking on my bumble-bea-ness herself. It’s all a little scary when you think about it.

 

Do You Wanna Dance?

Do You Wanna Dance? I do! Introducing: Juke Box Musicals, A Review

Are you looking for a musical with lots of roles so all your students can be involved? One that is entertaining, fast moving and light?  One with “ear worm” songs and hip, dancing beats?  Then Juke Box Musical’s Do You Wanna Dance is for you!

juke-box-musical

When I saw this musical advertised on Facebook, I asked the advertising firm if they were looking for pre-launch reviews.  They were and I accepted.

After directing productions for nearly forty years and creating a national playwriting contest, I can call myself an expert in both fores.

 I’m a tremendously experienced drama teacher, too.  I have read countless scripts and directed over 250 productions. I’m the gal you want for this job, that’s for sure.

There are many positives to this cute musical:

  • Twelve leading roles with an even split of female and male. (Hooray!) Plus a chorus of interdeterminate size who portray many different characters.  Kids like to be busy on stage, not bored back stage.  This is a real plus.

  • At least twelve “catchy”  popular songs that encourage the listener to reminisce of latter days when they listened to a juke box

  • List of characters with noted vocal ranges and brief character descriptions

  • Appropriate singing range for younger students (my advice– the production is mountable by middle school students and younger)

  • Simple plot, somewhat easy to project its outcome but moves along nicely and has a good message– Don’t let anyone stop you from the joy of dancing and singing. Everyone can dance.

  • Set description per scene (useful when planning production)

  • Stage directions, indepth (novice directors will appreciate these)

  • Simple costuming that most groups can create (another PLUS in my book)

  • Prop list with no difficult props to secure

  • Projection package of the various locales so that an erected set is not needed (this is a separate cost to the renter)

  • Suitable story for the whole family

Co-writers Mark Brymer and John Jacobsen  are qualified and experienced  musicians who can easily take on the challenges of writing a musical.  Mark Brymer has been a leading choral writer/arranger for the educational and church choral music markets for many years.

John Jacobson is known as a music educator, choreographer and author.  Both gentlemen are prolific creators.  Their resumes attest to their expertise.

boy-158152_1280-2girl-158151_1280 (1).png

Do You Wanna Dance seems like a musical review. I think that’s what the writers were aiming for in writing it. I did a little research on line and found a youtube video of the co-writers discussing the show.  John Jacobson called the show “campy fun.”

I’d agree with him. Kids love to dance and sing and surprisingly, they will sing songs from other time periods with no qualms or embarassment.

“Walking on Sunshine” was released in 1979. That was over thirty years ago.  That doesn’t matter with music-a popular song continues to be popular long after its time.

Think about it… A family is sitting around the dinner table and their student begins humming one of the songs he’s hearsing from  Do You Wanna Dance. Before you know it, the parents recognize the song, begin singing along and the little sister jumps up and dances with a broom.  (Sorry, I got a little carried away there…) if you ask me, that’s a pretty clever way to involve the whole family and the show hasn’t even opened yet.

Most importantly, Do You Wanna Dance doesn’t talk down to students and that’s a plus for me. Next time, I would challenge the writers to create another juke box musical with a more difficult plot–our kids can handle it these days.  They are quite sophisticated and love a good challenge. Other than the junior musicals through Music Theatre International, there aren’t many musicals appropriate for younger students to perform. Or they are insipid and not worth anyone’s time. If nothing else, Do You Wanna Dance is just plain fun! A church youth group, Scout troop or an after school drama club  could produce Do You Wanna Dance quite successfully.

Who doesn’t like to sing and dance? (Now I’ve got Walking in Sunshine stuck in my head…) kids-dancing[1]

Which is your favorite?  Singing or Dancing?

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net I’d love to hear from you.

Purchase my book, Bumbling Bea on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Bumbling-Bea-Deborah-Baldwin/dp/1500390356/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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