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Early Opera-Music in Schools
About the program:
Based on recent research elementary school age children "who had the arts integrated into their regular curriculum showed remarkable improvement on standardized test scores" U-T San Diego News
Pacific MusicWorks believes that all children deserve access to the benefits that music brings to one’s life. There are demonstrated skills both academic and social that music education provides which can make our students better thinkers and better people. The Early Opera program designed by Maxine Eilander and Catherine Webster requires the children to learn to sing in tune, get comfortable on stage and improve their concentration by requiring them to learn and memorize a complete 10 minute long work of accessible, age-appropriate musical theater. Forty-five minute classes are held weekly for a period of 10 weeks per semester taught by Ms. Eilander and Ms. Webster leading to a school-wide performance at the end of term.
We will concentrate on the repertoire of Seattle composer Carol Sams. Pictures and videos of past productions can be seen at pacificmusicworks.org/education/early opera
Typical Session Description:
-Stage exercises to get the children comfortable moving in space
-Vocal warm ups
-Memorizing the songs and texts for the performance
-Practicing the sequence of stage movements together
Parent/ Teacher Quotes:
‘’I wanted to let you all know how wonderful I thought the Kindergarten performance of Chicken Little was and how much I value and appreciate this opportunity for our kids. I don't need to tell all of you how much evidence is out there that music supports other learning - that would be preaching to the choir. But one of the specific things I want to share about this performance is how touched I was to see a young boy who I know from classroom volunteering. That little boy struggles with reading and other classroom expectations, but during the performance, he was ON TASK, completely engaged, and singing every word from memory. What a wonderful experience the musical was for both parents and students. Thank you to all who made it possible.’’ -Parent
“it was one of the highest quality, developmentally appropriate and engaging performances I've seen in my years as a teacher and parent. " - Debbie Sherwood
"the opera helped the kindergartners get into character and express themselves in a new way…their hard work was greatly appreciated and helped them see the value of hard work."-Beth Tibbets, Special Education teacher
“it helps students find success and feel valued. We know that different students learn in different ways and singing and performing are some of the best ways to reach all kinds of learners. It’s a kinesthetic, musical, auditory, and spacial experience.” –Kit Norman-Kindergarten teacher
“This is the first year that I've observed the work of Maxine and Cassie and their opera in a box. I was very impressed with their professionalism, their understanding of children, how they handled them in a positive way, and of course, by the final product - the kindergarten opera!” –Parent
Maxine Eilander has always had a passion for teaching. Her teaching career began while she was still a student at University in South Africa. She spent 4 years teaching theory and piano at a private school for under-privileged children before moving to Europe to further her own skills as a harpist and keyboard player at the Hochschule für Kunste in Bremen, Germany. Since then she has appeared as a soloist with many leading ensembles throughout Europe and the USA including Pacific MusicWorks, Boston Early Music Festival, Netherlands Opera and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. She has made over 10 recordings, the most recent being Handel's Harp, released on ATMA in 2009, with all of Handel's obligato music written for the harp, including his famous harp concerto. Besides maintaining her performing schedule, Maxine is Director of Education and Outreach for Pacific MusicWorks, where she organizes the yearly 10-day Accademia d’Amore workshop as well as educating elementary school students under the Early Opera program together with her colleague Catherine Webster, and is on the early music faculty at Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle.
Catherine Webster, soprano, has been singing since she was 5 and feels privileged to have received wonderful musical education since childhood. After receiving a Master's Degree in Vocal Performance at Indiana University's School of Music, Ms. Webster began a solo career as a soprano that took her throughout North America and Europe, singing with ensembles such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic to Tafelmusik in Toronto to bluegrass and jazz with her sister. She teaches privately and at workshops and has worked extensively in music outreach across the United States. She passionately believes all children should be given exposure to music and the tools to understand and enjoy it. Catherine continues to perform as a soloist and teach others while raising her own two young daughters.
Program Cost/ Underwriting Opportunities:
Because each class requires the skills of a trained professional and the use of several types of musical equipment, certain expenses are associated with the presentation of this program. Funding and underwriting options are available. To start a program in your school, please contact Matthew White, Pacific Musicworks’ Executive Director at 206-465-8316. Many schools do not have the funds available for music education. If you would like to help make this program available to schools who would not otherwise have the chance to participate in music class please contact us to discuss sponsorship opportunities, which are available.