Cindy Says: Creating Art with Kids When You Don’t Know What to Plan for

Cindy Says: Creating Art with Kids When You Don’t Know What to Plan for

As teachers and directors, we are consummate planners - it's just who we are. But how do we plan when we don't know what to plan for? So many of you have asked what next year will look like with musical theatre productions and your kids. The truth is: we don't know exactly what's coming our way for a while, but we do know there are things we can do now to keep our kids, programs, communities and hearts alive with the art we love.

You all have robust toolboxes to teach the arts pillars; music, language, dance, visual and digital. I have seen incredible videos, performances, interactive online warm ups and just superb human connections. NO ONE can connect with kids like artist teachers. Here are some suggestions to make sure your framework is solid no matter what changes come around the corner.

Design "your set". Make it safe, anxiety free and fun with room for creativity and discovery.  Your "set" (or classroom or online platform as I call it) should be able to operate: face-to-face, remote, or hybrid and produce an artistic result that fulfills the students and you.

Be Collaborative and Inclusive: Whatever style you choose, run your program to involve student voices and choices. Put your classroom culture into practice. Performance-style service projects work well in a virtual format (possibly for a meaningful community cause). Enact the change our country needs right now to make the world a better place.

Forge Individual Connections. Getting to know your students as individuals in a remote setting can be challenging yet rewarding. Check out some platforms like Flipgrid and Padlet. They allow you to respond individually to many styles of student performance yet foster a sense as if they were all in a rehearsal together.

Create Routines that are consistent. Whether online or masked face-to-face, build a consistent routine for students (e.g. consistent yet varied opening warmups) with opportunities for choice and self-pacing and expression. 

Remind yourself that you are resilient. Your students are resilient. Be confident that you can be present for your students no matter what. You are creative, flexible and hungry to create a vital and very real sense of community on our stages again- in any format. ~CR

Cindy Ripley

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