Thursday, November 14, 2013

Getting Norristown Youth Into The Arts

Tomorrow night from 7 to 8:30, the ACPPA Community Arts Center (a non-profit arts school in Grace Lutheran's building at 506 Haws Ave.) is hosting a Student Works Exhibition and Performance. Money raised will go back into their programs. If your children or grandkids AREN'T involved in the arts, this is a good chance to go see what's available for them.

Now before you scoff and say "My kids don't need to do that stuff," let me tell you why they do.

MUSIC: Children who take music lessons get consistently higher grades in math and science than kids who don't, and those in band and choir do better in teamwork exercises. I just read a study yesterday that said if kids are encouraged to start singing at a young age, especially those who sing in groups, they'll be able to carry a tune the rest of their lives, even if they stop singing in a group. Isn't it worth it to have Happy Birthday sung to you in tune every year? And to be proud on Karaoke nights?  Even if kids don't have formal lessons, they can benefit from singing with others, so if your church has a youth choir, encourage your children to join.

VISUAL ARTS and DESIGN: A kid made to feel comfortable with a paintbrush in his hand can be a very useful person to have around a house. Seriously, I wished I'd learned more about art when I was young. My oldest brother was an art major. He took a rundown 1950s rancher and turned the inside into a Victorian cottage. Outside he doesn't have a boring lawn. He's landscaped both yards to look like a cross between a nature preserve and a country garden. Meanwhile, I keep thinking I need to something with my front porch but I don't have the confidence to even get started. Think how amazing Norristown could look if we all just had vision and the confidence to make it happen. So train your children in visual arts and they'll apply their creativity to making their surroundings look good the rest of their lives. Not to mention, crafts are great stress reducers.

DANCE: Dance has a natural link to athletics. Teach a kid grace and coordination when they're young and, if they're inclined to play sports in high school, the skills will translate. Adolescence won't feel so awkward. ACPPA will be performing a sneak peek of their Nutcracker ballet tomorrow night. (The performance will be on Dec 20th and 21st.)

THEATER: All teens are drama queens and kings, right? With a little training and experience, why not make those outbursts worthy of a Tony award? Okay, I'm kidding, but I've worked in student and amateur theater since I was in 9th grade, and I think it's an experience all kids ought to have. I was ridiculously shy in elementary school. Now I have to get up in front of people and do presentations and workshops. I learned to do that on stage. The theater is like a crash course in all the other arts. It teaches a kid teamwork, socialization, and creative problem-solving.

ACPPA doesn't do plays and musicals, but Theater Horizon and Centre Theater both have student programs. The Centre will be auditioning for its student production of THE WIZ on Saturday Nov. 23 from noon to 4 pm and on Sunday, Nov 24 from 3 to 5. You can schedule an audition by e-mailing or call 610-608-6514. Bring a photo and sheet music for the accompanist. Rehearsals will run through December and January, and the 6 performances will be late January, early February.

For the other arts, ACPPA has dirt cheap prices for instruction, averaging about 8 bucks a hour (most music lessons these days are $25 and up for a half hour). They offer drawing, painting, cartooning, fashion design, pottery and clay sculture, ballet, jazz dance, hip hop dance, music, singing, guitar and piano.

So go tomorrow night and check them out. And encourage your kids and grandkids to get involved in the arts wherever they can.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be off early to teach 4th graders the art of mystery writing, so there may or may not be a diary entry later in the day.

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