Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Elementary Arts Education

Originally posted on March 27, 2015

So much of arts education seems to be targeted at an audience as an act of impressing people: See how good I am. Okay, there’s a place for that. But what occurs to me is that doing expressive arts may involve several levels of competence and talent, and only the upper levels—the ones requiring talent as well as a lot of practice—get close. Instead, I’m aiming at what most people need to learn about multi-modal self-expression.

People need more than a slight exposure to how the art modalities expand the soul. Most people are less talented, less trained, and not particularly willing to put in the intensive and extensive time and effort to get trained. Still, some exposure to the arts may be optimal. That is to say, how and why does acting, body-gesture, position, look, facial grimace, smiling, etc. really make a difference? And how else can we best introduce the essence of music, dance, and other arts with no thought of producing fine products, but rather to allow everyone to get a taste of what these channels of self-expression are about?

With the aim of broadening nonverbal vocabulary and life experience, many art forms may be taught at an elementary level. For drama, for example, the key I think is just being able to enunciate and project. Most people—even many arts therapists—don’t have this skill.

I envision a class aimed at broadening the role repertoire: For example, a class session on postures, stances, and gestures. What words, sounds, roles, go with each stance or movement? A class on different types of poetry, and finding the mood that goes with reading different verse forms or enjoying a curious rhyme.

Teaching a wider range of roles could be a core theme: King or slave, seducer or matter-of-fact nothing sexual about it, etc. Then add variations.

Adding musical accompaniment would be fun. What kinds of music go with which role? What rhythms. What actions or words by others in the scene? “Your majesty,” and bowing—many folks have never ever related properly to a king! It could be mind-expanding.

Perhaps at the end a little exercise in converting experience into words, right brain into left brain.

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