ABS Thursday Notes- January 10, 2019

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                          January 10, 2019 www.artsbasedschool.com       How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.” – Voltaire   Tomorrow is one of my favorite days at school, when sixty Kindergarten students whirl, leap, howl and paw the air, together with over a dozen lithe, powerful UNCSA modern dance majors, preparing for their 10th annual collaboration. Ms. Hollis and I always tiptoe down the hallway and peek in as the little faces look up, up, up in wonder and behold those magnificent “big dancers” right in the studio with them. One year, a Kindergartner stopped in her tracks as she entered the space to see those big dancers, then turned to me and gasped “Mrs. Siebert, there are HIGH SCHOOL KIDS in here!” The big dancers just join into regular dance class with the little dancers, as natural as you please. Ms. Adams introduces them, then turns on the music and begins a warm-up. “Find a place in the room where you know you will be noticed because there is lots of space around you! Keep your feet rooted to the floor and see how many ways you can move your arms. Freeze in a high statue when I hit the drum (bang!) Now move your arms again. And freeze in a low statue. (bang!)” The little dancers are used to this, but when they see that the big dancers are doing it exactly as they do it, they’re filled with wonder. And of course, both big and little dancers are inspired by the improvisatory ideas of the other. Before long, they are spinning and flying and tumbling through the space together as though they are family, free of self-consciousness, just brothers and sisters in the dance.   Each year the tiny and great dancers partner to perform Serge Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” for classmates and parents, beginning with these joint dance classes taught by ABS dance teacher Jan Adams. Ms. Adams, a NC State Charter School Teacher of the Year, also taught pre-ballet classes at UNCSA for over twenty years.   The young students and their teachers use Prokofiev’s beloved musical tale in the classroom, and in music, art, and dance classes to study story structure and sequence, character and setting, vocabulary, instrument families, acting, movement, scientific studies of animals, and Russian culture. They compare the stereotypically evil wolves in children’s literature with real wolves, discovering that the shy creatures are family...

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ABS Thursday Notes- January 3, 2019

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                           January 3, 2019 www.artsbasedschool.com   How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “What researchers are beginning to discover is that singing…both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.” – Stacy Horne, Time Magazine, 2013   Last spring, my teen daughter and I hulled the gallons of fragrant strawberries we’d picked together. She set herself up with Bluetooth headphones and a movie on her computer, to make the task fly by. I thought about the days of prepping fresh produce with my mom when we sang together in harmony. My immediate family sings non-stop, (including plenty of harmony with my daughter,) so I didn’t protest the high-tech diversion this time. I was just happy to have the help. But I did feel a pang of nostalgia. My mother no longer recognized me then, but she remembered all of those songs to her very last days. When we consider progress in terms of technology, most of us think immediately of computers, smart phones, GPS, social media, and the quicksilver innovations of the Age of Information. But for young students, we push much further back. They study technology that transformed stone and clay into shaped tools in the ancient world. Spinning, weaving, agriculture, telescopes, weaponry, the printing press, medical research, all of this is innovation and technology that transformed us. There is also the life-changing technology of radio. Before radio, Americans shared folk songs by gathering on the front porch with instruments, voices, and a heart full of songs and stories. Every story changed as it passed from one storyteller to the next. Every singer sang a distinctly unique version of each song. Well before current research proved the physiological and psychological benefits of singing together, folks were reaping those benefits. The delights of shared singing faded from our culture when radio brought us recordings by master performers. We thrilled to those sounds and quickly began to view the popular versions as the “only” versions. There is a bittersweet side to much of this progress. Just as we lost flavor, nutrition, and the joy of harvest when we moved away from locally grown foods to industrially produced groceries, we lost variety and health benefits when we stopped singing together and allowed the radio to sing for us. In the spirit of the front porch, ABS students sing together. We sing in the classroom. We sing in the music room. We sing in theatrical productions. We memorize facts by singing, and at K-4 we gather together once every month, raising our 300+ voices in unique ABS arrangements of songs...

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ABS Thursday Notes- December 20, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                         December 20, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com     Winter Break- No School  Dec 20-Jan 1   How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   “In difficult times, carry something beautiful in your heart.” – Pascal   When I was a teen, I attended an annual summer camp in the high, wild mountains of my native Montana. One night, our group sat gazing at the vivid stars of the high country while listening to a counselor, who stood looking up, the campfire flickering over his neck and jaw as he spoke. Suddenly, directly behind him, the moon appeared as a teeny wink at the tip of a sharp mountain peak, illuminating the July snow cap. The speaker stopped, and we watched silently. With a strangely fluid pace, the wink became a slice, the slice became a beacon, and the moon appeared to glide faster and faster upward, until it slipped above the rocky spires and floated freely into the sky, flooding us with silver. We all burst into cheers and applause.   In the decades since that moment, through dangers, losses, challenges and triumphs, I have relived memory of that excruciating beauty; a lightsaber of healing balm. When the video of 9/11 was played over and over on television in 2001, I wondered what talismans of goodness our children could recall, to balance those horrific images, to give them courage, to revive the joy of being alive and present. It is necessary sustenance for the journey. Did they each have a moonrise moment?   The poet and philosopher John O’Donahue described a crisis of interiority in modern life, where time is a bully, who can press us through days without a moment of simply being with ourselves. He urged people to study “the art of inwardness.” In conversation with journalist Krista Tippett, O’Donahue said: “I find the aesthetic things like poetry, fiction, good film, theater, drama, dance and music actually awaken that, and remind you that there is a huge interiority within you.” He went on to describe a concert in New York where audience was “swept of their feet by just beauty.”   In some traditions, now is a time to consider gift giving, and what is truly of value. I believe that our school strives to give children the gift of interior light. We want to see them succeed in every way. The tests, certainly. Friendships, absolutely. Academic accomplishments, of course. But we want to give them something of a secret weapon: access to beauty.   How do we define that? How do we know when we have arrived? We don’t. We can only open doors outwardly, open windows inwardly,...

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ABS Thursday Notes-December 6, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                          December 6, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com   How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert   Wake up, Jacob, Day’s a-breakin’! Peas in the pot and the hoecake’s bakin’. Early in the morning, almost day; If you don’t come soon…gonna throw it all away.” -Cook’s Wake-Up (Traditional American)   Fifth graders lie on the ground, eyes closed, imagining a time when only the sounds of nature and the occasional snoring comrade were heard at night. Suddenly, their repose is shattered by the banging of spoon on frying pan, and the “Cook’s Wake-Up”, and with a big “yahoo!” we’re off on another day of the “Cowboys” unit that kicks off our Romeo and Juliet on the Border project. The unit is built around historic folk songs, works of art, and frontier history of the cattle drive era of the American “Wild West”, dating from the end of the 19th century. Students learn about the direct connection from the Civil War to the cattle drives and the industry’s role in Reconstruction. They explore cultural changes taking place in the west during that time, how economic factors pushed the cattle onto the prairies, and how technology and over-grazing brought an end to the iconic era. Daily “rodeos” help students maintain learning about a diverse group of topics including the prairie biome and its creatures, star constellations, African American cowboys and women, influence of Mexican culture, the railroads, supply and demand, transportation, and social customs. We focus on these questions: – How do social factors impact economic ones? – How do folk songs and visual art serve as primary sources to teach us history? – Who were the cowboys and cowgirls of the American Wild West? Meanwhile, 5th graders are learning historic American cowboy and Northern Mexican folk songs for the show. They are learning about Shakespeare, and the plot of this important story that draws them directly into conversation about fear of the “other” and how negative stereotyping repeats itself in human history. Audition techniques, (which translate directly into job interview skills,) the social and dance skills they learned during “Dancing Classrooms,” years of singing together, and their understanding of the content will draw them together into one 60-kid storytelling troupe. When theater and history converge, we’ll have us a wing-ding!   Annual Giving We are truly grateful to everyone who has donated to our Annual Giving campaign so far! Thank you! Total School Participation to Date: 19% Total Gifts to Date: $30,862 This year, as in past years, we are hoping to achieve 100% participation. Family participation in Annual Giving at The...

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ABS Thursday Notes- November 29, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                   November 29, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com       How We Do It and Why By Mary Siebert “A Well-Tempered Mind demonstrates that by working together, we can make a difference in our children’s lives and replace cultural bankruptcy with a full pocket of good music.  Lord knows we need it.”—Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center “This book should persuade parents and administrators to give education in music its deserved high priority in the schools under their care.” —Walter J. Freeman, M.D., professor of Neuroscience and Molecular & Cellular Biology, UC Berkeley   Five adult musicians perch on teensy first grade chairs, gleaming instruments at their lips. A crisscross-legged group of first-graders gathers curiously on the carpet.  There is a nod, a collective deep breath, a glorious burst of music. Little eyes grow wide and round, little mouths drop open. Wiggles become statues, leaning forward. One little girl turns to stare at me, flushed with delight, as if to say “Can you believe this miracle?” then she quickly turns back. When the music stops, the children sit in bewildered, delighted silence for a moment. The classroom teacher begins the applause, children join in. The smiling musicians introduce themselves and their instruments, and ask the children for comparisons. “What is the same about these instruments? What is different? Which one plays the lowest?” (Demonstrations follow.) The children learn that small instruments play higher than large instruments, just as little dogs have high barks and big dogs have low barks. It is the first day of the “Music, Mind and Learning Quintet” in the 1st Grade. The Quintet has worked with ABS students every year, since we opened our doors in 2002. They will visit first grade classrooms eight times before winter break, linking their performances with the first grade academic curriculum. The work of this distinguished group of professional musicians is chronicled in A Well-Tempered Mind, a book (available on-line on Amazon and from the University of Chicago Press,) by Peter Perret. Maestro Perret is Conductor Emeritus of the Winston-Salem Symphony, former ABS band director, and one of the founders of our school. He was inspired to create the “Bolton Quintet” after reading of experiments in neuroscience which produced evidence that active listening to music helps develop cognitive abilities in children. With five instrumentalists from the W-S Symphony, he designed a cleverly crafted curriculum that links with reading, comprehension, story structure, science, and math. Mr. Perret worked with Dr. Frank Wood, professor of Neuropsychology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, to develop and test the Quintet program. ABS...

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ABS Thursday Notes- November 15, 2018

Thursday Notes                            Published for the Arts Based School Community                                  November 15, 2018 www.artsbasedschool.com     November 16- Early Dismissal                         K-4 Dismiss at 11:45                         5-8 Dismiss at 12 noon Nov 19-23  No School Thanksgiving Break   Dear ABS Parents and Families, As the leaves change and the air grows crisp, we find ourselves in the middle of fall and in the season of giving. What makes this season a favorite of many is that it’s a time when we all are joyful with our hearts more open and grateful for all the good we see around us. Among the good we see around us is our school, and we are so grateful that we are part of the Arts Based School community. ABS is a remarkable place where our students feel secure and supported in an environment that fosters creativity and exposes them to the arts in a way that builds a true love learning. Through drama, dance, visual arts, and music, our students are able to learn in an innovative way, which compliments a strong core curriculum. ABS provides a learning opportunity that invigorates students, and they simply love coming to this school. Last spring, we asked you to feel “lucky to learn at ABS” and you stepped up in a major way. Your support led to the most successful annual giving campaign ever at ABS. You understood the importance of the campaign, you gave what you could, and you made all the difference. Now, we are asking you again to please support our school… your school. We are asking you to be grateful for all that ABS means to your student and your family. When applying for grants and seeking community support, it is vital to first show that we support our own school. Imagine what we could accomplish as a school if we had 100% participation from our ABS families in the annual giving campaign. Imagine what it could mean for your student and those students yet to come. Imagine all that the Arts Based School could be with that kind of support. During this season of giving, let’s come together to give to our school and make that dream a reality.   Thank you for your support, Brandi Cleveland Annual Giving Co-Chair Parent of ABS third grader Jennifer Bender Annual Giving Co-Chair Parent of ABS kindergartener and second grader   Annual Giving! We are one week in to this year’s Annual Giving campaign, and we are so grateful to everyone who has already made a gift to the school. Thank you! We truly do need help from each...

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