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4 B A C K T O S C H O O L , M U S I C & D A N C E … A N D M O R E ! - S U P P L E M E N T T O T H E W I N N I P E G F R E E P R E S S - T H U R S D A Y, A U G U S T 9 , 2 0 1 8 THE SCHOOL OF CONTEMPORARY DANCERS CO-DIRECTORS: ODETTE HEYN C.M. & FAYE THOMSON C.M. • Nationally renowned Professional Program affiliated with the University of Winnipeg B.A. (Honours) degree available • Vibrant intensive Junior Professional Program with performance opportunities • Exciting General Program for all ages and levels: Contemporary, Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Creative Movement, Contemporary African, Breakin' for Boys PHONE: 204-452-1239 WEB: EMAIL: ADDRESS: 104-211 Bannatyne Ave - Winnipeg, MB - R3B 3P2 Photo: Rod Braun Choreography: Kathleen Hiley By Jennifer McFee | Winnipeg Free Press When it comes to activities for kids, musical theatre remains a real showstopper. By shining a spotlight on kids' creativity, musical theatre can set the scene for a bright future. The Community School of Music and the Arts through the Canadian Mennonite University offers a couple options to get kids involved in classes that run from September to the spring. The Musical Theatre Adventures class is geared for kids in grades 4 to 8, while the Musical Theatre Expressions class is suited for those in grades 5 to 9. "For the younger class, the focus is more on teamwork and ensemble singing. They might still get some solo opportunities but they might not be so extensive," says program assistant Judith Oatway. "Then in the Expressions class, kids can decide if they want to take on more opportunity for solos. Anyone is accepted as long as they are within that age category. They learn parts all together, and after a few weeks the teacher picks roles for them. It's all decided within the class, so they don't audition for roles." Guided by instructor Maria Cesario, the students will stage a full production at the end of the session, with Honk! and Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka in the line-up for the upcoming year. "They get the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of the production. They create their own costumes, and the set is all up to them as well," Oatway says. "The teacher helps guide them to figure out what would work and what they're going to need. They get to be a part of all those decisions, which I think is a really fun way to put their imagination to work." Through this experience, the kids build both confidence and camaraderie. "They're putting their time and energy towards something together, so hopefully they feel really proud of what they end up accomplishing in the class," says Oatway. "If they have a goal of doing a larger production with a more established company or in the Fringe someday, we hope this will give them some of the tools that will help them feel comfortable with that as well." Opportunities for young performers also exist through Junior Musical Theatre Company, a pre- professional company for students in grades 2 to 12. "Our focus is skill-based learning with the sole purpose of getting towards two shows. We have a medium-scale show in December and then a full- scale performance in June," says director and owner Katie German. "They learn all the basics of singing, dancing and acting. Our hope is that we're creating wonderful people in the artistic community and hopefully they would be able to make it onto the stage in the future." Musical theatre develops valuable life skills, she adds, even for those who don't continue to pursue their passion on stage. "It's great for public speaking. We see a lot of kids come in who aren't necessarily confident standing in front of each other. Hopefully by the end of the year, they're able to stand up in front of a group of people and use their voice," German says. "They learn to challenge things and create ideas. We're teaching future leaders. These kids are the ones that are going to be ruling the world in the next years." Auditions take place over the summer, but new applications are always accepted. "We get to hand-pick the students to fit into this community, so we look for kids that will be open to working with younger students as well as older students. They all train together. It's more of a team focus and a group mentality," German says. "It's a really great group of caring, kind and helpful kids. They all take care of each other and help each other rise to the level that we hope for. We have high levels of expectations and we also have a lot of fun." ❚ Children is another key program that has catered to young learners for nearly four decades. "We are an international method and we start children as young as three years old on the piano in a group situation with a maximum of six children in a class. A parent or guardian attends the class with the child, especially in the early ages. Parent participation becomes a little bit more optional as they move through our program," says president and international director Olivia Riddell, whose mother wrote the pedagogical method in 1980. "Music for Young Children is a progressive curriculum, so each year it builds on the knowledge the children have had from the previous session." Each level is 36 weeks long, generally coinciding with the school year from September to June. It takes about five years to complete all levels of the program. "Our ultimate goal is to ensure that we have wonderful, creative musicians. They not only learn how to play the piano and develop their ear, but they also learn how to read music — even from a very early age," Riddell says. "Our pedagogical method is based on introducing all the concepts through the four learning styles — auditory, visual, tactile and analytical — to ensure that each child has the highest level of success possible. Each of the concepts is reinforced and introduced with these four learning styles." The final level of the program incorporates Royal Conservatory of Music books to prepare students for their first theory exam. "We are the only early childhood music education method that integrates and utilizes the Conservatory books within our method as an ultimate goal," Riddell says. "When they graduate out of our program, they can either stay with piano or they could go to guitar or violin or another instrument because they have a really solid foundation of music knowledge." Approximately 40 instructors teach Music for Young Children in Manitoba and nearly 2,000 students participated in the program across the province last year. "It engages the same area of your brain that you use when you're learning a language because music is a language. It really benefits the children in that they're learning how to read from left to right very early. It also helps their attention and focus," Riddell says. "It's a great way for children to have special time with their mom or dad or whoever brings them to music class because it's dedicated time for that child. It creates a unique bond and builds social skills in the children. It truly is amazing how much they learn and grow." ❚ << Continued from Page 3 Musical theatre programs inspire kids to share their artistic flair. PHOTOS BY KIRA GREGORY AND THE COMMUNITY SCHOOL OF MUSIC & THE ARTS (TOP RIGHT) A five-year-old musician enjoys playing the glockenspiel during a music class at Kindermusik Discovery. PHOTO COURTESY OF KINDERMUSIK DISCOVERY The Music for Young Children program offers interactive lessons in a small group setting. PHOTO COURTESY OF MUSIC FOR YOUNG CHILDREN "Our hope is that we're creating wonderful people in the artistic community and hopefully they would be able to make it onto the stage in the future."

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