Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Get 'em While They're Young

My four-year-old daughter, Evie Rose, watched the musical film Meet Me in St. Louis with me for the first time Christmas week. She has a passion for classic musicals, especially the old black and white ones and anything with Fred Astaire. The numbers she danced and sang to from this one: "Meet Me in St. Louis" and "Under the Bamboo Tree," the latter of which is posted below.

I can't tell you how many times we sang the lines 'We'll dance the Hoochee Koochee, I'll be your tootsie wootsie' from the title song in the days that followed. It's a catchy tune, and little ones intuitively know a good song when they hear and feel it. And because this feel for rhythm and melody comes so naturally when they're little, I think it wise to introduce children to music, musical theatre and dramatic expression when they're young. Exposure to the arts opens the curtains wider to the grand stage of their imagination as well as ontology, and as such allows them to see and make fluid connections between thought, feeling, creativity and self expression that accentuate the contextual narrative embedded within all life.


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Watching the opera Dr. Atomic -- live from the Met -- televised on our local PBS station this Sunday, Evie Rose exclaimed, "It's a chapel!" How insightful, I think, and accurate in many ways. Children are open to seeing; they don't edit.

Here is the trailer for John Adams's Dr. Atomic. I find the opera nothing short of profound. It is a stunningly beautiful masterpiece, rich in symbolism and complex, interwoven, layers of meaning that chill to the bone.

Learn More: John Adams - Dr. Atomic

4 comments:

Andy JC of OZ said...

When I was a kid my mum encouraged us to enjoy musicals and Im so glad she did, my first record was Peter and the wolf,
also we had the Nutcracker suite,

I think that you are one awsome mum 'TB' and your beautifull little daugter, and 'K' are Genuininly lucky kids...

'we'll dance the Hoochee Koochee, I'll be your tootsie wootsie' ?
my heart flutters when I picture you and your little daughter playing with this, how wonderful...

happy new year!

ross b said...

Evie Rose is a lucky girl to have you as a mum. You are so right when you say "Exposure to the arts opens the curtains wider to the grand stage of their imagination as well as ontology, and as such allows them to see and make fluid connections between thought, feeling, creativity and self expression that accentuate the contextual narrative embedded within all life." - this is a terrific explanation.

If I have a child I'd be doing the same thing as you. Perhaps this interchange of music, theatre and expression between parent and child is one of the more rewarding aspects of parenting? I've yet to find out...but that's precisely the sort of thing I'm into!

.....as I write this and read your blog I must say I feel sad that I didn't experience this sort of thing growing up but I'm not unhappy...just a passing wisp of melancholy. I really wish to make it up with my progeny, if there are to be any.

Kindest regards, Ross

A.M. said...

"as I write this and read your blog I must say I feel sad that I didn't experience this sort of thing growing up but I'm not unhappy..."

I was reminiscing earlier, thinking of how my son's favorite music at age 8 was classical music! We always listened to it as we homeschooled. It's far from his favorite now, though. And that's okay--it's part of the natural progression.

Thinking on that, I realized how little to no classical music was played in my house. The first time I saw anything remotely artistic, or cultured, was while convalescing at the age of 6: my mother brought the tv into my room and I watched a ballet. Thanks to PBS who broadcasted it, for the first time in my life I realized I had options, that the world was bigger than what I'd been given. It changed my life; it validated my sensibility and sensitivity and vision. I still felt alone, but not entirely, and that was a blessing.

smoore said...

ah, if only you'd been my mother, AM- I love what you have to say regarding exposing young children to art and 'the arts', how it 'opens the curtain wider' for their burgeoning minds. Bravo, Mama!