Archives for category: Education

Give Up

Just read a great post about Lyrical Learning and Why We Learn Habits Wrong.

As a singer and music teacher the comparison is spot on! I will be mindful of this when I am both learning a piece myself and teaching others – namely the kids at Little Opera. But more importantly, I will be sure to apply this process to every day life.



Photo curtesy of Luxirare.

“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away … Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.’” Hugh MacLeod

I haven’t been in kindergarten for nearly 30 years, but I challenge anyone to take my crayons away from me and live to tell the tale. In the past few months, I have rediscovered just how important they are, and I wouldn’t want to lose them again.

Up until 2009, I was training to be an opera singer in London, and as such, was actively engaged in workshops, classes, and productions, exploring the multi-disciplinary art forms that combine to make opera. Creative outlets were in abundance, and my artistic life was rich and full.

Still in the arts, but a new career focus

Guided by an unwavering belief that the arts play an important role in a child’s education, my singing career took a back seat, and my focus shifted – I set my sights on a future in the field of arts education, and moved to New York to work at the Metropolitan Opera Guild as a trainee arts education administrator. While there, my brain literally doubled in size, and I was involved in some of the most interesting projects and conversations imaginable.  I could not have asked for a better introduction to the field.  (Thank you MOG!).

While I am still dedicated to providing creative opportunities for children, particularly those who might otherwise not have access to the arts, through my work as an arts education professional, I have recently been reflecting deeply on the absence of creation in my own daily routine.  It’s been almost 5 years since I stepped away from the classical music world with aspirations of making my living as an opera singer, and I have begun to feel the void more acutely each day.

Enter the wonderful man in my life, and two inspiring friends! Not only have they, and are they actively engaged in daily creation, but it is clear that creation is a core life value, the absence of which is non-negotiable.

Reunited with the Creative Bug!

I now live in San Francisco, and am surrounded by people creating for fun! It’s incredible.

The original home of the Burning Man Festival, the city of San Francisco and the people I have met here are a continual source of inspiration and encouragement.  The can do, anything goes attitude is infectious, and it has driven me to explore creative possibilities that I might otherwise have shied away from.  Just a few weeks ago, my boyfriend bought some giant paper, pulled out the acrylics that he hadn’t used in years, popped on some tunes, and we just painted. It felt good to create without guidelines, limitations, or a deadline. Result: A fun afternoon in the garden and a cool painting.

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The joy I got from this experience was incredible, and it took me back to a few years prior when I would come home from work, set up the sewing machine on the kitchen table and happily make weird and wonderful costumes. I am clearly happiest when I am creating, so why have I not been doing it on a more regular basis? I have always thought creatively about my work as an arts educator, and am inspired by innovative, forward thinking ideas in the worlds of arts education, education, fundraising, etc.  I actively apply my creative brain to my 9-5 job, but have not been carving out time for myself and my personal artistic needs.

We have the Holstee Manifesto poster on the bathroom wall at home that bares the quote, “Life is about the people you meet and what you create together.” I’ve been staring at it for over a year, and while it has always resonated with me, it is only now that I have decided that creativity and creative outlets are also non-negotiable entities for me.

Not sure how I survived this long without them, but now is the time to find them again.

I believe that making time for my own creativity can only feed my work as an arts education professional, writer, and musician, and I am looking forward to having some fun!!! 

What will you create next? 

To bring us nicely back to the quote at the start of this post, watch this awesomely illustrated Youtube of Sir Ken Robinson talking about Changing Education Paradigms. 

I’ve been researching and digesting a ton of visual data recently, and have come to the conclusion that this is most definitely the way forward – for me at least.

My quest started with an article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy by Nicole Wallace: How visualizing data helps nonprofits get attention.

This was not the first time I had seen organizations use visuals to help explain their work, but was perhaps the first time I could see how it would be of benefit to the work I was doing.

From here I embarked on a visual data scavenger hunt researching how other nonprofits were using visuals to report, explain and share their work.  There is a lot of very thoughtful work out there!

826 Valencia’s 2010-2011 Annual Report was by far the most inspirational though! See for yourself 826 

Big Thought, The Wallace Foundation, and WolfBrown have launched a new initiative called Creating Quality.  My reaction after a quick read and click about is, WOW!

Creating Quality is a hands-on, participatory resource for teachers, community educators, artists, principals, researchers, nonprofit and civic leaders, policymakers, and others to learn about, collaborate on, and share strategies for ensuring that our children receive the best possible education.