Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Exciting new Opera-tunity for Schools

Julie House at the 2009 Open House
A guest post written by BLO's Education & Community Programs Manager Julie House. 

Thinking back, I bet you can remember several field trips you took in school and what field trip days were like. You probably couldn't fall asleep the night before because you were too excited, and you may have had a special outfit to wear for the occasion. Field trips were a formative part of our school days because they let us break our routines and do something fun and creative. We were interacting with the “real world” and not just reading about it from our desks.

Sadly, the days of field trips are few and far between for many schools today. How could this tremendous rite of passage be allowed to slip away? Well for starters, gassing up a school bus is really dang expensive. Given the option of spending money on gas or something else, most schools pick something else. (Who likes paying for gas? Certainly not me.) Second, school days just aren’t long enough for teachers to accomplish everything they need to like the good ol’ “3 R’s” and the new focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). It’s no small feat to get kids ready to be tested in these areas when you only have September-June to do it. The result? Fewer field trips. Oh, and less art altogether, but that’s a post for another day.

If you’re me, you’re looking at this scenario and saying to yourself, “What can I do to help teachers provide some special days for their students where they break routines and do something creative?” The answer? Music! Words! Opera! No, that’s not three answers, it’s the name of the new curriculum BLO is providing to schools that takes opera right into the classroom. No gas to pay for. No time lost driving back and forth. Opera right in front of your desk!

Here’s how it works: any teacher who wants to can come to a FREE five-day workshop August 8-12 at BLO to learn about opera through the Music! Words! Opera! curriculum. We will be focusing on The Barber of Seville since it is part of BLO’s upcoming season. Then, teachers will work on creating an original opera piece with their students! When the school year starts up teachers can apply what they learned in the workshop to leading their students step-by-step through the lessons until they have a piece ready to perform!

BLO will be involved all along the way: Obviously, questions come up and the Education Department is there to help. Teachers can also request classroom visits by a singer, director, and designer and help from a real composer. Students will also be invited to attend a working rehearsal of The Barber of Seville — I refuse to give up on field trips! Finally, each classroom to create its own opera will be invited to a festival day where they will perform for one another. The goal is to get kids involved in making art and gather up all the intrinsic benefits of doing so along the way.

If you’d like more information on Music! Words! Opera! or anything else going on in BLO’s Education Department, call Julie House at 617.542.4912 x242 or email

-- Julie House, Education & Community Programs Manager

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