April is Autism Awareness Month. Youth in Arts is the only arts education provider to special day and severely handicapped classrooms in Marin. We also provide arts programming at Oak Hill School which is focused on students with autism from 5-22 years old.
Check out this CD C’mon Everybody! which was produced with support from FirstFive Marin as part of a special workshop for families with children on the autistic spectrum.
C’mon Everybody! features original music composed by Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Miguel Martinez and featuring performances by additional YIA Mentor Artists Nydia Gonzalez and Hannah Dworkin. Songs encouraging response to direction, social behavior and language acquisition. It is fun and accessible for developmentally typical PreK children, as well as children with cognitive or developmental delays.
Thank you to the Buck Family Fund of the MCF for supporting our programs reaching children of all abilities.
On June 12, an enthusiastic crowd celebrated the series of murals going up throughout downtown San Rafael as part of the Creative San Rafael project. The C Street garage was unveiled with a series of 12 murals entitled, “Travel the World with Youth in Arts” illustrating explorer and photographer Louise Arner Boyd’s observation, “You’re an explorer even when you are at home.” The murals were created by 700 children at the Marin County Fair. Additional murals will continue to go up all throughout downtown San Rafael and will be announced on the Creative San Rafael website and facebook.
The mission to beautify Downtown San Rafael is part of a collaboration involving local government, businesses and nonprofits. Youth in Arts has brought PreK-high school creators to the project, while Dominican College has showcased work from college students with members of the Downtown Street Team. ArtWorks Downtown has featured professional artists Lauren Bartone and Ernesto Hernandez Olmos.
The crowded event was highlighted by performances from Youth in Arts teen companies including`Til Dawn a capella and an ensemble performance of C Street Project’s spoken word poem “Today’s Tomorrow.” The poem and accompanying murals were inspired by Isabelle Allende’s quote “Today’s girls are tomorrow’s women and leaders.” All original artworks created by youth are available via silent auction at the YIA Gallery through July 30.
Distinguished community leaders helped to give C Street Project’s work its first performance, including Tom Peters, President/CEO of Marin Community Foundation; San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips; District 1 Supervisor Damon Connolly; Gabriella Callicchio, Director of Cultural and Visitor Services for the Marin Center; Cecilia Zamora, President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Marin; Nikki Wood, Editor of Marin Magazine; Pepe Gonzalez, Principal Laurel Dell School; Merl Saunders, Jr., Executive Director, Fenix Entertainment; Donn K. Harris, Chairman California Arts Council; Joanne Dunn, Co-Founder of Youth in Arts, Comedian/Writer Geoff Bolt and Thomas Roedoc, Art Walk Downtown.
Youth in Arts transforms young lives. With your help we can make sure each of our young artists learn to share their vision and voice through the arts.
This program was supported by the following generous donors:
Once again our fabulous cast of Youth in Arts Mentor Artists created art, community and opportunities for students in the Bay Area. Students in 25 Special Day Classes, Pre-K to Post-Secondary, explored techniques in Visual Art, Music, Dance and Theater and shared their talents with the community through culminating events.
The Arts Unite Us program aims to make high quality arts opportunities accessible to students of all abilities and to build understanding and acceptance in our communities. This year students from Redwood High School, Harding Elementary and Mount Tamalpais High School participated in collaborative residencies in which students from Special Day Classes and General Education classes worked together to create art.
Teachers in the Special Day Classes we serve value the program and what YIA Mentor Artists bring to their classroom:
“I am always so blown away and impressed with all the skills learned by our students during the YIA sessions, but am especially impressed with the leadership skills, creative thinking, self-expression and artistic expression that our students learn. The YIA artists and lessons bring out skills in my students that I don’t always have the opportunity to bring out. Without the professional artists coming into our classes, we do not have the access to adults with these skills at our schools. Mainstream classes can be too impacted, and general education teachers are not always equipped to handle the needs of students with special needs in their classes. Having art activities that are tailored to meet our students needs enables all students to access curriculum and experiences that their general education peers receive.” SDC Teacher Rachel Hughes, Terra Linda High School
Under the guidance of YIA Mentor Artist William Rossel, students from Katie Peter’s Special Day class worked with students from the Band program and opened the music concert at Redwood High School with a percussion piece. YIA Mentor Artist Melissa Briggs worked with Tam High’s Julianna Rees to lead students from Michael Lovejoy’s Special Day Class and Advanced Theater students in writing and performing an original play. At Harding Elementary, YIA Mentor Artist Thomas Arndt lead a group of 40 students in writing, directing and performing a play that incorporated American Sign Language and featured students from Harding’s HOH (Hard of Hearing) program.
ASL Translator Paul says this about the program at Harding:
“I have truly enjoyed being a part of The Arts Unite Us program and watching HOH students as well as other students in the classroom where I work grow in confidence in their class room participation. Maya, the primary HOH student I work with rarely spoke up in class. This changed dramatically after she started participating in the program and after taking on a significant speaking part in the play. It is amazing to see how her and other students confidence begin to soar so quickly!”
Each of these experiences have left a lasting impact on the students involved. Many students from Special Day Classes and HOH programs performed in front of their peers for the first time. Many of the General Education students had their first experience interacting with their peers who have abilities that are different than their own, gaining understanding and empathy.
This is what a few General Education students had to say about that experience:
“I loved participating in this project. I thought it was a great way for me to learn about people who have different abilities. I learned that they have the ability to create great things.”
“It was really fun to meet and interact with the Special Ed class. They were so sweet and friendly. I learned that some things that are easy to me are difficult to other people.”
“I had fun! I really enjoyed spending time with the [Special Ed] kids and would do it again. I learned they often have interesting ways of thinking about things. It was interesting to hear their perspectives.”
“I learned that everyone is unique in their own way. Not everyone does the same moves or talks frequently. I feel like I’ve learned so much about interacting with other people.”
As the creator and director of the Arts Unite Us program, I am so proud of the work we have done over the years and I have witnessed first hand the impacts that this program has had on students, teachers, artists and families. This program has served as a catalyst for progress, acceptance, understanding and art making that will last a lifetime.
This year, as I step down as Program Director, I pass the torch over to my colleagues at Youth in Arts so that they may continue to promote accessible programming for everyone in our community. I would like to thank every artist, teacher, administrator and student who has participated in this program. And, thank you to those who have provided much needed funding for this program, including Thomas J Long Foundation, The Green Foundation, Marin Community Foundation, Green Foundation, Marin Charitable, and Italian Street Painting Marin.
Families from Harding Elementary School in El Cerrito joined Youth in Arts Mentor Artists in traveling the world last week! Upon arrival, our travelers received a passport to carry with them as they visited Mexico, Africa, Hawaii, and created a mural.
Outside the multipurpose room, we danced, played and sang traditional songs from various regions of Mexico with YIA Mentor Artists Nydia Gonzalez and Dolores Garcia. Travelers learned various rhythms to play on panderos (tamborines), quijadas (donkey jaws) and wooden frogs. Dancers tapped these rhythms out with their feet on tarimas (wooden platforms) and imitated various animals including colorful guacamayas (macaws), ducks, and vultures. We also learned about many of the traditional stringed instruments from Mexico including the vihuela, jarana huasteca, jarana jarocha, and guitarra de son.
Inspired by African Adinkra symbols and their meanings, YIA Mentor Artist Beth Krebs lead families in creating original prints that represent their family’s beliefs and values. Travelers also designed their own original symbols. Travelers began by quickly sketching three ideas for stamp designs. Next, they chose their favorite, drew it again on sticky-backed foam. Travelers then considered positive and negative space as they cut out their shapes, and stuck it to squares of cardboard. They used brayers to roll out their ink and spread it on their plates before then stamping their shapes on to a community wall hanging.
We also sailed to the Hawaiian islands with YIA Mentor Artist Shawna Alapa’i, swaying hips to traditional hula dances, chanting and playing instruments. Boys wore traditional kukui nut leis and everyone learned to play the ipu (gourd percussion instrument) and learn about ancient beliefs and stories of the Hawaiian people. Travelers learned traditional chants and hand gestures while dancing to the music of the ukelele.
Young artists joined YIA Mentor Artist Julia James in creating a beautiful mural of birds from around the world flying together. Students looked at birds from around the world and created paper birds using oil pastels, markers and water colors. All of the birds were added to the collaborative mural to represent the beautiful diversity of Harding Elementary.
Thank you to the Thomas J Long Foundation and the Green Foundation for their continued support and making this program possible.
This week Youth in Arts celebrated art and friendship with Kindergarten students and their families at Bahia Vista Elementary School. Optimism and friendship are two important themes in Kindergarten and YIA Mentor Artist and Program Director Suzanne Joyal lead families in an evening creating art around these topics.
We started out talking about how we can be good friends and singing a song in Spanish and American Sign Language about friendship with YIA Mentor Artist Nydia Gonzalez. Sharing, supporting, listening, respecting and playing were definitely important and students made it clear that they feel great when with a good friend!
Teacher Suzanne then lead everyone in creating a beautiful Tree of Hopes, adorned with drawings depicting everyone’s hopes and dreams for the future.
For the past few months YIA Mentor Artist and Program Director Suzanne Joyal has been teaching all 7 Kindergarten classes a visual arts curriculum geared around the themes of friendship in honor of the life of Walker Rezaian.
Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Pauley reflected on the past few months, “This program has helped each of my students learn a new way to express themselves, build self-confidence and discover the amazing artist within them. We feel so thankful to have gotten this experience and are happy for the next bunch of kids that get to work with you.”
Youth in Arts Executive Director Miko Lee has announced that applications are open for the 2015-16 Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Kindergarten Arts Program. “We are thrilled to continue this program next year.” said Lee. “We look forward to sharing the experience with another low income school in memory of Walker. We have had a wonderful partnership with Walker’s family in creating this program and providing life long learning tools for so many children in our area.”
Interested Title I schools in Marin County should apply by May 18. Apply here.
The Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Fund is a project of the Walker Rezaian Memorial Fund. Youth in Arts is a nonprofit established in 1970. The leading arts education nonprofit in the North Bay, Youth in Arts offers students experiences and instruction in the visual and performing arts, and enriches the community with cultural events.
Spring is bouncing into summer and hundreds of young artists around the North Bay are finishing class projects and creating exhibits, performances and other artful events for family and friends with Youth in Arts.
Recent posts have highlighted Spring projects by K-Dub Williams’ students at Marina Middle School and Angela Baker’s students at Harding Elementary, in addition to the amazing work created by Suzanne Joyal’s kindergarteners at Loma Verde as part of the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts program. Youth in Arts also produced a special “Passport Art Event” at Harding, and Nydia Gonzalez and Shawna Alapa’i concluding performing arts residencies at Ocean View Elementary in Albany and Sonoma Mountain Elementary.
In late May, Arts Unite Us “collaborative residency” projects at Harding and at Tam High School in Mill Valley wrapped up with terrific performances by all the students. Collaborative residencies bring together special education and general education students for shared arts experiences. At Harding, students wrote, directed and performed an original play “Lydia and the Land of Gee-Jo” around themes of Pollution, Bullying, Self Acceptance, New Beauty Standards and Taking Care of Each Other. At Tam High , the original pilot site for the collaborative residency program, students from the Special Day Class and advanced Conservatory Theatre Ensemble worked with Mentor Artists Suraya Keating and Melissa Briggs to write and perform their original play, “By my Side,” which opened the school’s popular One Acts Festival.
Tommy Shepherd’s students at Wade Thomas put an exclamation mark on their rap and beatboxing residency with a performance of their original rap for their peers at school, and Kaitlin McGaw’s kindergarteners at Bahia Vista will soon perform a vocal music and hip hop show for their fourth grade buddies.
At Laurel Dell in San Rafael, Djenane Saint-Juste has been teaching students Caribbean dance around the theme of Kanaval (Carnivale), using costume pieces the students created this Fall with visual artist Gabby Gamboa. The students will perform in a grand parade with family and friends at the school’s big Fiesta del Sol event this weekend. And at Mary Silveira, Mentor Artist Julia James finished a successful year with a big art show featuring work by all her K-4 students in the program.
Youth in Arts award-winning `Til Dawn a cappella ensemble performed their annual Spring Concert at San
Domenico Hall of the Arts this past weekend–a big congratulations to all the performers for a wonderful show and a special shout out to our graduating seniors. We will miss you!
Also at San Domenico, Youth in Arts workshopped a new performance of “Goodnight Gorilla” on May 23 with music by Dee Spencer performed by a terrific band of Bay Area music educators and musicians who are working with us to develop the work into an educational performance piece for youth jazz bands.
You can see it’s been a very busy Spring, full of fabulous art and fabulous young artists. Watch this blog for more detailed reports on many of these projects in the weeks ahead and get ready to celebrate summer with Youth in Arts! Come see `Til Dawn at Youth in Arts night with the Pacifics, visit our Everything Under the Sun YIA Gallery exhibit, sign up for a unique summer camp program, check out the Mountain Play and benefit Youth in Arts with your ticket purchase, or join us for our gala Summer Solstice celebration at Studio 333 on June 21. We’d love to see you in person and share our work with you. Happy summer!
Over the past 4 months I had the pleasure of making music with the amazing students and teachers at Ocean View Elementary and Albany Children’s Center in the T-K, K and K-1 classrooms. I had such a wonderful time working with the students and exploring so many beautiful ways to make music together! It has been such a pleasure learning with them and I am very grateful for their ideas and enthusiasm for making music!
During our 10 weeks together we explored how to make sounds with our bodies, voices and instruments. We learned about musical elements including: tempo, volume, pitch, steady beat, rhythm and melody. We also explored important themes such as friendship and appreciating all of our differences.
We had a wonderful musical celebration and invited our families to join us with all 7 classrooms coming together for a Sing-Along. Students showcased their knowledge of pitch, volume, melody and rhythm with our “Fireworks” vocal warm up, Kodaly solfége hand signals and a selection of songs.
Students taught me over 20 ways to say hello in their home languages and we celebrated the diversity of our community by singing our hello song in many of those languages. Students also utilized their great rhyming skills to help write a song appreciating our differences. Together, classes came up with 4 verses to our song:
We are peach, and tan and brown
We were born here, and out of town
Some have black hair, some have white
Some like to read, some like to write!
Some are short and some are tall
Some like spring, and some like fall
Some are from here, some from afar
That’s OK that’s who we are!
We are different and that’s OK
Because we’re different in different ways!
As our amazing Kindergarten teachers can tell you, these types of activities are not just fun, but enrich and support the students’ development as individuals and as a group. Please advocate for continuous and sequential music and arts education for all children grades Pre-K through 3rd, as it is so beneficial to their development during this time when they are developing language, motor and social skills!
Click here to read a recent study discussing the benefits of teaching music in early elementary and links between music & language development. “When you look at children ages two to nine, one of the breakthroughs in that area is music’s benefit for language development, which is so important at that stage,” says Luehrisen.
Keep On Singing!
YIA Mentor Artist and Program Director, Nydia Algazzali Gonzalez
Kindergarteners at Ocean View Elementary are making music!
As a mother, educator, performer and Program Director at Youth in Arts, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to play with our young students in Albany. Students in every TK (Transitional Kindergarten), K and K-1 class at Ocean View (and the Albany Children’s Center) are playing, singing and dancing during our 10 week music program.
We started out exploring the many different sounds we can make with our bodies: clapping, tapping, snapping, sliding, singing, talking, etc. Students came up with their “name rhythm”, making a percussive sound for every syllable in their name and we put them together to make music! We have learned to warm up our voices with different sounds and practicing “solfége”, learning about pitch and volume. We have applied this to singing fun songs about friends, movements, emotions. I have caught more than one parent humming the tune to one of the songs we sing in class because students sing them at home too!
We definitely keep moving, dancing to the funky beat of my “cajón”, isolating body parts and moving to different types of beats. Students have learned about keeping a steady beat and playing different rhythms with their bodies and with an assortment of percussion instruments including shaker, rhythm sticks and drums.
Both of my children are students at Ocean View and one of the many beautiful attributes of our school is the wealth of diversity of our families. In honoring this, we sing our “Hello My Friend” song in as many languages as we can! Students have taught us to sing it in Hebrew, Portuguese, Mandarin, Korean, Arabic, Japanese and Spanish amongst other languages. We are also in the midst of writing a song about appreciating our differences called “We Are Different in Beautiful Ways”.
It has been such an honor to work with every teacher at Ocean View and witness how each one of them incorporates singing and movement into every school day. Our students are very happy about making music and we are eager to share our love for music with our families and friends during our culminating event in April.
In the meanwhile, keep singing!
Nydia Algazzali Gonzalez
YIA Mentor Artist & Program Director
Youth in Arts artists and staff have been at Barnes & Noble Corte Madera this week, celebrating the holiday season with storytelling and song.
This is Youth in Arts “Bookfair” week through December 8 at Barnes & Noble. Support our programs for kids with your purchases at the Corte Madera store (click here (PDF) for coupons to take to the store, or just mention “Youth in Arts” at the Corte Madera store register).
You can also order Cheesecake Factory cakes in the Corte Madera Barnes & Noble Café–as long as you order and pay now, you can pick up any time for your holiday party! Click to download cheesecake order form (PDF)
OR shop online at barnesandnoble.com from ANYWHERE through December 8 and use our Bookfair ID 11187911
Yesterday, Wednesday, Miko Lee and Nydia Gonzalez read Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm’s book “Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life” for tots and their parents in the children’s section of the store and sang songs from Youth in Arts 2012 original musical based on the book. On Saturday, Nydia was back in the shop with original cast members from the show for more singing and storytelling.
Last Art Walk Downtown Youth in Arts hosted our first Fandango Jarocho. It was fun! We had a bevy of wonderful dancers of all ages led in the traditional rhythms of son jarocho from Veracruz, Mexico. Led by Maestra Nydia Algazzali Gonzalez, a group of 30 students and adults played instruments, danced and sang verses in Spanish. The celebration was also a cross-cultural exchange as we were joined by the Haitian group Afoutayi with YIA Mentor Artists Jeff Pierre, Djenane Saint Juste and Mama Fofo.
After the community workshops, we were joined by local soneros Catherine John Hudson on violin and Joel Ramirez on the Jarana and Guitarra de Son. We played a selection of traditonal sones accompanied by children and adults who danced and played along. If you stuck around until the end, you would have caught a glimpse of Ian Daly and Amiel Gonzalez debuting their performance of the Iguana!
We look forward to the next Art Walk Downtown on December 13, when we will be making artist trading cards to accompany the new gallery exhibit “Imaginary Voyages–Using Art to Understand Science.” See you then!
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