Tag Archives: arts education

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What is Operation Bridge Building?

By Audra DeLaney

A couple of fall mornings each year, something magical happens at the Renaissance Theatre. School buses begin to pull into the parking lot and as soon as they are parked, children get off with their teachers and get in line to come inside. They have all arrived to participate in an program put on by the Renaissance Education Department called Operation Bridge Building.

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Operation Bridge Building started in 2008 and is the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra’s major education initiative for local schools. The program is designed to both enhance K-5 classroom courses, as well as support the music education for those in public or private school and those who are home schooled in Richland county and surrounding counties. To help prepare students to attend the Operation Bridge Building full-scale symphony concerts here at the Renaissance, we provide them with study guides that go over the music the students will hear and show them how to be good audience members. As well, small groups of Mansfield Symphony Orchestra members visit schools to put on more intimate concerts for the students. Operation Bridge Building serves well over 7,000 local students annually through the full-scale symphony concerts in the theatre and the in-school chamber concerts.

Director of Operations/Education Manager Chelsie Thompson said that each year the schedule for the full-scale symphony concerts is pretty much the same.

“Musicians start to arrive at 8:45 AM, school buses start to arrive by 9:15 AM. We have about 8-10 volunteers and staff that run between the parking lot and building to get students into their seats. Some volunteers meet the buses and lead them up to the doors, others wait at the doors and take the kids from there into the theatre,” Chelsie said. “The first concert begins at 9:45 AM and lasts between 35-45 minutes depending on the age group of the students. We release the kids by school and they head out to buses, so the theatre feels really quiet all of a sudden. In between concerts, the musicians take a break – they might grab a cup of coffee, have meetings or rehearse, practice their parts, or just read a book. The next group of students starts to arrive around 11:15 AM and we do it all over again for the 11:45 AM concert.”

Last year, ten school districts sent a total of sixteen schools to participate in the full-scale symphony concerts here at the Ren. An additional seven districts, a total of thirteen schools, participated in this initiative through our in-school chamber concerts. All in all, we were able to serve 29 schools across 17 districts in 2016.

Chelsie said the performances that happen in a school rather than in the theatre are designed to be a little bit more personal.

“We have a very well-established brass trio, woodwind trio, and string quartet,” Chelsie said. “Each group has a unique, varied repertoire and script that they use for these 45-minute concerts, covering everything from classical to pop to traditional folk music.”

The full-scale symphony concerts preformed here at the Renaissance are designed to expose children to a wide variety of instruments, as well as using music to tie in state standards.

“Our main education concerts here at the Ren are tied to core curriculum standards, often literacy, math, or social studies, and these are a great opportunity to reinforce the material that students are learning in the classroom as well as take students on an exciting arts field trip,” Chelsie said.

Altogether, Operation Bridge Building engages students and teachers alike by providing high quality symphonic programming and a curriculum that integrates the arts with academics.

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The Operation Bridge Building program is underwritten so that schools may participate free of charge. Without community support, schools would have to pay upwards of $4 per student to participate in this program. As a result of not charging for schools to participate, they save a combined $25,000 each year. Our concert schedule fills up very quickly, so we highly encourage interested schools to contact us early.

This year, the Operation Bridge Building concert here at the Renaissance Theatre will take place on October 19 at 9:45 AM and 11:45 AM and October 20 at 9:45 AM. and 11:45 AM. If you or your school would like to learn more about Operation Bridge Building, please contact Chelsie Thompson at chelsie@mansfieldtickets.com or 419-522-2726 ext. 251.

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First Steps in Symphony Performance: MSYO and MSYS

By Audra DeLaney

Recently, we hired a new Music Director for the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra, Octavio Más-Arocas. At the Season Preview Party, Octavio was introduced by our President & CEO Mike Miller and said he is so thankful to be in Mansfield and that the community has already touched his heart. The Mansfield Symphony Orchestra is a staple at the Renaissance, as it has been around for many years. It is full of talented musicians, most of whom got their start in different musical groups as children. At the Renaissance, there are two programs that help young musicians hone their skills so that they may have the chance to join a group like the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra later in life.

The Mansfield Symphony Youth Orchestra (MSYO) is made up of some of North Central Ohio’s finest musicians, primarily in high school, from a 12-county region. It is the only youth orchestra within a 65 mile radius of Mansfield and represents approximately 90 members each season who perform concerts both onstage at the Renaissance and in the community. MSYO has been a part of the Mansfield community and Renaissance Theatre since 1982, founded and led for many years by Ettore Chiudioni, and is currently under the direction of Randy Heidlebaugh.

Randy has been a music educator since 1984. Throughout his tenure, he has always encouraged his students to audition for MSYO.

“I have been directly involved with MSYO for the past five years,” Randy said. “Beginning with the 2012-2013 season I served as assistant conductor for two seasons and have been the conductor for the past three seasons.”

He wanted to support the MSYO because of how important he thinks it is to the arts in our local communities. Randy said MYSO gives high school students another opportunity for musical growth through performing with other musicians from the area.

“MSYO offers a place for fine high school musicians to perform a variety of great orchestral music that they may not have the opportunity to do in their respective high school programs,” Randy said. “Many of the high schools that our students come from don’t have a strong or full orchestra , so MSYO offers those students a chance to play in a full symphonic orchestra.”

MSYO performs two concerts each season, one in the fall and one in the spring. Randy has many great memories from rehearsals and concerts.

“Our performance of ‘Nimrod’ from Enigma Variations by Elgar at the December 2015 concert and ‘Variations on a Shaker Melody’ by Aaron Copland at the May 2016 concert are examples of the students really bringing the music to life on a couple of my personal favorite pieces,” he said.

“The most recent memorable moment was our Spring concert of this year when we performed many pieces by American composers and finished the concert with a great performance of Morton Gould’s ‘American Salute’ followed by our encore presentation of John Philip Sousa’s ‘Star and Stripes Forever’ featuring all four of our flute players on piccolo for the piccolo solo. Really fun!”

Since 1992, another program has also encouraged the youth in and around Mansfield in the field of symphony performance.

The Mansfield Symphony Youth Strings (MSYS) program has both complemented the musical instruction young students receive in their schools as well as provided a large ensemble experience to students who have no access to a school orchestra program. The Youth Strings  is comprised of approximately 55 students all playing string instruments like the bass, cello, violin, and viola. The students are mainly in grades 6 through 10 and come from 20 schools in the North Central Ohio area. It was founded by beloved area music teacher Percy Hall. Currently, the MSYS program is under the direction of Matt Domka.

Matt is no stranger to the music community in Mansfield.  He began playing the violin at the age of seven under Mrs. Elva Newdome and played in the Mansfield Symphony Youth Orchestra under the direction of Mr. Ettore Chiudioni. Like Randy, Matt is also a music educator. In 2004 he graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelors of Music Education with a specialization in String Pedagogy.

Matt commented that MSYS also perform two concerts a year like the MSYO and they usually perform six to eight pieces during each concert. He said it is a joy to watch his students progress in their music playing ability the longer they are a part of MSYS.

“It’s also somewhat of a rarity for a city the size of Mansfield to have two youth orchestras as well as an adult orchestra,” Matt said. “This in itself draws attention and traffic to Mansfield. We regularly have students travelling two hours to attend MSYS and MSYO rehearsals.”

For more information on the Youth Orchestra program, please contact Conductor Randy Heidlebaugh at mrhmsyo@mansfieldtickets.com. For more information on the Youth Strings program, visit their website or contact Conductor Matt Domka at matthewdomka@gmail.com. Finally, for more information on other programs offered through the Renaissance Education Department, contact Chelsie Thompson at chelsie@mansfieldtickets.com or 419-522-2726 ext 251.

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What is Broadway Camp?

By Audra DeLaney

If you are a follower of our social media platforms, you have seen a number of posts about a program called Broadway Camp, formerly Camp Broadway. Broadway Camp is a theatre day camp program put on by the Renaissance Education Department that is directed by Mansfield Youth Theatre Director and Education Department Assistant, Dauphne Maloney. Two sessions of Broadway Camp are offered every summer in June and they are open to children ages 8-13. The main purpose of Broadway Camp is for the students in attendance to create and perform their own mini-musical after taking the time to learn about what goes into delivering a worthwhile performance. Each camp is a week long and participants work for four days on their skills, and then on Friday they perform their musical for their families and friends.

Duaphne has a few helpers during Broadway Camp every year. This year, Technical and Production Intern Andy Blubaugh, as well as MY Theatre alumna Hannah Bloir, helped Dauphne run the camp, teach the participants, and do everything in between.

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Broadway Camp campers learn how to tie dye from Andy Blubaugh. Tie dye shirts are what the campers always wear during their performance on Friday for their parents.

Hannah said she is excited to have been able to help with Broadway Camp this year.

“I love watching the kids progress. I love when they start out with initial awkwardness because they don’t know what’s in store and they don’t know each other,” Hannah said. “Then as the week goes on, they start learning more about each other and about the music that we’re learning and it’s so cool to see the end product.”

Hannah said it is interesting to help out during Broadway Camp because of the different dynamics between they campers. She was in a number of shows directed by Dauphne during her middle/high school years and is happy to impact the lives children.

“It’s kinda of fun to be back in that with the kids and see how their different personalities all work together. It’s a lot of fun honestly and it’s just cool to be there for the kids if they need anything.”

Each year, the music for Broadway Camp changes. Each song brings a new energy and set of learning experiences to the student participants and helpers. Hannah said they songs help the participants come out of their shells.

“I love ‘Go Go Go Joesph.’ I love that song and I love the moves that Dauphne put with it,” Hannah said. “It is just a lot of high energy and I think that’s why the kids like it a lot too because they can just kind of let loose.”

Both Broadway Camp sessions this year were centered around music from The Little Mermaid, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lion King, Jr, and Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. This year, the first session had longer days than the second one, but they kids still got in the same amount of work and improvement.

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Children listen to Dauphne Maloney as she instructs them on their movements for the song “Under The Sea” from The Little Mermaid.

“The first week I feel like the group was a little quieter for the whole week, not that their was anything bad about that,” Hannah said. “This group that we have this week, again not in a bad way, have been all over the place this week. Regardless. when they do perform, they all do come together really well.”

Broadway Camp allows students to explore the world of musical theatre in an environment that focuses on the many elements of performance through theatre games, dramatic play, staging and singing. It is an environment that fosters growth and artistic exploration that we hope will benefit the youth in our community in the long run.

If you would like more information about the Renaissance Education Department, please contact Chelsie Thompson at chelsie@mansfieldtickets.com or 419-522-2726 ext 251.

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Arts Education: Why & How We Educate 15,000 Students a Year

By Audra DeLaney

Arts education is one key element to understanding the world around us.

“The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic…music, dance, paining, and theatre are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.” – Former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett

Our Education Director Chelsie Thompson, along with Education Assistant Dauphne Maloney and a wealth of teaching artists and ensemble directors, provide educational experiences to over 15,000 students in our community across all generations through dozens of educational programs we offer each year. Here is a full list of all of the programs supported by the Renaissance Education Department at this time:

  • Mansfield Symphony Youth Orchestra
  • Mansfield Symphony Youth Strings
  • Teddy Bear Concerts
  • Mansfield Youth Theatre (MY Theatre)
  • Sensory Friendly Performances
  • Renaissance Youth Opera Theatre (RYOT)
  • Improv Underground
  • Broadway Camp!
  • Integrated Theatre Company
  • Mindsprouts Creative Writing Contest
  • Ghost Story ELA Field Trips
  • Partners in Education
  • Operation Bridge Building
  • Children’s Theatre Foundation Partnership
  • Professional Development
  • Internships

Each of these programs and partnerships bring something different to the educational experience offered at the Renaissance Theatre. By the names of these programs, one can gather that many of them are geared toward youth. While we know that fostering an affinity for the arts early is important, we also know that the arts can affect the life of an individual at any point and time.

In high school, athletics was my strong suit. I loved everything about them, from action packed games to early morning practices. While I still have an admiration for athletics, I have grown to respect the type of change and growth the arts are capable of bringing about in someone.

Finally, arts education plays a role in understanding what it means to be human. The National Standards for Arts Education states, “. . . the arts have been an inseparable part of the human journey; indeed, we depend on the arts to carry us toward the fullness of our humanity. We value them for themselves, and because we do, we believe knowing and practicing them is fundamental to the healthy development of our children’s minds and spirits. That is why, in any civilization – ours included – the arts are inseparable from the very meaning of the term ‘education.’ We know from long experience that no one can claim to be truly educated who lacks basic knowledge and skills in the arts.”

Being human is a journey, one that is full of highs and lows, triumphs and failures, spotless performances and ones where all the microphones don’t turn on. The Renaissance Education Department believes in celebrating the imagination in each of us through real-world experiences that help each person see the journey they and others around them are trailblazing. Programs, partnerships, professional development workshops, and internships are offered to help individuals gain experience and knowledge in their areas of interest, but also to give each person who walks through our doors a look into the life of someone else, what they are grappling with, and how that person’s gifts and talents can be utilized to positively impact those around them.

German Poet Bertolt Brecht elaborated on this thought when he said, “The theater-goer in conventional dramatic theater says: Yes, I’ve felt that way, too. That’s the way I am. That’s life. That’s the way it will always be. The suffering of this or that person grips me because there is no escape for him. That’s great art — Everything is self-evident. I am made to cry with those who cry, and laugh with those who laugh.”

If you would like more information on programs offered by the Renaissance Education Department, stay tuned for more posts on the individual programs or contact Chelsie Taylor Thompson at chelsie@mansfieldtickets.com or 419-522-2726 ext 251.

3 Things You Support By Giving to the Annual Fund Campaign

By Jessica Dulle & Colleen Cook

1. Education

Teddy Bear Concert - Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

Teddy Bear Concert – Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

The Renaissance proudly boasts that our Education Department serves 15,000 students each year! We have 13 distinct programs, numerous collaborations with area schools and agencies, and serve individuals of all ages and abilities!

2. Live Performances

Beauty and the Beast 2016 - Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

Beauty and the Beast 2016 – Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

Whether it’s our locally-produced professional Broadway-style productions, touring bands,  artists, or comedians, or offering a venue to local emerging artists and acts, the Renaissance exists to make outstanding live performances available and accessible for everyone in our region! (Did you know that no one is turned away for an inability to pay for a ticket, thanks to our Angel Ticket Program?)

3.The Mansfield Symphony

The Mansfield Symphony Orchestra - Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

The Mansfield Symphony Orchestra – Photo by Jeff Sprang Photography

A cultural establishment in Mansfield for over 85 years, the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra is one of the premiere mid-size symphonies in the country. This season, the MSO is able to offer 6 concerts to the public, plus four educational concerts and numerous community outreach performances. As Ben Folds recently said, “Symphonies symbolize the epitome of civilization, i.e., people working together. If you go to a town without an orchestra or a bad orchestra, it’s a crappy town.”

You can give to the Renaissance Annual Fund Campaign $100,000 Matching Grant Challenge and have your gift matched 2:1 by the Landers Foundation and the Hire Foundation anytime between now and December 31, 2016! To give, click here.