Performing Arts School
Amused; musings from the ED by Karen Deschere | September 27, 2018
Beauty and the Messy Desk
Those of you who have been in my office know that I don’t have the neatest desk. It’s been a lifetime of clutter ever since I was a kid. Each new job, living arrangement, or New Year’s resolution to keep the desk clean was just beyond my daily ability. And, I’ve gradually come to accept it even though I still find myself apologizing when I have a visitor (many of whom will empathize with me!).
Do you ever watch detective or medical shows on TV where the dedicated doc or cop is wracking her brain trying to solve the mystery to no avail, and then she goes out to dinner, or to the mall, and something totally different is triggered in her brain, and voila! the mystery is solved?
That happens to me with my messy desk. I may be working on a project when I may be interrupted, and I need to rummage through the desk to find that one piece of paper that I know is under this other stack of papers. As I am searching, almost always some other tidbit arises that reminds me of another project, or provides a touch of insight into what I was working on.
Maybe that happens to you neat-deskers as well; you’ll have to let me know.
I think beauty works in the same way. We are bombarded by so much stuff in our lives – work and school deadlines, devastating tragedies, so many issues beyond our control, that I have decided I need beauty breaks. I’m not talking about skin care, but about music. Just five minutes of something beautiful can give me the respite needed to return to the task at hand. With all our devices, we are no longer far away from being able to access something beautiful to take our mind and our heart to a different place for a few minutes.
This kind of beauty break might just be what our students need as well. Are you stuck on that organic chemistry problem? What if your instrument was on the bed behind you and you turned and played a few phrases of a piece you are working on. Do you think one of those random connections might be made between the music and your chemistry homework? I think it might, and if it doesn’t, well at least you had a few minutes to enjoy the beauty of your music.
Notes from the Train by Alice Hamlet | September 17, 2018
The aftermath of this past weekend’s Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas is a stark reminder of the devastation here in New Jersey six years ago from Sandy—in too many ways to count, not in the least the disruption of commuter train service in and out of New York. The Gladstone line was out for months—a dark time. The innovation involved in getting to and from work for thousands was pretty remarkable. And they say creativity is dead!
Not a stranger perhaps to tropical storms is Performing Arts School faculty member James Keene. Growing up in a small town on the southern coast of Puerto Rico called Patillas, James tried a lot of different instruments in his youth. At the time, each municipality in Puerto Rico had a band that lent instruments to local kids for free which allowed him to experiment with the flute, clarinet, saxophone, and trumpet before receiving a violin and sticking with it.
James attended Rutgers University, majoring in Violin Performance and German, before pursuing a Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory. He started teaching both violin and viola at the age of 19 and works with students of all ages.
Says James, “When dealing with a craft such as violin or viola playing, the main communication of ideas and concepts is through the private teacher-student relationship. In order to continue the unbroken teaching chain and pass on the ideas and discoveries of teachers and theirs in the past, it is almost the moral obligation of artists to teach. I derive great satisfaction from passing on the amazing concepts and ideas of my illustrious former teachers.”
In addition to teaching, James can be heard performing with the New Haven Symphony in Connecticut, the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra in central New Jersey, and engaging in frequent solo and chamber performances throughout New Jersey, California, Vermont, and New York City.
Favorite food: The most difficult question! It can be hard for me to resist a good burger from Trap Rock here in Berkeley Heights after work.
Listening to these days: Whatever it is I am working on for violin or viola. In addition to that, I am very much a fan of indie and ambient music.
Final Thoughts: I always tell my students to have another passion besides playing the violin or viola. Something that will relax them and allow them to perform better in school and musically once they return from it. For me that stress-relieving, performance-enhancing activity is running: it allows me to approach my instrument with a clear head. But the activity could be anything! Visual art, cycling, scrapbooking, whatever allows you to express yourself and de-stress!
When not commuting, Alice Hamlet is the Director of Marketing at the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts and is also on the faculty of the Performing Arts School, teaching cello and music theory.
Musical Theater Arts Blog by Timothy Maureen Cole | September 2018
September means three things to me: Autumn is around the corner, pumpkin spice everything, and it’s time to go back to school again! In my case, back to school means the start of a new season of theater classes and shows at Wharton Arts. We had an amazing summer full of camps and performances. If you missed it don’t worry. We have plenty to offer starting right now!
This month I would like to shine a spotlight on the theater classes for our youngest students, and our most experienced students. Fairy Tale Theater is a brand new class this year for students 3-5 years old. Students will learn about storytelling and acting with the help of our amazing instructor, Emma Peterson. Ms. Peterson also teaches our Pathways to Musical Theater class for students 5-7 years old. Pathways students practice the skills of acting, singing, and dancing while preparing for a finale showcase at the end of the semester. Both classes are the perfect way to see if your student has the acting bug! Fairy Tale Theater and Pathways to Musical Theater begin on Saturday, September 22.
Musical Theater Company is our most advanced class for students 10 and up. Last year for the first time our amazing cast wrote and performed an original musical based on Grimm’s Fairy Tales. This year Musical Theater Company will return with a new theme, and some hard working students creating a show from start to finish. Auditions will take place on November 9th and 10th. Our first class is on Tuesday, November 27th.
Inquire about these and any of our other classes by calling the Student Services Office. The Theater Arts department offers classes in Drama, Improv, Musical Theater, and Hip Hop throughout the week. Whether your student lives to be on the stage, craves a creative outlet, or wants to improve their social skills and public speaking, Wharton Arts is the place for you.
Happy Autumn from the Theater Arts Department. We hope to see you in class soon!
Director of Musical Theater Arts