Resources For Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts Institute
Resources and tips for Wharton Arts students to help improve their musical skills.
The first round of auditions for Juilliard’s pre-college program is by video.
From December to March, my son practiced for three hours a day to prepare. At the end of March, we recorded him playing “Cello Concerto in A minor” by Saint-Saëns, and we sent it off to Juilliard.
The results of the first round came quickly. He made the cut.
The art of practicing is finding a process for repetition without boredom
Then he practiced three hours a day for two more months. The piece he played is about four minutes long. So it’s probably hard for you to imagine how he spent three hours a day for six months working on that one piece. But practicing — for anything — is a science.
When he told his teacher, Amy Barston, he was bored, she told him boredom in practice comes from a lack of engagement. She showed him how to recognize disengagement. Then she taught him to look more closely at each note and listen more deeply with his ears and his heart.
He learned to practice by changing the rhythm of the piece. He learned to play one note at a time with a tuner. He learned to play each measure with a different metronome timing, and then he played the piece so slowly it took 20 minutes instead of just four.
During these insane lessons where Amy and my son spent one hour on five notes, the more we worked on the art of practicing the more I saw that practice is a method to do anything ambitious and difficult. He learned to create a system and process instead of just focusing on the goal itself.
The best processes speed up the cycle of frustration and recovery
The first 3,000 hours of cello lessons are learning how to recognize a wrong note and stop and fix it. And now he has to learn how to recover from failure, very quickly, so when he plays a wrong note in competition he can move on immediately. Even though I don’t know if he’s sharp or flat, I do know that if he’s sulking about making a mistake he can’t focus on not making the mistake.
Resilience is about being able to get back up on your feet on your own, so I teach him not to rely on other people to prop him up. “You don’t need a teacher to tell you how great you are. Tell that to yourself. Right now.”
It’s a hard concept. On different days I tell it to him differently. And then I watch hopefully, because I tell that to people I coach all the time and I know it’s hard, even for adults.
Last Thursday was the big day.
My son is on a mission.
I am on a mission, too. I want to hug him and high-five him and tell him he blows me away with his hard work. But I don’t want to embarrass him, so I take pictures instead.
Until he says, “Mom, put your phone down! You’re embarrassing me.”
Breaking things down into small steps isn’t enough. Make them smaller.
It’s impossible to put all your energy into something really difficult if everything is riding on the result. The people who are the best at reaching big goals have an obsessive drive toward the goal, but also, they are able to break down the process of meeting the goal into tiny, bite-sized pieces and then take pleasure in completing each part.
When someone is unable to relish the small steps, they just stop, because process starts to seem hopeless if you constantly focus on the end. You have to have a proclivity for hard work (which might be as crucial and inheritable as talent) combined with the ability to take joy in the process itself.
He practices facing the accompanist so they can see how each other will play particular parts.
Then he turns his back to her because that’s how it’ll be at the audition. She watches his arm and his head for cues. They don’t have to talk. They both just know that this is what will happen.
He has been eating carefully and sleeping carefully for a week. He reminds me of how I used to work to peak for the beach volleyball season and recover over the winter. And he reminds me of everyone who has ever worked hard for something that is a long shot: He is nervous.
No process works without a coach who deeply understands the goal
Amy has been training him for nerves as well. We scheduled five competitions prior to this audition so he would get used to playing this concerto under pressure. People perform better — in any circumstance — with a little bit of stress. Top performers self-regulate to generate the optimal amount of stress.
At Amy’s suggestion, he’s run up and down our street to get his heart rate up and then sat down to play his piece while his pulse was still racing. And the other day when he came home from a basketball game he wiped his hands all over his face and played his piece with sweaty palms.
Now he gets dressed and he waits. I can’t read music and I can’t tell what’s in tune, but I do know what it’s like to have focus, so we have practiced waiting. In this outfit. I made him stand by our front door, where there is nothing to look at. And I didn’t tell him how long he’d be waiting. And he practiced controlling his thoughts and his nerves.
Finally, here we are, and he looks so grown up to me. The door opens. He goes into the room, and he plays. I wait. The kids in the other practice rooms are too loud for me to hear him. So I just think good thoughts.
And it’s over.
We won’t know the results for another two weeks. But we already know that he worked incredibly hard and he grew from each step of preparation.
So he already won, because now that he’s done this for cello, he can do it for any part of his life in the future.
Reprinted from The Hill by Amy W. Wilkinson, Opinion Contributor 03/13/17
Cut into the stone wall of the Kennedy Center — one of America’s bastions of art and culture — are John F. Kennedy’s words, “I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.”
Arts education contributes to the enhancement of that spirit.
On March 15th the Illinois State Board of Education will vote on the Every Student Succeeds Act State Plan. Under this federal law, Illinois will determine its support of K-12 schools. Arts programming is not included anywhere in the current draft of the plan as an indicator of school quality.
Chance the Rapper responded to the need this week by presenting a $1 million check to Chicago Public Schools Foundation, “for arts and enrichment programming” after what he characterized as an unsuccessful meeting with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. The Grammy-winning Chicago artist urged others, as well as corporations and foundations to do the same.
Illinois is not alone in its urgent need for arts funding in schools.
A 2011 report by the President’s Committee on the Arts, paints a consistent picture of the value of arts education in schools based on two decades of theory and policy recommendations from such entities as the National Governors Association, the Education Commission of the States, the National Association of State boards of Education, the Department of Labor SCANS Commission, and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Criteria used to gauge school success and student learning often include attendance and achievement in math and reading. Extensive researchshows that students who study the arts in school demonstrate significantly more positive developmental outcomes than their peers who do not pursue arts coursework.
As a dance educator for 20 years, I encourage those who are concerned about the economy to think about how creativity and imagination translate to U.S. production. I have watched dozens of my students grow from young dancers barely capable of tying their ballet shoes into accomplished artists and educators themselves.
One student, who performed choreography as a high school student in his musical theater program, performed as a college student onstage at the Kennedy Center – the place where JFK’s words resonate so strongly. He now dances professionally with one of the most iconic companies in Chicago.
Findings indicate that arts students are highly active within school communities, are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors or participate in drug use. The Arts Education Partnership also associates arts programs with boosts in literacy and math achievement citing studiesthat suggest increased years of enrollment in arts courses are positively correlated with higher SAT verbal and math scores.
When considering challenges within Chicago Public Schools , the transformative nature of arts education for students with lower socio-economic status is even more significant.
James Catterall seminal 2009 study is based on the National Educational Longitudinal Survey that captured information on approximately 25,000 secondary school students over four years.
According to Catterall’s findings, extensive participation in arts activities was a noteworthy predictor of academic achievement and community involvement for disadvantaged students. Students with lower economic status benefited greatly from attending arts-rich schools in regards to college attendance, grades, employment, and level of terminal degree.
The study showed that low-income students in arts programs were also more likely to participate in volunteerism and engage in politics. English language learners who attended arts-rich high schools were significantly more likely to pursue a bachelor’s degree at age 20 and more likely to attain advanced degrees than their peers in non arts-rich schools.
The arts have a far greater impact than on academic achievement alone. AEP cites work preparedness as one key aspect of arts education. Through art programs, students strengthen problem-solving and communication skills, increase their capacity for leadership and creative thinking, build community, support civic engagement, and experience social tolerance that helps prepare them for life in an increasingly diverse world.
In his 2011 State of the Union Address, then-President Barack Obamamade the claim: “The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation. None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do — what America does better than anyone else –– is spark the creativity and imagination of our people.”
Similarly, in his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Donald Trump, who has emphatically communicated his intent to grow the economy, said: “Education is the civil rights issue of our time.” Attempting to address the needs of those he calls “disadvantaged youth,” Trump used the example of his guest, Denisha Merriweather, the first in her family to go to college, who is set to earn a Master’s.
Perhaps members of both parties can come together on arts education where the advantages for low-income students and boosts to the economy are well- documented.
Americans for the Arts, an organization that promotes arts support across the country, recently placed ads in The Hill and New York Post alongside a statement touting the economic benefits of the arts.
The statement reads, “Each day, 4.8 million Americans go to work in Arts and Culture industries. In fact, according to the US. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Arts contributed $730 billion to our GDP — which is larger than Construction, Transportation, and Travel & Tourism.”
To be sure, there is a danger in supporting the arts primarily for their contributions to academic achievement and the economy. Denying the arts’ intrinsic value as an element of humankind’s noble quest for truth and beauty limits our understanding of what role artists play in society. I don’t hear algebra professors having to justify their existence because learning math helps a musician play the clarinet better.
Art is transformative for the body, intellect, and spirit. Art sparks dialogue about underlying myths, values, and traditions in our culture. It embraces change as a process that is experiential, holistic, and communal.
In order to have the conversation about what art is and what it does, future generations of artists and consumers of culture must have context for that conversation.
Every state can help its children by elevating arts programming within our schools. It’s not too late for all American to demand that quality arts programs be a marker of a quality education.
Amy M. Wilkinson is an Advanced Lecturer at Loyola University Chicago, a dance maker, teacher and mentor with 20 years in dance performance and education. She is a Greenhouse Public Voices Fellow through The OpEd Project.
Reprinted from Music Education Works
A two-year study by researchers at the Brain and Creativity Institute (BCI) at the University of Southern California shows that exposure to music and music instruction accelerates the brain development of young children in the areas responsible for language development, sound, reading skill and speech perception.
The study of 6-7-year-old children began in 2012, when neuroscientists started monitoring a group of 37 children from an underprivileged neighbourhood of Los Angeles. Thirteen of them received music instruction through the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles Program where they practiced up to seven hours each week.
Eleven children were enrolled in a community-based soccer programme, and another 13 children were not involved in any training programme at all.
The researchers compared the three groups by tracking the electrical activity in the brains, conducting behavioural testing and monitored changes using brain scans.
The results showed that the auditory systems of the children in the music programme had accelerated faster than the other children not engaged in music. Dr. Assal Habibi, the lead author of the study and a senior research associate at the BCI, explained that the auditory system is stimulated by music and the system is also engaged in general sound processing. This is essential to reading skills, language development and successful communication.
Reprinted from the National Center for Arts Research
Zannie Voss, Director, National Center for Arts Research
Glenn B. Voss, Research Director, National Center for Arts Research
Read the study: Arts and Culture Are Closer Than You Realize: U.S. Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Organizations Are a Big Part of Community Life, Economy, and Employment—and Federal Funding Enhances the Impact
This morning, the Trump Administration formally proposed the abolition of federal agencies that support arts and culture, such as the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Elimination of federal support is not about the money, which only comes to 45 cents per capita for the NEA or .003% of the federal budget. The decimation of federal support is the coup de grâce of a long campaign carefully crafted to infuse public perception with a misleading, conjured notion of arts and culture as something that is irrelevant to most Americans.
During the span of the last twenty-five years rhetoric has intensified, framing arts and culture as elitist and only available and of interest to those with concentrated power, wealth, or an address on the West Coast or Northeast corridor. This rhetoric not only succeeds in diminishing perceptions of the relevancy of arts and culture to American life, it dishonors and invalidates the real experiences with arts and culture that people make part of their lives throughout the country. To quote Robert Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts (AFTA), “With only a $148 million annual appropriation, the NEA’s investment in every Congressional District in the country contributes to a $704 billion arts and culture industry in America, representing 4.2% of the annual GDP. This arts and culture industry supports 4.7 million jobs and yields a $24 million trade surplus for our country.”[i] Another AFTA article affirms, “The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is the largest national funder of nonprofit arts organizations in America. Every $1 of NEA funding leverages $9 in private and public dollars and fuels a dynamic cultural economy and generates millions of American jobs.”[ii]
Figure 1: Location of Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Organizations in the U.S.
with Annual Budget above $50,000, 2015, by Sector
Figure 2: 2010 Population Distribution in the United States and Puerto Rico*
*Source: United States Census Bureau . Accessed 15 March, 2017.
Arts and culture aren’t “out there” and just for an elite part of the population. They are closer and more immediate and personal than most people give them credit for being. Comparing Figures 1 and 2, we see that arts and cultural organizations are where people live, not just in big cities or on the coasts. Every nonprofit arts and cultural sector has its areas to celebrate through the presence of organizations in communities across the country that make possible the artistic and cultural experiences that affect and engage such a large share of Americans (see Figure 1 and Table). Importantly, we recognize that the segment of arts and cultural activity represented in Figure 1 and the Table is just the above-water tip of the arts and culture “iceberg” — the tip that has been wrongly labeled by some as elitist – and that it under-represents the full universe of artistic and creative activity that Americans enjoy. It captures the activity of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, the National Center for Arts Research’s (NCAR) focus of study and the basis of findings presented in this report, drawn primarily from IRS 990 forms, which are filed by tax-exempt organizations with budgets of $50,000 or more.[iii]
Table: Universe of Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Organizations in the U.S.
with Annual Budget above $50,000, 2015
Acknowledging the immutable connection of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations to this rich, diverse and broad foundation of activity that is “beneath the water surface,” we focus in the remainder of this report on the organizations that form the tip of the iceberg (see the Table). Key figures include:
39,292: The number of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in the U.S. with total annual budgets of $50,000 or more.
$31.7 billion: The total amount spent by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations. This means that these organizations collectively added $31.7 billion to the U.S. economy in the form of direct payments for labor, goods, and services.
908,175: The estimated number of people employed by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in full-time and part-time positions or as independent contractors. This comes to an average of 23 workers per organization per year. While we report here only on paid workers, we acknowledge the vast contributions of the armies of volunteers who contribute their talents in both artistic and administrative roles.
467,218,109: Estimated attendance at the 39,292 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations (total attendance, not unique attendees). The U.S. population was just above 322 million at the end of 2015,[iv] which might make the 467.2 million attendance figure seem high. However, The National Endowment for the Arts’ A Decade of Engagement[v] estimates that roughly 50 percent of Americans attended a live visual or performing arts activity in 2012. Using this figure as a reference would indicate that the average person who attends an arts and cultural organization in our data makes about three visits per year.
For some, three visits per year for half of the country’s citizens would seem low if this was the totality of arts involvement. Again, it is important to keep in mind that this attendance figure is just the tip of the iceberg of arts involvement, which is inextricably linked with the full spectrum of an individual’s participation in activities described above that lie beneath the water line.
For others, three visits per year may seem high until we consider the landscape of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, their level of accessibility, and their relationship to every-day life. The data tell us that nonprofit arts and cultural organizations are far more egalitarian than elitist. Figure 1 shows how they are spread across the country. Additionally, the majority of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations can be found in four sectors that are highly accessible and relevant to neighborhood life: Other Museums, Community-based, Theater, and Music. Highlights from the data include:
Other Museums and Art Museums’ contribution to the U.S. Economy: $9.95 billion
The Other Museums sector has 3,664 organizations, including children’s museums, history museums, natural history and natural science museums, and science and technology museums. These family-oriented organizations bring in nearly 98 million attendees per year, the highest cumulative level of all sectors, and they employ over 84,000 workers. Comparing these two facts helps us see that Other Museums served 1,160 attendees per employee, the highest visitor-to-staff ratio, with Art Museums not far behind at 1,474. Other Museums and Art Museums together contributed over $9.95 billion to the U.S. economy through their expenditures on wages, exhibitions, materials, facilities, insurance and services in 2015.
Community-based organizations’ direct contribution to the U.S. economy: $3.6 billion
There are more Community-based organizations than there are organizations in any of the other 11 nonprofit arts and cultural sectors: 7,540. This sector includes multipurpose arts and cultural organizations, cultural and ethnic awareness organizations, folk arts, independent arts and humanities councils and agencies, community celebrations, and visual arts organizations (e.g., nonprofit gallery spaces). The collective magnitude of Community-based organizations’ direct contribution to the U.S. economy in the form of payment for labor, goods and services was $3.6 billion. Together, they provided wages to more than 137,000 workers. Importantly, Americans benefitted from their programs and services 88.6 million times in 2015, some as one-time visitors, some for repeated engagement. Beyond the numbers, Ron Chew’s report titled Community-based Organizations: A New Center of Gravity provides compelling insights on the richness and value of these culturally grounded groups to their communities.[vi]
Reach of Theaters: 50.1 million attendees
There are 4,098 nonprofit Theaters in the country, ranging dramatically in size and scope, from small community theaters to large, professional organizations that are national treasures. There were more than 131,000 workers that received wages from nonprofit Theaters, an employment figure second only to that of Community-based organizations, and these organizations engaged 50.1 million attendees in 2015.
Workers directly employed by Music organizations: over 69,000
The sector with the second most plentiful number of organizations is Music: 4,530. The Music sector includes singing and choral groups, bands and ensembles, and general music organizations (Symphony Orchestras and Opera constitute their own, separate sectors). The Music sector is quite reliant on volunteer labor (e.g., the 32 million people who sing in a chorus each year). Still, over 69,000 Americans work for Music organizations and they attracted 22 million attendees in 2015.
Extended Economic Impact of Arts, Culture, and Federal Funding
Every nonprofit arts and cultural sector has its distinguishing traits, operating models, and areas to celebrate. The facts highlight the extensive touch that nonprofit arts and cultural organizations have in peoples’ lives, whether as employees, contracted artists and workers, attendees, or the merchants whose products and services the organizations purchase in order to deliver their offerings. The figures reported here under-estimate the indirect but real impact of arts and cultural organizations on local communities. For example, the more than 908,000 artists, administrators, production and curatorial staff, arts educators, and other workers paid by these organizations live in communities where they buy homes or pay rent, purchase cars or take local public transportation, are regular consumers of day-to-day products and services, and generally contribute to the local tax base. The more than 467 million attendees often stop at a local restaurant, hire a babysitter, and pay to park in conjunction with their evening out at a performance, day at the folk arts fair or museum, or weekend pottery class.
In addition to illuminating the magnitude, dispersion, and touch points of arts and cultural organizations, the IRS 990 data also reveal that the nonprofit arts and culture field is enhanced by federal funding. Aside from the direct dollars that support community programming and initiatives and the required matching funds that organizations raise from the private sector, federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute for Museum and Library Services has a significant, positive impact that extends beyond dollars. It is a catalyst for both employment and engagement. All else being equal, when an organization receives federal arts funding, those dollars increase employment by 1.5 percent and attendance by 2.7 percent. More national funding for arts and culture would mean that that more Americans could benefit from the jobs and participation stimulated by the federal funding boost.
The Beneath-the-Water Portion of the Nonprofit Arts Iceberg
As formidable as the portion of the nonprofit arts sector that files an IRS 990 is, they are in fact the minority share of the number of nonprofit arts and culture organizations in the U.S. We analyze this group because it can be reliably identified and tracked. There are, however, another 60,000 smaller nonprofit arts and culture organizations that can be found in the IRS Business Masterfile that do not file a 990 because of their smaller dollar size. There are also arts organizations owned by the public sector. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is an example of a municipally owned arts institution. In many smaller communities, the performing arts center at the community college is the major cultural presenter. Nearly half – 45 percent — of the nations’ 4,500 local arts agencies have public art programs that enliven communities with murals, paintings, sculptures, and statues.
There is, in fact, a wealth of artistic and cultural offerings provided by nonprofit organizations whose primary mission may not lie in the arts but that engage people in a vast array of arts and cultural experiences. Federal arts funding flows to these organizations as well. For example, according to surveys by The Joint Commission,[vii] nearly 50 percent of the nation’s hospitals have active arts programs for their patients. Libraries are home to rotating arts exhibitions. Some of our greatest professional theaters get their starts in church basements, and many communities boast music performance seasons that take place at faith-based institutions. We are increasingly seeing arts programs on military bases to help returning service members in their recovery from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).[viii]
This is in addition to the unincorporated work of the 49 percent of Americans who personally engage in the arts as professional and amateur artists.[ix] Those who sing in a chorus, appreciate that their community arts center sells the pottery class’s bowls as a fundraiser for the homeless, or have a child who has been in a dance recital, know that the arts provide not only personal enrichment but also social cohesion.[x] The majority of arts and cultural organizations accompany houses of worship as places where communities can come together and share a common purpose and activity. Even those who have no direct contact with arts and culture in their lives can indirectly benefit from the positive ripple effect that arts and culture have on community development issues such as public safety and housing[xi] and on making neighborhoods more vibrant and memorable.[xii] The evidence of vibrant arts communities is all around us.
The relevance and contributions of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations to every-day life and community economies are real and much closer than most people realize. Moreover, they represent the easy-to-spot part of the arts and culture “iceberg” that is in clear view. The depth of arts and cultural activity and engagement is even more extensive than that reported here. Retaining and growing federal support for arts and culture first requires shifting public perception to align with reality and taking back control of the rhetoric surrounding its connection to American life. The arts being termed “elitist” is an argument founded in anecdote. The arts being termed small-d “democratic” is the reality revealed to us through examination of the larger set of facts.
Together these organizations provide Americans a rich artistic and cultural legacy, and they enhance local economies while providing citizens a vast array of opportunities to enrich quality of life. Federal support boosts economic enhancement through employment and increases the number of people who benefit from all that arts and cultural organizations have to offer. Funding by the NEA, the nation’s 50 state arts agencies, and 4,500 local arts agencies, is found in communities across the county.
A Note About NCAR and this Report
In report editions, SMU’s National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) provides averages for organizations in the nonprofit arts and cultural field in the U.S. on a variety of performance indices related to financial, operating, and attendance trends and health. It reports on these averages by arts and cultural sector, by organizational budget size, and by geography, and we examine the factors from within the organization (e.g., organizational age, sector, receipt of federal funding, etc.) and its community (e.g., demographic and socio-economic characteristics, number of restaurants and bars per capita, etc.) that help contextualize performance. Organizations can receive their own performance scores relative to organizations like theirs nationally through the KIPI Dashboard.
What NCAR has not done to date is offer aggregate information about the field of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations. NCAR’s vision is to be a catalyst for the transformation and sustainability of the national arts and cultural community, with particular emphasis on nonprofit arts and cultural organizations. So, it is a worthwhile exercise to stop and look at the whole of this community rather than the average experience of its parts.
Understanding the whole of this community, however, means also understanding how it fits into the larger national network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America. Americans for the Arts’ mission is to serve, advance and lead this larger network through advocating, researching, and connecting individuals and entities for the purpose of ensuring that every American has access to the transformative power of the arts.
Sustainability partially depends on public awareness and recognition of the field’s presence and magnitude in the country. The field isn’t off somewhere in the distance—it is present in communities across the country.