Kids Create Opera
The Washington National Opera and Kennedy Center Education are proud to support the work of classrooms that write, compose, design, produce, and perform their own original operas. Kids Create Opera is an 8 day intensive followed by a year of monthly support meetings for K-5 classroom teachers wishing to implement authentic, project-based learning. Building on years of successful use and development in area classrooms, this approach to the standard curriculum emphasizes student engagement-which is linked to positive academic and behavioral outcomes-and utilizes key practices for developing SEL skills, addressing the achievement and opportunity gaps, and developing skills necessary for the 21st-century workplace. The program is designed for K-5 classroom teachers or equal partnerships between classroom and arts teachers. However, the professional development seminar is open to all: classroom teachers, special area teachers, SPED and ESOL teachers, principals, staff, volunteers–anyone who may assist in the implementation of the project. No previous background in opera, music, or theater is necessary.The professional development seminar is led by veteran educators Mary Ruth McGinn and Peter Hoyle.
The professional development 8-day intensive for the 2018-2019 school year has passed, but interested educators are invited to learn about the program through various options such as observing classrooms utilizing the curriculum, sitting in on support sessions, and others more. Contact us with questions!
For more information
Please see the webinar Kids Create Opera: An Introduction for Educators
Feel free to contact us via email or by calling (202) 416-8846.
For schools, administrators, and teachers:
- It requires cross-disciplinary thinking and planning: Opera is by nature a multidisciplinary art form, integrating music, theater, poetry, and the visual arts, into a unified whole.
- It is a multifaceted business: Today, the work of an opera company also involves technology, communication, marketing and press, math, and much more.
- It lets students not only understand their world, but make an impact on it: Opera subject matters allow for deep study of issues, history, characters, emotions, relationships, and more. A meaningful central message gives the project the weight of exercising student voice and influencing the world around them: past student opera topics have included, “We are bigger than our barriers,” and “Without failure, there is no determination”.
- It requires collaborative problem solving: Students must work together to bring all of these elements into a unified whole, stretching their imaginative and innovative capacities along with their abilities to problem-solve, communicate, and work collaboratively—skills they will need in life and work. And since the problems affect a real-world product they’ll share with their community, students are invested in finding accurate and inventive solutions.
- It requires everyone: Since students specialize into job groups, no small cohort of students can lead—all share responsibility for making a strong product and the pride of creating something that affects their community.
Schools serving students from low-income families and English learners are encouraged to consider this program, as it has been successfully implemented in similar schools in the past. However, all schools are welcome.
Space permitting, independent teaching artists, educators not currently associated with a school, or others who fall outside of the above guidelines are welcome to attend. Please contact us with questions or concerns.
- One classroom teacher, with support from volunteers and coworkers
- A partnership by a classroom teacher and another teacher (an arts or ESOL teacher, for example)
- A classroom teacher as a lead with collaborative co-teaching from several others (for example, several faculty or staff serving as working group leaders or providing other forms of support)
Because this program requires enthusiastic buy-in from those involved, a willingness to think innovatively about the curriculum, and flexibility, we encourage this program as one that teachers opt into, rather than one that is assigned. Regardless of how many teachers or staff members are involved, there should be 6-7 dedicated adults who can serve as working group leaders throughout the year. These can be volunteers, school staff, college interns, classroom aides, parents, or teachers—whatever works!
One possible implementation is described as follows: the class spends two hours, one day a week, in “opera class,” during which students work specifically on the opera itself. Once initial ideas have been determined (theme, setting, etc.), this time is devoted to job groups. Â Additionally, time will be spent throughout the school day on opera work as is appropriate (for example, budget problems incorporated into math lessons).
The goals, skills, practices, and mindsets built by students participating in a robust, year-long opera creation project reflect key components, best practices, and positive outcomes in a number of areas. Please contact us if you would like to receive more information on research related to the Kids Create Opera program.
- Classroom visits from WNO staff and artists
- Tours of the WNO rehearsal studios in Takoma Park, including the costume shop and rehearsal facilities
- Backstage tours of the Kennedy Center’s Opera House
- Professional make-up artist demonstrations
- Passes to WNO dress rehearsals for participating teachers
- Early registration for the WNO Opera Look-In and age-appropriate student open rehearsals (for classrooms grades 3 and older)
- Additional support may be worked out on a case-by-case basis, depending on schools’ needs
For lead teachers:
- Holding parent meetings at the beginning of the year to introduce the program, build general support, and solicit specific help
- Contacting high school and college music and drama programs and faculty for possibilities
- Speaking with friends, colleagues, and contacts about possible qualified and interested individuals
- Hosting interest meetings at the school
- Writing ads, blogs, and articles, or having students do so, to show the power of the process
- Non-credit: $0
- 3 credits: $375
- 6 credits: $750 (additional course requirements apply)
Participants are responsible for covering their own parking, transportation, meals and, if applicable, the cost of graduate credit.