April 5, 2018
by Renee Wright, Lower School Director
Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of each month, you will now find a guest blog post here from one of MPA’s division directors. We hope you will enjoy reading their stories and reflections about life at MPA!
A cherished MPA tradition continues for its 37th year on April 12, 2018, when the Lower School presents its Art and Music Show. You won’t want to miss seeing firsthand the pride on the faces of our Lower School students as they present their beautiful artwork and sing and dance joyfully for family and friends.
The first Lower School Art and Music Show debuted in 1982, never missing a year after that. The early years showcased student learning throughout the school year. Starting in 1989, the shows began to focus on specific themes, thoughtfully selected by the Lower School art and music teachers each year. Earlier themes included Around the World, Songs of America, Animal Fair, Disney, A Wonderful World of Color, Muppets: A Tribute to Jim Henson, Wild West, and many more. This approach has given each Art and Music Show a fresh look and created extraordinary student excitement and engagement.
This year, the students celebrate authors and illustrators of award-winning picture books. Students have studied how stories are conveyed through art and writing. They have learned to analyze the artwork in picture books for color, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value. Kindergartners have explored the colorful works of Eric Carle and Richard Scarry. First graders have learned from the creativity and imagination of Ezra Jack Keats and Lois Ehlert while second graders have enjoyed the rollicking rhymes of Dr. Seuss and the engaging characters of Lucy Cousins. Third graders have been charmed by the gentle animals of Jerry Pinkney and Jan Brett and fourth graders have explored the engaging, innovative works of Sara Fanelli, Chris Raschka, and Barbara Knutson. Books by these authors and illustrators have also been the inspiration for movement, instrument playing, and singing in music class during the year. These creative artists have served as talented role models for our students, and now the students are prepared and excited to present their own inspirations to family and friends!
The Art and Music Show celebrates what is at the foundation of a Mounds Park Academy education: the fundamental belief that arts education is an essential component of a child’s education. Research shows that studying the arts provides significant cognitive benefits and helps students think and integrate learning. Music instruction is proven to enhance the brain functions required for mathematics, science, and engineering. The arts transcend all academic disciplines, teaching higher level thinking skills, reasoning, analysis, and evaluation. In addition, they heighten students’ awareness of other cultures and teach empathy and respect for others. From its founding, MPA has recognized the arts as core academic subjects taught by artists and qualified teachers. Creativity is a crucial aspect of the teaching/learning process in our art and music classes and the sequential curriculum, academic rigor, and high expectations make the arts program exceptionally strong.
Art teacher, Karen Rossbach, and music teacher, Mari Espeland, deserve much credit for keeping the Art and Music Show alive for 37 consecutive years. Their unprecedented passion for art and music has enlightened so many students through the years and instilled a love of the arts. Legends in the Lower School, they have truly made a difference in the lives of their students. When asked about the value of the Art and Music Show this is what they said:
“While the process of art making is an important part of self-discovery, meaning making, and developing the creative mind, exhibiting that work is a way to share our stories through those discoveries and through the open expressions of self. Students gain a sense of pride and value from working toward a larger goal with others, then invite the community to come together to celebrate their creative growth and efforts. Combining our Lower School art exhibition with the Lower School music performance allows us, as educators, to help kids make the cross-discipline connections that enrich their learning in all areas. It also allows us to be more creative as teachers when we are able to collaborate and explore ideas.” – Karen Rossbach
“The music portion of the Lower School Art and Music Show is a time for students to share what they have learned in music class. This culminating event draws family members into the musical learning and growth that each student experiences in their music education at Mounds Park Academy. As much as I love this event and the way music brings our community together, my favorite part of teaching music is actually class time. The process of learning, creating, and collaborating that occurs in each music class is the truly amazing part of my job. The students bring their perspectives, personalities, creativity, strengths, and challenges to the curriculum that I craft. Students take ownership of their learning when their ideas are a crucial part of the music learning process. This special process—the day-to-day, step-by-step practice of musical skill development paired with artistic expression—gives depth and richness to the students’ performance on the evening of the show. I am so happy that each student has special people in the audience to support his/her learning and accomplishment. I also hope that through experiencing the performance and talking with your student, Lower School families can come to understand the process that leads to the performance.“ – Mari Espeland
I was first introduced to the Lower School Art and Music Show in 1987 when interviewing for a teaching position at MPA. After the interview, I was given a tour of the beautiful art that had transformed the Lower School into an amazing art gallery in preparation for the Art and Music Show that year. Upon seeing the inspirational art created by students in K-4, I knew instantly that I wanted to be part of this community because it valued the arts deeply, and I am so proud to introduce you to this year’s show, 31 years later.
Please join me at the Lower School Art and Music Show on April 12. Eric Carle once said, “The book is like a bridge, over which a story travels from the writer to the readers,” and, I would add, into a world of imagination, creativity, self-reflection, and learning. Our students are eager to guide you over that bridge and show you what they have learned. You will know instantly that MPA has achieved its goal of cultivating a lifelong appreciation of, and commitment to, art and music. An arts education is a beautiful gift!