Thursday, August 29, 2013

FAMILY FUN MONTH: Back to School with Art and Heart by Debbie in the OC

In celebration of August being Family Fun Month, the Center is delighted to share stories by some of Orange County’s favorite family bloggers. 

By Debbie Lavdas of OC Family's Debbie in the OC

Orange County is a fabulous place to have your child involved in the arts. We are so fortunate to have all the many unique outlets for children in the local area. With the kids heading back to school, it can be challenging to juggle extracurricular activities, but choosing wisely and thinking long-term reward helps streamline decisions. 

My family is a big fan of the arts in all we do. Specifically, we are big supporters of three art-focused paths in the area, including Southland Ballet Academy, Music Factory OC and the Waldorf-inspired Journey School. 

We’ve had our daughter, Zoe, involved with Southland Ballet Academy and Festival Ballet Theatre for the last three years because of the phenomenal real-life opportunities she receives. Each year, she has been in FBT’s two-week run of The Nutcracker at The Barclay in Irvine. FBT also performs one holiday show at Segerstrom Center for the Arts each year. Salwa Rizkalla is FBT’s Artistic Director, and she offers the young dancers exceptional instruction and the experience of what it’s really like to be up on stage in front of a crowd of 800, as well as rare behind-the-scenes camaraderie. Because Salwa’s SBA program is linked to her FBT’s performances, the unique combination equals outstanding professional experience for young dancers. SBA has studios in both Irvine and Huntington Beach, which is convenient. It is the only extracurricular venue we drive to, so as to not spend all our time running kids everywhere during the school year. Registration is open now for SBA’s 2013-2014 classes, if you’re interested. 

Next up, is the Music Factory OC—another real-world arts avenue for kids. The program is run by real-world musicians who currently tour. It’s headed by Danny Thompson of the iconic punk band Face to Face and the very talented and Anthony Riedelsheimer, whose music education includes rigorous private studies with world-renowned contemporary artists, spanning all genres throughout Europe and the U.S. So far Zoe, age 9, has played piano performances (‘Over the Rainbow’ most recently) at a hip LA coffeehouse, an OC club venue and at a public recital in town. Her talented teacher, Lauren Chanel Cobb, performs around LA and OC with her band, so she gives Zoe weekly insight into what it’s really like out there. The entire teaching staff is comprised of industry professionals with experience in recording, working within a band, touring and formal education (not your average musicians just looking for some extra cash). But the very best thing I love about the company is that the teachers come to the house. This is priceless for those with busy families. All styles of music are taught from guitar, piano and rock band to drums and voice lessons. Music Factory OC is very progressive too: it’s the only music academy in Orange County where you will find the new cutting edge m360 Music Lesson experience. 

Finally, we are fortunate enough to have our kids at the public Waldorf school in Orange County, Journey School. It’s a wonderful artistic and loving education for children. It was also just awarded the only Green Ribbon school in the area for it’s eco-wise ways. Waldorf education has been around since the 1900’s with many artistically famous students from current stars such as Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston. Well-known Waldorf parents include Mikhail Baryshnikov, Clint Eastwood and Led Zeppelin, as well as the CEO of eBay and many who work at Google, Apple and Yahoo. Waldorf is the fastest growing independent school movement in the world and operates under the philosophy that in order to develop critical thinking, a child needs an active and creative imagination. Many always ask me to describe the teachings. The best I can answer is as the charter name says: “It’s a journey, not a race.” The Waldorf philosophy teaches kids to think creatively, outside the box. Incessant tests and memorization are not priority. The children start at a slower pace and learn to love school itself, without the test pressures or linear form of learning, and after 4th grade, the children tend to “catch up” in test scores on a district scale. So if you’re a parent who can resist the obsession of today’s competitive, test-focused ways for your children and focus more on unique problem solving through arts and creative thinking, it’s a blessing for your child. Don’t miss their Harvest Faire, November 2nd this fall at the Aliso Viejo campus; it’s open to the public and will give you a beautiful up-close window to the unique, natural Waldorf world. 

So here’s to an inspired school year ahead filled with reward, talent, happiness and less over-scheduled children. And bravo to venues such as Segerstrom Center for the Arts, who value arts in Orange County. My children and I look forward to seeing what’s on stage for the 2013-2014 season. SCFTA puts on phenomenal shows that will always be a part of my children’s childhood memories—from Wicked to The Lion King


Keep the family fun going in September when ANYTHING GOES sails to Segerstrom Center!

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