February 24, 2017

Junior Players Classes At Henry Fonda Theatre Academy

Kids can be so dramatic, right? My preschooler loves the spotlight, and earlier this week I told you about her experience in Creative Drama, the class for children ages 4 to 6 in the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy at Omaha Community Playhouse. Today, I’m writing about my son’s experience in Junior Players, the Academy’s class for children ages 7 to 10. 

Henry Fond Theatre Academy Logo

My son is definitely creative and is enthralled by live theater, but he is not hungry for the spotlight like his little sister. He had a different experience from her. I’m so happy both got to get a taste of theater thanks to Omaha Community Playhouse, whose education department invited my kids to attend Academy classes complimentary so that I can tell you about them.

What is Junior Players 

Theatre class for 7 to 10 year olds at Omaha Community Playhouse
Farley, center and trying not to smile, in a supporting role for a scene his group presented to parents the Junior Players’ “share” day.

Junior Players is a six-week session for children ages 7 to 10. The motto of the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy is “Life skills through stage skills.”

Like all classes in the Academy, children learn about the tools of the actor: Mind, body and voice. They learn ways to manipulate each of those areas with the long-term goal of developing stronger interpersonal communication skills.

The sessions for Junior Players build upon each other. In the fall, they do an American Sign Language integrated session, where body language and physicality of character development (as well as sign language) are the focus. In the winter, they do character work. In the spring, they add text-based scripts.

Junior Players sessions are developed to stand alone. Farley wasn’t in the fall session and he was able to jump into the character development session without issue.

For these past six weeks, each of his hour-long classes were divided in half, where the first 30 minutes are exercises to warm up the three actor tools. Then they do improv games and work on the backstory of their characters. 

What parents should know

Junior Players theatre class at Omaha Community Playhouse's Henry Fonda Theatre Academy
The Junior Players’ teacher, Rachel (far right), explains what students learned over the course of six weeks while the first group of Junior Players gets ready to present a scene they wrote.

Like other classes at the Academy, parents are not allowed to attend any of the classes. This, no doubt, was a relief to my son who can be so easily distracted. Parents did get to attend a share session during the last class, where we watched some of their favorite warm ups and improv games featuring their created characters.

The share session allowed me to see how his teacher, Rachel, was with the students, plus see how young actors with different levels of comfort in the spotlight were able to participate fully.

How to register for Junior Players

Junior Players Henry Fonda Theatre Academy wall of art

The next session of Creative Drama begins the week of April 3 and registration is already open! You can register your child for the spring session here (and if you’re a plan-ahead kind of person, you can register for the summer there, as well). 

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February 22, 2017

Creative Drama At Henry Fonda Theatre Academy

If you’ve been reading this blog for a few months, you know I like exposing my kids to performing arts experiences around Omaha. Our latest arts adventure has been at the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy at Omaha Community Playhouse.

Exterior of Omaha Community Playhouse
Omaha Community Playhouse is home to the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy, which offers classes for a range of ages.

The education department at the theater invited my kids to attend the classes complimentary so that I can tell you about them. Since my kids fall into different age groups, I’ll write separate posts about each. Let’s start with Creative Drama, the adorably fun intro to theater for children ages 4 to 6. Later this week, I’ll tell you about Junior Players, for children ages 7-10.

How To Teach Drama To Preschoolers 

Creatie Drama teacher at the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy at Omaha Community Playhouse
My daughter and the teacher of Creative Drama, Matthew, a seasoned actor you’ve likely seen on different stages around Omaha.

Creative Drama is a six-week session for children ages 4 to 6. The motto of the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy is “Life skills through stage skills.”

Like all classes in the Academy, children learn about the tools of the actor: Mind, body and voice. They learn ways to manipulate each of those areas with the long-term goal of developing stronger interpersonal communication skills.

What my daughter thought the class was: An hour-long silly session with Mr. Matthew.

What the class really was: Children play games that teach them how to use their bodies and voices to share emotions. In one session, they played “I’m a little teapot” using angry, sad, and happy voices and posture. They do a lot of games that involve following directions on cue and learning ways to use their voices without damaging vocal chords. In a later class, children played a game where they tried to guess the emotion of a volunteer based on their body language. All helpful stuff for my daughter!

What parents should know

Creative Drama class for young kids at Omaha Community Playhouse
This may have been the scene during the Creative Drama “share” day when the children were to act like knights. They look like they’re galloping, right?

Parents aren’t allowed to sit in on these classes. If you’re a manic photo taker like myself, it’s a tough pill to swallow. However, this allows the children some independence and removes the parental distraction out of the equation.

Mooch wasn’t very forthcoming with what she did each week in class. She seemed to leave class each week with a smile on her face, so I’ll take it as a good sign.

You do get to see some of what they’ve worked on, though. At the end of the six-week session, parents are invited to sit in on a “share” day, which was the final 15 minutes of the last class.

During my daughter’s “share,” we saw her do an improvised puppet show with a classmate, as well as some pretend scenarios. We also got to see the teacher interact with the students, and Matthew was fantastic, patiently trying to herd the kittens coach the children and encourage the more stage-shy children to participate.

How to register a child for Creative Drama

Theatre class for young kids at Omaha Community Playhouse
The dramatic tale about a princess, a queen elephant and some missing pencils, presented in a Creative Drama class at the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy.

The next session of Creative Drama begins the week of April 3 and registration is already open. You can register your little one for the spring session here (and if you’re a plan-ahead kind of person, you can register for the summer there, as well). 

Stay In The Know!

Subscribe to Oh My! Omaha’s bi-monthly (ish) e-newsletter. It’s totally FREE, and tells you all about the things going on in the Midwest, offers travel inspiration, and more! Subscribe here.

November 1, 2016

Webop Music Class In Omaha

My preschooler loves music–don’t they all at that age?

But after eight weeks in Webop music class, Mooch now knows some basic jazz concepts that will help her learn an instrument, write music, or pursue whatever musical goal her heart desires later.

About Webop In Omaha

The evening Webop class getting instructions from their teacher, Ms. Susie.

The evening Webop class pretending to sing into a microphone with their teacher, Ms. Susie.

Mooch was enrolled in Webop, a program developed by Jazz at Lincoln Center and brought to Omaha by Omaha Performing Arts. I used to work at OPA, and was so excited when I heard about this program starting up in my hometown. It’s phenomenal. Disclaimer: OPA offered my daughter complimentary enrollment so I could tell you about it.

Band Week at Webop class at the Holland Performing Arts Center.

Band Week at the Webop music class at the Holland Performing Arts Center.

For the last two months, we’ve sang, we’ve improvised with instruments and our bodies, we’ve listened to the best story times sung by our wonderful teacher, Susie (who’s a well-known vocalist in our city and beyond).

I say “we” because parents or caretakers not only have to attend with their little one, they’re encouraged to participate.

Our schedule looked like this:

ABC’s of Jazz Curriculum
Week 1: Swing
Week 2: Blues
Week 3: Improvisation
Week 4: Band Week! A review of weeks 1-3
Week 5: Scat
Week 6: Call and Response
Week 7: Form
Week 8: Band Week! A review of weeks 5-7

Ms. Susie with some of the Webop preschoolers at the end of their eight-week program. The program was created by Jazz at Lincoln Center and brought to Nebraska by Omaha Performing Arts.

Ms. Susie with some of the Webop preschoolers at the end of their eight-week program. The program was created by Jazz at Lincoln Center and brought to Nebraska by Omaha Performing Arts.

Every class had a pianist to accompany us and play the melodies, and twice, the class had a band. The kids learned about the instruments and enjoyed playing call-and-response games with the musicians.

Sounds like a great program to you? A new session starts in the spring!

Webop Omaha Spring Classes

WeBop preschool music class in OMaha

Syncopators (4-5 years)

Tuesdays from 6 to 6:45 p.m.: Jan. 24, Jan. 31, Feb. 7, Feb. 14, Feb. 28, March 7, March 14 & March 21

* This is the class with our teacher, Ms. Susie. She was fabulous and my daughter adored her and pianist, Matt.

Stompers (2-3 years)

Thursdays from 10 to 10:45 a.m.: Jan. 26, Feb. 2, Feb. 9, Feb. 16, March 2, March 9, March 16 & March 23

Gumbo Group (3-5 years)

Saturdays from 11 to 11:45 a.m.: Jan. 28, Feb. 4, Feb. 11, Feb. 18, March 4, March 11, March 18 & March 25

Want to sign up for Webop?

Sessions are eight weeks and cost $200 (there is a discount for second child in the same family). Get more program details and register online here!

Note: Our class was a mix of 3- to 5-year-olds. It’s an interesting interaction with the older children taking the lead in the beginning, followed by the young ones speaking up more and more as the weeks progressed. Now, they’re offering classes that divide that age range into two separate groups.

My tip for picking a class: Keep your child’s schedule in mind. I signed us up for an evening class because we had soccer on Saturday mornings and I work full-time, so it it was our only option…but wow, 6  p.m. was a crapshoot if my daughter was in the mood to follow directions. Saturday morning’s would’ve been perfect for her.

September 21, 2016

Can A Preschooler Learn Jazz?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Omaha Performing Arts. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and based on my family’s experience at WeBop. This post contains affiliate links. Oh My! Omaha is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

webop-title

 

I’ll be honest with you, I loved the premise of WeBop when I first heard it, but was a little skeptical about just how much learning a preschool jazz class could entail.

I got my answer after the first session.

We got home and my daughter insisted she needed to perform a concert before bedtime. She recruited her big brother to play percussion on a pail.

I had to pick a song from WeBop: A Family Jazz Party for them to play along to. Loudly.

Thanks a lot, WeBop.

My kid digs jazz.

And apparently, she has band leader potential.

 

What is WeBop?

Our late afternoon WeBop class starts off with playing along with a song using various musical instruments and call-and-response.

It turns out, my preschooler wasn’t the only kid in Omaha making music. Other classmates from her WeBop class have been composing – as only 3- to 5-year-olds could – their own music about playdates and dinosaurs.

Omaha Performing Arts brought WeBop, a preschool program created by Jazz at Lincoln Center, to Omaha this year. This fall is the first session. Parents attend and participate with their 3- to 5-year-old, learning about jazz through songs, dance, books and play. I go into detail about it in this post

We sing and dance a lot in class.

Since improvisation is a cornerstone of jazz, WeBop introduces in it to preschoolers in a fun way - like making sounds and pretending to be an airplane. My son took this picture - you can see me in the background with very weak wings.

Since improvisation is a cornerstone of jazz, WeBop introduces it to preschoolers in a fun way – like making sounds and pretending to be an airplane. My son took this picture – you can see me in the background looking like an angry airplane with weak wings.

It’s a pretty cool experience partly due to the teacher, Susie, who happens to be a well-known jazz vocalist in Omaha (check out her allmusic.com page!). Accompanying her is Matt, a talented pianist. I’m sure he’s probably got an allmusic.com page too.

Anyway. Susie sings, Matt plays, and we sing or play along too. The drums are a big hit every time they’re brought out in class.

Each class so far has had a few minutes of drumming. Children may practice playing solo, improvising or copying what their teacher, Susie, plays.

Each class so far has had a few minutes of drumming. Children may practice playing solo, improvising or copying what their teacher, Susie, plays.

 

My daughter loves all of it. I mean, LOVES it.* 

She bows after each song in class, people.

It’s like she discovered the lure of the spotlight already.

* The class is 45 minutes long, so toward the end of it, her love starts dissolving into a puddle.

 

Keep the learning going at home

At our first class, parents were given a packet that included the curriculum for each week. In it, we were able to see which songs we heard in class, which book was read, and we were reminded which topic we covered (Week #1 – Swing, for instance). It also gave us tips to bring each lesson home.

Here are a sample of my daughter’s favorites:

1. Listen to jazz recordings and let your body swing to beats 2 and 4.

2. Sing a favorite book in a blues style.

3. Create a musical story using different sounds you find in your surrounds. (I call this, “bang on everything as you walk by.”)

 

Want to WeBop?

WeBop preschool music class in OMaha

The fall session is in full swing. See what I did there?

You can get class details here; I recommend starting from the beginning so your child gets the most out of WeBop. I’ll let you know when they announce the next session.

September 1, 2016

WeBop, A Preschool Music Program, Comes To Omaha

There’s no secret I love all the arts and entertainment offerings in Omaha. There are so many opportunities to see great performances at world-class venues.

One of the newest arts offerings in Omaha is for the youngest kiddos out there: WeBop. When I was working at Omaha Performing Arts, I had heard about this phenomenal preschool program developed by Jazz at Lincoln Center. The word was it was coming to Omaha. And now it’s here!

WeBop preschool music class in OMaha

OPA invited me to attend this program with my preschooler to tell you about it. How could I resist? This program introduces 3- to 5-year-olds to core concepts of jazz through movement, songs, storytelling and play. The fun part about these 45-minute sessions is that a parent or guardian has to attend too – so I’ll be learning right alongside my daughter.

Stay tuned as I share photos and details about our experience in the upcoming weeks! This will be a great opportunity for both of us as music lovers, so I appreciate the complimentary registration in exchange for you all about the program.

When does WeBop start?

Omaha Performing Arts starts WeBop classes next week, so if you’re interested in enrolling your little one, don’t wait! There are three session times to choose from: Tuesdays from 6 to 6:45 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 to 9:45 a.m.; and Saturdays from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. The program runs for eight weeks and costs $200 per child (it can include up to two adults). There is a 10% discount for the second child. Sessions are from Sept. 6 through Oct. 29 at the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.

 

If you go

WeBop

Where: Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.

When: Sept. 6 through Oct 29; three session times to choose from (Tuesdays from 6 to 6:45 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 to 9:45 a.m.; and Saturdays from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m.)

Cost: $200; register online at TicketOmaha.com