Have you heard that said about you, or are you more likely to say it about someone else?
Do you believe some people are born with a gift?
Before you make up your mind about your child’s ability, lend an ear…
Making stuff is fun. Just ask my three year old. She’ll tell you a whole story about the yellow, red, and green Lego tower that she built for her pig, Wilbur. The following day, she will have transformed the tower into a kind of a house where a fireman lives in the chimney. Another of her favorite activities involves edible ingredients. As soon as I reach for a bag of flour and a mixing bowl, she has pulled up her stool and announces her intent to help me make bread. She loves mixing. She drags her fingers through the cool silky flour and asks for more, more!
Talk to any parent and there will ensue a discussion on suitable toys and activities for children. Children need stimulation, but if that translates into buying more, new or better toys, where does it end? While I was studying art in college, we were encouraged to develop our creativity by setting limitations. Instead of buying more toys, provide simple tools or materials and let children’s imagination take form. Any parent who has ever been camping has come to realize that, in the company of friends and nature, children need no toys.
I am, by vocation, an art teacher. I teach pottery and music. In one studio, I take malleable, sticky earth and fashion whatever comes to mind. The product can be touched, looked at and, in most cases, used for some other purpose. In the other, with violin and bow, I create sound and rhythm. While music cannot be seen or touched, one can feel the emotions it arouses within. What a marvelous, environmentally sound métier for our times of consumer excess!
People often ask when can my child begin? The proper answer is anytime. Every child is unique, and when and how to approach lessons depends on each little one. Shinichi Suzuki, founder of the Suzuki method of teaching music, demonstrated how any child will develop artistic sensibility merely by employing the same, inherent steps he/she takes to utter those first syllables “mama”! Start early (to harness the natural drive of every being to grow and learn), provide the correct environment (to sensitize listening skills), repeat, repeat, repeat (to perfect those skills).
Here is some of what I’ve observed about kids practicing art.
The young ones are enviably free of the critical mind. They’ll dive in if you let them. And, they learn lightening quick. For example, without waiting to see a demonstration, one child of seven years pushed and punched the clay into a stunning piece resembling George Orr’s crazy pottery. It’s not how I, or someone else, would have constructed it, but he created unique artwork. I’ve also had to swallow my horror as a child “destroys” his/her work of art. But is that not just part of the fun? A natural end to creation?
Some violin students seem to eclipse others, but it has nothing to do with ability. When I ask who has practiced, the answer is the same: students who practice skills correctly every day will advance.
Do we need to have our child produce neat and realistic art? Do we tell our toddler they don’t say “mama” the correct way? Of course not. We rejoice in their expression of self, and encourage them to try, and try again. We make it fun with smiles and encouragement.
Art is language. And like any new skill or new word learned, it must be practiced over and over, experimented with, and possibly stumbled over before mastering. This is the process of tuning in, mixing hues, pinching clay…it is a wonderful adventure of the spirit and imagination.
Fernie has a growing variety of arts programs for children to explore. From performance arts: dance, singing, piano and violin studios, drama, to visual arts: pottery, painting, collage and writing. Our community programs are stimulating and affordable.
So, what is your talent?