Finding the Arts in a Rural Community

I‘m always looking for more opportunities and experiences for the arts, whether for myself or my children. And after so many years of searching, it surprising to sit back and look at just how much there is going on where we live.

Shakespeare 4 All

Photo by Deniz Demirci on Unsplash

This will be a new experience for us. For three weeks out of the year I’ll shuttle my daughter back and forth nightly from Modesto to rehearse for and participate in a Shakespeare play. Shakespeare 4 All creates a community opportunity for people of any experience level to participate in a Shakespearean play. My daughter has thus far only performed in home theatrics but loves to memorize poetry. Her little heart came alive when we held our first family Midsummer Night’s Festival at our house. For years, she’s sustained an interest in the stage, and now she is old enough for me to feed that.

Opera Modesto Reader Performances

The Reader Performances with Opera Modesto’s Story Into Song Literacy Initiative mean I can bring my multiple children to the productions I report on. We are already reading poetry and studying music, now they can see poery and music combined, performed by professionals and pre-professionals, including young women like Darby Schmidt who starred in “Annabel” as the titular character. Schmidt is from Oakdale and grew up operatically through the Summer Opera Institute program with Opera Modesto. She now studies at Eastman School of Music.

Homeschool Co-op Classes

Photo by Isabela Kronemberger on Unsplash

Organized homeschool community activities are very important to a homeschooling community, creating educational extra-curricular opportunities for our students. With aging children, I now have one old enough to participate in ballroom dancing. Learning to dance not only ensures a good time at weddings but can help create some really good awkward moments once self-consciousness sets in. Class will be once a week for six weeks.

Art Classes at Carnegie Arts Center

I have three children signed up for classes this spring with the Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock. Those classes include painting, stop-motion animation and print-making. One child reports she would like to be an artist. Another draws dynamic figures at war. We visit exhibits often, primarily their opening nights which offer free admission and often have the artists present and available to answer questions. I relish opportunities for my children to meet working artists to hear what is like and to be encouraged.

Aileen Jaffa Poetry Contest

Contests are important. The thrill of competition comes with the idea that, if I apply myself, maybe I could win. It’s an exciting proposition. Last year my eldest wrote a riddle-poem about our chicken egg basket, my first-born son rhymed his way through a goblin attack, and my middle child played with words sounds in a poem about spring. Contests help us draw up what we’ve learned and apply it in a concerted effort, often with very surprising and entertaining results.

A Cèilidh

A few years ago, gentleman came and washed our windows. While filling his bucket, he overhead my husband’s soundtrack of Celtic music. They got to talking and Mr. Derek Sturke of “I Can See Clearly Now” Window Cleaning invited my husband to participate with a group of musicians in a monthly meet up to play those good ol’ Irish tunes called a “cèilidh.” This last month I came along with the children for the first hour. Nothing quite beats hearing our 7-year-old belt out the chorus from “Wild Rover”.

Whatever my children choose for a career, I hope that the love of beauty and the practice of making the world a more beautiful place will be a part of their lives, however it may look. I hope will be for you, too.

If any of these things appeal to you, check them out.

There are more out there include ballet thorough the Juline School or Central West Ballet, theater at Prospect Theater and Gaslight Theater, Gallo Center performances, plays by the performing arts departments in the high schools and colleges. There is so much to enjoy in our neck of the woods, we just have to dig a little.

And if you find a little something you love, please considering supporting these groups that work so hard.

Many of the educational opportunities are made possible to a large family through the generous scholarship programs offered by local non-profits and teachers. If you have been supporting these programs with your donations, thank you. On behalf of a family for whom it might not otherwise be possible, thank you.

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