Katherine Joslyn asked a group of three-year-olds last Thursday if their parents read them bedtime stories. Many hands shot straight into the air, and book titles spewed out of the children’s mouths.
Every Thursday, the kids at Children’s School hear some of their favorite bedtime stories in a way that’s probably different from their parents’ approaches.
Joslyn, the Chautauqua Opera Guild intern, teaches those at Children’s School different aspects of opera every week. The first class was an introduction to opera, and Joslyn told the children that the art form is a story — but with singing, dancing and acting.
The first opera they covered was The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, which tells the story of a girl who wants to make reworks but is told she can’t.
To go along with the story, the children made reworks of their own. They dipped cardboard tubes that had been frayed at the ends into red, white, blue, silver and gold paints. Then they pushed the cardboard down onto black construction paper to create a night sky full of reworks. The music from The Firework-Maker’s Daughter opera played in the background.
Connor Watkins, 3, chose blue because he loves the color. Connor said he watched the Fourth of July reworks on the beach and that he liked them, especially the red ones.
“I love reworks,” he said.
Guild board members Nancy Seel and Deanna Johnson have helped Joslyn come up with weekly lesson plans, and Thursday, July 12, Joslyn will teach the children about the opera Where The Wild Things Are, based on the book by Maurice Sendak. Joslyn will lead a parade similar to the one in the book, and the children will wear handmade crowns. Each age group will also read along with the book while the opera plays in the background.
It’s important to teach children about opera at a young age because people in the profession are trying to preserve it, Joslyn said.
“It starts with the kids,” Joslyn said.
The teaching is already sticking with the children, Joslyn said. One girl recognized Joslyn on the street and sang for her, which adds to the “extremely rewarding” experience, she said.
As a student studying music education, Joslyn is able to combine her love for teaching with her love of opera.
“I really love this. It’s really great to show them what opera is.”
-Katherine Joslyn, Intern, Chautauqua Opera Guild