By Tim Nichols, freelance writer
Imagine fingers dancing across the keyboard. Tapping out a Bossa Nova beat on a table. Playing the recorder over and over, eyes transfixed by the notes arranged on the page. Well, that’s just me remembering my meeting with the director of Musikgarten in Oak Park, Amy Pappageorge.
Rewinding and playing the recorder again, I can picture Pappageorge in person. Her childlike excitement swaddled in a very supple, inquisitive mind. For an hour, she paints a picture in my mind that shows how vitally important early exposure to music and the arts is to the development of children: Sometimes singing to illustrate a point, sometimes standing up suddenly as if moved physically as well as emotionally by the importance of it, and always supremely articulate.
“The Musikgarten curriculum educates the child from birth in a carefully sequential plan that we refer to as the pathway to music literacy,” Pappageorge explains. It’s clear, though, that this is about much more than learning how to play the piano. “All aspects of learning are enhanced when music is a key element in a holistic approach” she adds. “Research clearly shows it is helpful to all later learning and strong cognitive functioning.”
Then I simply follow that up with, “Wow, really?” to be serenaded some more: “When information is embedded in an emotional context, it stimulates neural circuitry more powerfully than information alone.”
The next question is designed to impress her with my exacting knowledge of the subject matter: “Is it really true that an early arts education can lead to higher concentration levels, more motor coordination and better—better—you know—”
“Among many other things, It promotes language development, creativity, a love of singing and dancing, social interaction, and cooperation,” Pappageorge responds patiently.
After earning her master’s in Performance Studies from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Pappageorge and her husband moved to Los Angeles with their two children to pursue acting, professional storytelling and a general process of self-discovery. Fortunately, for the children and parents of Oak Park, a combination of bad public schools in LA and too much waiting on tables between auditions led the family here.
They were immediately influenced by the “the wonderful schools, the community-wide support of the arts, the idealism of its citizens and their passion and caring about the welfare of others,” says Pappageorge. “Oak Park is a tight-knit, open-hearted community. There’s a ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ spirit in this town.”
One of Oak Park’s great teams is the Oak Park Arts District Business Association on Harrison Street, where the first Musikgarten space was located.
“OPADBA just works wonders to support Arts District Businesses and to provide cultural events and bring beauty and opportunities to the village.”
To underscore that point, Pappageorge recently moved her studio space even closer to the heart of the Arts District, right next to the Buzz Cafe on Lombard and Harrison. An increased demand for classes also made it necessary to find a larger environment, after operating for years in a one-room school house.
“Everything about the new space and the overall design fulfills my requirements for a lovely and well-arranged music and movement studio,” she says.
The move also helps continue a collaboration between Pappageorge and her friend Gigi Hudson, director of The Actor’s Garden.
“In the new location, we have made Musikgarten and The Actor’s Garden accessible to each other by adding an inside adjoining door. This allows us to use one another’s spaces and helps the families to stay connected to us as we share students and pedagogical goals.”
Additionally, the backyard of the new studio features a community-supported organic vegetable and flower garden.
“With our nature-based preschool curriculum that encourages an understanding and appreciation of nature, what could be more perfect and harmonious?”
Pappageorge is particularly proud of a second room in the new storefront that will serve both as a studio for her own pursuit of painting as well as a studio for keyboard classes and possibly Zumba dance classes for adults.
As we stand in this second room, surrounded by keyboards, oil paintings and colorful bongo drums, Pappageorge points to two incongruous plaid-patterned recliners against the back wall. She smiles longingly and talks about how they will be perfect for sneaking naps during the day. However, if you’ve ever met Pappageorge, you’ll agree that this is one dream, maybe the only one, that will not likely come true for her.
2018 RECITAL INFORMATION AND PREPARATION
The spring recital will be held on Sunday, May 6th in the ballroom of the Oak Park Arms in Oak Park. Please sign up for recital A or B at your keyboard class.
RECITAL A: 3:00 P.M Recital and reception.
RECITAL B: 4:15 P.M. Reception and Recital.
At each recital we will be starting with singing, dancing, and music games with the formal recital directly after. Please plan on arriving 15 minutes before your scheduled recital so your child can try the piano and become comfortable in the space. Siblings, family, and friends are very welcome to join us in celebrating your child’s musical accomplishments. Please bring a healthy appetizer to share and a canned good to donate to the local food pantry. Both recitals will participate in the reception that begins at 4:15 P.M.
As the Oak Park Arms often hosts recitals and other musical events as a service to the residents, plan on seeing and greeting these guest audience members in the ballroom for the recital. The Arms offers their space as a service to the community so there will be no recital fee for this event.
In preparation for the recital, please keep in mind the following: If your songs are memorized but were originally reading pieces please bring all your music so it will be available. Please remember to bring your music and handily mark the page if your child will be using the book. Please dress appropriately, no jeans, t-shirts, or gym shoes; this is both a performance and a celebration of your hard work. Again, please bring a snack or appetizer to share afterwards and plan on enjoying the fun!
What a joy to listen to the wonderful piano performances of the children. How happy it made us to celebrate your musical accomplishments. I smile to remember the children in their fancy attire, playing with gusto and confidence and skillfulness. The dances and ensemble performance were special delights. The parents, family members & teachers beamed with pleasure. We are truly blessed with the lovely talent and dedication of our wonderful keyboard teachers Maria Bolchert and Laura Moglia Kelley. We are so thankful for your gifts of teaching.
Wonderful thanks to the Oak Park Arms and the gracious Desi Vasquez, social director at the Arms. We are tremendously grateful for their extra-ordinary support. “It is a wonderful world and it’s all at the Arms.”
If you have questions about the recital, please contact Maria Bolchert email@example.com or Laura Moglia Kelly firstname.lastname@example.org
INSTRUMENTS FOR SALE
• A list of the instruments for sale at Musikgarten of Oak Park can found at the bottom of this email. We sell instruments before or after class. You can also arrange a time to purchase materials. If you wish to purchase a Remo Buffalo Drum, please let us know straightway as there are limited quantities at the studio and we will be glad to order more.
PRICE LIST FOR INSTRUMENTS AND ACCESSORIES
(Prices include sales tax.)
Baby Instrument Packet $12.00
(Includes wooden shaker, scarf & rhythm sticks in cloth pouch.)
Buffalo Drum (Remo) $47.00
Cymbals, Brass Stamped $5.00
Pair of Chiquita Maracas $4.00
Frog Guiro Rasp $15.00
Jingle Bell on stick $3.00
Jingle Bells Wrist $5.00
Quack Stick or Canary Stick $6.00
Rattle (finely sanded wood) $4.00
Rainbow Ribbon Band $3.00
Rhythm Sticks (pair) $2.50
Sand blocks (pair) $3.00
Slinky Pop Tube $2.00
Sound Shape Drum $20.00
Remo Tambourine $20.00
Thunder Tube $9.00
Wood Train Whistle $6.00
*Sticks, rattles, hoops, Buffalo drums & Musikgarten scarves are 100% American made. Jingle Tap shaft is American made.
MUSIC MAKERS AT HOME AND MUSIC MAKERS AROUND THE WORLD This curriculum richly supports the development of the skills needed to pursue a successful musical journey. One of the hallmarks of the Musikgarten program is that we are preparing children to be lifelong, joyful musicians. Our curriculum and teachers support music making that fosters a dynamic, playful and creative relationship to music making. Instilling a passion for music is key. As Ellen Johansen writes, “This is the enduring motivation of children to spend the time to learn an instrument and to put in the hours to refine their technique and their musical ear.” Children learn to love to makeand express music, not just to play the piano, and to simply follow the song sheet.”
Kristin Barendregt Ludwig has written the following article to highlight key components of the class.
Music Makers at Home and Around the World: The Next Step
You and your child have enjoyed the singing, moving, rhythmic and tonal activities that are hallmarks of a Musikgarten class. In the next level we keep all of these great elements, plus offer musical discoveries that meet the developmental needs of your child as he or she enters a new phase of independence.
So how do we teach all these important musical skills and have so much fun?
• We sing songs with opportunities for individual responses and a broader range for vocal development.
• We practice moving with more complexity.
• We continue to practice rhythm and steady beat.
• We tell stories with movement and music, inviting the children to bring them alive.
• We offer many different opportunities for children to verbalize their ideas and suggestions.
• We continue to practice patterns with accuracy, using tonal and rhythmic names that we later connect to notation.
• We emphasize making connections between symbols and sound first with graphic notation and then with note reading familiar patterns. Later, these are found in the notation of favorite songs
• We develop ensembles, building skills on large motor instruments.
At this time many parents ask us:
When should I start my child on an instrument?
Success on an instrument starts with preparation. The Music Makers at Home and Around the World curricula lays the foundation for tonal accuracy, beat competency, motor readiness, and note reading. We teach young children to audiate, that is, to hear the notation in their heads. In this way we teach music, not only operating the piano. At around age 6, when fine motor skills are starting to develop, the children can bring this wealth of musical experience to their instrument with confidence. Most importantly, learning in a way that engages with the natural motivation of your child fosters a love and a passion for music making. What a powerful gift!
That’s not all:
Did you know that, in addition to musical skills, your child will be practicing key areas of development for this age?
The musical activities your child enjoys also help to build impulse control, inner speech, self soothing strategies, pre-reading skills, pre-writing skills, balance, and motor skills. The important rhythmic and movement activities actually prepare the brain to learn; all while experiencing the joy of making music with friends.
What does this look like in class?
In class, we sing songs that delve imaginatively into the thematic material for the session, whether exploring various natural habitats for the first year or diverse world cultures for the second year. We tell stories based in the theme often with responses and movement from the children. Listening examples introduce instruments from the orchestra and we, in turn, explore the instruments we use in class as well. Step by step we build ensembles, inviting the children to make their own music. They love recording it and listen intently when it’s played back. Through this process we introduce graphic notation and eventually traditional notation patterns. The children delight in the games that we play with the notation cards, identifying, matching, and composing while they gain the confidence that they are reading music!
The activities in class and at home are supported by the beautiful materials for each session including a CD, poster/folder with game pieces and notation cards. Parents join for the last 15 minutes and are encouraged to continue the joyful music making at home.
We look forward to a wonderful fall season of musical adventures.
Amy & Ana Pappageorge & Maria Bolchert
Music Makers: At the Keyboard…
…is a group method.
…develops aural skills.
…involves children in singing and movement activities.
…is based on a repertoire of melodic, tonal, and rhythm patterns, and familiar songs.
…leads to true music literacy, enabling the child to “hear what s/he sees” and “see what s/he hears”.
…follows a careful sequence in teaching the children to read music, including notation games, mystery songs, and dictation activities.
…provides a solid musical foundation for all subsequent music making.
…is a logical follow-up to early-childhood music classes.
…enables kids to figure out how to play their favorite songs.
…starts in a five-finger position.
…helps kids to aurally recognize patterns within songs and utilizes solfege as a means of naming and organizing those patterns.
…begins with a chord approach and encourages kids to figure out the appropriate accompaniment as they begin to recognize melodic/harmonic relationships.
You are invited to an exhibition.
Saturday, May 20 2017
11:00 - 5 P.M.
Musikgarten of Oak Park
907 S. Lombard Ave.
Musikgarten of Oak Park will be participating in What's Blooming on Harrison. Beautiful paintings, pottery, and fine woodwork will be on display and for sale. The talented Ann Garcia and Garen Hudson will be sharing their gifts of music. We will have refreshments galore, including special treats from Ms. Beky’s family-owned bakery, Seph’s Sweets.
Throughout the day award-winning painter George Ceffalio will conduct a live oil painting demonstration. You will love to watch a master oil painter at work. May you be inspired by George’s gift of painting and consider attending one of his workshops at the Brigantine Gallery someday soon. He is an exceptional teacher with a very generous heart.
George Ceffalio is best known for his rich, vibrant colors and creative depiction of subject. His still-life paintings evoke a sense of warmth and appreciation for all that is good. They are glimpses of those precious moments when one feels grateful to see life at its very essence. Design is foremost and each painting is quite unique. Throughout the day George will conduct a live oil painting demonstration.
Expressing her love of pottery, Pennie Ebsen states, “I work with clay because I believe it is a transformational material that transcends explanation. My pots are formed with your use in mind. When you add flowers to a vase, or fill a serving bowl with a colorful salad, then together we have completed an art process; we have finished transforming the clay.”
Nicholas Harazin loves wood. He loves plants. He loves the long lasting nature of nature. He believes in keeping wood simple and keeping it good. Through his work, he reuses, restores, and repurposes whenever he can, keeping the beauty of this good wood out of landfills and trash heaps. He does custom work, large and small, and at the end of the day wants to bring joy to people through all his pieces.
Amy Pappageorge, better known as Musikgarten teacher “Ms. Amy,” is reviving a childhood love of making art. She loves the challenge of painting the reality of simple things. “The beauty that is everywhere can be lost on me in my eagerness to live life to the full. I love to bring all of my attention to the still-life. When I paint I stand in a quiet, beholding space. There is fulfillment and wonder in this simple, crystal-clear seeing."
Garen Hudson has been playing piano since he was 8 years old, and has had a passion for music his whole life. Garen has music directed classes for the Actors Garden, hosted a teen open mic night at Fitzgerald’s for three years, and is a songwriter himself. He just returned from 8 months of travelling abroad, and is excited to be back in Chicago where he is working in the live music scene with his band, Saltwater Tap.
Ann Garcia is a local Musikgarten teacher and musician. She discovered the flute at an early age and fell in love with its silvery sound, which reminded her of the beautiful music of nature. She enjoys playing the flute in ensembles and singing in choirs as well as teaching music to young children.
This exhibition coincides with What’s Blooming on Harrison, the Oak Park Arts District's annual street festival. The street is closed and the day is packed with so much to do! Shop the art fair, watch your kids have a ball at the children's carnival, sip a refreshing drink at the beer garden, listen to live music at three different venues, sample sweet and savory bites from the food trucks, enjoy a craft demonstration or take part in an all ages art workshop. Don't miss exploring the Sixth Annual Oak Park Sculpture Walk. Celebrate the Arts District Community! For more information please visit www.oakparkartsdistrict.com
The Heart RULES! The Art of Heart-ful Parenting
Musikgarten of Oak Park Parent Education Event
Where: Oak Park Arms Ballroom 408 S. Oak Park Ave.
When: Wednesday, February 8 2017
Time: 6:30 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.
We can’t wait to see you. Your engagement with Musikgarten will have a brand new significance. Even all you long-attending families will experience a broader excitement when you see and hear this fresh approach.
We will start the evening with a very special performance by our beloved Ms. Ana.
So what’s this fresh new direction?!? The answer is simple. We will be putting greater emphasis on how Musikgarten nurtures heart values in young children. Musikgarten has always prized the neuroscience of music. Now we wish to emphasize more overtly how parent/child partnership education, grounded in heart-based virtues and implemented through early childhood music and movement, is transformational.
As I have been studying the research on child and human development, you cannot imagine how Musikgarten’s activities, songs, dances, stories, and poetry have acquired a new meaning and purpose. At every turn I think about how all aspects of child development and loving relationships are being enhanced and encouraged - everything from loving connection to self-regulation and impulse control, to creativity, confidence and self-expression, to appreciation, gratitude, and even reverence for nature.
On Wednesday, February 8th, we will be touching on three overarching gifts that this new focus will give you and your children. The gifts will do you a power of good to enhance your home-love and your child’s whole development. We will be sharing tips, tools, and expressions of joy you will be happy to use at home.
You will also be invited to be co-creators of a special project we are generating at Musikgarten of Oak Park. We will reveal this the evening of September 8. We hope to use our example at Musikgarten of Oak Park to light a fire in the hearts of families and music studios everywhere.
Please be sure to R.S.V.P. to Katy at email@example.com We have a few special gifts to give and we need to know how many parents will be in attendance.
With gratitude for your support,
We have enjoyed singing about the robin bird in several of our music classes. You and your children will enjoy this special viewing of robins and their nest.
|Friends tell stories together
Photo by JEFF KRAGE
For Pioneer Press
Friends for 13 years, Amy Pappageorge and Gigi Hudson met doing what they now do every weekend together, through storytelling.
Hudson's husband had written a play for Oak Park's Village Players Theatre, Hudson said, a production cast with local storytellers. Pappageorge was one of them.
"I remember you being so incredibly gracious and kind," Hudson said. "That moment is where we connected."
And now, the local women are paired together at Pappageorge'sMusikgarten studio at 344 Harrison St. Pappageorge continues to offer her music programs for children, while Hudson is also offering theater for young people with her programActors Garden.
The pair is also team teaching a weekend class called Tuneful Tales, a storytelling program for children. The cooperative work is most appropriate, the women say.
"We've been living parallel lives for years," Hudson said. "We've known each other because we're in the same types of circles."
Gigi Hudson, left, and Amy Pappageorge lead a Tuneful Tales class Saturday, Sept. 26, at Musikgarten, 344 Harrison St.
Gigi Hudson and Amy Pappageorge have partnered together at Pappageorge's Musikgarten studio.
Both women have been in their respective specialties for a while. Hudson has been doing theater education for the past 20 years, she said, and is devoted to family programming.
"It's an amazing experience for me," Hudson said. "Children who I taught when they were four years old are coming back and being teachers or assistants in summer camps."
Pappageorge has spent 15 years teaching early childhood music and movement. She spent time teaching in the park district and out of her home before opening her own studio about three years ago.
"I always loved to sing as a child," Pappageorge said. "I was always the kid on the bus who would lead the kids in song."
Teaching between 20 and 28 classes for almost 300, Pappageorge said she'd been planning on trying to pull back a little bit. And having another program set up in her space would be a good way to do so, she thought.
Then Hudson came along, looking to start her own theater program for young people.
"She was the answer to my prayers," Pappageorge said.
So far, the reviews are positive over the partnership. Sam Roe of Oak Park has his twin sons enrolled in Tuneful Tales. They've been with Pappageorge for the past five years, he said.
"I think she may be the best teacher I've ever seen anywhere," Roe said. "She's great with kids. She has a wonderful voice. She has great rapport with adults and children."
Together, Pappageorge and Hudson run their joint class with energy and urgency, keeping the kids motivated, Roe said.
"I think it's extraordinarily fortunate that Oak Park has people of the quality of Miss Amy and Miss Gigi teaching children in a theater class," Roe said. "I can't imagine too many communities anywhere in this country have people of that caliber teaching children."
Chicago resident Julie Trenker's had her daughter enrolled with Hudson for five years, as well. Her daughter's enjoyed the experience, Trenker said,
Trenker now has her daughter enrolled in the Tuneful Tales class, as well.
"The space is wonderful," she said. "The energy, you can feel it the minute you walk in the room."
Having the programs share space offers a continuum of education, of sorts. Pappageorge will start with children as young as four weeks old, she said, ranging all the way up to nine years old.
The older children can then get involved in Actors Garden, Hudson said.
And now, the Musikgarten studio is open seven days a week, also a job to Pappageorge.
"It's a dream come true," she said. "The studio has been underutilized. Now it's going ot be alive with beauty and goodness seven days a week."