By Guest Blogger Jaclyn Surso, Musical Arts Director

While I cannot be sure why my parents (whom work in an unrelated field) enrolled me in early childhood music classes as a toddler; I feel confident that the reason, at that point in my short time here on earth, was not that I would become a professional opera singer. Certainly, it was not these classes alone that provided me with the skills to enjoy a career in the field of music, but it was a significant component that gave me a head start and an advantage over my peers.

Classes involving BOTH music and movement at a young age enable children to achieve milestones, such as language advancement, coordination, and listening skills quicker and easier than children who don’t receive this type of experience. Music engages the brain while stimulating neural pathways associated with higher forms of intelligence; abstract thinking, empathy and mathematics, to name a few. (As published in Early Childhood Connections) Since our ears are fully formed before birth, we begin exploring our environment through aural discovery. We can advance the growth of these natural skills by 2(1)involving children in Musikgarten classes. When we invite children to explore their intrinsic inner rhythm through free movement and creative expression, they begin to build a specific type of confidence in themselves that will be carried throughout the rest of their lives.

When offered the position of Musical Arts Director at Greensboro Performing Arts studio, I needed to understand what made this institution different than other dance studios. I saw quickly that the way the Director and teachers care for the individual student is special.

I watched the Director; paired with other teachers, sit down with individual students and their parents to talk through an evaluation to determine the possibility of taking the leap from ballet to being on pointe. I was amazed at the attention, time and concern they spent to discover a student’s true potential, while designing a plan for their future goals. The concern for the whole student, to keep them dancing injury free for life, was something I had never seen or experienced in my many years of 3(1)arts training! I knew these dedicated, passionate and kindhearted professionals were a different kind of performing arts family, one that I wanted to be a part of. After a few days, I stopped being surprised by the number of parents who would share with me that I have indeed become part of a family of arts educators, who teach excellence and are committed to their students.

GPA is elated to add Ms. Cotten to the faculty. Martha-Margaret Cotten has been a dance educator for 15 years, teaching ballet, modern, creative movement, and improvisation to ages 3 to adult as well as establishing a systematic monthly curriculum for preschool aged dancers.

Our Early Childhood Music and Movement Classes are geared for children to learn alongside the parent. Musikgarten fosters increased socialization, concentration, fine motor coordination and the overall physical and emotional well-being of a child. These classes serve as a foundation in the performing arts for children 6 months to 3 years of age.

Martha Margaret CotttenCertified Musikgarten teachers, like Greensboro Performing Arts’ Suzanne Vandergrift and Martha-Margaret Cotten, believe these significant truths demonstrate the importance of Musikgarten for children:

-All children are musical.

-Music benefits the whole child.

-Must be introduced early and with instruments.

-We can help deepen a child’s appreciation for music and the natural world around them, building a foundation for life-long music making.

-Providing an appropriate movement and musical experience and following a carefully sequenced approach to music reading allows a child to participate fully in musical experiences of all kinds.

logo cutFor ages 3-7, we offer our Little Dancer Program. In these classes we introduce dance, music and artistic concepts through a balanced curriculum of pre-ballet, tap, and creative movement. Pre-ballet classes focus on fun ways to learn ballet terminology while improving motor skills, flexibility, strength and spatial awareness. Tap instruction includes standard tap steps that emphasize musicality and rhythm. Creative movement guides the child through an exploration of their own unique artistic expression as it relates to story-telling, musical inspiration and movement games. Students progress past the Little Dancer Program, to the recreational program, or choose to audition for Petite Ensemble, Junior Company, and finally on to the Senior Company. This rigorous path has seen many of our dancers accepted for advance training at prestigious schools across the country.

Greensboro Performing Arts invites you to explore our newly expanded studio and the unique classes and opportunities we have to offer. We look forward to being a part of your child’s artistic growth.

NOTE: Greensboro Performing Arts is currently offering Free Tuition (a $150 value) of your choice to either Musikgarten or Little Dancer class as a giveaway on Triad Moms on Main. This contest will run through August 21. Click HERE for more information and to register for this giveaway!

Twitter: @GPAdance

*Sponsored by Greensboro Performing Arts