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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Recommended Digital Arts & Education Resources for Parents

By Steven McIntosh, BAM’s Director of Education and Family Programming

While they’re not a perfect solution, I’ve come to better accept the necessity of screens as a way to maintain some of our humanity during this particularly isolating crisis, and have come to terms with the important ways they can bring the arts to families in the absence of in-person arts education and live performance. (Watching almost every aspect of my kids' lives become screen-based has helped.) With that in mind, here are a few BAM-approved selections to get you started or add to your arts resource list.

First, I hope you’ve had a chance to experience some of the great virtual arts education content being produced by our NYC friends (Lincoln Center at Home, New Victory Arts Break). It makes me proud to be among such creative colleagues bringing fantastic teaching artists right into our homes.

I’ve never had the opportunity to experience Kansas City-based puppeteer Paul Mesner live but have enjoyed his Daily Puppet Magic (3pm EST) from Mesner Puppet Theater; there are mini-puppet shows, DIY puppet making videos, and other fun (he’s also got a great dog puppet hand-washing video, in case your little ones need a fun reminder: Sing Along with Ringo). For ages 8+, I’d recommend introducing them to Joanie Lemercier, a French digital artist and climate activist based in Belgium. Joanie created a great how-to origami-style video that teaches you how to build the paper pyramids in one of his art installations. Kids can create and use multiple pyramids to create their own installation (on a table or the wall) and learn about Lermercier’s work (particularly his climate action projects raising awareness around the environmental impact of coal mining).

Many of us are burning through all of our playlists and catalogs at home. If you’re looking for a great living room concert vibe from a solid “kindie" artist for 3-5 year olds, check out Sonia De Los Santos’ Latin music for children at En Casa Con Sonia (each song comes with an activity page). Or send your 8+ on an around-the-world musical journey using Folk Cloud, where they can learn and listen to all kinds of folk music using an interactive world map. If you’re craving a live music experience with your kids, past BAMkids performer Amelia Robinson (Mil’s Trills) helped put together an updated schedule of live contemporary children’s music events called Playtime Playlist that is a lot fun and you can support the artists directly for their work.

In addition to the growing list of streamed and recorded performances for adults (see Billboard’s list of livestreaming pop artists, National Theatre at Home, Broadway HD), there are also a few recently released family-friendly alternatives to Disney+ worth introducing your kids to, like the Royal Ballet/Royal Ballet School’s production of Peter and the Wolf, Levar Burton Reads on Twitter, and Cirque du Soleil’s 60-minute special highlighting some of their iconic shows.

And if you’re trying to keep your kid off Fortnite for a little while longer, you can curate your own #BAMteknopolis at home: Turn your living space into a wildlife preserve with Google 3D Animals; learn the choreography of and dance with the Gilles Jobin Company (Teknopolis 2019) using the Dance Trail app (pictured above); or create (and capture!) your digital art with Zach Lieberman’s (Teknopolis 2019) newest online interactive project Color Push. Zach also made his AR app Weird Type (Teknopolis 2019) free for a limited time, which will offer kids a creative way to send video messages to friends and family.

Lastly, watching the virtual artist collaborations going viral has reminded me of how resilient our collective creativity can be in times of hardship. I recently rewatched the dance chain letter tribute by 52 choreographers honoring BAM’s Executive Producer Emeritus, Joseph V. Melillo, titled And So Say All of Us. Seeing these dancers move so freely, particularly in and around everyday NYC spaces, made me feel free too. I sincerely hope you find what helps you and your family continue to experience and make art together. Stay well.

© 2020 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

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