Connection and understanding through the arts

Kid's drama class.JPG

By Su D’Ambrosio

As a person who grew up in an Italian immigrant family in “The Lake” section of Newton, an area populated almost entirely with Italian immigrants, the words “send her back” makes me think of my childhood. They remind me of a time when I was immersed in a community of people searching for a new life in a foreign land, encountering obstacles at every turn. It makes me wonder why some communities are able to accept and adapt to their new foreign neighbors, while others aren’t. Focusing on the things that make us the same versus those that make us different is one way people find connection. The arts, for example, offer common ground and personal connection.

Every nationality has its own representative elements of music, dance, drama and visual art. This fact alone provides something in common to appreciate. The arts can also serve as a means of communication, with music often called a “universal language.” No matter your native tongue, we can all hear a song or melody and understand it as music. Sinichi Suzuki developed a method for teaching very young children to play violin.  He called it the Mother Tongue Method, in part to emphasize the connection between music and language. When I saw my first opera, La Traviata, I couldn’t understand any of the words, but the sound of the music and the dramatic action of the performers translated for me. Many people have seen The Nutcracker ballet, which tells a beautiful, magical story with no words at all.  This is one reason why it is so important for our young people to learn how to be expressive in the arts.

Many important outcomes result from learning in the arts. Perhaps the most important is self-discovery and finding your own voice to express thoughts, feelings and ideas in a way that others can understand and appreciate. While people tend to filter out insults and shouts of anger, they might pause to listen to a protest song or look at a painting or a statue. There are countless examples of plays, movies and TV shows about difficult subjects that encourage us to think. Creating art is an act of sharing and giving of yourself, which is a quality we wish to cultivate in our children. When we are consumers of art, we are in a position to pay attention to what someone else is trying to say and we develop empathy. And the arts are often designed to bring people together as a community to create and appreciate in a way that helps us see our similarities versus our differences.

At South Shore Conservatory, we offer inspiration and connection through music, dance and drama for people of all ages and abilities.  Our fall session starts the week of September 9. Take a ukulele class, sing in a non-traditional chorus, or find the perfect music, dance or drama class for your child by visiting or calling 781-749-7565 x10.  You can also find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Su D’Ambrosio is Director of Education at South Shore Conservatory.  She lives in Plymouth with her daughters Maria and Rosa, and her dog Bernie, who sings at the moon and dances around the living room, proving that all creatures can connect through the arts.

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