Virtual and online classes may have shifted how kids learn, but they have also saved the day. For kids active in the arts, creativity has entered a new dimension of the virtual type. Places such as The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Ballet, West Chester Academy and others are helping to keep these students going during this challenging time.
MUSIC FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
GROUP PIANO WITH WEST CHESTER ACADEMY
Bryson is heading into his fourth year of group piano lessons at the West Chester Academy (WCA), and turning to online classes has been anything but normal. His two siblings, Cameron, 14, and Avery, 12, also take WCA classes and moved online. Bryson’s ultimate goal? To be as good at piano as his older brother.
Zoom classes helped Bryson continue his lessons, and although they were “different to get used to,” and he was far away from friends and the comfort of hands-on instruction, Zoom piano classes were still fun, says Bryson.
“We signed into Zoom meeting each week during our normal class time and Miss Jenna taught us new things and we played our songs together and sometimes did solos,” he says. “I liked not having to drive to/from WCA!”
Bryson’s parents feel the virtual classes have been a very positive experience.
“It’s always different not to do things in person and have that personal interaction with the teachers and other students, but at least there was still an opportunity for them to continue to participate,” says Kim, Bryson’s mom. “It was helpful in the transportation aspect, being able to just walk into the next room for class was very convenient! It also taught them to be adaptable!
“We enjoyed the convenience and flexibility of the online classes and we are proud of our kids’ ability to ‘roll with the punches,’” says Kim, “and continue to learn and grow in a different format and environment to pursue their love of music and dance.”
CHILDREN’S THEATRE OF CINCINNATI
Brooke, a long time student with The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, loves to sing, act and dance — all of it. To her surprise, virtual classes offered by The Children’s Theatre were extremely helpful.
“I miss my friends and seeing my coaches in person, but without virtual classes, I’d be concerned about keeping my skills up and I’d likely be trying to find stuff on YouTube to watch, which isn’t really ideal,” says Brooke.
Having an experienced TCT teacher on-screen is like having a “front row view,” she continues.
Brooke has participated in TCT’s STAR Intensive Summer Camp since 2014, and the anticipation of camp actually taking place this year was worrisome. TCT came to the rescue and pulled together creative ways to keep camp memorable including giving each small group of students different colored masks.
“They set up Zoom calls before camp to answer any and all questions, they did an in-car camp kick-off meeting where Roderick spoke to everyone with a megaphone and a Zoom link, and every detail was thought of and communicated,” says Brooke.
With all of the downtime, Brooke started her own Podcast, “Off Book with Brooke,” geared toward young performers (find it on SoundCloud). She has plans to continue performing and attend college possibly in something performance-related. Brooke has played major roles such as Alice in TCT’s “Alice in Wonderland,” and Patty as part of the ensemble of the recent “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
“We are so grateful that the theatre community pivoted so quickly and so impressively toward virtual learning,” says Brooke’s mom, Jennifer. “In a way, it was an unintended test of the importance of performing arts to Brooke, and it’s never been more clear that she loves it and misses it,” she adds.
CINCINNATI BALLET ACADEMY
Dancing since age 2, Claire was happy to pursue dance while staying home. Finding space to spread out was tricky, but she says once she figured it out, “it was great.” She was able to continue ballet and conditioning classes through the Academy virtually; and go forward with Zoom classes presented by Cincinnati Ballet professionals.
“The thing I enjoyed the most about the online classes was I had no distractions, just me in my living room with a barre and mirror,” says Claire.
“I could really hone in on the areas I needed to work on. All I had to do was throw on a leotard and tights, put my hair up, join the online class and start dancing!”
The Cincinnati Ballet has given Claire the hope and courage to push toward becoming a professional dancer. The ballet’s summer intensive classes allowed students to choose between online and in-person, so it made it convenient for many students and helped them feel safe.
Claire’s mom, Kelly, says once the pandemic hit, there certainly was a huge change — no rehearsals, no on-site dance classes.
“We felt fortunate that the Academy was providing the opportunity to take classes at-home so Claire made sure to balance her schoolwork in order to attend the classes being offered,” Kelly says. “Watching Claire take on this responsibility has shown that she is truly dedicated to her love for dance and ballet.”
CINCINNATI BALLET SUMMER INTENSIVE
Makenzi, a young dancer interested in pursuing a professional dance career in college and a photography buff, says online dance classes have been “a mix of feelings” — some good, some challenging.
Staying self-motivated is one thing, and participating in classes without her classmates, is another.
“During summer intensive we take an online Zoom class each day at the same time. It is also saved for a period of time if you happen to miss the exact time it is streaming,” says Makenzi. “Each class was held on Zoom or through a Facebook live stream that could be watched live or after the time for convenience.”
Online ballet classes at-home give me a chance to focus on my weak points and perfect the strong points of my dancing,” Makenzi continues.
“Cincinnati Ballet offers a lot of different classes in addition to our ballet classes each week,” she adds.
Makenzi’s motivation and progression did not go unnoticed by her parents as they watched her work through this difficult time.
“It has been incredible to see her in the studio we have for her,” says Makenzi’s mom, Erica. “It is amazing to see her do what she loves even during this difficult time and still put in all the time and effort it requires.”
Makenzi’s parents feel Cincinnati Ballet does an astounding job of putting together classes for students. The family enjoyed more flexibility with dance fitting into their schedules how they needed and wanted it, too.
The Cincinnati Ballet is continuing with online classes for younger students this fall. Details and specifics are in the works and will be announced soon. Visit cballet.org for up-to-date information and details.