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Kids and Historical Arts are a perfect match

May 15, 2011

Seattle Historical Arts for Kids members Logan, Nate (with sister Sylvie), and Felix pose with members of Anonymous 4 at EMG’s recent International Series concert. They are students in Shulamit Kleinerman’s Historical Arts for Kids program. Ms Kleinerman has recently been named Curator for EMG’s Early Music Discovery series at Town Hall.

Members of Shulamit Kleinerman’s Seattle Historical Arts for Kids class recently had a memorable night hearing a concert by early music super-stars, Anonymous 4 during their recent appearance in Seattle on the EMG International Series.  After the concert, the performers took the time to meet the students and posed for a photo.   Throughout the performance, the young musicians were entranced and one even offered this astute observation:

“It was really interesting the way this music moved! Your body could actually be still, but if you closed your eyes it felt like you were moving, because of the way the music was swaying.” – Logan

Shula enjoyed accompanying the members of her class to the Anonymous 4 performance, especially because of the conversations that were stimulated by the experience.

As the teacher — chaperoning two of the kids while four others in our group attended with their parents — I really enjoyed the chance to encounter the music freshly as I imagined what it must sound like to them. Some of them were very studious about following the texts in their programs. The three violinists in the group were very excited to meet Shira afterward — alas we didn’t have a chance for a photo. One of them, Susana, who was sitting next to me, is one of my violin students, and she’s very interested in decorating medieval tunes in a quite mature way. I whispered to her about Shira Kammen’s ornamentation and she whispered back, “I know — that’s what I’m listening to!” – Shulamit Kleinerman

Merry It Is!

Members of Seattle Historical Arts for Kids were featured this season on EMG’s Early Music Discovery Series, presenting Merry It Is! in February.  A fully-costumed show is quite an undertaking for anyone, but seeing young musicians undertake this effort is wonderful, especially when you hear what the kids had to say about the experience.

One of the things I really liked was the dances and I thought it was cool that there was so much jumping in them. Sometimes there would be a song that you would be acting while you were singing and I really liked that. And of course I liked plain singing and plain acting. We got to learn a lot about what it was like long ago. I noticed the speech, clothing, instruments, musical style and customs were different back then. I got to play a Renaissance violin and that was really fun. And we all got along together very well.
- Nate K.

This account from another participant certainly gives a sense of what it was like to be a part of such an interesting project:

The beginning part of the show started with the medieval era. We sang songs in middle English, medieval French and medieval Spanish. We also did a short little dance to a song about a person seeing a wolf, fox and a rabbit all playing and dancing in the woods. I was the person, and I had a lot of fun playing a little tag game with the other animals. What I loved most about the medieval part was that I got to wear a simple medieval dress called a Kirtle that my mom and I made. We didn’t have time to put in grommets and lacing in the back, so at the last minute we zipped on some Velcro. So whenever I danced in my new Kirtle I could hear the little zipping noises of the Velcro – not my idea of medieval.

In the Renaissance part of the show I played Queen Elizabeth the first. I got to research for my costume so that it would look as queenly as I could get it in the short time I had. I learned about different types of undergarments, like Wheel Farthingales. I also learned about the change in fashions between the Tudor and Elizabethan eras. Dancing the Galliard and playing Queen Titania in a short excerpt from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” made it a very exciting experience. But all in all, the costume ended up being especially uncomfortable. In a way, I feel sorry for Queen Elizabeth.

The last part of our show was the Baroque/Colonial era. We sang a handful of songs sung around the time period. We also danced two main dances – the Hornpipe which was danced by more peasant folk, and the Minuet that was danced by more upper-class society. Even though I did not dance in the Hornpipe, I like it very much, and love all the jumping and kicking. The Minuet was pretty hard to learn at first but after a couple tries at the Minuet steps and the different patterns, I grew to like it. It even seemed fun.

Overall the whole show was a blast. I have been taking Shula’s classes about four or five years now and I look back into history in a whole new way. The different songs and languages and costumes teach me and others about how it really was. It all has been a great experience. I am so grateful for these classes and am looking forward to more.  –Parlin Shields

For more information about Shula’s program with Seattle Historical Arts for Kids, including upcoming summer programs, please visit her website.

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