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Moved by music
Cape Girardeau third-grader Kendra Kelch is about to have her time in the spotlight.
Kendra has always dreamed of being an artist. This weekend she'll have her first show. Her work will be displayed along with that of 74 other students at the galleries of the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri during the sixth Children's Arts Festival, co-sponsored by Southeast Missouri Hospital.
"It makes me feel excited, joyful, happy and everything good all at the same time," said 10-year-old Kendra, a fourth-grader at Alma Schrader. "It makes me feel like a real artist having my art put in a show like this."
For the last few months Kendra and hundreds like her from 12 area schools have worked diligently on their artistic visions. The result is a variety of art from a variety of students with one common thread -- each piece is inspired by music.
"The only parameter is that it's multidiscipline," said Arts Council director Rebecca Fulgham. "The idea is to let the music guide what they create."
In September, area art teachers received music CDs. They were given the choice of how to guide the students, as long as the music factored in to the finished product.
The end result, said Fulgham, is a fun activity for children that will help get and keep them interested in artistic pursuits, be they visual or musical.
An important part of that integration between music and visual arts is the concert at 2 p.m. that will precede the festival reception. As he has for the past two years, Southeast Missouri State University music professor Dr. Robert Fruehwald has written an original composition for the show, inspired by kids, called "Scherzo: Children's Jokes."
The word "scherzo" is an Italian term, often used in music, that means "joke," Fruehwald said. "Scherzo" the term doesn't always denote something funny, said Fruehwald. But this time, the name doesn't lie -- this piece was made to be tongue-in-cheek.
"This time it's supposed to be a real joke and it's supposed to be funny," Fruehwald said.
The professor spent time in local classrooms with the children, playing music for them and asking them to play or sing a musical response. The inspiration was the classic knock-knock joke and it's conversational style. Many of those musical responses became part of the piece.
Music's importance in the festival goes beyond just listening to it while working and Fruehwald's composition. Many of the teachers encouraged their students to bring musical elements into their work.
Kendra painted a girl playing saxophone, with notes coming out of the horn.
"It was really fun because we got to listen to music and the music we would listen to would inspire us," Kendra said. "A lot of times in it, I heard saxophone, because it was more of a jazzy kind of music."
In Carol Horst's South Elementary art classes in Jackson students in different grades took different approaches.
Fifth-graders listened to music and wrote poetry, then filled in the poetry with harmonious colors, since the music was harmonious. Fourth-graders drew pictures of each other playing instruments and used lines to illustrate the movement of rhythm. Third-graders picked harmonious colors and incorporated instruments after studying abstract expressionism.
Horst said the festival enhances the curriculum by combining music with visual art to show students the connections between the two. Of course, getting children into art is easy, but Horst said her students stayed after class and came to school early to finish their projects on time.
But Horst agrees with Kendra that the best part of the experience is the show.
"The really important part about this is the art opening itself, and how the children can go see other art in a gallery setting," said Horst. "They just make the children feel very special, and it's an experience that will stay with them the rest of their lives.
"I think any time you give children a lot of attention, no matter what it is for, winning a spelling bee or being fast runners, that is going to help them feel better about themselves in general in all aspects of life."
And even those kids at South who didn't make it into the gallery show get to have their own show at school, where their art hangs in the halls.
Maybe one day their art will be hanging in local shows meant for adults, as well.
335-6611, extension 182
Want to go?
What: Children's Art Festival
When: Concert at First Presbyterian Church, 2 p.m.
Reception at Arts Council, 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 11