Art lovers, artists and administrators alike are finding themselves in a tricky spot. It seems that the strategy behind supporting creative endeavors has shifted to having to justify its byproducts.
Art supports the economic growth. Dance helps develop cognitive and spatial skills. Theater encourages the development of self esteem. Music is good for math. And all of these disciplines are essential for the cultural development of societal values, important at a time when capitalism and materialism are being questioned in favor of assets that ensure longevity and survival.
Meet soprano Ana Treviño-Godfrey, a teacher at the Motherhood Center who supports music, because it's music, going back to the time of Schubert, when playing piano was a past time and video games were non existent.
Yes, Treviño-Godfrey is quite aware of music's benefits, cognizant of all the scientific research, educational psychology and volumes of studies. Music helps with language development, turning sounds into syllables and syllables into words. Music teaches critical listening. Music and movement aids coordination.
But it was the beauty of making music with her family that began a journey in teaching parents and children to bond and create cherished memories.
"My philosophy is that every child is musical," Treviño-Godfrey explained. "If in a family environment we foster a love for music making, not just music listening, it becomes a part of you. It doesn’t mean you are the next Mozart or Beethoven."
It's not the end product. It's the process.
Her music career started like most that pursue a place in the industry: Growing up in a music loving family, attending prestigious training institutions. Treviño-Godfrey earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University — and performing on the worlds most coveted stages. As a soloist with Mercury Baroque, she continues to dazzle audiences with her silky voice and fresh musical approach.
But as her own family was growing, Treviño-Godfrey sought developmentally appropriate programs that felt natural, organic and wholesome. Her investigation led her to adopt Music Together, a 20-plus-year-old curriculum that also centers around adult involvement.
"It is important for parents to be involved," Treviño-Godfrey said. "They are our first teachers and as children learn to mimic, music interaction is an effective way to bond."
Moving away from a performance focus when it comes to education, there is a greater need to learn for the sake of learning and have fun for the sake of having fun. Treviño-Godfrey believes that it is the process experiencing art, from a young age, that changes the way one sees the world.
As an accredited teacher of Music Together, Treviño-Godfrey helps children and parents explore songs in duple, triple and asymmetrical meters; major, minor, lydian, phrygian and mixolydian modes — with the goal of achieving basic music competence.
"During the sensitive period, from birth to 3 years old, children begin to learn to speak," she said. "They learn by observation and listening, and singing is really elongated speech."
But parents can actually begin earlier, capitalizing on a baby's ability to hear as young as 16 weeks in the uterus. She now leads prenatal music classes where parents sing together to help the baby transition into the world.
This inspired an "Art and About" adventure.
Joel Luks goes on an "Art and About" adventure to the Motherhood Center to observe Ana Treviño-Godfrey in action: