Monte Vista’s mini-musicals create memories, bonds
May 08, 2019 04:37PM
● By Julie Slama
Second-graders perform “Bugz” April 12 as part of Monte Vista’s mini-musicals. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Often, students don’t find “A Time to Give Thanks” for “Bugz,” or for “The Elves’ Impersonator,” but at Monte Vista Elementary, they not only do but are excited about it.
This year, Beverley Taylor Sorenson music specialist Kristen Helton teamed up with assistant Melissa Warren to introduce 30-minute musicals to students, which they performed for their classmates and their parents.
“These mini-musicals taught more to students than just music and performing,” Helton said. “They learned to stick with a project and work hard. It built their self-esteem and gave them a beautiful experience they created. It creates memories and bonds with one another. They learned lifelong skills, had fun and are so proud of what they accomplished.”
After introducing a lip dub last year, Helton thought musicals would give students more performing time. So, between writing and purchasing the mini-musicals, she has worked with students in each grade on their performances.
Third-grade began the year of musicals, with “Spooky Night,” an original script of Halloween poems and songs. This was followed by “A Time to Give Thanks,” performed by first-graders.
In December, about 150 fifth-graders performed “The Elves’ Impersonator” for their peers and the community, which included South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey.
“I love that Monte Vista is able to work with the Beverley Taylor Sorenson arts organization to bring these musical performances to these kids,” Ramey said. “I’ve talked to six kids from Monte Vista, and they say they’re fun, they love the music program and performing in front of their parents. For some, they are stepping out of their comfort zone, which is a critical life skill. I love being able to be there and support the students.”
Fourth-graders took to the stage with records, drums, xylophones, maracas and rain sticks to tie in their Utah history curriculum in their performance of “This is the Place.”
“They sang songs about the counties, railroad, Native Americans and becoming a state, and had a lot of fun incorporating musical instruments into the musical,” Helton said.
In April, second-graders showed how a stink bug could be included on a picnic in “Bugz.”
“Everyone was a bug, and parents came together to make sure everyone had a costume,” she said. “The parents also designed and painted sets for every show at home and then came together to set the backdrops up the night before the performances. The help and culture of the school is great.”
With “Bugz” as well as all musicals, every student in the grade sings and is a part of the musical. Those who want a line, get a line, and everyone who wants solos, auditions. This resulted in, with the second-grade performance, about 70 students each speaking a line, Helton said.
“Students learn to say and memorize their lines in a clear, expressive way, which helps them with fluency and reading,” Helton said. “They also learn to sing on pitch and how to keep the beat. They learn dance skills, caring for an instrument and reading music, and performing in a group. They need to be able to think and focus but also be part of a team to have the performance come together.”
Helton said through the musicals, students are learning an appreciation for the arts.
“There are so many opportunities in Utah; every community has theater,” she said. “It may be their first time to perform, and they love it, and it can get them excited to audition for another musical. For some kids, it may be out of their comfort zone, but they’re working hard and jumping on board. I’ve seen some kids who may not necessarily excel in the traditional classroom, and they really shine here. It helps them feel successful. So many of them are excited to perform, but they also love to see their brother or sister or friend from the neighborhood in their musicals. They’re learning good etiquette for performances, which is a lifelong skill.”
While Helton will be moving to the new elementary school in Herriman next fall, she hopes her replacement will keep the musicals in place next school year. She also is looking into having students perform them next year at her new school.
In May, sixth-graders will perform “Dateline: Rock & Roll,” where students dress up in costumes for each decade from the 1950s to present day and sing songs as well as intertwine history from the time periods.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun for both the students and audience, with a lot of songs and learning at the same time,” she said.
That will be a wrap up of the musicals for the year as the sixth-graders sing the current decade’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”