One of BRAVO!‘s larger programs is its Education Through Music (ETM) residencies. ETM’s weekly workshops integrate vocal music lessons with critical thinking games to teach the fundamentals of pitch and rhythm and build interpersonal skills. In addition to its musical benefits, ETM builds the acquisition of language and movement to enhance the imagination and stabilization of children. Originally offered to only K-1 students, BRAVO! currently provides ETM to K-2 classrooms throughout the Ojai Valley.
Local musician and BRAVO! artist in residence Laura Walter has taught ETM for several years, working with students and adults of all ages, utilizing the experience of interactive play to develop motivation and promote community building and conflict resolution skills. Recently, she’s used her work to conduct studies in topics that range from symbolic functioning in math and language systems, to the needs of typical and non-typical learners, entitlement, addiction, effects of domestic violence and abuse, and peer orientation.
As an ETM educator, Laura works with teachers and children to promote, intelligence, attention, literacy, emotional stability and beauty through the aesthetic experience. Through the use of songs and musical games, students learn to think critically, cooperate with one another, communicate their emotions, and strengthen their interpersonal relationships. One ETM activity has students match songs they know with their clapped rhythm:
Laura recently returned from four weeks in Israel where she studied the effects of trauma on childhood, society, and the role of art and beauty in healing conflict. The power of ETM is clear – as Laura writes, “Children in ETM classes create beauty, which leads to empathy and hope, embracing the important contribution of arts education. Teachers often say, ‘ETM has taught these children to be kind and respectful by creating beautiful music with each other.” ETM’s benefits may not always be measured quantitatively, but its effect on students – and all who are involved – remains incredibly profound. BRAVO! and the Festival have been grateful for Laura’s expertise throughout the years and her steadfast advocacy of ETM throughout the country.
About Laura Walter:
Laura Walter received a Master of Music degree in Flute Performance from the University of Kentucky. She studied flute with various members of the Cincinnati Symphony, New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony. She serves on the faculty of Westmont College and also performs with the Santa Barbara Symphony, Opera Santa Barbara, as well as local choral societies. Laura has performed with several orchestras across the country, is active as a clinician and competition adjudicator, and has established and conducted flute choirs at colleges and festivals across the country.
Alry Publications has published several of her flute choir arrangements and an etude book based on orchestral excerpts. She has performed with many musicians including Henry Mancini, Roger Sessions, Peter Schickele, Doc Severinsen, Steve Allen and Yanni. She has recorded on 12 different CD’s ranging from classical to Gospel music.
Laura is also an accomplished watercolorist and her paintings have won numerous awards at shows and galleries in Ventura and Santa Barbara. How color interacts on paper is similar to how the sounds of the orchestra instruments combine to create beauty. Some of the most interesting aspects in the process of creating visual art are similar to the process of creating music: responding to what’s happening in the moment, listening very carefully, and finding both the rhythm and the flow in work and play.