WILMINGTON — Thanks to the continued support of a Wilmington City Schools patron, Wilmington Middle School is once again benefiting from the Muse Machine, a nationally recognized arts education organization annually serving 70,000 students and their teachers in 10 counties in southwestern Ohio.
Since its inception in 1982, the Muse Machine has produced 30 annual musicals, 17 summer concerts, and engaged thousands of students through arts-integrated classroom instruction, interactive workshops, and professional development for teachers.
On Tuesday, Sept. 20, The Black Box Improv Theatre performed “Madness Behind the Method” to a packed house of seventh-grade students eager to experience not only thinking but stepping outside of that figurative box.
In their highly interactive performance that emphasizes active listening, teamwork, creativity and saying “yes” to ideas through improv comedy and music, the Muse Machine’s Justin Howard, an improv performer and teacher from New York City and Trey Stone, a music director for Second City in Chicago, showed students how to use the life force behind improv to make themselves more successful students and human beings.
Students joined in the presentation by offering up suggestions for musical genres and topics from which Howard and Stone created on-the-spot music and lyrics that were not only entertaining but opened the door to both a lesson in education and in life.
Working their spur-of-the-moment music magic, Howard and Stone showed students how important it is to work cooperatively with their peers in what is commonly known as “group work” in the school setting but also a standard practice at the college level and in the work force. Through their performance, they showed students how saying “no” or “yes, but” shuts down potential ideas, while saying “yes, and” opens the doors to endless possibilities.
To help further explore the “yes, and” concept, seventh-grade social studies teacher Jennifer Dotson joined in an improv performance that reinforced the old saying that dogs are man’s best friend — to which Ms. Dotson replied, “Yes, and woman’s too.”
Information for this article was provided by Diana Miller, who coordinates communications for several area schools.