From January 29 to February 2, 2018, FSDB hosted two Artists-in-Residence Wes Swing and Bolanle Adeboye, who travelled all the way from Charlottesville VA to be here! Swing is a world class cellist, and Bolanle is the artistic and multimedia production director. FSDB Music Director Leslie Costello made the arrangements and oversaw the program. The theme perfectly suited adolescents – the dynamic intersection of arts and music and expression for emotional and mental health. Swing and Bolanle conducted workshops all week, culminating in a February 2nd open student performance. The concert was followed by an artist “meet and greet” for all who were interested in chatting with Swing and Adeboye.
The week’s activities drew both from classical composition and contemporary digital audio and multimedia. During individual workshops, students performed on the piano while Swing accompanied on his cello. The Blind Middle/High School singer workshop engaged students in exploring six core emotions – anxiety, love, anger, sadness, hope, and joy. Students individually said or sang each word to sound like that emotion, e.g. sounding angry when saying/singing the word “anger.” Swing recorded each student’s contribution with looping technology via his own soundboard, so that the spoken/sung words became an auditory choir. Students came alive during this activity! Each round they grew more creative and egged each other on through praise, applause, and laughter. Eventually Swing added cello chords and light syncopation, which delighted the students even more. The Deaf Department also joined in the artistic fun through their Dance Troupe. Dancers focused on the same six emotions for their performance integrating movement and emotion, with an image of a tapestry which represented the collected emotions of the students on the background screen. They brainstormed and experimented in small groups, obviously enjoying every moment of creative collaboration. Swing encouraged students to think of it more as dance than acting.
Individual workshops, group sessions, Dance Troupe, and Outta Sight kept these artists busy! Wes Swing performed his own solo pieces during the final concert, the various groups performed their pieces with Bolanle’s visual animation accompaniment on the projector screen.
Costello felt the Artists-in-Residence was a wonderful experience for the students and described it as “enlightening” to see how much difficulty students had first naming emotions, then owning them, and finally expressing them. She added, “It greatly impacted me as a teacher to witness firsthand how difficult this was for students, and caused me to see how important it is to help guide students through this. In today’s world where it is all about testing and being highly challenged academically, this was a grounding activity. It was less about the technicalities of music and more about the power of music.” Costello has coordinated another magical experience that students will likely not forget.
More about Wes Swing: https://wesswing.com/
By Christi Boortz, Instructional Services Department
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school and outreach center available to eligible Pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired. At FSDB, students learn how to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.