arts education

Everyday Artist Spotlight: Leslie Cannata Nance

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We are thrilled to introduce you to music educator extraordinaire, Leslie Cannata Nance! She is a multi-talented teacher and artist who has a genuine commitment to her students’ growth and development as musicians. Leslie has a deep, profound love for the arts and it’s evident in her work and performances. Check out her interview to learn more about the passion that drives her work as an educator and how arts education has impacted her life.

 

Why is your art important to you?

Seeing students be successful when they have otherwise not gotten the opportunity academically is my greatest achievement. Sharing my passion of music with others of all ages is not a “job,” but a joy. I absolutely love the subject I teach! I practice what I preach! My students know that I love what I do, and they know they have the opportunity to be successful like me because I share with them! I create relationships with every single student with whom I come in contact. 

  

What do you want your art to say?

Music is my life. I live and breathe music and performing – in any capacity. When I graduated from high school, I was faced with the decision of a) performing and making lots of money on Broadway or b) teaching the youth of America the importance of the performing arts. Obviously, I chose the latter. I have not regretted my decision to become a music educator one time! My students, ages 5 to 95, ALL know that I have a vested interested in them and want the best for them. I have worked with diverse school populations - at-risk students, high populations of impoverished families, special education – that require my constant attention to detail and a never-ending classroom based on relationship building.

 

What project are you working on now?

I am currently making the move from elementary music to secondary music - instrumental or vocal. I'm not quite sure what's in store for me in the near future, but I'm confident I will be the best!

 

Who is your favorite artist?

Oh, my goodness! There are too many to name and all for different reasons! To narrow it down to my top picks, though: 1. I absolutely love Bach and his attention to the musical elements in his compositions. 2. I'm a HUGE fan of The Who because of the lyrics and the drive in their sound. 3. Have any of you ever just spent time listening to The Red Hot Chili Peppers? I could go on FOR HOURS! 4. We would need to have drinks and brunch for 9 days about The Beatles.

 

How has arts education impacted your life?

How has it not? I live and breathe performance education. These children are our future, and I'm making that happen because of the interest my educators showed in me.

 

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Biography: 

Leslie Cannata Nance has been performing since she was a small child. With dedication and a lot of hard work, Leslie was given full scholarships to several universities to study music education. Leslie truly lives out her dream job every single day teaching children the love of music and performance. Leslie was hired before her college graduation in Pasadena Independent School District at Richey Elementary School as the Music Coordinator and Choral Director. Here, Leslie was awarded First Year Teacher of the Year. After a move to north Houston in 2009, she became the Music Coordinator and Choral Director at McFee Elementary School in Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District. At McFee, Leslie revolutionized the music department, as she was the third music teacher hired when the school had been opened for only two years. In May of 2018, Leslie accepted a position as music coordinator at Willbern Elementary School in CFISD.  In her first 3 months at this campus, she has implemented grade level performances and a choir, both of which were absent in years previous. Leslie gives every student in her classroom the opportunity to perform, as she feels this is one of the most important aspects of elementary music education. When Leslie is not teaching public school, she spends her time teaching private voice, piano, strings, and drama.

Leslie welcomes your questions and comments and has many resources she wants to share with you for free (including original musicals)! She can be contacted by email at leslie.nance@cfisd.net 

Punk Rock Changed My Life

by Josh Staub 

“Punk rock changed our lives.” Indeed. 

This quote from the Minutemen song History Lesson II, off their seminal double-record, Double Nickel on the Dime, could even be more poignant perhaps if D. Boon said, “punk rock saved our lives.” 

Growing up in Hanover, PA--in an area of the country known as Pennsyltucky for its excessive redneck population, where superstitious conservatism, incest, and drug abuse run rampant--it was clear we were all fucked. In the 70s and 80s, we watches as most of the major industries relocated to foreign countries, where slave labor could be utilized to make rich people richer and the folks of Hanover much poorer. Since then, many of the factories and warehouses around town have been left abandoned or converted into section-eight housing. Then there is the pervasive PA Dutch attitude, which can be summed up as Stoicism exaggerated to the point of stupidity and catatonia intermixed with staunch Christianity, zero-tolerance, narrow worldviews culminating in dangerous belief systems, that is, for anyone outside of the narrow consensus reality. Punk rock, for one, provided folks like myself--who find themselves outside this bogus consensus reality--reassurance that all belief systems, including this particular one that has been so harmful to me personally, are, to some extent, BS. Just make an acronym out of it, like Robert Anton Wilson, belief system = BS. So when the rigid social structure failed to indoctrinate and subjugate us rebellious youth and then attempted to paint us as fuck-ups and insane individuals, punk rock, along with art and literature, became a stop-gap. In fact, the punk ethos was able to deflect their attacks, illustrating how insane these people really were and how their BS was really legitimized madness. 

To me, music began and ended with Kurt Cobain. If you’re a fan of Kurt’s music, inevitably you’ve explored at least some of the indie bands he was constantly promoting--bands like the Raincoats, Meat Puppets, Half Japanese, Daniel Johnston, the Wipers, the Butthole Surfers, Scratch Acid, and so on. A modest, genuine dude, Kurt was always more comfortable talking about bands he was digging rather than discussing his own music and its unexpected success. He also introduced me to the novelist, William Burroughs, who he recorded an album with and often said that Naked Lunchis his favorite book. From Burroughs, I was introduced to the Beats, particularly Kerouac and his road journeys, Henry Miller, Louis Ferdinand Celine, Knut Hamsun, and Dostoyevsky. As another casualty of the war on drugs, Kurt reframed and deprogrammed the drug propaganda that was shoved down my throat at school regarding psychedelics. Also, Prophet Cobain brought me to esoteric Buddhism and, eventually, the kabbalah and Sufism, making his band name, Nirvana, quite poignant and ironic.  

Punk rock is about transgression. There is immense power in transgression, especially in regard to the deconstruction of harmful, limited BS. As a punk musician in Philly with Thee Peecock Angels, we hope to adopt the deconstruction and transgressional work started by folks like D. Boon and Kurt Cobain to disrupt and dismantle social and philosophical constructs that impede peace and progression. These gentlemen and women, through their music, have empowered and enlightened me. Without these folks, I would’ve given up back in high school. So, to this I say, punk rock saved my life. 


Purchase music here

Check us out on Facebook!

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Biography:

Josh Staub is a punk rock guitarist/vocalist, an author of the Merchant of Unsellable Dreams and Land of Broken Promises trilogies, and a restorative justice facilitator in Philadelphia. His band, Thee Peecock Angels, can be listened to for free on Spotify and bandcamp. They can be reached through their Facebook page as well. TPA has released 8 eps and two full-length albums, Thousands of Dead Hipsters(punk rock homage to MDC) and Gentrify Me, which have all been recorded, engineered, and produced by Terminal City Records in North Philly, located in Josh’s attic apartment. 

Everyday Artist Spotlight: Milton Washington

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We are thrilled to introduce you to an extraordinary mind and talent, Milton Washington.  Milton is a New York City-based artist who is self-described as, “A storyteller who writes a bit and has an iPhone with an eye.”  We’d describe him as a magical photographer, brilliant writer and an all-around exceptional creative.  We had the honor of asking him a few questions about his art, what inspires his work and we got the low-down on his new, upcoming project that we know you’re going to want to check out! 

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Read below to learn more about Milton and follow him on social media to stay connected!

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Why is your art important to you?

I feel my ways of expression connect deeply with people in a way that helps them face the truths of life and the truths of themselves. My art is important to me because it’s healing. 

 

 

What do you want your art to say? 

The things that most people don’t have the courage to say while inspiring them to speak the truth. It’s ok to flawed. It’s ok to feel less than. It’s ok to not match up. But find your place and your truth. 

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What project are you working on now?

A concept one-man show with photography, readings and storytelling rooted in my memoir. Heavy elements are balanced with hilarity of my life and the photographs are a demonstration of my perspective while also being a springboard into conversation.

 

 

Who is your favorite artist?

Being adopted from Korea at the age of 8, I started school for the first time in life. New language, new family, new culture. I’ve felt the deficits of illiteracy which weighs on my ability to consume academic aspects of life. All that to say, I’m not the most well-versed in art. But I do love MC Escher and the book by Herman Hess, Sidhartha. 

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How has arts education impacted your life?

I’ve never had formal art education but my experience of isolation in South Korea has instilled a deep-seeded need in me to express. I need it to live. I believe the need to express should be on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need. I believe my style and approach to my art is a both a function of who and what I am and my most effective tool to change the world. 

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Biography: Born in South Korea, Milton Washington was adopted and brought to the states in 1979 where he learned English and the American culture. Today, he lives in Harlem operating his Strategy, Sales Coaching and Public Speaking agency, Slickyboy Studios. He is months away from completing his memoir entitled Slickyboy. Slickyboy Synopsis: A fatherless black boy was born to a Korean prostitute a decade and-a-half after the Korean War. Left to roam his camptown with a pack of homeless kids, little Milton-ah fights, steals and drinks while his mother works long hours. All until the age of 8, when he’s adopted from the country that never claimed him, by a black military family from Texas, the Washingtons. Slickyboy is about the love and the loss of one mother, and a finding of another, with a lifetime of living in between.

Everyday Artist Spotlight: Lizzie Monsreal

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It is our immense pleasure to introduce you to an amazing, young Chicago-based artist, Lizzie Monsreal.  She is a college student with an absurd amount of talent!  Lizzie is a spectacular visual artist that has experience with a plethora of media including watercolor and charcoal.  Most recently, she has been working with textiles. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her to learn more about what inspires her art, what current projects she is working on and how arts education has left an impression on her life and work.  One thing we’re absolutely sure of is that whatever medium Lizzie uses she is sure to create magic.  

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Why is your art important to you?

Art lets me be able to express my emotions and feelings in the best way through my imagination. Without it, I wouldn't be able to speak in my own voice through art. 

 

What do you want your art to say? 

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I want my art to be able to express important topics through my artwork, such as feminism, the environment. I also would like to be able to connect my artwork/experiences with my audience. 

 

What project are you working on now?

 My recent project right now is a sweater that I am knitting using a knitting machine with local yarn in Chicago. It is so far a prototype, but I am working with colors a lot and texture.

  

Who is your favorite artist?

 That is a hard one! I always find myself loving so many pieces of artwork. I guess one really good one I love would be, The Kiss, by Gustav Klimt. 

 

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How has arts education impacted your life?

Art education has impacted me in so many different ways as an artist and a person. It has helped me see from different perspectives as an artist and helped me understand all the different medias I can use through my artwork.

 

To see more art, follow Lizzie Monsreal on Instagram: @lizziemonsrealart

 

Biography:  

Lizzie Monsreal is a Latina Chicago artist, designer, and writer. She was born in Merida, Yucatan, but raised in Chicago South suburbs. She is currently a student at Columbia College Chicago who majors in Fashion & Costume Design. Other than studying fashion, she is also does freelancing in Fine arts, Illustration, and Writing. Her artwork is focused around personal growth, femininity, feminism, the environment, and anything else she feels needs a voice. 

 

Everyday Artist Spotlight: Heidi Burson

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We are so pleased to introduce you to the fantastic Heidi Burson, a Nashville-based singer and songwriter whose powerful, soulful voice will speak directly to your heart.  Heidi has had an impressive career in music. Having released two self-produced, full-length albums and working on her third, she continues to make waves in the industry. Read below to learn more about what drives Heidi’s music, what artist most inspires her and how arts education has impacted her life.  Also, do yourself a favor and watch the videos to hear her stunning voice and spectacular songs and then make plans to catch her live on her current tour!  We promise you won’t be disappointed. 

Why is your art important to you?

My music is the ultimate therapy for my good and bad days. It's a blessing to be able to express myself through music and lyrics that I hope can turn around and help others in the same way.

 

What do you want your art to say? 

Be yourself. Be confident. Choose love. It's okay to have bad days. Treat yourself and love yourself well so you can love others more deeply. Pay attention to the world around you.

 

What project are you working on now?

Touring across the US and abroad at the moment but also working on releasing a new single before the end of 2018 which will lead the way to a new record in 2019. 

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Who is your favorite artist?

My favorite artist first and foremost is Aretha Franklin. She's my go to for musical soul food and inspiration because I believe she means every single thing she sings/writes and I can tell it comes from a place of raw emotion and experience. She's not afraid to tell it like it is and just go for notes most singers would never dream of trying. She's an incredible musician too; singer, pianist, songwriter, composer, arranger. A true talent.

How has arts education impacted your life? 

To the maximum! I'm not even kidding when I say I use things I've learned from my classes and vocal/piano training EVERY DAY being a performer. From an education standpoint I've acquired a well trained ear and appreciation for music I only have as a result of the arts education I was exposed to growing up both at home, in school and at a collegiate level. Teamwork is another one. As an independent artist, 99.9% of the time, the buck stops here but the experience I have from working in choirs, ensembles etc has taught me how to literally "play well with others" and work as a team to deliver a flawless musical product on stage at every show. I also think you learn at an early age in arts education to take pride in your performances and I translate this mindset into every performance whether it's to 500 dressed up people in a fancy theater or 15 folks in a dive bar. 

 

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Biography: 

Heidi Burson’s story as an artist is one of shared human experience. Very early on, she felt the poignancy of the music of performers such as Etta James, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin. She was struck by the power and intensity with which they expressed the longing, which we all share, for love and acceptance. These influences, coupled with her own life experiences and a generous dusting of wry humor, have helped to forge a voice and style that is uniquely fascinating. When Heidi sings, people listen. They do so because her delivery is captivating. They do so because she speaks to their own inner feelings. Heidi is a soul singer. "Totally new to us, Burson’s range is something that we will be arriving early to see in person. The deep and somewhat sultry tone that she produces will surely silence most any room that she is performing in. " No Country for New Nashville Magazine "Her on-stage ability to control the room is evident by her captive audience. It’s one thing to be a songwriter and another to be a performer. Heidi Burson is both. Led by Burson's commanding and soulful voice - one with a range that rivals Jill Scott and Adele...The sound is massive; a rich musicality practically oozes off the record." - Kevin Carr with Behind The Set List. To date, Heidi is an award winning artist and songwriter and has released 2 self-produced full length albums, Every Shade of Blue in 2012 and a brand new record, The Story in 2017. Her music is spinning on AcmeRadioLive and Lightning 100 in Nashville and her single, "Give Your Love Away" has been played on BBC Radio. She has recently received song placements on UK playlists for various businesses and is now receiving spins on independent radio stations across the US. She has toured across the US, UK and Europe including a feature at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland to which she'll be returning in 2018 with her own solo show "Soul On Fire." Her touring has seen her perform in various festivals, concert series and notable venues such as the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, the 100 Club in London, BB King's and Ruine Senftenburg Castle in Austria. With relentless drive and some milestone career goals now achieved, Heidi hopes to continue reaching across the world to connect people to each other with the love of good music. As an independent artist with something relevant to say and a better understanding of how to navigate the music industry on her own terms, there is much coming from this one in the years ahead.