Bringing music to children at home

Kay Hilton, Education & Engagement Director of the Britt Music & Arts Festival, is continuing her free music education programs online.

Until the COVID-19 shutdown, Hilton was in charge of: Residencies, bringing musicians into schools; Fellowships, in which students with Britt Orchestra members perform outreach chamber concerts in the community; Internships and partnerships with educational and like-minded organizations; BrittKids Koncert series, performances for children in the Britt Performance Garden; and BrittKids Klub, members are 5 or 6 years old.

EH: How did this online idea evolve?

KH: I had seen other education artists doing video content. I thought, “That’s something we can do.”

I started reaching out to all the artist that I have had come through the education department for residencies, performances, fellowship programs, members of our orchestra, anybody that I thought might be available and interested in helping us make something. At that point we had no budget because we didn’t know where we stood. I wasn’t able to offer any money at all.

I had a few local artists and members of our orchestra step up right away. We branded it BrittVids. I started putting those up on social media, and we got really good response. Then I asked, “Can we provide some kind of honorarium for the artists?”

It’s important for us to provide content for our patrons and community, keeping Britt in front of our audience. I want to keep these musicians in front of our audience too, to remind people that we’re all struggling, but these people are really struggling. Their industry is shut down everywhere, for who knows how long?

I did get approval to reimburse the artists for their time, for making the videos. We’ve been doing that twice a week since April 9th, and will continue to do that through the end of September.

I’m working on another educational video series for the fall that’s a little more specifically music education. I’m waiting for approval on that; we’re going to see if we have funds to make that happen, then we’ll at least have one video per week until the end of the year.

If that doesn’t get approval, I’ll have to figure out what we can make for nothing.

I think it’s important for us to do what we can to help support people who are trying to teach remotely and people who are trying to home-school their kids, to offer something in the way of arts education, that’s free for them.

If you’re home-schooling or remote learning and you need something else for five minutes, we don’t make long videos, they’re between five and 10 minutes.

The main program we do is our Residency program, where we visit K through graduate-level students with professional musicians. That is skewing more toward high-school-level kids who are contemplating continuing their music studies or maybe going into music as a career.

If teachers are interested in residency videos, in lieu of visits, then I’ll be talking to artists about how best to do that.

There are various ways to do that: It can be a live event, where they’re connected virtually. The students can hear them play (and there’s a real back and forth) or we can ask them to create a presentation that the teachers can then show their class, when it works for them.

I’d love to hear from parents and teachers how we might be able to help them, under the circumstances; the kind of virtual programming might be helpful to them.

I’m focusing on how to help the next generation find their voices and figure out how they’d like to express themselves.

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