Third grade students from Frisco ISD are hitting a high note in learning this fall as groups from all 40 elementary campuses travel to Reedy High School auditorium for a morning at the opera.
The Fort Worth Opera is presenting a fun and educational performance of “The Ugly Duckling” in English for the FISD third grade students. The opera performance is a District-wide required study trip that encompasses nine performances. Teaching students about audience etiquette, music history, singer voice types, and music genres are all part of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). The Fort Worth Opera provides a packet for each teacher that includes facts about opera and activities teachers can use in the classroom to enhance the experience.
Shannon Strader, elementary lead music teacher for the District, is a music teacher at Mooneyham Elementary. She explained the performances always incorporate morals that are relevant to students’ lives. The Ugly Duckling Opera combined elements of several other fairy tales, including parts taken from the stories of “Three Little Pigs” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” The performance touched on topics such anti-bullying and acceptance. The Ugly Duckling performance also stressed the importance of reading and working together as a team.
“We hope that students learn the world is larger than the area around them. With any new genre of music, we want them to learn that there is variety outside of what they know. We want students to discover what music speaks to them whether it is instrumental or vocal, jazz or opera,” she said. “During their time in elementary school, we will have introduced our students to many different types of music with the goal that they will be life-long music makers and partakers. Introducing our students to opera is just one moment along this journey,”
During the performance students sat on the edges of their seats, enthralled with the actors and the music. They clapped and shouted “Bravo” when appropriate. Some students wore sparkly tops and headbands and one young man, who has attended other children’s operas, insisted on wearing his best blazer for the occasion.
The cast visited with students after the performance to ask and answer questions. The students wanted to know how long the singers rehearse and were shocked to learn that most of them perform in multiple shows and can spend four to five hours a day singing.
Students were still excited, even after the house lights went up and they were boarding the bus back to school.
“That was awesome,” exclaimed Ardyn Lessner of Ogle as she exited out of the auditorium doors and into the lobby.