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Finding Your Voice

The Value of an Arts Education

“The purpose of arts education is not to produce more artists, though that is a byproduct. The real purpose of arts education is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society.” - Dana Gioia

The former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts makes a point. The value of an education in the arts far exceeds producing a person with greater creative ability. Art provides us with the ability to express ourselves in ways that words typically fall short. In a city like this, where arts culture is embraced, prioritized and supported, this may not seem like news. So, this month we’d like to highlight and express our appreciation for the people that work to help us find our voices and share them in ways that are bigger than ourselves. Education is an honorable profession, and arts education is a cultural necessity.

While there are many people who dedicate themselves to instructing our children in the arts, we’d like to highlight one. Jalyn Webb, owner and operator of The Academy by Divabee. You may remember Webb from last month's article on The Candlelight Dinner Theater. The Academy is how the Diva-Bee, a nickname she earned as a kid, passes on her passion for the stage to the next generation.

“My heart is for young people because they bring that freshness and passion and exuberance to the table.” Webb said of her preference for instructing younger actors and singers.

The Academy offers private vocal lessons, acting coaching, dance lessons, and works with groups of kids to put on performances every few months, often mirroring performances being put on by the pros at Candlelight and culminating in a performance on the same big stage. It’s a one of a kind opportunity for the kids to be sure, but it’s about so much more than that. Participating in the arts, in a group fashion like theater, creates lasting friendships in addition to artistic talents and passion. It builds community, something every child deserves. At The Academy children are encouraged to be kind, authentic, brave and themselves. 

“We do more than just teach about the arts,” Webb says about the value of programs like hers, “I think what’s really crucial is that we’re trying to build kind, caring, authentic human beings. The arts and performance part is just icing on the cake.”

Learning about the arts isn’t just for kids of course, any person of any age should feel empowered to pursue art in some fashion, to find their voice. Doing so has every bit as many benefits for grown-ups as it does for children and provides a valuable outlet for coping with a difficult and responsibility filled world. If you’re an adult who’d like to find it literally, you would be wise to reach out to Colorado Voice Studio. Emily Erkman, the founder of the studio has a long history as a performer and began teaching for the first time nearly fifteen years ago, at the urging of a friend. After she started, she fell in love with it and simply couldn’t stop.

“It has just snowballed into constantly wanting to teach and learn more about teaching,” Erkman says of her now career.

Some local standouts to have been coached by Erkman include Christine Sattler, whose talents were featured in the recent award winning short film Chords and Cheyenne Duba, front woman of local electronic duo TARO. Erkman doesn’t reserve her services for just big name performers, though adult students are her focus. Colorado Voice Studios accepts learners of all skill levels from all walks of life. Focusing on “rock” or “alternative” vocal techniques, the approach isn’t about producing classical singers so much as helping people discover their own voice and learn how to use it effectively in a safe and supportive environment. The studio also offers charting, chord theory, and songwriting courses and hosts regular recitals to showcase students’ growth.

“We all have creativity that needs to be fostered and witnessed,” Erkman says, " having a safe place to show that part of yourself and have it encouraged is so important.”

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