By Eric Dombrowski, Fine Arts and World Languages faculty
As the Festival of Arts approaches, or really by the time this is published has past, I’ve been thinking about arts in schools, the importance of the arts, and how the arts have influenced my own life.
Honestly, I’m not interested in whether or not students go on and study the arts in college. I’ve had students at Foxcroft pursue higher degrees and that’s awesome, but not the end game. That’s kind of an odd statement coming from someone who holds multiple degrees in music performance.
I truly believe Fine Arts are so important to developing soft skills: discipline, nuance, communication, self awareness, confidence, and many other characteristics. One thing I love about the Festival of the Arts and the musical — this year the show was Legally Blonde — is that students come out their shells and try something, anything new. That’s the point. Go ahead and try something. Go fail. Go be successful. Be proud. Be confused. It’s okay. Some of the greatest moments in my concert history were the “Whoa, HAHA, let’s not have have that happen again,” paired with, “Whoa, that was incredible!”
I was talking to a student performing in Legally Blonde and she shared with me her experiences of being in the musical and why she signed up. I was very curious about the why, as every individual, including myself, has our own story and journey.
Interestingly enough, it wasn’t “I like to act,” “I wanted to learn to be actress,” or “I want a career in the arts.” The reason was, “I know down the road no matter my career, I will have to stand in front of people, present, and communicate clearly. I wanted to challenge myself and overcome the fear of being in front of people. Hopefully, in the end I will be more confident.” As we flushed out the conversation, it became clear that arts weren’t a professional goal. There wasn’t any interest in performing at Carnegie Hall or grandiose dreams of world tours, but through the arts and specifically the musical, she chose to better herself and the community.
Why are the arts important in schools? How does one build confidence and discipline? How can we better ourselves and challenge ourselves and be successful outside of our comfort zone? As someone who has navigated the world of Fine Arts, first as a student and now as a teacher/performer, I have experienced the stress, discipline, peer review, public review, and being my own worst critic. I happen to make music. In the end, though, I continue to grow as a person and a professional. This is why we wake up in the morning, because by the evening we have hopefully bettered not only ourselves, but also the community we live in.
I want every student to give it a try. Go ahead and enjoy the arts. There really is only rule: Give it your best and enjoy the journey. Go find your own “Whoa . . .” moment.