By Linda Dillman
The magic of the “The Nutcracker” is finding Indian Trail second graders dancing their way through Karla Cherwinski’s music class in preparation for a field trip to the Ohio Theatre to see the holiday ballet.
The Canal Winchester students are familiarizing themselves with the musical themes of the production as well as the beauty of the Ohio Theatre in advance of the Dec. 13 trip. Strains of Tchaikovsky’s music filled Cherwinski’s classroom as the teacher challenged students to identify specific instruments and selections from “The Nutcracker.”
“I’ve never heard this music before and I’ve never been to the Ohio Theatre,” said second grader Maddy Janson-Steele. “I’m looking forward to seeing the Sugar Plum Fairy.”
Student Jamel Goins is eagerly anticipating seeing the Russian Dance performed live on the Ohio Theatre stage during the special one-hour performance.
“I like it because it is more exciting than the other songs,” said Goins.
Cherwinski’s second graders broke into lively hand motions and mimicked kicking action in the ballet when she played the Russian Dance during a recent lesson. A selection from the Hot Chocolate Dance introduced the children to the clicking sound made by castanets.
“My goal is for them to be able to recognize the music when they are out and about,” said Cherwinski. “We teach them about the ballet, the beauty of the Ohio and introduce them to different sounds. I want them to find the joy in music. A lot of children have never had the opportunity to visit the Ohio Theatre and I make sure to tell them to look up and around when they enter the theatre. I’ve gone down there several times over the years with second graders and they are always amazed. As a field trip, it’s a perfect opportunity.”
Cross-curriculum opportunities are abundant in using “The Nutcracker” to tie into state education standards. When the classroom discussion took a historical turn to the Russian composer, students correctly calculated his age when he died (53) and identified how many years have passed since he brought the story of “The Nutcracker” to life (121 years).
In addition to four to five weeks of introduction to the music, instruments and movement of the ballet, Cherwinski also squeezes in lessons on proper etiquette and dressing for the occasion.
“The kids walk in on the day of the field trip in their best clothes,” said Cherwinski, “and they’re so proud of the way they look. This trip is a lot of work for all of us—there are close to 300 kids and 20 adults in six buses—but it is a great team effort.”