Through the Eyes of an Artist: Tira D. Bluestone
ArtBeat, is a unique partnership between Arts Horizons, NYC Hospitals, and the NYC Department of Education. Through music education workshops, ArtBeat brings arts-rich, safe, creative educational and emotionally uplifting environments to young students who are hospitalized for extended periods of time.
The artist of ArtBeat design music and visual art activities that will transform the hospital stay into a creative and healing opportunity, inspiring the children, helping them cope while also achieving educational goals by correlating activities to curriculum.
Tira Bluestone, a wonderful ArtBeat program artist, visited Kingsbrook Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. Read her story below.
Review of Kingsbrook Hospital visit
For Arts Horizons
By Tira D. Bluestone
It was a rainy, miserable day in April on my first visit to the Kingsbrook Hospital in Brooklyn. After an hour-long subway ride, plus an additional 25 minutes more on the bus, I finally arrived at the hospital, carrying my guitar, computer and slightly drenched backpack full of books and cd’s to play for the kids.
The children were wheeled into the room tilted back in their wheelchairs by attendants. None of the 15-20 children had the capability to move, walk or talk. I was determined to elicit a response, from each one of them, even if it was just by moving their mouth. If they were completely immobile, they were encouraged to expand their imagination by jumping to the music in their minds’ eye. The children responded enthusiastically with smiles to the exercises. One of the children was inspired to reach his arms overhead, as if to shoot a basket, exhibiting an undeniable coherent response.
On the second visit I integrated different exercises that included dancing till the music stops. Another included a mirror reflecting the color of the child’s shirt, with everyone encouraged to sing along about the color. The “Hello Song” and “Good Bye Song” related to each child individually and each was made to feel alive. Their active participation spoke for itself. It represented the positive effect that the visit had on the children and on the attendants as well.
The bed-ridden children who could not join the group, were visited bedside along with bubbles, tambourines, and personalized attention through song. The patients responded with a joyful exuberance, such as had never been seen before. Each child was made to feel special, and encouraged to become aware, and a part of group activities participating actively. Every child got involved in the group activities responding individually and with each other.
On the third visit, I introduced a cloth “roll-out” piano. Each child played “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” When they could not move their hands, they used their toes to play the piano! There was not a single student in the room who was not made to feel proud of their first solo piano performance! The applause encouraged them as well!
I hope my visits have inspired the teachers to work more creatively with the students and patients, accomplishing the task for Arts Horizons.
The hospital requested more visits and I strongly believe/suggest that further visits will enhance even more progress and growth, in both the staff and more importantly, the children. At the end of the day, the sun was shining inside the hospital through the smiles of the children!
To learn more about our work in hospital schools contact Dena Malarek (firstname.lastname@example.org) and to support our work in hospital schools, vote for Arts Horizons in the Pepsi Refresh Project. Cast your daily vote at www.refresheverything.com/artsforchildren