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2020 ECA Meeting of Minds Institute: Artful Play

At the first event in Sitar’s 20th Anniversary year, a host of internationally known guest presenters and panelists convened with community members here at the center—sharing knowledge and discussing forward-thinking approaches to early childhood development. Peter Gray. Ph.D., research professor, esteemed author of Free to Learn and president of The Alliance for Self-Directed Education (pictured), kicked off the festivities with a presentation on natural ways of learning for children and the life-long value of self-directed play. Guest presenters and panelists personally trained Sitar teachers on innovative and effective teaching tools and philosophies spanning several genres.

Paola Acuna-Rivera set the tone for the weekend with yoga and corporal expression centered on mindfulness. Jessica Phillips-Silver, Ph.D., professor, researcher, and neuroscientist shared her knowledge of cognitionmusicbrain, and child development. Karen Morales and Melissa Strova Valencia led a bilingual dramatic arts workshop. Michiko Yurko, creator of Music Mind Games (now in its 46th year) challenged us to explore music theory from the perspective of a young learner. Beloved artist Kofi Dennis led drumming and storytelling. Esteemed educator and artist Marcia Daft taught foundations of music education. Ingrid Zimmer, Associate Director of Word Dance Theater and Executive Director of Inner City-Inner Child, worked in concert with Sitar teaching artist Becky Lallande to teach a demonstration Rainbow Danceclass. Parents and children experienced the intersection of art and science in a demonstration class taught by award-winning visual artist Katie Macyshyn.

To close out the 3-days of expansive learning, lauded recording artists and activists, Terry Leonino and Greg Artzner of the Magpie Duo, incited us to action and played us out to playful, beautiful folk songs.