As parents in this highly connected modern age we face challenges that no past generation ever did. How do we keep our children away from the phone, computer, internet and all the dangers found there? How do we make sure our children learn to be self confident, to communicate face to face, and have empathy for humanity?

It’s easiest to try to lead children by helping them be like us. Teach them to listen to the music we like, play the sports we like, believe in what we believe in. I have certainly done this, but my greatest success comes when I have reversed the script and my daughter has helped me to like what she likes. She has led me on a path from cheerleading, to dance, to voice and finally to musical theater.

We are lucky to have many performing arts choices in Auburn. My daughter has taken advantage of many of these. As a parent I have come to know show tunes, dance terms, vocal warm ups and stage directions. I think most of the staff at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse know me by name, and some I count as my good friends.

The people of the arts community are some of the most warm and welcoming professionals you could ever meet. The encouragement for children to put down the phones and the games, not because we as parents are telling them to, but because there is something more fun and interesting to do can’t be overstated. It seems easy when singing, dancing and acting are the alternative. Add the chance for children to be surrounded by working professionals sharing their craft, and it’s easy to see how children get excited about the arts.

It’s easy to write off the arts as something just fun and frivolous, but the skills gained from the arts translate into daily life better than most school subjects. Preparing a play requires practice, precision, teamwork, social skills and the ability to take direction and criticism. To perform this play add public speaking, punctuality and confidence to step in front of strangers and do your part. If this sounds like a list of skills adults say are lacking in children, then maybe it’s time to get more them on stage.

For an on stage experience like my daughter’s The Merry-Go-Round Junior Stars program is fantastic. For more information contact Josh Katzker (315) 255-1305.

Eoghan McGee


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