BWW Blog: Lisa Beth Vettoso - Life Lessons from the Arts
Life lessons from the arts...
If you work in the arts, and specifically arts education, you already believe in the importance of the arts in the lives of children. You believe it because of what you observe each and every day in a classroom, out in the community, or on a stage. You also believe it because something led you to a career in the arts, likely your own artistic experiences as a child and/or teenager. And even if you don't work in the arts, you're likely reading this blog because you love and support the arts.
I grew up in a New Jersey town near New York City. Living about 30 minutes outside of the city meant easy access to Broadway plays and musicals, and I was lucky enough to have two parents who enjoyed going to the theater. I remember seeing Annie on Broadway when I was only about five years old. I was obsessed with the movie (to the point that I would act out the scene on the train trestle by hanging off of my stairs) and was thrilled to see it performed live on stage. I remember being a little confused, though, as some of the story and characters were different and I was so accustomed to the characters and the songs in the movie.
When I was 10, we went to see Les Miserables. We sat in the fifth row, and during the cast bows, the actor playing Jean Valjean smiled and waved at me. I sat breathless at the realization that he saw me! He smiled at me! The magic spell was cast.
From ages 3 through 13, I attended a K-8 private school that offered little by way of arts education. We had music class once per week, but the class mainly consisted of singing along with the teacher. We did not learn to read music or to play an instrument. We simply regurgitated lyrics to popular songs. (My clearest memory is singing "We Go Together" from the musical Grease COUNTLESS times.) We also had art class once per week, but that was the sum total of what was offered.
My high school, also a private institution, offered a similarly modest amount of visual arts and theater classes. Therefore, the majority of my arts education and experience was through dance classes that I took through a private studio beginning at age 7, and in the annual high school musical. Regardless, I was bitten by the performing arts bug and continued in college by participating in dance ensemble and theater/musical theater groups.
Looking back on my life, my fondest memories involve music, theater, and/or dance. And the person I have become, both personally and professionally, has been shaped by these experiences in a variety of ways. Below are just a few lessons that the arts have taught me...
You can't always get what you want...
This is a lesson I try to remember not only for myself, but that I also try to instill in the students I work with. In life, we cannot and will not always get exactly what we want. Although it's not always easy to accept, disappointment is a part of life. You may audition hoping for one role and get another. And it's difficult to understand why the director or choreographer made that decision. But rather than quitting, it is important to stand tall, have confidence in your abilities, and know that everything happens for a reason and helps us to grow. This same lesson applies to your relationships and your professional endeavors. Just think - if you got up and walked out of your office every time something didn't go your way - you'd probably get fired!