Video: Art & The Mind – Creativity

art and the mind: creativity
The following video is about art, creativity, and their effects on the mind. It was created by PBS and is hosted by Lisa Kudrow. The full video is embedded here and we’ve also created a transcript of the video if you’d like to read along.

Transcription of Art & The Mind – Creativity

We have transcribed the above video for your reference and to read along if you like.

Dr. Ellen Winner:
Why is it so important to have the arts?

Dr. Charles Limb:
It’s really a way to engage the whole brain.

Tim Robbins:
Art can lift your spirit and hope in your heart.

Speaker 1:
You want to be tall enough to climb.

Speaker 2:
The visual and performing arts, building a creative mind, and keeping it sharp, a lifetime of involvement, a lifetime of reward.

art, creativity and the brainLisa Kudrow:
Art surrounds us every day of our lives: in galleries, symphony halls; the books we read; the movies we watch; the music we dance to. We know the arts can be enjoyable, moving, exhilarating, thrilling, but there’s so much more. They also play a central role in what it means to be human. There’s more and more evidence that they help grow healthy young minds and maintain them as we age. In this program, we’ll bring you stories from around the country and hear from respected educators, scientists, and other experts to reveal the crucial impact of the arts on the human brain across our lifetime.
In the canyons between California’s Mojave deserts and Death Valley is one of the oldest art galleries in the Americas.

David Whitley:
The petroglyphs here in the Coso range extend back to about 12,000 years ago.

Lisa Kudrow:
Archeologist David Whitley studies rock art in America and around the world, seeking clues to what makes us human.

David Whitley:
When we see the appearance of what archeologists consider to be modern human beings in their action and in their behavior, it is intimately tied to the appearance of art. I believe this represents a change in the human genome between 35,000 and 50,000 years ago that resulted in this creative explosion, creative revolution.

Lisa Kudrow:
While some archeologists put the appearance of art much earlier, there’s no disagreement about the pivotal role art has played throughout human existence.

David Whitley:
Art is what defines us as human beings as we know ourselves today. It is a central element in what we are and where we came from.

Dr. Charles Limb:
I want to understand how we become who we are. Why are we creative? What is the root of all this creative behavior and how does it happen biologically? That’s you. Here you are.

Lisa Kudrow:
Dr. Charles Limb is one of a growing number of researchers using high tech tools to investigate the art instinct. He’s studying how creativity impacts the human brain.

Dr. Charles Limb:
Today’s experiment is a different question. It’s a question of what happens in your brain in an interactive, musical conversation. Creativity exists in almost every facet of life. There’s a wide range of creative behaviors. I think that we can begin to study creativity scientifically, and we can learn some really unique, valuable insights. This research is really in its infancy. Right now, we have way more questions than answers.

Lisa Kudrow:
While scientists like Dr. Limb analyze the neuroscience of art in the brain, there’s observational data to show that lifelong engagement in the arts improves health and mental agility from childhood into old age. Charles Williams is the music director for the Northeast Senior Singers in Washington, DC.

Charles Williams:
All cultures sing, and I think even the people who say they can’t sing, they sing somehow. It’s a part of us.

Marin Alsop:
I think art is primal; it’s the ultimate form of communication.

Joannza Lo:
It has the ability to cross cultures, cross languages, cross barriers, and be a universal language.

Dr. Ellen Winner:
There’s never been a society without the arts. There must be some need, some powerful drive.

Speaker 3:
The arts enliven the spirit. They are the way that we celebrate life.

Tim Robbins:
That’s one of the other things that is so essential about all of art is that it opens up the horizons of the mind to imagine all kinds of different realities.

Tamie Smith:
This group, you can go to find a spot and go ahead and start. In a group, you’re going to tell a story with the sand. You can use the brushes. You can [crosstalk 00:05:35]

Lisa Kudrow:
It’s with play that children first begin to use imagination and develop creative problem solving.

Tamie Smith:
What are you guys going to do for your story? Do you have any ideas? Think about it. What do you think?

Lisa Kudrow:
Tammy Smith is a teaching artist employed P.S. ARTS, a nonprofit that provides art classes for this California elementary school.

Tamie Smith:
What happen to the parrot, Inesae, or is that story long gone?

Inesae:
Long gone.

Tamie Smith:
It feels good. It just really feels good, and anybody can do it. There’s just something really magical about that feeling. It doesn’t have to be a picture of anything. Once your hand or whatever it is hits the sand, it’s making something. Just like that.

James Catterall:
It’s fun and games, sure, but it’s also very important for child development. Producing things through art is an arena for thinking.

Dr. Jay Giedd:
One of the key elements of the brain is its ability to transport in time. We can go back to memories of the past, but we can also play out scenarios in the future.

Speaker 4:
Do you have other ideas?

Dr. Jay Giedd:
This ability then to have imaginative scenarios about what happen if I did this or do that is a big aspect of play.

Tamie Smith:
What’s happening on this one?

Lisa Kudrow:
But budget cuts and increased emphasis on test results means that the arts are being marginalized in public schools across the United States.

Kristen Paglia:
Teachers are completely overloaded. They are expected to be teaching toward the standardized tests, and they have not very many minutes during the day to teach it. Public education right encourages kids to memorize information and be just like everyone else.

Tamie Smith:
All right, guys, what do we got going on over here?

Lisa Kudrow:
P.S. ARTS and other nonprofits try to fill the void in schools where arts education has either been cut back or eliminated completely.

Kristen Paglia:
The research shows that one of the only things that keeps kids in school is engagement in arts and sports. The drop-out rate in Los Angeles County right now is one in three.

Tamie Smith:
Is everybody ready to switch to another color?

Children:
Yeah!

Tamie Smith:
Okay, hold up. Oh whatever, it doesn’t matter. It is. It’s good. It’s good madness.

Dr. Jay Giedd:
Far from being a frivolous, sort of waste of time, it’s actually an essential part of how the brain learns to get by in this world and to learn the skills necessary to make it onto adolescence and into adulthood.

Tamie Smith:
As long as I can keep their mind as open as possible, that’s my goal. I really want them to still be kids and to explore and experiment and create. What did Einstein say? Your imagination is more important than knowledge.

Bob Bates:
I think what he meant when he said that was it’s not the knowledge that you have, but it’s what you can do with the knowledge, and doing with the knowledge comes directly through the creative spirit.

Lisa Kudrow:
Educator Bob Bates first founded Inner City Arts to provide an art space for local children in the heart of Los Angeles. Now, they come here as part of their regular school day where play is the foundation for creative learning.

Bob Bates:
We’re going to use our creativity and our imaginations, and we are going to go absolutely wild and build the most amazing things you’ve ever seen.

Male:
We’re supposed to make a sculpture out of it?

Bob Bates:
We’re going to make sculptures. We’re going to make towers. We’re going to make buildings. This is about using physics and engineering principles. It’s about design. It’s about using the creative process in a very unique way.

Male:
Is it kind of hard to make one of these?

Bob Bates:
No, it’s really easy. There’s no right and wrong here. Whatever you do is right. If it doesn’t work, take it apart and put it back together. I can take this to an architect right here, and I’d say I want you to make me a three-story house that looks like this. They can actually build a real house that we can actually live in.

Male:
Something very small could turn into something very big?

Bob Bates:
Exactly. Your challenge today is to see how big a structure you can invent and create using your imagination and your brain.

Male:
At the end, are we going to keep them?

Bob Bates:
You’re going to keep them. You’re going to take them home with you.

Male:
Today?

Bob Bates:
Today. Ready to go?

Female:
Yes.

Bob Bates:
Find a spot and go to work.

Female:
I want to build a better tree house.

Male:
I am going to build a gigantic square.

Female:
Cool.

Male:
Look what I am doing.

Bob Bates:
It’s like the scientific principle of test, evaluate, and redesign. Try something and it fails, you try something else. It fails, you try something again, and it succeeds, and all of those processes that are taking place are happening in this lab.

Male:
Yes, look, a roof.

James Catterall:
This has to be pretty startling for kids. They come to this place, and suddenly all of these are at their fingertips to play with. Then that chance to be in a place like that could tell kids something about what their worth, how the world is treating them, what their prospects might be in life.

Bob Bates:
Hey, everybody, check this one out. This maybe is the tallest one that’s been built so far. Look at that.

Male:
I need a little bit black.

Male:
I need a small one.

Tim Robbins:
The child is capable of anything. It’s how we get in their way that kills their spirit. It’s how we prioritize what is important and what’s not important.

Female:
There’s symmetrical in there. I see. It’s this one.

Bob Bates:
This one probably would be one.

Male:
I see a big city that’s not made out of cement, but we made them, and they’re very beautiful because that’s mine.

Female:
I don’t think it’s city. I think it’s creative, and I think it’s awesome.

Male:
When I see all this city is that big, big …

Female:
Towers.

Male:
Towers.

Female:
Buildings.

Male:
There’s little people, like microscope.

Bob Bates:
Where would you live if you’re going to be in the city?

Female:
Right there.

Female:
Right here.

Bob Bates:
You’ll live there. I would like you all to give yourselves a hand, really good concentration. I saw a life hard work. Did anybody run into any problems that were really difficult, and you had to struggle to figure it out?

Dr. Jay Giedd:
The brain’s complexity is driven by two fairly simple but powerful processes. The first is over production. There’re way more connections for them that can possibly survive. The second is war or competitive illumination. This is a very dynamic process in the child’s brain where there’s so many new experiences.

Lisa Kudrow:
When we were born, the brain’s over production enables us to adapt to any circumstance but maintaining so many neural connections is inefficient. As unneeded pathways are discarded, we rewire our brains for later life.

Dr. Jay Giedd:
The second part of the one, two punch of over production and selective illumination is often referred to as pruning. The things that we do a lot, the brain will become optimized for those, and the connections that we don’t use will wither and die. This was driven by the use it or lose it principle. The arts provide this vehicle then for really focusing the development of the brain to tasks that will serve us really well in the years to come.

Lisa Kudrow:
The arts have been a major part of nine year-old Avery’s life since early childhood.

Male:
Right next two lab assistants. Quick.

Male:
What kind of variable is that, that we’re drawing at each time?

Female:
Control.

Avery:
The control variable.

Male:
Nice job guys.

Lisa Kudrow:
She is a top student at her public elementary school and loves science, especially when an outdoor experiment gets her out of the classroom. Avery also has a special talent.

Marin Alsop:
Every child to me has enormous talent, but you know there’s certain kids that have that extra charisma, but I don’t believe that that overrides hard work.

Avery:
I like trying to make myself better at something, even though sometimes it gets frustrating.

Avery’s father:
Whether it’s at school and education or it’s with music, Mina and I both agree that having a solid foundation, if you have that base really rock solid, so much can spring off of it.

Lisa Kudrow:
Avery studies twice a week with a respected Russian concert pianist.

Dr. Charles Limb:
I think it’s really crucial to know that high-level artists are expert performers through hard work, through training, through discipline, through study, through the life experience, and so practice is a critical part of being creative because all these routines have to be completely internalized, completely automatic, so that when you’re ready to have creative insight, you can have it come out the way you intended.

Piano teacher:
I like it very much. Can you play more soft here?

Female:
All right, beautiful response, class. You’re going to make a game that’s going to challenge somebody to show what they know about fractions.

Lisa Kudrow:
Math is another of Avery’s favorite subjects. There’s anecdotal evidence to link a mastery of music with improved academic performance.

Avery:
You try to figure out the amount that we have.

Math teacher:
She’s very gifted math student. I have to keep up with her. People who study music are usually very good in math. I am not sure if it’s because they’re studying music that they’re good in math or they’re good in music because they’re mathematically inclined, but there does seem to be a connection.

Lisa Kudrow:
Scientific research has yet to validate this connection.

Dr. Ellen Winner:
We actually do not have any evidence that mathematicians are more musical nor is there any good evidence that when the kids study music they get better at mathematics. That doesn’t mean it’s not true, but it hasn’t been proven. Hey Lexi, you’re ready to come and do our study?

Lisa Kudrow:
Psychologist Ellen Winner believes that much of the existing research focuses too narrowly on how art impacts the standardized curriculum.

Dr. Ellen Winner:
We’re going to have a seat at this round table here.

Lisa Kudrow:
She and her colleagues have designed a multiyear study to research how abilities in art transfer to broader cognitive skills. We’re doing a project looking at what students learn when they learn to draw and paint, and this is a measure of how you learn to see things in your mind. We’re going to ask Jonathan to start. What we want you to do is look at the still life here of a cup and a take-out Chinese food box, and we want you draw it as realistically as you can. I think we’ve been measuring the wrong things. When people look at whether the arts improve other skills in children, the typical thing they do is look at standardized test scores.

Female:
What I’d like you to do is draw the space that is created by what you see when his hand touches his head, just that space.

Dr. Ellen Winner:
I want to understand what kind of broad habits of mind are taught when students learn an art form. People argue that we need the arts in schools because they do things for kids outside of the arts. They improve their math skills. They improve their academics skills. They’re not focusing on the arts. They’re focusing what the arts can do for other skills that we supposedly value more.

Lisa Kudrow:
For the teenagers who spend their summer at this Boston art space, art is what’s important, not how it helps them in school.

Lexi:
There’s not much art in my family. I am kind of the black sheep when it comes down to it, but I’ve always really loved drawing.

Male:
I’d like to draw. All over my school papers, I would get in trouble at school for drawing all over my papers.

Female:
I love the colors. I love using bright colors. Art is just fun, just a way to express things.

Dr. Ellen Winner:
It’s really interesting. Why is it so important to have the arts? Why is it so important to have the sciences or the humanities? I think the purpose of education is to help our children understand the greatest things that humans have done, and that’s the sciences, the humanities, and the arts. If you leave out the arts, you’re living out one third of the equation.

Lisa Kudrow:
Soon after becoming music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop committed herself and the symphony to bringing music education to children in the inner city. The result was ORCHKids, a multiyear pilot program at an elementary school in West Baltimore. It’s based on El Sistema, a program began in Venezuela that has now been adopted worldwide. It emphasizes intensive musical training as a way to expand the mind and encourage social change”

Dan Trahey:
Smells like work in here.

Dr. Ellen Winner:
It does, smells like feet.

Lisa Kudrow:
Dan Trahey is a musician recruited by Marin Alsop to head the ORCHKids program.

Dan Trahey:
I want to show you something.
I would describe it as a massive group music making project. There are certain key fundamentals that are actually very, very simple. The first one is music for all. A second one is starting as early as possible, so that this music is in their blood. Then we sit down individually with each one of them and ask them what they want to play, most importantly why. They have to be able to articulate why they want to play that instrument.

Female:
You can hear it singing the song. You can just hear [crosstalk 00:20:41]–

Dan Trahey:
The same experience as I had. Someone had put a tube in my hand, and I touched it and played around with it and sounded awful but fell in love with it.

Marin Alsop:
For me, it’s not about creating musicians. It’s about creating a community of young people that can become our leaders.

Dan Trahey:
Remember that we were all kindergarteners and first graders that our teachers were saying if you study that you’re going to be able to make a better life for yourselves.

Marin Alsop:
My dream will be in twenty years that one of the ORCHKids comes up to me who’s my attorney maybe or my doctor and says ‘I was an ORCHKid when I was in school, and this was important to me. I still play music. It enhances my life.”

Brian Prechtl:
I am looking up. I am looking down. I am looking all around. When I shoot this room, I want to see everybody’s eyes, and eyes.

I am trying to help them find a measure to success. It doesn’t really matter with what, but the bucket of success comes quickly. People just achieve more whether they’re adults or kids. When you deal with it with the same kind of approach that Marin does with the orchestra with us, and anybody who’s really doing a good job of rehearsing does. That sounds like what we said.

The other thing I think that they really get is discipline and understanding of what it means to be part of a team, and that you can’t just do whatever you want at that moment, but that’s a tough lesson.

Female:
Ready? Don’t shout, [inaudible 00:22:18].

Lisa Kudrow:
Mostly supported by private funds, a majority of the school is enrolled in ORHCKids. A concert with the Baltimore Symphony is just a week away.

Female:
If your bow isn’t on the D string, you’re not getting ready the way you’re supposed to. That is so much better violins. Let’s check in with the cellos.

Marin Alsop:
I think because I played in instrument young, I became a very, very good student because I understood how to budget my time. I understood how to self-motivate. I think that’s a problem for kids a lot of times. Also, I understood that life is not easy. You have to apply yourself consistently and over a long period of time.

Female:
That’s good, Tilda. Bless your heart.

Marin Alsop:
Because of those opportunities associated with learning to play the violin, for me, I think it gave me a leg up in life. I believe every child should have that opportunity.

Male:
As soon as the choir set, we’re going to start.

Dan Trahey:
Our kids go to school on average two weeks more than a regular Baltimore city child. Not only that, but then they’re here four days a week after school and then most Saturdays. These kids do have to put in the time, and they do have to do their homework. They do have to keep their grades and their test scores and their attendance up in order to be in the program.

Male:
If you play the first note, your instrument should be up. There you go.

Lisa Kudrow:
This piece has been commissioned for the upcoming Baltimore Symphony Concert. It’s the first time the difference instrument groups have practiced it together.

James Catterall:
I think that the arts encourage interaction between kids, and they encourage encouragement. The bulk of the other thing going on in school is language learning, mathematics, science, history, some of which is collaborative but not very much. It’s different in art.

Dan Trahey:
It’s not individual. It’s not, “Your spelling test. You only got a 75% on.” That doesn’t work in the orchestra. It’s the entire orchestra is being graded, so to speak, on the performance. That’s really a metaphor for society; that we can’t let each other down. We have to be there for each other.

Male:
You are my favorite teacher.

Dan Trahey:
I am starting to see. I am not happy with it yet, but I am starting to see a lot more empathy. I am starting to see a lot more teamwork. I am starting to see young leaders. That’s a big one for me, that leadership.

Dr. Jay Giedd:
The arts create an opportunity of a highly, motivated, passionate, fun state that really engages the brain’s reward and emotional systems in a very powerful way. That’s really the key to learning that our brain is really going to change and adapt most to the things that we value. The things that we need to stay alive and enjoy life from childhood to adolescence to adulthood.

Lisa Kudrow:
Research shows that lifetime involvement in the arts does the most good. The brain’s constantly adapt to what’s going on around it. It’s called neuroplasticity. The richer the creative environment, the more active and engaged the brain remains in old age.

Charles Williams:
The Northeast Senior Singers, they’re older people as am I, and their voices are beginning to fail. Since I am not asking you all to stand, you have to at least sit up straight.
Some of the members don’t have great voices. Generally, the stronger ones and the better ones drown them out. I didn’t understand a word. That was [crosstalk 00:26:47]

Lisa Kudrow:
The Northeast Senior Singers are rehearsing for their end-of-year concert. Charles is putting on the pressure.

Female:
He’s the perfectionist, as most musicians are. If it’s not right, he doesn’t mind going over and over and over until we get it right.

Female:
We just try to do our best. When he stops us and when he tells us what we should be doing, and we just do it. Hopefully, we do it.

Charles Williams:
Let’s move on. David Danced.

Dr. Jay Giedd:
One of the aspects of the lifelong use or lose it principle is that the task needs to be challenging. If this is an ongoing process, there seems to be no age limit in which the use or lose it principle stops taking effect. The brain will continue to adapt and change based on those efforts.

Charles Williams:
No, no, no, no, no, no … sssssinging, five S’s. These mistakes cannot be made again, ever. This is the last week. I know you think I am mean. I don’t care. Shouting “sssssinging, five S’s on singing and” Thank you.

I am very demanding. I insisted they do their homework and work on it on their own, so that we’re not starting all over each week. I just treat them like professionals. They always rise to the occasion.

Fine. In other words, you didn’t need that, did you? I closed it. You gave me a dirty look, but you didn’t need it. I am trying to help you. You don’t need the crutch. Put off the day when you get the walker with the tennis balls. The staccato version, close your books everybody. Books are closed next week on this. Please do this for yourself because we want to knock their socks off this year.

I’ve seen how their steps have quickened when they walk out of the rehearsal. There’s a new energy and with the breathing, and they’re using the brain and the singing and memorization or reading of the words, something happens to you.

Lisa Kudrow:
Charles Limb is a surgeon and a neuroscientist, as well as a jazz musician. He’s researching how the human brain responds to creative improvisation at any age.

Dr. Charles Limb:
I feel that I am about 50% artist and 50% scientist. I am really trying to use the arts to inform the science, and the science to inform the arts.

Lisa Kudrow:
Dr. Limb first studied jazz improvisation. Now, he and his colleagues have turned their attention to hip hop as they investigate the creative act of freestyle rapping.

Dr. Charles Limb:
We’re just going to walk this way down to the scanner.
What I am trying to do is to take people that are naturally creative and see how it is they do what they do.

Stop. That’s perfect. You clearly got that down. Basically, we’ll be doing that, memory versus freestyle, we’ll be switching back and forth. Memorize rapping is a complex brain activity, but what we’re really interested in is what changes when you go from memorize rapping to freestyle rapping.

Male:
Mike check … one, two, one, two, one, two …

Dr. Charles Limb:
Pretty noisy, huh?

Male:
Yeah, so that’s a scanner?

Dr. Charles Limb:
That is a scanner. It’s going to make all sorts of weird noises.

Male:
While the beat’s playing?

Dr. Charles Limb:
Yup. We’re finding activity in the brain in essentially every motor region during the act of rapping. I always tell people, whether or not you like is irrelevant. You probably couldn’t do it. When they do start freestyling, when they really get into the groove, they’re actually turning off this [crosstalk 00:31:29]–

Lisa Kudrow:
FMRI scan showed activity and changes in every sensory motor region of the brain during freestyling. Language areas are more active while self-critical thought is suppressed.

Dr. Charles Limb:
The brain is ramping itself up and shutting itself down at the same time in order to allow these rappers to freestyle.

Lisa Kudrow:
Such research provides insight into creativity’s complex neural processes.

Dr. Charles Limb:
When you teach creative thinking or when you encourage it, it’s really a way to engage the whole brain. I feel like if that is not encouraged, it will be very detrimental, not only to that individual but to society as a whole.

Tim Robbins:
A lot of people I know wouldn’t have made it through high school if it wasn’t for arts programs. You’re trying to actively engage the mind of a young person. There’s a good percentage of us that really aren’t turned on by math and science. We need other inspiration. You guys will rehearse until you have it, so Monday you can just relax.

Lisa Kudrow:
Tim Robbins worked with Get Lit, a nonprofit program that provides inspiration through poetry. Actress Diane Luby Lane is the founder and executive director.

Diane Luby Lane:
Our mission is to increase teen literacy in Los Angeles, we say, it’s really so much more. It’s not enough that you show up here and bond. That’s a great thing, but I am not running an after-school program for at-risk youth. I don’t mean to be mean about it. I am just not.

Male:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked [crosstalk 00:33:03]

Tim Robbins:
They introduce these kids to really good poets and makes them learn it and makes them study that poetry before they start to write their own. Doing so, they’re attaching a discipline, literary discipline, to the program that is making these kids think in way beyond their own experience and their own lives.

Female:
If I awakened in Los Angeles, I will not have to say my prayers to the east, sky over the city -

Diane Luby Lane:
This is the other part, say my prayers to the east. Most of the world is saying their prayers to the east. What does that mean? Why are they saying their prayers to the east?
We’re taking kids that we feel have potential. We’re challenging them to become artists and to become scholars.

Female:
I will not have to say my prayers to the east, pass heads of palm tress through foggy breezes because I will be a prayer as I perform…

Diane Luby Lane:
Cut. This is it. This is the whole message of the poem because I will be a prayer. I am going to be so transformed that I will be the prayer. Does that make sense? Really? Let’s hear you say it.

Female:
I will not have to say my prayers to the east, pass heads of…

Diane Luby Lane:
Sorry honey, it’s really important that you hit the word east because it’s not about a location. It’s not about a church. It’s not about a god. That’s what she’s saying. It’s about I am the blessing, so you can’t rush her saying specifically east. You can’t rush that. Try again.

Female:
I will not have to say my prayers to the east – pass heads of…

Diane Luby Lane:
Poetry is special because we’re species that languages are important to us. Words are important to us. They were created for a reason.

Female:
This morning, I have too much to do to awaken, say my prayers, feed the birds, head to the refrigerator and forget.

Diane Luby Lane:
Thank you. Beautiful. Part of the Get Lit program, we’d say you memorize the classic, get that inside of you, and have a conversation now with this poet. Have a conversation with this poem. What do you want to say back?

Female:
I just don’t understand why you made me your big, fat secret if you knew it caused me so much pain.

Diane Luby Lane:
They’ll write back, and we work on it, work on it ‘till it rises to the level of the classic, and that’s pretty empowering.

Female:
I am not comfortable talking about boys, men, boys pretending to be men or men playing as boys to capture the woman inside me. That woman has been hidden ever since I was eight.

Tayllor Johnson:
Poetry is an amazing thing. It just opened me up. I found who I was. I didn’t know who I was, and poetry just said “Tayllor, this is who you are, and I grabbed it, and I used it.”
Staring into the light with shaking hands and dry tears because someone hurt her–
It was hard to write it. If felt really icky to write it down. I am like I don’t want to write about this, but I did. I don’t like talking about it. I don’t wear makeup, and when I look in the mirror, I still see that girl…I am glad that I got to get that out for myself and maybe leave that behind on the paper, hopefully.

James Catterall:
This stuff is important for kids, how they feel how much in control of their lives and destinies are they. If they feel like they can really accomplish something that was difficult, these kids feel like they can become things that they didn’t think they could be before.

Jazmine Williams:
Raised revolutionaries out of Facebook pages. We fire back, letters, e-mails, phone calls [crosstalk 00:36:43]

James Catterall:
There’s a lot of things that you sort of think education not to be about, but it’s hard to find it really going on.

Lisa Kudrow:
Helping children reach their potential is the goal of most organizations reviving arts education in America, but that requires school and teacher support. Erin Lee brings her fourth-grade class to Inner-City Arts twice a week.

Erin Lee:
It’s really difficult to put in or bring in art. Most of the time, you tend to think of art as something extra to give to the kids, not as something that they really need.

Joannza Lo:
Are we ready to make art today?

Children:
Yeah!

Joannza Lo:
Walk to one of the seats and you’ll see an apron. I want you to put that over. We’re going to protect your clothing today because we will be working with paint. Today, they will be creating a large mural, all together, in the stop-motion animation form. They will see their painting come to life magically. Our first seven, you think of a type of line. Within 10 seconds [crosstalk 00:37:51]–

Students, as they get older and they’re going through the school system. The traditional school system, they are often told what not to do or stay within the boundaries, color within the lines.

Do we see you all? Let’s see. Let’s make sure we see all of you. Then students, over that process of being told what they shouldn’t do, develop these walls and barriers that prevent them from really taking risks and trying different things.
Ready, go, ten…

Teachers themselves have also built up the lack of courage to experiment and try.
I saw some people closed up different lines to create shapes. Now, we have inside spaces.

Erin Lee:
When the creativity comes out, personally, I kind of get scared when their creativity comes out because I cannot really manage it.

Jan Kirsch:
The intrinsic value of the arts is not something that most teachers have in their teacher training programs or in their own education very often. How can I shift what I am doing at this moment, so they might be more engaged.

Lisa Kudrow:
At Inner-City Arts, Jan’s job is to help teachers like Erin Lee understand the vital role that the arts play in developing young minds.

Jan Kirsch:
Erin, you had a question about how you can integrate music to other subject areas. Do you have [crosstalk 00:39:09]

Our job here in the professional development program is to support them in the love of children and the love of learning that brought them to teaching and that sometimes gets mandated out of them.

Joannza Lo:
Are you ready? Get your paint ready. Get it nice and wet.

Erin Lee:
I am afraid of the kids being wild.

Joannza Lo:
Painters.

Erin Lee:
I was very surprised the kids were able to manage it. They really enjoyed it, and they were very engaged. I have never seen them working like that in my class. I was, wow, that was a big shock. I noticed that one of my students who had a behavior problem in the classroom, when he comes here, he’s on his task. He’s one of the best students.

Jan Kirsch:
They see a different part of their students, and they see them as a unique individual who has the capacity for creative problem solving, critical thinking, and they then see their potential in the classroom very differently.

Female:
How can we make it more creative, more hands on because I saw [inaudible 00:40:12]–

Jan Kirsch:
We work with those teachers to provide strategies for creative exploration and critical thinking for learning in the classroom.

Joannza Lo:
This is starting to really look very interesting to me. We’re going to reveal to you what you did as a team. Let’s see. Started from nothing and look what has become.

Lisa Kudrow:
Young children still retains a sense of wonder. Teenagers are less open. Part of the Get Lit mission is to bring poetry to high schools around Los Angeles.

Diane Luby Lane:
When we show up, and they hear it’s a poetry recital, nobody is excited. Poetry sounds really boring. Then when they see that it’s teenagers, they’re a little shocked, and then you think if that person’s doing it, you start to think could I do it? You start to gauge your own self and what you’re doing with your time versus what they’re doing with their time.

Male:
El Rancho, make some noise!

Tim Robbins:
This idea of being up there and you have a story to tell. It’s not enough to just know the words. You have to really know the words, so that you can find the music and the rhythm.

Jazmine Williams:
One.

Brianna:
Thou shall have no other gods before me.

Jazmine Williams:
Justin walks like a boy, talks like a boy, and dances like a dove with wings of fire made [crosstalk 00:41:49]

Tim Robbins:
I’ve seen how they develop. One would first feel timid and quiet, and then a couple years later, just full-on performance and confidence and a voice that has been discovered in themselves. That’s so beautiful to watch. It’s like watching this child become an adult, really, and an adult in a good way.

Jazmine Williams:
He never kept a straight face when he looked at me, always laughed them off. The questions like…

Brianna:
Why do you stand there?

Jazmine Williams:
What’s wrong with dirt under your fingernails?

Brianna:
Do you think she’s pretty?

Jazmine Williams:
What type of a black boy wants to be a ballerina when he grows up? If I was him, I would have never spoken to me again…

Brianna:
Six, thou shall not kill.

Jazmine Williams:
because I treated him less than a man.

Brianna:
Thou shall not kill.

Jazmine Williams:
I treated him less than human.

Brianna:
Thou shall not kill.

Jazmine Williams:
I treated him like that one gay boy every girl needs in her life like a purse.

Jazmine & Brianna:
People say a lot of silly things, but Jesus never told a songbird not to sing.

Male:
Make some more noise for Jazmine and Brianna.

Lisa Kudrow:
Most school visits include classroom workshop.

Tayllor Johnson:
When we’re talking about complex concept like death.

Lisa Kudrow:
The young performers share poetry’s power to open up new worlds of creative possibility.

Tayllor Johnson:
You’ve captured something that’s as big as the universe and put it into three quatrains and a couplet.

Male:
Here’s something that’s really cool that I learned myself, and this really, really tripped me out. What’s a good song? Eminem, have you guys heard Lose Yourself?

Classroom:
Yeah.

Male:
All right, that’s a sick song right? Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, there’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti. He’s nervous, but on the surface, he looks calm and ready. You see how complex this really is? When you really, actually break it down, it’s more than just music. This is, wow. This is called feminine rhyme. There’s masculine rhyme as well. I learned about this not too long ago, and this tripped me out because you know in hip hop, we call this multi-syllables. In English, this is feminine rhyme. That’s just another way of letting you guys know that all this classical stuff and poetry really does connect directly to everything you listen to such as Eminem.

Diane Luby Lane:
It’s a really beautiful thing to watch teens teaching other teens.

Male:
Is everyone cool with their poem? They understand it? Otherwise, we can take a minute or two to read it through.

Diane Luby Lane:
To watch these kids go from being young learners to then teachers is … that’s really remarkable. They are very empowered by getting to work with other young people.

Female:
Tell us who it is first.

Male:
Mother to Son by Langston Hughes. Well, son, I’ll tell you, life for me hasn’t been no crystal stair.

Diane Luby Lane:
They themselves are so newly vulnerable to the whole process. They understand how scary it is to stand up there and recite someone else’s words.

Female:
Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, canceled?

Tim Robbins:
Someone that believes that they have something to say and believes that other people want to hear that, and that the legitimacy of what they have to say is verified by a live performance. It’s something that does wonders for self-esteem and self-confidence.

Female:
My body is a jigsaw puzzle, not whole in itself, not sure [crosstalk 00:45:34]

Lisa Kudrow:
Tonight, the Get Lit poets are performing at Tim Robbins Actors’ Gang theater at Culver City.

Diane Luby Lane:
Everybody needs to find that place where they’re magnificent. These kids, a lot of them, this is that place. If you take that away from them, they will never know themselves as leaders. They will never know themselves as contributors.

Jazmine Williams:
Because we understand that a society is only sustained in the midst of turmoil with art. We know what pains birth hip hop, the Harlem Renaissance, rock and blues. We are the most diverse school in the nation. We know that arts is the only thing that makes Los Angeles’ school district unified.

When Get Lit came into my drama class, I was just, oh my god, they’re really honest. I am going to say something. I am going to shock somebody with the truth. I auditioned after that, and that’s how it all started. Kind of saved my life in a way, not even kind of, not even in a way, it totally saved my life.

Male:
Jerry, be good. Deandre, you’re in choir also, you can go to [inaudible 00:46:49] group.

Lisa Kudrow:
On Baltimore’s west side, ORCHKids are getting ready to perform with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Male:
Good. We’re going to the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall for rehearsal number two with the Baltimore Symphony and the ORCHKids program. Here comes Leshay Banks with her forgotten cello bow. It’s important! You’ve got to have the cello bow to play the cello.

Lisa Kudrow:
It’s the first time some of the children have travelled so far outside their neighborhood

Male:
[inaudible 00:47:21] Symphony Hall.

Marin Alsop:
The perception of the arts, particularly symphonic music, I think classical music, is that this is an elite experience for a very small, wealthy segment of the population.

Dan Trahey:
Hi girls, high five, high five, get in there, get in there.

Marin Alsop:
I think that needs to change.

Male:
ORCHKids, rest position! We’re going to do a quick choir warm up. Follow Miss Molly, then we’re going to get onstage.

Marin Alsop:
I see tremendous poise in these kids that didn’t exist before. They’re polite. They know how to hold themselves. You know they have stage presence in life.
We’re going to practice it just like it’s going to be the concert, everybody. What’ll happen is that you’ll see the light will come down, there’ll be some applause, and John will come out. The orchestra will tune. One, two, three, four…

Dan Trahey:
The longitudinal thinking is getting better as well. They’re starting to think about it’s not about today. It’s not about tomorrow. It’s about what we’re going to be doing in the summer or next year. What we get now is “I want to be a baseball player, and I want to be a school teacher. I want to be a doctor.”

Marin Alsop:
Keep your eye on me, and then there your hands come down. Very good.

Dan Trahey:
We’re not that special. This is not rocket science, what we’re doing. This is just fundamentally the right approach to creating music and creating community.

Charles Williams:
The Northeast Senior Singers are having their final concert at three o’clock today.

Lisa Kudrow:
Separated by a lifetime, ORCHKids and the Northeast Senior Singers are linked by the power of the arts to keep minds active and engaged from childhood into old age.

Charles Williams:
Hallo. Your senior transport is here. Those of you who need a ride, don’t everybody move at once now.

Dr. Jay Giedd:
That fundamental principle of use it or lose it seems to be in place as long as we’re alive. There’s no age that is too old to learn that the brain continues to be able to adapt and change to the challenges and opportunities that are presented with it.

Michael Terry:
Had a very good rehearsal last week. We were able to tighten up mostly everything. A couple tunes, he’s going to hit on at rehearsal before the show, but other than that, I think they did a good job. I think it’ll be nice.

Charles Williams:
Try to sit where you sit over at Delta.

Michael Terry:
Whatever is not learned, at this point, it won’t be learned. It’s just whatever they need to brush up on, but they pretty much learned everything. I think they’re excited.

Charles Williams:
You never know what I am going to do, so you have to be awake and aware. I may ask you to do chuk-a-choo, chuk-a chuk-a chuk – We will not only be hip, but we’ll be hip replacement.
When you’re standing on a stage and performing for an audience, you’ve come to offer a gift. If they receive it and appreciate it and enjoy it, that’s what it’s all about.

Lisa Kudrow:
On the night of Baltimore Symphony concert, the audience of 2,500 includes the proud ORCHKids parents.

Dr. Charles Limb:
Art exists. It doesn’t need science to be validated. We recognize intuitively when something is creatively valuable.

Dan Trahey:
One of the first things I heard from a child about performing music in this community was “Everybody listens to me when I am on stage.” That was so important to her because that meant that all the attention was on her, so she could show everybody what she could do.

Marin Alsop:
When I look at one of my ORCHKids standing on the stage of the Meyerhoff concert hall, proud of herself, filled with joy and excitement, that says it all to me.

Dr. Ellen Winner:
There’s virtually nobody in this world that is not involved in the arts in some way, whether it be in making or in receiving.

Dr. Charles Limb:
When we see something creative, we can marvel at it, and all recognize, that was brilliant.

Marin Alsop:
To me, art is an expression that moves you. It’s an emotional experience.

Male:
The Get Lit players!

Tim Robbins:
Part of what art should also do is lift the spirit, open your heart, change the way you look at life.

Charles Williams:
If we allow that to happen, if we make that a part of our lives, our lives are going to be much, much richer.

Lisa Kudrow:
At least now 2,000 generations now separate us from the world first artists. Across this expanse of time, the art instinct has remained at the heart of human endeavor.

David Whitley:
Art always seems to give society as a whole a bigger and different vision of the world that we live in. It’s part of what makes us what we are today.

Lisa Kudrow:
It will continue to define us for as long as humanity exists.

Male:
Why is there art?

Male:
Next time, on arts and the mind.

Female:
I am trying things that I’ve never tried before.

Male:
From art therapy to managing posttraumatic stress. From inner city youth to older adults.

Male:
We can all be involved in the arts. We can all keep our brains fit.

Male:
Strengthening minds and lives across the generations.

Comments

  1. Sandy says

    I cannot get the video to play. After the Met Life ad, the video doesn’t begin. Can you help me?

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