A group of six-year-olds sits in a circle around a puppet show. They create a story together with an instructor from the Royal Opera. The children move closer as the story grows. Their voices are eager and their hands in the air. Soon the circle is so small that they almost sit in eachothers laps. The passion and joy have spread throughout the group.
“It is amazing to see how quickly you can catch children’s attention this way”, says Lolitha Nilsson, head principle at the Smedshags school.
The puppet show is part of the Young at the Opera, a collaboration between the Smedshags school in Hässelby and the Royal Opera. All students, from first-graders to year nine, are introduced to means of expression to ways of work from the world of opera. The project has been made possible, thanks to a donation from Wallenius Lines.
In 2015/2016, the project ran for one school year. Already then, Lolitha Nilsson could see the positive benefits from the project:
“We could clearly see that several children improved their other school results, thanks to the introduction of the operatic expressions. This gives so much! The children take part of things they may never have come close to otherwise. They might not have been to a theatre before, even less the Royal Opera.”
The success of the project has made the Stockholm University to study the effects even closer. The ambition is to inspire other schools to make similar initiatives.
The activities from the Royal Opera, are planned in close co-operation with the teachers at the school, and integrated into the ordinary curriculum. Drama workshops, dance and movement, concerts and field trips are interlaced with the ordinary subjects.
“The students have really enjoyed this, they are challenged in new ways and look forward to these opportunities. The teachers are positive and faschinated over what this provides to the students. It is a way of teaching which stands out from the ordinary education, and we see that they receive life-long experiences”, concludes Lolitha Nilsson.
Read more about the collaboration between Soya Group and Young at the Opera