Carteret students have some insight into the business side of a career in the performing arts thanks to Max Weinberg, the drummer from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
And they also have learned about using their creativity courtesy of Greg Kennedy, a Cirque du Soleil juggler.
Both men met this fall with Carteret High and Middle school students as part of a free Master Class Program offered through the newly opened URSB Carteret Performing Arts & Events Center at the corner of Washington and Cooke avenues.
The Master Class Program, sponsored in part by a $250,000 grant from Amazon, is an interactive workshop series taught by professional and college level instructors in various performing arts genres. The series provides the students with teamwork opportunities and skill-building exercises that exposure to the arts has been proven to provide.
“The Carteret Master Class Program is an extremely valuable resource for students as they prepare for their college years and entry to the workforce,” said Mayor Dan Reiman. “Our Carteret community embraces the arts and the opportunities they provide for our children. We are thankful to Amazon and all our corporate sponsors for their generous support of the arts in our borough.”
Diana St. John, director of the URSB Carteret Performing Arts & Events Center said Kennedy met with students on Oct. 16 and Weinberg on Oct. 23. Each session involved about 50 students.
The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra based at Carnegie Hall had a Dec. 11 evening performance at the venue and during the afternoon they held a workshop for students.
“They (the orchestra) do not have a conductor. They travel all over the world giving workshops to corporations on how you have to work together as an ensemble, or as a team,” St. John said. “They work through the pieces together. And they work with students preparing them for what being in a team environment is going to be like. It was interactive, they did a lot of things with the students.”
She said during initial meetings with Amazon they wanted to be part of educational programs involving the arts.
“The idea was for students to come in and get firsthand mentoring from people who are in the business.” St. John said.
She said Weinberg talked about how to surround yourself with the right people for your accounting purposes and managing your business as an artist. Kennedy, a mechanical engineer, created an apparatus that Cirque du Soleil built its show around. She said his workshop was about the creativity and the art form.
“Each one of the workshops so far has been a slightly different take on what’s involved behind the scenes and how people from different backgrounds were influenced by the arts in their lives,” St. John said.
With the Amazon sponsorship, a total of 10 classes were planned with the balance slated for 2022. Carteret High and Middle school students may attend classes in person for free and are able to ask questions. The classes will be livestreamed to students across other school districts for additional outreach.
Master Class instructors include local songwriters, orchestra musicians, ballet choreographers, musicians, and corporate leaders whose lives have been enhanced through participation in arts programs.
“The Carteret Master Class is a wonderful initiative that enriches students’ lives and helps them succeed in other academic areas, beyond the arts,” said Jillian Irvin, Amazon’s senior manager of regional policy in New Jersey. “We’re thankful for the opportunity to join with the Carteret Performing Arts and Events Center to help bring this innovative programming to Carteret youth.”
According to Americans for the Arts, research has found that art education provides valuable physical and mental development in adolescents, enhances fine motor skills, neurological development and problem-solving abilities in young students which creates greater success in subjects like reading, writing, science, and arithmetic.