Calhouners Take the Stage From Home

The transition to distance learning hasn’t stopped students in music and the performing arts from refining their skills and honing their craft. Teachers have been finding creative ways to keep students engaged and inspired by providing opportunities for these young performers to continue their work. Here are just a few examples of how students in Calhoun’s performing arts courses are continuing to create from home. 

Lower School—Early Childhood

Little Calhouners have continued their exploration of world music with weekly video lessons from teacher Marina Iranzi. With Mariana’s guidance, classes have spent time exploring basic rhythmic patterns through call and response, learning about changemakers and celebrating a number of cultures through music, stories and art. Live sessions offer an opportunity to dance along to the sounds of Mariana’s guitar, sing together and interact through games and activities. Little Calhouners are also playing along using “instruments” found at home in the forms of kitchen utensils, office supplies and recycled objects. Watch the video below to see Mariana share a song inspired by students’ reading of Under the Ramandan Moon while using some non-traditional instruments in the process.

Lower School—Elementary

Calhouners in 3rd-5th grades have also created their own instruments out of found objects. Using their creations, they have worked to compose their own instrumental songs, writing and performing blues songs, and catching up on solfège (a system in which every note of a scale is given a unique syllable, the most common being do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti). Students are now in the midst of learning how to make their own digital music. 

Middle School

Students in Comedy/Improv are keeping the laughs coming during weekly synchronous sessions. Each week, teacher Ed Schloth shares a new video on the portal for students to watch over the course of the following days. Content comes from a variety of sources, including The National Theatre of London, UK’s video demonstrations of Commedia dell'Arte, an early form of professional theater. Recently the class created their own video showcasing a Commedia exercise inspired by their studies. Watch their video below: 

A second Commedia video presentation called "Two Capitanos Meet" is currently in the works, so stay tuned for more from this talented  group.

In DJ class, students are learning basic audio production while exploring the birth of Hip Hop in the South Bronx. Synchronous sessions are packed with information from a number of sources, including documentary film and articles. The class engages in fruitful conversation, exploring why this form of music became a crucial art for the people who practice it and why it has continued to endure through generations. 

Upper School

The Upper School cast of Chicago hasn’t skipped a beat since returning from spring break. The actors have been enjoying virtual visits from guest artists during their synchronous sessions. Actor, photographer and producer Michael Kushner stopped by to facilitate his workshop “Dear Multi-Hyphenate” with the cast. The workshop aims to help those with a number of artistic skills or areas of expertise reach their full artistic potential. Michael has appeared on Broadway and his photography work has been featured in several publications including Vogue and the New York Times. Recently the class welcomed actor Dani Spieler for a Q&A session. Dani is a seasoned performer who has appeared in several Broadway productions including A Bronx Tale the Musical, Legally Blond and, of course, Chicago. Other recent guests include Annaleigh Ashford (Sunday in the Park with George, You Can't Take It With You, Kinky Boots) and Fergie Philippe-Auguste (Hamilton).

Though the set may look different, students are also hard at work in rehearsals. View a very special medley of songs from Chicago, the product of their work below:


In Acting & Directing US students are bringing radio plays to life. Currently, actors are rehearsing an original play written by Calhoun students in 2012 as part of a Spring Workshop Production class. The class is also studying film noir performance and preparing to record detective radio play from the 1940s. The story centers around private detective Philip Marlowe, a popular character created by Raymond Chandler that has appeared in print, radio and films. The production will include the use of sound effects, giving the class the opportunity to work with a professional to add another layer to their storytelling.