After Commencement, what will I commence?

After I graduate on May 20th, 2017, I will have three wonderful months left of my service year with the Americorps Victims Assistance Program, working with victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Once my year of service has ended, come what’s next. What that is, I have no idea.

My long-term goal is to return to school and get my Master’s in Social Work/Nonprofit Leadership. I am originally from Massachusetts, and Wheelock College has a dual Master’s degree in both of these programs. I would love to achieve this degree, however, I do not know if the cost of the program is realistic for me. At this time, I need to get a job that will allow me to gain experience while putting money away for my education.

But what will that job be?

Still, I have no idea. But I do have a few thoughts.

Because my future career path align wells with the social work field and nonprofits, I would love to find an opportunity in Massachusetts that would allow me to work in those environments. If there are opportunities available, I would apply for Crisis Centers, Child Services Agencies, Nonprofit Educational Programs, etc. My skill set is so diverse that I could be able to fit many different entry-level positions; it just depends on who is hiring!

600889_10151473733088985_1087230238_n       The cast from my high school musical performance in Northampton, MA                                                       by Taylor Fournier CC by 2.0

In addition, I am going to look into nonprofits that specifically work with the performing arts. In Northampton and Springfield, MA (which are very close to where I grew up) there are a lot of performing arts opportunities, especially youth programs. I have been keeping my eye on their websites, to see if they may be hiring in the near future. As my Interdisciplinary Studies focus is “The Performing Arts for Community Empowerment,” this would really be the perfect fit for me. However, I am a bit doubtful in my ability to find a position like this, especially considering the status of the National Endowment for the Arts, which is currently threatened to be defunded by our current administration. If the opportunity is available, I will apply! I have also considered opportunities throughout the US, but I would not have the financial means to make that possible.

I do have one last path I may decide to travel down if the opportunity is available- veganism, humane education, and animal welfare. Although I do not have any formal training in these areas, it is something that I am very passionate about. I find myself laying awake at night, thinking about working at a nonprofit sanctuary or animal welfare awareness agency. I would even be interested in working for a vegan company! My two biggest concerns are realistically and irrelevance to my Bachelor’s degree. Although vegetarianism and veganism are growing social movements in our society, they still have little to no outreach in mainstream media and business. Therefore, job opportunities are much more difficult to come by. In addition, my BA has a strong focus on the performing arts, which would be completely lost in this field. Although many of these skills are transferable, would it affect me negatively in the long run if I didn’t pursue a career that aligned with my Bachelor’s degree?

Ultimately, I want three things. I want a job that will provide me with enough money to support myself. I want a job that will allow me to continue learning and perfecting my skills. And most importantly, I want a job that will make me happy.

Panther Pitch!

PSU’s 1st Annual Panther Pitch, a competition similar to the TV shows Shark Tank, took place this week. I was selected as one of the 12 Finalist who would compete in the competition! We had exactly 2 minutes to give our pitch, and then we have a 3 minute Q&A where the judges had the opportunity to ask us questions.

You may be asking how this relates back to my interdisciplinary studies. Well if you recall, I actually created my major based around a growing idea that I first had when I was much younger- Heart-to-Heart Nonprofit Theatre Company.

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Theatre- by cr03 CC by 2.0

This competition gave me the opportunity to practice my pitching skills, and really begin to get people excited about the idea. After the competition was over, I got great reviews of people who loved my idea, and through a video I recorded, I was able to watch with my own eyes and make critiques, so the next time I introduce this company, it will be even better!

Although I had to cut down my original speak to make it fit within 2 minutes, the first draft that I wrote (which was way over that time) was truly a great experience for me to wrap up Heart-to-Heart in one interdisciplinary box! Therefore, I would like to share with you my original pitch below!

I’d like to begin by asking everyone to stand up.

Sit down if you never had a music class, dance class, or theater class in your school.

Sit down if you never attended a concert, performance, or play in your community.

Sit down if the performing arts—theater, music, dance—if they had no impact on you.

I want you to look around at the number of people standing up here. The performing arts matter to our schools, to our communities, to our lives.

Ok, thank you, and please take a seat.

My name is Taylor Fournier and I am an Interdisciplinary Studies major focused on how the performing arts can empower students, our communities, and our world.

Over the past 35+ years, the National Endowment for the Arts has been challenged and threatened with cuts to funding. Under our new administration, there have been proposals to eliminate the Endowment from the proposed budget completely. This would place a huge barrier in the way for the integration of the arts in our communities.

Research has shown us that the performing arts are an incredibly helpful tool for empowerment, education, awareness, and advocacy. With these constant challenges to funding, the opportunity to participate in the performing arts would become harder and much fewer. Why should our students, our youth, and our community members have to miss out on this invaluable opportunity?

I have an alternative solution. The Heart-to-Heart Nonprofit Theatre Company. We are focused on using the performing arts to provide empowerment through our three sectors- Self, Community, and World. Our mission is “using the arts to promote change.”

So how DOES The Heart-to-Heart Nonprofit Theatre Company live up to its mission? It would be impossible for me to tell you all of the incredible ways that we use the performing arts for empowerment in just two minutes, however, I will give you just one example from each of our three sectors:

Our first sector is Self. We provide many classes through the week that use the performing arts for self-empowerment. Just one example in the making is our Empowerment/Exercise Dance course, one for adults and one for youth. This course incorporates the psychology of empowerment, social work themes, and self-expression through dance and music.

Our second sector is Community. Performances can be a vital tool in advocacy. We bring empowerment to our community by putting on productions centered around current social issues. An example would be The Vagina Monologues, a theatre production helping to spread awareness about feminism and violence against women, or The Laramie Project, a play based on the real life events taking places after the brutal torture and murder of Michael Shepherd, a member of the LGBT community.

Our final section is World. Through our World Tourism program, which invites performing arts groups such as dance troupes or theatre companies from all around the world to visit America and learn about our culture and arts while sharing their culture and arts. I have learned first hand that the opportunity for cultural-exchange and finding the universal oneness within us all is incredibly empowering.

All-in-all, Heart to Heart Nonprofit Theatre Company provides a safe environment for all community members to have access to the performing arts, and the opportunity to use that art for empowerment.

I have organized my academic field of study around the work of this nonprofit, and I have the knowledge, experience, and passion to make it succeed. We’ve all benefited from having the performing arts in our lives, and now is the time that we need to work together to ensure that future generations have access to the arts, to empower each other, our communities, and our world. Thank you.

I “Prospect-us” to have a great semester!

Research Article Prospectus

Title: Why does music help us learn?

Description/Intro:

Throughout my high school and college careers, I have always been encouraged to listen to music as I study or use songs to help remember things. As a student, that was always incredibly helpful for me; but why? Why is it that music helps us? Scientifically speaking, how is my brain taking in information differently through song than regular speech? In today’s world, there is a major controversy over the importance of music education and integration in our public schools. This research will help me identify the connection between psychology and music, and allow me to study the best practices for how to integrate them.

Goals:

  • Studying the connection between learning and music will help me understand the best practices for integrating music into education, as well as education into music.
  • In addition, understanding the connection between psychology and music will allow me to be a more informed advocate for music education and integration in public schools.

Conclusion:

My major, Interdisciplinary Studies: The Performing Arts for Community Empowerment,
emphasizes the ways in which the performing arts can be a medium for empowerment or social change. In a country that minimizes the importance of public education, now is the time to speak out and advocate for the right of every student to have access to the best education possible, an education that includes music. Studying this topic will allow me to be the best advocate I can be.                                                                                                                  

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CC: TZA

Timeline:

Sunday, March 12

-I will have found library resources helping to understand the connection between music and psychology.

Sunday, March 19   

I will have identified facts/statistics around the subject of music education and integration.

-I will have information of the history of music education and integration in schools.

 

Sunday, March 26

-I will have found resources helping me understand why the psychology of music is beneficial to education.

-I will have conducted an interview with at least one PSU Psychology Major and one PSU Psychology Professor.

 

Sunday, April 2

-I will have read each of the resources, and noted the valuable sections for this research article.

 

Sunday, April 16th

I will have all of the information for my Body of Research identified.

 

Sunday, April 23rd

-I will have finished my synthesis.

-I will have incorporated a First-Person experience.

 

Sunday, April 30

-I will have a compelling conclusion.

 

Monday, May 8

-I will have a first draft completed that has at least two hyperlinks, three images that are related to my research, and a correctly cited APA format Works Cited page.

 

First Draft Due- Monday, May 8

Final Draft Due- Friday, May 12

 

*I will have visited the Writing Center for revision suggestions between May 8-12.

 

Applied Project Prospectus

Title: Does Music Help Us Learn?- Advocating for Music Education/Integration

Description/Intro:

As previously mentioned, there is a major controversy over the importance of music education and integration in our public schools. However, research suggests that music in the classroom is beneficial for students’ learning. I will answer two questions, by conducting interviews and utilizing resources, does music help us learn? And therefore, should music education and integration be encouraged and funded in schools? I will use this information to make a 3-10 minute video, which will be shared on all my social media accounts with the hopes of promoting music in schools.

Goals:

  • `To answer the two questions:
  1. Does music help us learn?
  2. Should music education/integration be encouraged?
390534244_3db9138593_m.jpg
CC:Jesse Kruger

Deliverable:

I will post a video and short blog post on my ePort, twitter, facebook, youtube, etc. I will share this out to the #IDSsem with the hopes that it will continue to be shared!

Conclusion:

My major Interdisciplinary Studies: The Performing Arts for Community Empowerment emphasizes the ways in which the performing arts can be a medium for empowerment or social change. In a country that minimizes the importance of public education, now is the time to speak out and advocate for the right of every student to the best education possible, an education that includes music. Creating and sharing this video will hopefully shine a light on this topic and empower others to fight for music in our schools!

 

Timeline:

Sunday, March 12

-I will have found library resources helping to understand the connection between music and psychology.

-I will have practiced using a media maker software and research effective creation tools so I am prepared to begin my video.

 

Sunday, March 26

-I will have found resources helping to understand why the psychology of music is beneficial to education.

-I will have found information on the controversy regarding the place of music education and integration in schools- both private and public.

-I will have conducted and recorded an interview with at least one PSU Psychology Major and one PSU Psychology Professor.

 

Sunday, April 2

-I will have read each of the resources, and noted the valuable sections for this applied project.

 

April 16

-Using the information I have collected for my Research Paper, through interviews, and additional resources, I will create an overall format plan for my video.

 

April 23

-I will have edited both interviews, and added subtitles.

 

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CC: Paradox 56

April 30

-I will have completed a rough draft of the video.

 

Tuesday, May 9

-I will have finished editing the video.                                   

-I will have written a brief post accompanying the videos regarding the relation to my major, the lessons I learned, and the challenges, outcomes, and possible improvement of the project.

 

First Draft Due: Tuesday, May 9th

Final Post Due: Friday, May 12th

How “But I’m A Cheerleader” (1999) helped change perspectives of the LGBTQ community

 

 

But I’m A Cheerleader! is a 92-minute long film that came out in 1999 directed by Jamie Babbit.  The title is actually found within the first section of the movie when Megan (played by Natasha Lyonne), an all-American, feminine high school student is approached by her friends and family.  Based on her recent behaviors, she returns home from school to find them sitting in a circle – waiting to tell her, “Honey, we think you’re a lesbian.” “But I’m A Cheerleader!” This frames the rest of the plot for this queer, satirical show.

Megan is surprised to find out that she is a lesbian, but in order to help her “become cured,” they send her to True Directions- a reparative therapy camp run by Mary Brown (Cathy Moriarty), based on teaching members of the LGBTQ community to “overcome their homosexuality”by admitting their feelings, continually performing Continue reading “How “But I’m A Cheerleader” (1999) helped change perspectives of the LGBTQ community”

Good End, Good Beginning…

Fives Ideas for an Interdisciplinary Research Paper:

-The psychology and application of empowerment through dance. Why DOES dancing make us feel empowered? This truly interests me because I personally feel very empowered when I dance. There are many different reasons that I can explain, but I want to know scientifically speaking what the reason is for WHY dance can be empowering. By this, I would be able to come up with best practices for applying dance empowerment. The disciplines would include dance, social work, and psychology.

-Comparing the empowerment of performers vs. audience members. As we know, the performers of a piece of theatre, song, and dance have a very different experience than the audience members watching it. Both can be empowering for different people or in different situations. I would compare and contrast the feelings of empowerment through the same piece, for the audience member and performer to get a better understanding of how and maybe why this form of empowerment works, and when is the best time to use it. This would include music, theatre, or dance and social work, psychology, and maybe social justice.

-How does music improve learning? You constantly hear on the radio or TV that playing music improves test stores. Learning songs help memory… why is that when we are also constantly told one side of the brain is creative and the other numerically smart? What is the proof and how can we use that to better our music, education, and music education? The disciplines for this would be music, education, and neuroscience/psychology.

-What are the best practices for cross-cultural dance exploration? Is it possible to truly understand or “dance” the dances of other cultures? What would be the barriers to learning dances from around the world, and how could we apply them in culturally sensitive ways? Is there a way to make World Dance classes more interactive? The disciplines for this would be anthropology, dance, and social justice/work.

-Ableism in dance/theatre. I would study how the current dance/theatre world is inclusive and neglectful of people who are disabled. Hopefully, I would be able to challenge the pieces that are ableist, and create a manual for dance studios, companies, etc to model when trying to be more inclusive. This would combine social work and dance/theatre.

Five Ideas for an Applied Project:

-Organizing and Directing a benefit production of The Vagina Monologues. This play tackles important issues regarding violence against women, feminity, and challenging gender norms. This will use the disciplines theatre and social work.

Empowering Youth Through Movement course. I will help to run the workshop for the Empowering Youth Through Movement course that I created alongside social work Prof. David Lynch and IDS alum Marina Phillips.I will be able to document the journey of creating the course, running the course, and passing the course on for future courses. The disciplines this will include is education, dance, and social work.

-Empowerment Dance Class- many people feel empowered by dancing but why? Is there more than one way to dance for empowerment? Can you actually train someone to be empowered by dance? These are the questions I have. Using dance and social work/psychology techniques, I would create and run a dance class (similar to zumba, without latin influences as I am not trained that way) that focuses more on the empowerment behind the dance, than the dance itself. The mission would be to get the dancers to love themselves and their bodies, or the way they feel when they dance.

-World Dance Tourism Program- someday, I would love to work for a nonprofit. I am very passionate about the importance of cultural exchange through fair-trade learning opportunities. I would love to create a program that providers dancers from around the world the opportunity to travel to countries, learning their heritage, cultural, and dances. This would give dancers the experience to recognize different forms of World Dance as an experience unlike the dance world in America. And it would allow for cultural exchange, which is incredibly important in breaking down stereotypes and helping to find the universal oneness within us all.

-Emotion Improv- create a course based on theatre improv and empowerment that would allow students to express themselves while being faced with important social questions and constructs. This would require me to pull from Social Work, theatre, and education.

World War II from the perspective of American Musical Theatre

World War II from the perspective of American Musical Theatre

In September 1939, Nazi Germany attacked Poland, which quickly progressed into World War II. Originally, the United States decided to remain neutral, until the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. At this point, the United States declared war on Japan, and in turn, Germany declared war on the United States, causing War World II to quickly grasp the nation in its claws. 

Assuming the citation (George Q. Flynn, The Draft, 1940–1973) is correct, 50 million men from 18 to 45 were registered for the World War II draft. The Selective Service statistics page gives the total inductions during WWII as 10,110,104, which would make the percentage around 20% were drafted based on registration. World War II was fought over differences left unresolved after World War I. Over 400,000 Americans perished in the four years of involvement in the war, an American death rate second only to the Civil War. Twelve million victims perished from Nazi atrocities in the Holocaust. Overall it was a dreadful period of history.

Through this generation came a change in the American Musical Theatre. Listed below are just a few examples:

 

              “This Is The Army”

                  by Irving Berlin

This Is the Army is a 1942 American wartime stage musical written by Irving Berlin, designed to boost morale in the U.S. during World War II. There is also a 1943 screenplay by Casey Robinson and Claude Binyon was based on the musical by Irving Berlin, who also composed the film’s 19 songs and broke screen protocol by singing one of them. The movie features a large ensemble cast, including George Murphy, Joan Leslie, Alan Hale, Sr., Rosemary DeCamp, and Ronald Reagan, while both the stage play and film included soldiers of the U.S. Army who were actors and performers in civilian life.

Plot Summary:

In World War I song-and-dance man named Jerry Jones is drafted into the US Army, where he stages a revue called Yip Yip Yaphank. It is a great success, but one night during the show orders are received to leave immediately for France: instead of the finale, the troops march up the aisles through the audience, out the theater’s main entrance and into a convoy of waiting trucks. Among the teary, last minute goodbyes, Jones kisses his newlywed bride Ethel farewell.

In the trenches of France, several of the soldiers in the production are killed or wounded by shrapnel from a German artillery barrage. Jones is wounded in the leg and must walk with a cane, ending his career as a dancer. Nevertheless, he is resolved to find something useful to do, especially now that he is the father of a son. Sgt. McGee and Pvt. Eddie Dibble, the troop bugler, also survive.

Twenty-five years later World War II is raging in Europe. Jerry’s son Johnny enlists in the Army shortly after Pearl Harbor. He tells his sweetheart Eileen Dibble that they cannot marry until he returns, since he doesn’t want to make her a widow.

Johnny reluctantly accepts an order to stage another musical, following in his father’s footsteps. The show goes on tour throughout the United States and eventually plays Washington, D.C., in front of President Roosevelt. During the show it is announced that this is the last performance: the soldiers in the production have been ordered back to their combat units.

Eileen, who has joined the Red Cross auxiliary, appears backstage. During a break in the show she brings a minister and convinces Johnny that they should marry now – which they do, in the alley behind the theater, with their fathers acting as witnesses.

Analysis:

This musical and movie came out at a time of great struggle in regards to the US army. As the Great Depression finally comes to an end, and the effects of World War II start to fill the United States. This idea is also reflected in American Musical Theatre through “This Is The Army,” as America’s way of swaying and promoting their views about the war. Personally, I feel as though the plot glorifies both World Wars, and tries to appeal to the American patriotic spirit in its society, rather than undercover the blatant truth that was actually occurring in the world today. Through song and dance, this production could have played a strong role in affecting (or brainwashing) the views of America’s in regards to the wars.

Cultural Appropriation in Musical Theatre History

Cultural Appropriation: the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture.

Now from first glance, you may not think cultural appropriation seems like a big deal- other cultures are incredibly cool, why wouldn’t I want to use elements from them? The problem with cultural appropriation throughout history is that they misrepresent cultures, and oftentimes base their actions, speech, clothing choice, etc. completely on racial or cultural stereotype. This is incredibly disrespectful to the culture because it is taking away the true culture and hiding under this stereotypical misrepresentation.

  • In my American Musical Theatre class, we talked in depth about it in regards to:
  • Blackface
  • The Mikado
  • ShowboatBy studying these instances of cultural appropriation throughout theatre, we can also take a step back and view the ways that we negatively culturally appropriate today, such as:
  • The romanticizing of Native American life through costume, stories, children’s dolls, etc. Think about it. Have you read a Thanksgiving children’s book lately? Well if not, I ask you to take a look at the picture to the right. Did the pilgrims and the Native American’s really eat together in harmony during Thanksgiving and then help each other out? No. The Europeans slaughtered the native peoples. But, it’s much easier to view it like this, isn’t it? But, for who?
  • The cultural appropriation of traditionally African hairstyles, for example dreadlocks. Dreadlocks are very sacred to many African countries, especially because of the huge role it plays in the religion of Rastafari. But in today’s society, many people disregard the fact that it has any cultural significance, and forcefully add dreadlocks to their hair. Now, this topic is incredibly controversial. Is it morally just to allow only one race to indulge in a given culture, but not another? Therefore, is it right to shame white people for culturally appropriating dreadlocks? These are just some of the common controversial questions on the subject, and it can often be hard to determine where the line may fall.The cultural appropriation we see throughout American Musical Theatre should not be anything new to us. We are still living in a society that negatively culturally appropriates. But, by reflecting on these ideals through American Musical Theatre, it teaches us to become more aware of it in our world today.