Welcome to The Chicago Guide for Teaching and Learning in the Arts. In your hands, it will become a powerful tool for teaching the arts and for transforming the lives of your students.

Back in the day, when I was at Wells High School in the middle of Chicago’s inner city, we not only had a symphony orchestra but also a marching band, a concert band, and a jazz band. We had ballet classes, modern dance classes, fine arts classes and industrial arts classes. There were choirs as well, one for girls, one for boys and a mixed choir. In other words, there were multiple ways for kids to express their creativity and expand their cultural knowledge. The highlight of our lives was when these classes came together once a year–sometimes twice a year–to put on community performances. The musicians played, the fine arts classes designed the scenery and the industrial arts classes built the sets–the whole school got involved!

The opportunity for students throughout the city to have these kinds of rich experiences is now within our reach. With the publication of The Chicago Guide for Teaching and Learning in the Arts, arts education in the Chicago Public Schools takes a giant leap forward. For the first time, arts specialist teachers, general classroom teachers, school administrators, and arts partners have a common framework for a comprehensive education in visual arts, music, theater, and dance for grades pre-K through 12.

I think the ancient Greeks got it right: we must teach the whole student, not just concentrate on certain aspects of the personality. When the arts are part of a student’s education, an alchemy of sorts turns lesser thought into superior philosophical inquiry and unbidden spirituality. For what transpires between the arts teacher and the student, and between the students and their individual spirits, is nothing short of magic.

Ramsey Lewis
Pianist and Composer