The Be An Artist Program is designed to be presented in schools, and works best with students age 12 – 18. These workshops demonstrate how to transform an individual’s natural interests and into a life of passion, purpose, and creativity.
“ART COMES FROM ATTENTION, INTENTION, AND DOING WHAT YOU LOVE” – Darden Smith
Starting with the idea that we are all born artists, the workshop demonstrates how to build a creative life around what we love to do. For over a decade, scores of schools at every grade level—from California to Massachusetts and across the United Kingdom, France and Germany—have welcomed The Be An Artist Program.
“If ever there was proof of music crossing all cultural bridges, I saw it on Friday. The smiles, the enthusiasm and the absolute joy I saw was remarkable, to say the least. It had to be gratifying that your messages, particularly of being yourself, avoiding bullying, and being happy at what you do, whatever it is, came across clear as a bell. How do I know? The kids came back at you with questions that demonstrated, beyond a doubt, that your message was received. Great teaching.”
Northside Community School – St. Louis, MO
HOW BE AN ARTIST PROGRAM SESSIONS WORK
In the classroom, Darden sings a few of his original songs and gives the students a brief overview of his career as a musician and songwriter, describing how the creative passion of his youth became his job.
Darden draws awareness to the three ingredients to artistic thinking: attention, intention and doing what you love. He focuses on the idea that everyone is an artist in some way and offers students simple tools for recognizing the artistry in their own lives — from studying for a math test, to playing the piano to driving a car.
To show students how easily the artistic process can unfold, Darden leads the group in an innovative, fast-paced exercise — writing an original song based on something they love. Every student is encouraged to contribute, whether it is a word, a few lines or the title for the song. Darden acts merely as a guide and an editor, keeping the song on course, as the students themselves become the songwriters.
“Yo dude, that rocked!”
Sancho Williams – 3rd Grade, Austin, TX
With a guitar, laptop computer and a microphone, Darden and the students sing and record the song on the spot. Schools receive digital copies of the songs, which can be distributed to the students.
Darden concludes each session by illustrating that what made him feel “different” when he was young, later became the building blocks of his professional life in music. The message is clear: students don’t need to be more like others, but more like themselves. They are encouraged to be proud of who they are and pursue their dreams, critical steps toward leading happier, more creative lives.
• Sessions are designed for students ages 12 – 18, and customized for different grade levels, depending on the needs of the school.
• Sessions can be in classroom or assembly-style formats.
• Sessions last 50 – 60 minutes. Up to three sessions can be scheduled per day.
• Teachers, parents and administrators are encouraged to observe the sessions. One teacher is required to be in the room at all times.
For information on how to bring the Be An Artist Program to a school near you, contact Darden here.
“Darden’s presentation is everything a quality program should be: engaging, exciting, amusing, inspiring; he fosters creativity and empowers self-belief, with the end result being a timeless musical souvenir.”
-Andrea Glowatz, TASIS The American School In England
“All of the students were engaged in the program. This program was especially beneficial to students with low self esteems and learning disabilities. I felt like they left the program feeling inspired and included. I really appreciate how Darden encourages the children to seek out and apply themselves to their gifts. His own attitude and ability strongly back his message. Kids quickly warm up to him and have a big time learning.”
Angela Hammond – 4th grade teacher – Great Oaks Elementary; Round Rock, TX
“The Be An Artist Program is a burst of creative energy for the students experiencing it. Darden Smith brings his years of music making expertise into the classroom coupled with entertaining and important ideas addressing the creative process and the very definition of art as a daily part of our lives. We are proud to partner with Darden in bringing this innovative offering into the schools.”
Armstrong Community Music School of Austin Lyric Opera
“Darden draws pure joy from the children as they laugh, sing, write and compose. I had a great time just watching everyone have fun creating and allowing their imagination soar.”
Laura Yockey – San Francisco, CA
“The students are still pondering how they got so creative so fast as they listen to the songs they wrote with you. They may present themselves as a tough audience but they were all taken in by your message and enthusiasm. You made a difference in their life because of your program.”
8th grade teacher
St. Francis School Austin, Texas