Kara Sainz and Friends Bring the “Joy of Opera” to Elementary Students in her Hometown

As a Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist, 17 year-old vocalist Kara Sainz, along with three peers from the Murrieta Valley High School choir, organized an interactive program demonstrating classical music for a group of nearly 75 elementary school children at the Ysabel Barnett Elementary School in Temecula, CA.

Kara with fellow vocalists at the Ysabel Barnett Elementary School

The program was titled the “Joy of Opera” and included several short selections from well-known works, both solo and ensemble. Opera is especially foreign to this age group, and Kara’s goal was to raise awareness and to expand the children’s understanding of and desire to explore classical music. She shares more:

Kara on "From the Top"

“The younger generation is a very important one, in that they are the future audience, and by influencing them through music presentations, it is setting up for a life where classical music/opera can continue to enrich peoples’ lives.”

Kara’s Program Structure:

  • Performance: selections from Rossini’s La Cerentola, Mozart’s Voi Che Sapete (The Marriage of Figaro), and Delibes’ Lakmé Duet (Lakmé)
  • Harmony Activity: discussion of major and minor triads
  • Instrument Demonstrations: discussion of each instrument’s sound, origin, and purpose.
  • Q&A Session

We asked Kara a few questions about the performance and the overall experience:

FTT: Why did you choose this activity?

Kara: I chose this activity because I find that young children do not know what opera is.  By holding a concert, I hope to open their eyes and minds to classical music and possibly a desire to ask questions or learn more on their own.  I hope that by influencing these young children, they will carry music with them forever.

FTT: What were your goals with the project?

Kara: Our objective was to educate young kids who may not otherwise have the opportunity to be exposed to classical music.  It was also a goal of mine to let the kids know that the study of music is something that they can pursue in middle school, high school, and beyond.

FTT: What was the experience like for you? Was there a favorite moment?

Kara: This project was more work than I anticipated, but well worth the effort. Because the word “music” is such a general term, I discovered that there were many ways to approach the kids while introducing them to opera. Overall, it was an extremely rewarding experience.

My favorite part of the presentation was at the end, when the kids asked questions. They had really inquisitive questions, which meant they were thinking about the presentation. I like that I had an effect on their thoughts about music. They were very interested in the different languages and how fairytales can be made into operas. I believe these kids now have a basic understanding and awareness of classical music in their world, which was an extremely important goal of mine for this project.

FTT: What have you learned from your project? Any insights you would like to share with us?

Kara: From this experience, I learned first hand that it is possible for one person to affect many people. I learned that if you talk, someone will listen. For most of these kids, it might have been their first time ever hearing classical music.  However, I truly hope that it’s not their last!

Overall, I learned that I have the drive to put on more presentations because the kids’ reactions were invaluable to me. This experience has already helped my development as a musician in that I have even more of a purpose to share this art form with new and excited faces.

FTT: Any advice for other musicians who want to do similar outreach performance for children?

Kara: Kids want to be entertained and if you’re excited and passionate about what you’re presenting, they will respond.  You have to be flexible when working with children, and not afraid to change your agenda. I was glad to have a larger audience, but had to make some adjustments at the last minute. All in all it really motivated me to do future presentations as my education progresses.