Senior Francesca DiGiorgio is more than a President’s List psychology and vocal performance double major here at Geneseo. Thanks to her participation in the Community Advocates Ambassadorship in Community Engagement, DiGiorgio felt like she “was an educator, business woman and performer all in one.” By combining her love for music and her interest in psychology, DiGiorgio set out to create a workshop this summer, dubbed Opera Kids, in which she hoped to give students a new and different educational opportunity. DiGiorgio was one of ten selected by the Center for Inquiry and Discovery in Doty Hall to receive a $5,000 grant to create, design and execute a project that would contribute to the community. She believes opera is a wonderful art form that often seems as inaccessible to younger generations. She hoped to demonstrate that students could understand and love opera in the workshop, as well as show the various educational opportunities students have in music programs offered at Geneseo.
The interactive two-day workshop involved nine children ranging from fourth to sixth grade who learned the importance of opera as an art form, were exposed to classical music and attended the Finger Lakes Opera Production of “La Traviata.”
The workshop included games and activities that helped the students understand opera. They would use this new understanding to enrich their later experiences in the workshop. They also learned music with the guidance of DiGiorgio and her collaborators, childhood and special education and vocal performace double major senior Sarah Sharrin and Sara Glover ‘16, both of whom were involved with the music department at Geneseo. In addition, vocal performance majors seniors Jordan Bachmann and Bria Kelly came in for a Q&A session with the students. At the time, the two were working as professional performers in the Finger Lakes Opera Production of “La Traviata.” This unique learning opportunity for young children opened their minds and hearts to the world of opera, elevated their enjoyment of the performance and showed them the many paths available in music education.
This ambassadorship helped DiGiorgio to combine a variety of interests to make a difference. The year-long process was difficult and tedious, but rewarding and eye opening for students at Geneseo. DiGiorgio was not only in charge of running the workshops, but also recruited students to attend, marketed her ideas, created the timeline of events and more. Despite all the grueling work, she described the opportunity as a “liberating process [that] showed me that I don’t have to pick one thing,” and felt empowered to be able to use her skills in music to do something meaningful for others. And although DiGiorgio was the teacher, she learned something as well—even though she will be graduating later this year, she will never stop learning.
As a senior, DiGiorgio is diving head first into graduate school applications. She is most interested in continuing her education in music, and believes that her work on this project was an integral part in helping her make this decision. “Music is an invaluable and irreplaceable part of education.” Francesca explained. Her goal is to continue learning to better her skills and to be an advocate for the arts in this community and in many others.