WINTER GARDEN — Students at SunRidge Elementary School are only scheduled to go to art class every five to seven days, so they often have problems remembering information from one session to another. To help them retain what they had learned, art instructor Cassandra Newman started singing.
The children liked the music so much that she made up more songs — eventually enough to compile into a full-length album, “Romping Stomping Art Room Songs.” The album features five of her original tunes, including “The Seven Elements of Art,” “Share,” “Art Smart” and “The Principles of Design,” which Newman says are “lively, infectious, catchy and high-energy.” A fifth tune, “I Am Creative,” is slower and more inspirational and thoughtful, she said.
She wrote all of the songs and their melodies and performs all of the vocals on “Romping Stomping Art Room Songs,” which she calls a collection of fun songs for the art room and beyond. The album also features instrumental versions of each song so listeners can use it to sing along.
“‘The Seven Elements of Art’ was the first song that came to me many years ago,” Newman said. “It was just something I automatically sang with the students on their first day in art. I saw how much they enjoyed it, and so we kept on singing it. The other songs came later as I experienced the joy of teaching; they flowed out of me naturally.
“Sometimes, the kindergartners dance and sing,” she said. “I saw how much fun they had, so the idea began to stir inside of me that if these children love it, then other children outside of the school would love it, too.”
That’s when she started thinking about making a CD, which she funded with money she won a few years ago in the OCPS/Kessler Grand Bohemian Scholarship for Elementary Art Education.
“I wanted to do something significant with the funds I received,” she said. “Making a CD was the most significant idea for such a special award.”
SunRidge Principal Janice Quint has been supportive of the project and was the first person to receive a copy.
“Ms. Newman is an asset to SunRidge Elementary,” Quint said. “As part of our fine arts team, she helps our students connect to the world around them and open them to new ways of seeing the world. Ms. Newman has helped create a SunRidge Elementary culture rich in art and has integrated reading, writing, mathematics and music in our art program. Each year, our students’ art work is displayed throughout Orlando and West Orange in numerous art shows and festivals because of her dedication.
“Her CD is just one example of her creativity,” Quint said. “The songs on her CD are just wonderful.”
Newman’s CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon and Google Play and averages $11.
“Anyone who teaches the visual arts would find it particularly valuable,” Newman said. “The students love it and ask me to play it over and over again. I believe the songs increase self-confidence and productivity, as well as reinforce learning.”
Newman has been the art teacher at the elementary school since it opened three years ago and said she is amazed at her students’ artistic talents.
“What they do inspires me to give of my best to them,” she said. “I feel so blessed. I love to sing — singing lifts your spirits, changes your mood and is infectious. Singing has played such a significant role in my life, from my early childhood growing up in England and even to this day. I love to sing; it’s an extension of who I am.”