At the end of every Little Opera class, we do two things: Ask kids to share their plus/delta/challenges for the day, and sing a song. In the spirit of closing off 2014 on a similar note, here are my own top 10 plus/delta/challenges from the last year at the helm of Little Opera.
(the hands-down highlights)
- Watching Little Opera students watch the opera they wrote being performed by professional opera singers at our first ever Little Gala.
- Building sets, props, and costumes in the beautiful theater and courtyard space at Urban High School.
- Successfully projecting live supertitles at the packed, sold-out Season 3 finale performances at the Community Music Center in May.
- Listening to one of our students tell me that she would never get too old for Little Opera, not even when she went to college, because afterwards she planned to come back and teach it to the little kids.
- Spending a day with 9 adults in San Francisco, creating an opera-in-a day about God (on the moon) and an asteroid named Astro.
- Slowly but surely beginning to master quickbooks and the world of small business accounting.
- Claire & I going to our first ever Foundation meeting, and being awarded our first major grant ($15,000 matching grant from the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation!).
- The parent of a child on a needs-based scholarship handing me a donation of $50 because, she said, her son loves Little Opera so much.
- Sitting at a planning meeting in West Portal, and realizing that I get to work with some of the best teaching artists and people I know.
- Receiving a text message at 7:30am from a 6th grade Little Opera student telling me how excited she is for class that afternoon.
(what I would change for next time)
- Student recruitment. It inevitably happens all in a rush at the start of the school year – there’s got to be a better way.
- Documenting the opera-making process. There are so many great things that happen during class and I often forget to do simple things like take a picture, record quick video, or ask students to write down what just happened.
- We didn’t have a proper cast party last year, since our last performance was the last meeting of the year. This season, that’s going to change.
- Parent involvement. How can we get the parents actively participating in some parts of the opera creation process?
- Utilizing our advisory board in the best way possible. And asking more people to join it.
- Write more grants. Write more grants. Write more grants.
- Try more new things, go out on longer limbs, and make bigger mistakes.
- Ask for help more often. On things I’m both comfortable and uncomfortable doing.
- Run a summer camp.
- Focus more intensely on building an earned income stream. This will probably be on my delta list until the end of time.
(what was just plain hard, but got done anyway)
- Running a non-profit. Everyone says it’s hard. It’s really, really, really hard.
- Growing the program, and expanding into middle school. There’s a whole list of sub-challenges for this one, which I won’t expand on here.
- Building and maintaining the Little Opera website with little to no design experience to speak of.
- Being in charge of a team of 7 teaching artists, and getting used to the idea of being the one in charge.
- Unexpected and still unexplained health issues that sometimes make it difficult to focus, write, or teach.
- Asking for money. Every single time.
- Working to maintain at least one other job at all times, because Little Opera isn’t yet sustainable enough to pay its own way.
- Getting used to the fact that my to-do list will never get any smaller, and that it’s okay to not do things on it that don’t absolutely have to get done.
- Claire’s transition into a full-time job at the Symphony. She’s still an integral part of Little Opera, but I miss seeing her every day.
- Keeping my toes warm. This office is freezing!
– by Erin Bregman
Founder & Artistic Director