Inspiring Excellence through Arts Education

Why Arts Education Matters Now More Than Ever

A Guide to keeping your creative child active while stuck at home.

By: Teri Miller

Pandemic. Economic uncertainty. Civil Unrest. International relations. Political division. It reads like the latest action thriller, but no, it is daily life in 2020 America. The “new normal” seems anything but normal, and we desperately need a positive mental and physical escape from the barrage of negativity that surrounds us. Our children need it too.

The arts have historically been a positive respite in a turbulent world. The appreciation of good music, theatre, or dance is unifying in that it crosses socio-economic boundaries and speaks a unique language that reaches to the very heart of those who enjoy and understand. The arts encourage cultural and relational diversity. The arts reward hard work and perseverance. The arts explore creativity and the power of imagination. The arts connect us to the beauty of the past, present, and future.

Music is the soundtrack of the soul. It can uplift our spirits, it can move our emotions, it can transport us to another time and place, it can refocus our minds. It is powerful. Having the ability to create music, to make the notes on the staff come to life through an instrument or the voice, to be able to compose original works, to be able to appreciate the music of the past and be able to build upon that foundation for the future is a gift.

The world is filled with drama right now, but not necessarily the good kind. However, I know drama has been an important part of my family’s ability to cope with all that’s been happening. We’ve been watching movies together and enjoying productions that have been streamed over the internet. We’ve had great discussions about content and creativity, and sometimes we’ve just needed a good laugh! These are the gifts of the dramatists. There is so much involved with learning dramatic arts-memorization, problem-solving, visual artistry, spatial awareness, creative thinking-the list goes on. However, maybe the most important part of studying drama is empathy. To play a character, one must understand that character and how that character relates to others, which in turn teaches how to understand and relate to others in real life as well. In addition, sometimes it’s just fun to play pretend!

Dance takes both drama and music and turns it into moving art. To be a student in dance, one must have the strength and skill of an athlete and the creativity and sensitivity of an artist. Dance teaches discipline, respect, patience, perseverance, and diligence; traits that are valuable not only in dance but in any aspect of life. The rewards of the mental and physical effort involved in studying dance are obvious in the smiles of the students as they master a new skill or conquer a new combination in class.

Whether classes are taught virtually, in person, or both, arts education gives children a chance to take the stress, uncertainty, and even fear that they may be experiencing and refocus energy into something creative, positive, and beneficial to themselves and society. While on the surface dance classes, drama classes, and music classes may seem frivolous and extraneous, the lessons they teach help encourage lifelong coping skills and an appreciation of not only art, but the humanity that creates it.

Help! My creative child is stuck at home!

A Guide to keeping your creative child active while stuck at home.

By: Teri Miller

As I write this, my ballet dancer son is taking an online ballet class in our kitchen, using the island as his barre. I am very thankful for all the online resources we have available to help navigate this course of distancing ourselves for the sake of those most vulnerable to sickness right now. However, as parents, we may not want our children, especially younger ones, relying on a screen for extended periods of time. Here is the good news! If you have creatively-minded children, now is the perfect time to have them fully explore their creative gifts!

Dance ideas:

This one is kind of obvious. Your child can create their own dances! Just turn on music, clear out some space and let them go! To make it even more fun, let them put on a dance concert for you. They can make tickets, costumes from old clothes, and a program naming their different dances.

Play Freeze dance. Younger kids love this game! Turn on music and let them dance around. When the music stops they must “freeze”. If they move, they must do a “penalty” activity like jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, etc. You can also change up how they move while playing. Maybe they can only jump while the music plays, or they have to move in slow motion, or only on the floor.

Tell a story through dance. This is basically what a ballet is. Have your child pick a favorite fairy tale, children’s story, or nursery rhyme, and have the child try to “tell” the story through movement. To make it more challenging, try to guess the story, kind of like dance charades!

For older kids, besides trying to take online classes in the kitchen, or wherever they have room, challenge them to create a dance film or video. This puts them on the creative side of the screen! There are several free videos and audio editing software available that can be used to put together almost professional-looking videos. Try dancing in different environments, like outside or try using different kinds of lighting for cool shadow effects. You might actually end up with a very special keepsake!


The possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas to get started. Charades! My family loves this game! There are several versions that can be bought, but you can easily just make your own. Pick some categories (song titles, movie titles, actions, etc) and then make some lists that go in those categories. You can make cards or write everything on small pieces of paper and draw them out of a hat. You can play individually or as teams. Lots of family laughs will be the result!

Puppet shows! Especially for younger kids, puppets are wonderful tools of expression. All you need are some old socks and markers. If you have fabric scraps or yarn, then even better! Using a doorway with a blanket strung across, you have a puppet theater. Puppet shows are also a great way for kids to express and deal with the anxieties they might be facing during this time of fear and uncertainty.

Improv games. Gather some objects into a box and see if your child can use them in ways that would be unexpected while acting out a silly scene. Try to only speak to each other with questions for a set period of time. Write down some silly sentences on pieces of paper and put them in a bag or box. Have two people act out a scene, (going to the movies, first day of school, etc.) then at different times during the scene, have the players take turns drawing out a silly sentence that they must use in the scene. Hilarious!

Finally, have your child create their own play. It can be based on a story or an original idea. If you want to link it to their schoolwork, maybe they could base it upon a historical period they are studying or a science topic. This involves a lot of creative thinking. They can write out the play, create costumes and props, and plan when and where the “production” will take place. Along the same lines, you could also have them make a movie. Hey, that’s how Steven Spielberg began…


Obviously, children can spend plenty of time practicing an instrument or singing songs, but here are some other ideas for using music at home.

Create LEGO music. This is fun for reinforcing note values. If your child has some simple sheet music, build each measure with LEGOs. A “1” brick represents a quarter note (1 beat), a “two” brick represents a half note (2 beats) and a “4” brick represents a whole note (4 beats).

The beauty of the time in which we live is the availability of all kinds of music. This next idea involves visual art with music. Create a varied playlist for your child and supply lots of paper and paints or markers. As the music plays ask your child to draw or paint what they hear. Encourage them to use colors that are inspired by the music. This is an abstract concept, but can really encourage focused listening. If the music is fast and sharp, they might paint little zig-zags in red, or if the music is soft and slow they might draw waves in blue and purple. It’s fun to “see” what they hear!

Build an instrument. Provide some materials and challenge your child to create a playable instrument. It can be anything from a simple drum to a stringed guitar-like creation. Encourage them to decorate their instrument and give it a unique name too!

Write a song. Lots of possibilities with this idea. For younger kids, it could be new words to a familiar tune or nursery rhyme. For older kids, they could do a parody of a popular song. If your child plays an instrument, they could compose the music and the lyrics and they could become the next Lin-Manuel Miranda!

This is a challenging time. Fear and anxiety are trying to pervade our lives, and it is certain that our children are being affected by these emotions as well. The arts can be a healthy way to express the emotions we feel, as well as a pleasant escape from stressors. Encouraging your children to be creative while being “stuck” at home will not only help time go by, but will keep their minds and bodies engaged while inspiring imagination. All the things we are usually “too busy” to do, now are available. Turn off the screens, play games together, watch homemade “performances”, and build an environment that encourages creativity, and maybe we might realize that wrapped up in this time of challenge, is a gift of time together. Let’s use it well.

Teaching Dance

By Terri Miller

I am a dance teacher. I am certainly not the best teacher out there, but I try to give my best to my students. I walk a fine line between being fun and encouraging, and being challenging and effective. My goal is to give students that may not want to become dancers a lifelong love and appreciation for the art, and the work it takes to become good, while giving my students that are interested in using dance in their careers the tools they need to take that next step. (No pun intended!)

Teaching dance may seem like a pretty simple job. How hard is it to twirl around on your toes, after all? Don’t you just play music and jump around? Actually, a lot more is involved. Like any teacher, a dance teacher does a lot of “behind the scenes” work that goes unseen, and sadly, unappreciated at times. Hours of picking music, costumes, planning lessons, choreography, and continuing to educate oneself to keep up with styles and trends is included as well as developing skills like classroom management for multiple ages, and developing the ability to keep students interested and invested in what is being taught. This does not include teachers who are also studio owners who, in addition, have a mountain of administrative and communication issues to address every day. Teachers in the performing arts do not teach for the money, they teach to share the love of their art form and the impact it had on their life.

Knowing the exceptional teachers that I have had and the ones that I work with on a weekly basis, it saddens me when I hear disrespectful grumblings of students about their teachers and classes. Whether it is that the teacher doesn’t like them, the class is too hard, the class is too easy, the teacher is too strict, the teacher is not strict enough, and my personal favorite, it’s not challenging enough; that dissatisfaction breeds negativity and creates a new obstacle for teachers and studio owners to overcome.

Dance is a unique art form in that it combines artistry and athleticism. A student must be proficient in both of these aspects to be good, and that takes time and repetition. For example, a plie (knee bend)is one of the first things taught in ballet class and it is usually the first exercise at the barre in any level of ballet class anywhere in the world. If I had a dollar for every plie I’ve done in my life, I’m pretty sure I would be a millionaire! Why is this important? A plie is done before and after every jump and turn, it is used in transition steps to smooth out movement, and lengthens and softens extensions, it also stretches the Achilles’ tendon allowing for stability and flexibility during movement; such importance placed on what at first glance seems to be something insignificant. The “boring” and “unchallenging” steps are needed as the foundation to complete the more difficult combinations and “tricks”. Just like drills in sports, the basics must be drilled in dance so that they become muscle memory and can be executed correctly without thought. Some of the best professional dancers in the world take beginner level classes in order to focus on foundational technique because they are wise enough to know it makes them better dancers. They do not wait to be challenged by their teachers, but instead challenge themselves to bring perfection to even the simplest movements. The age of You-Tube and other media outlets have created a desire to be able to do everything instantaneously, however in that awesome 30 second clip, what is not seen are the years of hours of practice and the teachers giving class and corrections to get that dancer to that point of 30 seconds of on-camera awesomeness.

Teachers invest in students. They invest time, talent, creativity, knowledge, encouragement, and yes, criticism. Part of a teacher’s job is to correct and critique. Most genres of dance rely on a specific technique as a tool of artistic expression. A dancer that doesn’t use their “tool” correctly will not perform to the best of their ability. Sometimes, students can take correction personally and it results in the idea that a teacher does not like the student. Actually, the opposite is usually true. If a student is getting a lot of corrections, that means that the teacher sees potential in the student and wants to push that student to continue to improve. Most teachers are not being “mean” when they correct, they are trying to bring the student to their next level, or are trying to bring awareness to a flaw that could hold a student back or even lead to eventual injury. Corrections are the gifts given to students, how the student uses those gifts is beyond the teacher’s control.

Today’s world is one of constant stimulation and entertainment. Our constant connectivity is a mixed blessing. Instant gratification rules the day. To excel in dance, or any performing art takes time, practice, and patience. Not every exercise or class is going to be fun and entertaining. Progression is definitely not instantaneous, and does not come without much correction and critique. It’s so easy in today’s world to turn to something new when the least amount of frustration comes to us and we rely so much on outside stimuli to give worth to things. I think we sometimes lose the sense of joy we find when we challenge ourselves to be the best we can be. We forget, in our fast paced world, that the things that take time and effort are the things that make life beautiful. We sometimes take for granted the time, energy, and investments of the people that help us achieve excellence.

If you are blessed to find teachers that are knowledgeable in their field, care enough to want to see their students excel, can balance encouragement and critique, and are willing to spend many unpaid hours researching ways to bring their best to their classes, then let me suggest that negativity be replaced with appreciation for all that goes into the “simple” job of teaching dance.

How Kindermusik has impacted my family

By Leah Casey

Kindermusik has encouraged deep connections for me and my children over the years.  I found that classes offered a positive mental and emotional atmosphere where profound bonds between myself and my children were built.  I signed up for a Kindermusik class after I moved to a new town with my first baby girl. I was introduced to music at a young age by my mother, and I wanted to replicate the same experience for my children.  

My daughter was 7 weeks old when we joined the Kindermusik program and what we experienced together was mind-blowing. From the outside looking in, it initially appeared Kindermusik provided parents a place to be silly and free with their children.  After a few weeks of attending classes where we listened to multicultural music, participated in rhythmic drumming, and partook in play that inspired all the senses, I began to see and feel the deep connections that were taking place. I always desired deep intimacy with my children and I felt like I organically conveyed strong, loving energy towards them in our personal world. Kindermusik provided an additional space that promoted positive, loving, eye to eye, heart to heart bonding.  

My daughter’s loved listening to the classroom Kindermusik soundtrack in my car. My eldest child at three months old requested one song to be heard over and over, through baby talk that we all learned to understand. She would babble to let me know what she wanted to hear, I put the song on, and huge tears would stream down her face.  She was not suffering; she was connecting to the beauty of the music. The song was in Russian, a language foreign to us both, but she had developed a sensitivity that allowed her to transcend beyond language, she was tapping into the universal language of love.    

When my children began school, I noticed that they excelled in both mathematics and music.  Scientific data proves that children will be stronger mathematicians if they are engaged in music-making at a young age.  Music and math are both filled with patterns. Introducing simple rhymes, chants and games to early learners grow an ability to understand and manipulate patterns.  Listening for and responding to short patterns in music, expands a child’s understanding of patterns in math.

It is amazing how quickly my children can memorize songs.  They connect by singing and playing instruments together. They have confidence in their own voices. They have gained deep personal empowerment through their abilities. Because music was introduced in their infancy, it has always been apart of who they are and how they express themselves.  The confidence they demonstrate by learning new instruments, trying out for a solo in choir, is priceless. They may not get the solo, or master the new instrument, but they have the moxie to go after what they want. Years of consistent Kindermusik classes from an early age helped mold my children into the deep thinkers and enthusiasts that they are.

Kindermusik clearly had many benefits for my children, but it also was positive for me.  My husband’s job moved us throughout the country for many years. Every time we moved, I had to start a new life for myself and my children.   The first thing I did once the dust settled from moving was to join a local Kindermusik class. I found myself immediately drawn to mothers who participated in the program.  It was mom’s like me, changing diapers, cleaning up messes, and chasing after kids. It was filled with mom’s who wanted to connect heart to heart with their children and who were looking for similar connections with their peers. I was welcomed in with loving arms from a group of amazing women every time I moved.   Kindermusik will meet you as deep as you are willing to meet yourself.

 “Music is one way for young people to connect with themselves, but it is also a bridge for connecting with others. Through music, we can introduce children to the richness and diversity of the human family and to the myriad rhythms of life.”

-Daniel A. Carp

Why I don’t pay for dance anymore.

By Shad Martin

 The other night someone asked me “Why do you pay so much money for your girls to dance?” Well, I have a confession to make, I don’t pay for dance. Personally, I couldn’t care less about dance. I grew up in a family of four boys. The “Nutcracker” was something you did on a dare off of the high dive at the pool or something you unpleasantly surprised your brother with. Up until the day I met my wife, if I were asked to go to Swan Lake, I would have asked if we were water skiing or fishing.

   So if I am not paying for dance, what am I paying for? I pay for those moments when my daughters become so tired they want to quit but instead choose to keep going. I pay for those days when my daughters come home from school and are “too tired” to go dance but go anyway. I pay for my daughters to learn to be graceful. I pay for my daughters to learn to take care of their bodies. I pay for my daughters to learn to work with others and to be good teammates. I pay for my daughters to learn to deal with disappointment when they don’t get that part they hoped for but still have to work hard at the part that they received. I pay for my daughters to learn to make and accomplish goals. I pay for my daughters to learn that it takes hours and hours of hard work and practice to create something beautiful and that success does not happen overnight. I pay for the opportunity my daughters have and will have to make life-long friendships. I pay so that my daughters can be on stage instead of in front of a screen…

      I could go on but to be short, I don’t pay for dance, I pay for the opportunities that dance provides my daughters. I pay for them to develop attributes that will serve them well throughout their lives and give them the opportunity to bless the lives of others. From what I have seen so far, I think it is a great investment! 

 I am sure that other parents get similar questions. “Why do you pay for competitive baseball?” “Why do you pay for Quarterback training?” “Why do you pay for club soccer?” “Why does your kid swim year-round?”…. I just think it is important to realize what we are really paying for. 

What makes a dancer not good, but great?

By Terri Miller

I recently had the privilege of watching my favorite dance company perform live. This is the same company that inspired me to become a dancer when, at around eight years old, I saw them perform on television while I sat cross-legged, wide-eyed and open-mouthed on my living room floor. Watching them today still makes my heart fly, and I become that little girl again feeling my spirit awaken and every muscle longing to join those artists on stage. 

What is it that turns a dancer into something more; into an artist? What is it that creates a memorable and moving performance? How can a dancer transition from being good to becoming great? I have discovered over many years of performing, teaching, and observing that the best dancers and the best performances have the following things in common:

1 – Technique is a tool, not a talent. Good, solid technique is very important for the dancer, and just like a tool in a toolbox, it should be kept sharp, clean, and ready. That is done by the constant repetition of exercises and combinations to keep both mind and body in top condition. There should also be the constant quest for improvement, because the better quality the tool, the better the job will be done. However, a great technique is not the end goal. The technique is simply what allows the dancer to fully express the dance. It is the paintbrush to the master. It is the pen to the poet. It is the instrument to the music. It is what frees the dancer to let their talent shine through.

2 – A good dancer dances; a great dancer becomes the dance. Whether the dance tells a story or whether it is simply music interpreted through movement, a great dancer takes you on their journey. Every look, every line, every gesture, every turn is purposeful and has meaning. A good dancer can impress you with their countless pirouettes or their legs up to their ears. A great dancer can do that too, but they can also bring you to tears with a simple reach of the hand, keep you spellbound with the glance of an eye, or lift your spirit with a beautiful suspended breath. It is the difference between just performing the steps and becoming the full embodiment of the dance that creates an artist.

3 – Finally, a dancer must be vulnerable enough to give part of themselves to their audience. They must be willing to leave a bit of their soul on the stage for everyone to see. If they are dancing a comic role, they must be willing to commit to that comedy even if they feel silly or foolish. If they are dancing a dramatic piece, they must be willing to portray that story without fear or anxiety. If there is no story or character, then the dancer must become the living, breathing, movement of the music. For the dancer who is willing to give of themselves the very best of their spirit, they will receive so much more in return. There is no feeling quite like knowing you have given of yourself honestly and completely during a performance, and the sweet applause is the audible appreciation of those who have received your valued gift.

When technique, talent, artistry, and commitment blend together in harmony, that is when art is created. That is when spirits are uplifted, and hearts and minds are opened. And that is truly when the “good” becomes the “great.”

What’s the Big Deal?

By Terri Miller

Lots of people are talking about arts education, and that’s great! However many people are still asking, “What’s the big deal about the arts?”

Well, here’s the big deal: When you learn about the arts, you learn pretty much everything! At SAA, we teach dance, drama, and music. Let’s break down what a student might learn in these classes-


  • Dance technique (a little obvious!)
  • Rhythm
  • Memorization
  • Physical coordination
  • Athleticism
  • Spacial awareness (math!)
  • Social etiquette
  • Musicality
  • Note-taking
  • Critical thinking


  • Drama technique (again, obvious)
  • Improvisation
  • Reading (scripts!)
  • Writing
  • Memorization
  • Body awareness
  • Public speaking
  • Problem-solving
  • Visual art (set, prop, costume, and make-up design)
  • Cooperation


  • Proper vocal or instrument technique (Of course!)
  • Math (so much counting!)
  • Music theory
  • Memorization (I see a pattern here…)
  • Perseverance
  • Self-motivation
  • Creative expression
  • Time management

These are only a few of the things that are included with an arts education. All of these disciplines teach commitment, patience, and self-control, as well as building confidence through practice and performance. 

When considering classes in the performing arts, you are giving your child so much more than pretty pink shoes, a few lines in a play, or a song to sing. You are giving your child a well-rounded education that will benefit them wherever life leads, and that’s a pretty big deal!

Why Kindermusik is Beneficial

By Patty Etherton

Hello everybody, this is Patty from Suwanee Academy of the Arts.  I often get asked about our Kindermusik program, what it’s all about, what are the benefits and why it’s important.  I have two really awesome stories I’d like to relay to you. 

One of which I recently heard at a conference for studio owners.  This dance instructor was commenting on when she started teaching at this particular school, she was astonished a how musical the children were. At first, she thought they were related somehow, a genetic pool of people that were unbelievably talented. But soon she discovered that they were all Kindermusik educated. These kids coming out of kindermusik we’re far superior in understanding music:  musicality, rhythm, phrasing, and dynamics, more sensitive to the music and the counts of the music and it was as if they had been taking music forever and ever and these were like five-year-old children these were not older children. That was really exciting for me to hear from a dance teacher’s perspective, how the kindermusik program can really affect those children even in the other avenues.   So we’ve made Kindermusik a Foundation of what we teach at Suwanee Academy, it’s the starting level you can start at newborn and getting that infiltration of that deep rich appreciation of the Arts that helps so much…

My other interesting story is really my biggest regret. (I’ve never really had a lot of regrets in life. I just slide through and learn lessons along the way). But my biggest regret was that I didn’t put my daughter and Kindermusik when I could back in the 1990’s I had an opportunity. Kindermusik was out in full bloom in the Nashville area that’s where I was living and I had asked some friends of mine whose child was in kindermusik what do you do in kindermusik class? and she said, “Well we sing and we dance, we move around and we play with rhythm sticks and instruments and things like that.”  And I thought well I can sing and dance and play around with my child. I don’t need kindermusik to do that with her. Being a music education major and thinking I knew it all about parenting I opted out. Years later… we own this studio and I had to make a decision on what to do about music curriculum and choosing the right curriculum for the Academy.

So I started investigating and I looked through many music programs and by far barn none the absolute best program was Kindermusik what I loved about the Kindermusik curriculum that it was designed by Educators and it is phenomenal because they understand how the child learns and how to implement just learning the structure and there are so much more rich curriculum and Foundation material for the development of the child that’s far beyond any other curriculum out there.  We said bar none it’s going to be Kindermusik.

So years later I had been teaching Kindermusik and I was having a discussion with my daughter’s piano teacher, my daughter at that time was 12 years old. We had this conversation about how Elise was really struggling with her sight-reading.  She had always been a very talented girl; we would even sing Harmony, three-part harmony, when she was 4 years old since her dad and I are both musicians. She picked up playing the piano beautifully but she was always doing it by ear. She had a tremendous ear and was able to just play without really reading the music. So at about 12 years old all of her ability to memorize quickly and to play by ear had started to diminish. She had to learn how to read, and learn fast, to catch up to her skill level.  I apologize to her. I actually sat her down and told her “I am so sorry I should have put you in Kindermusik” Now that I know, as an educator, the value of the program -that was the biggest disappointment. I can’t go back. I brought my daughter into the Kindermusik room, I laid out the ropes on the floor and we started doing Kindermusik’s kinetic lessons and we had a ball playing kindermusik games when she was 12!  But if I had given her that earlier on… what a difference she would have had in her experience in those formative Foundation years, when she was learning how to play. I knew she was musical coming out of the womb, I knew she was going to be a singer, and I knew she was going to be able to apply her musical talents. I just didn’t teach her the language. Her music teachers couldn’t teach her the language of how to read music and that was such a disappointment for me as a mom and I wish I could go back but I can’t.  She is still a beautiful musician and she still struggles and she laughs that I regret that I didn’t give her Kindermusik.

But I want you as a parent to understand that you might not see it now. Kindermusik looks like it is just singing and playing but in reality, you are building so many skills, not just to be able to read music, you’re also teaching all those fundamental things that are going to tie into together to learn to move to the beat, and it helps your child develop so much. 

Kindermusik will help you develop your child physically, emotionally, ecologically, cognitively, and musically all at the same time. Every class is enriched with all of that development and wow it does amazing things to the brain. We get smarter, brighter, more confident kids and i’m watching them dancing as they leave classes and am just amazed at how quickly this curriculum helps these children. So if you’re thinking about it or you’re questioning it, and if you want to know from an old mom who’s disappointed that she didn’t try it…. get your kid in it, and keep them in it. There are so many studies about it’s amazing curriculum and it will do amazing things for your child and you! Yes, I suggest it! Don’t make my same mistake.

Why choose SAA?

The school year is about to begin and you, as a parent, are faced with a million different options for after-school activities. Your child has shown some interest in the performing arts, and you know that an education in the arts helps to create a well-rounded person. Why choose SAA?

ballet jazz musical theater dance instructor
Terri Miller

My name is Terri Miller, and I am fortunate to be in a unique position here at this studio. I am both teacher and parent. I have been both teacher and parent at SAA for over ten years. I see things from both perspectives. I would like to share with you why I have chosen this place for both myself and my children, in the hopes that it might help you decide if this is the right place for your child too.


As part of the staff at SAA, I can assure that having qualified, experienced, and caring teachers is of utmost importance. All teachers have extensive performing experience and/or college degrees in their field of expertise. The staff also meets together several times during the year to discuss classes, share ideas, and provide the best curriculum possible for our students. Every year we have students accepted into prestigious summer programs for both dance and drama, and many of our students who have decided on career paths in the performing arts have been accepted into rigorous college programs, often with scholarships. My oldest son received a merit scholarship in theater and is currently pursuing a double major in film and acting at Belhaven University in Mississippi. Whether a beginner just trying things out, or an advanced student hoping to land a role on Broadway or in a dance company, your child will be getting an education that will equip them for success.


One of my favorite things to hear from students, and my own children, is that SAA “feels like my second home.” This is how we hope every student will feel. It is our goal to create an environment that is clean, safe, and welcoming to everyone who enters our door. The studios are designed to meet the needs of every artist from the tiniest Kindermusik ® tot to the high-schooler perfecting their craft, and every instructor must go through an extensive background check. Exploring creativity requires a certain level of personal vulnerability and openness. We strive to create an environment that allows students to feel comfortable with creativity; to know they can explore the performing arts in a positive atmosphere.


As an instructor, I am expected to be punctual, positive, and prepared to teach classes that are both educational and engaging. As a parent, I am expected to partner with the studio to give my child their best chance of success. Students are expected to follow class etiquette, such as wearing the class uniform, appropriate shoes, etc., respect teachers and fellow students, and participate fully in class. When these expectations are met by instructors, parents, and students, it greatly increases the chance of your child having a wonderful SAA…


If I could sum up the SAA experience in one word, it would be “excellence”. This is the goal of everything we do. Instructors who provide excellent instruction combined with an environment and expectations that promote the pursuit of excellence in dance, drama, and music provide for an excellent SAA experience.

No school is perfect. No studio can guarantee that they are the perfect fit for you or your child. However, it has been my experience as an instructor and a parent that SAA is a place where creativity is celebrated and encouraged in an atmosphere that is friendly and familial. I know my children are receiving an arts education that will foster an appreciation for the arts, and equip them to follow their artistic passions into a career if they so choose. So as you navigate the myriad of after-school choices available, we hope that the SAA experience will be an experience worth trying for your family.

Is my child ready for Nutcracker Auditions?

nutcracker ballet dance audition

We all have dreams of seeing our daughters dance on stage, but is it too early to put my three-year-old through an audition? What if it becomes a traumatic experience that will keep her from enjoying dance in the future?

These are excellent questions to be asking this week with Suwanee Ballet’s The Best of Nutcracker Auditions for ages three to seven years.  Many of these little ones have not had the opportunity to be on stage, let alone participate in an audition! This does not mean you need to avoid auditions.  Consider your child. If she loves playing pretend and dancing like a fairy princess around your house she will most likely do well dancing around the stage.

Consider the reputation of the organization.  Suwanee Performing Arts is known for its work with children.  They work with the creative imagination of the child. Look for this type of opportunity that embraces the child’s creativity and the experience will most likely be magical.

If your child shows extreme separation anxiety when you leave her then she may not be quite ready for an audition. However, if your tiny dancer can’t wait to get to dance class each week then most definitely she is ready for the experience. If you are still unsure you can ask her dance teacher.  She will have an assessment of readiness based upon your child’s behavior in class.

Don’t let the word “audition” scare you. Auditions for these groups are age-appropriate and we make the process fun! It is all so exciting to get to dance with the big girls, wearing a sparkling tutu under the lights.

Have your child arrive in dance attire and ballet shoes or clothing they can move in and bare feet (no socks).  Hair should be pulled back in a high bun or ponytail away from the face.

While it is customary to call ahead and secure your audition spot, walk-ins are also welcome. 

Best of Nutcracker Auditions are Friday, October 26, 4:30-5:30 at Suwanee Academy of the Arts, 341 Main Street, Suwanee, GA 30024.  Call 678-482-6333 if you have questions or would like to reserve an audition spot.

Hope to see you there.