LA Music Center's arts education curriculum goes digital

The Music Center launched its new online arts curriculum Thursday. Students now have access to 69 units of study in dance, music and theater disciplines. John Liu/Creative Commons

For decades, Los Angeles' Music Center has been a leader in not just putting on productions  - but also teaching arts education. It has produced content for textbooks sold across the country by McGraw-Hill, among other education efforts. 

In a move to increase that reach, the Music Center is making its Artsource lesson plans for K-8 students available online for free, starting Thursday.

"Our goal is to get it used," said Mark Slavkin, vice president for education at The Music Center. "So we made the decision that we want to share it for free with the world."

The transition to digital took about two years and cost about $30,000, he said, mostly to bring on a few part-time employees to work on digitizing the lesson plans, including multi-media elements. The new online curriculum offers 69 units of study in music, theater and dance disciplines.

One of the biggest challenges was tracking down who held copyrights. The online curriculum includes videos from modern dance pioneer Martha Graham, audio from the doo-wop group The Alley Cats and video of tap dancer Eddie Brown, among many others.

The Music Center, whose properties include the Ahmanson Theater, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum and Walt Disney Concert Hall, first got involved with arts education in 1970, when it launched its annual Blue Ribbon Children's Festival. It started an education division in 1979.

Slavkin said he wants to expand on the online curriculum in the next one to two years, making it more interactive and searchable by things like theme and grade level.  He also wants to add a discussion group option for teachers.

See all of the study units The Music Center has available in its new online curriculum