JAM owner blends her three favorite things
Kids will be kids, but only if given the opportunity.
At Junior Art & Music, the philosophy is to encourage young people to explore their creative potential and find the joy in it, without the restrictions in some traditional instructions.
After considerable success with her first facility in South Norwalk, JAM owner Dre Towey, of Darien, has opened one in her hometown at The Little Red Schoolhouse, 21 Tokeneke Road.
"It's very open-ended, process-oriented art," she said. "It's not a formal how-to art class or music class, but it's about exposing them to different kinds of materials and different music."
Towey runs classes for kids who are 9 years old and younger, including one that includes mothers and children ages 2 and 3.
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She describes JAM as "a developmental program where kids could kind of come in and be kids and not be pressured to create the perfect project. Just let them come in and explore and find their inner artist.
"Really, it's about play," she said. "We play at art and we play at music."
Describing JAM as a "magical world," Stephanie Zaccario, of New Canaan, said, "The minute we step into the studio, my children are immediately drawn to the various art stations.
"The staff use their knowledge of art -- coupled with their understanding of various developmental stages -- to create the most positive, loving and unique environment."
Towey, a graduate of New Canaan High School, has a background that combines art and education. Also an athlete, Towey, in the mid-1990s, said she actually helped start and coached the girls' lacrosse team at Darien High School.
Towey is a graduate of Lafayette College with a double major in art and English. She taught for several years in New York City, then received her art education at Bank Street College/Parsons. She has taught at the children's art studio Paper Scissors Oranges and at the Rowayton Arts Center.
Four years ago, she had the hope of opening JAM at the Tokeneke Road, but it was unavailable. Instead, she stumbled on a unique 2,100-square-foot loft space in South Norwalk, with which she fell in love.
"It just spoke to me," Towey said.
"I always say I have three loves -- art, music and children -- and I just decided to marry them," she said. Along with her guitar and singing, she also dabbles in a wide range of mediums that are all part of the program she and her instructors offer.
"My son and I were instantly hooked on JAM," Jody Soloshatz, of Westport, said. "JAM is truly a unique place for children to experience a creative process on their own -- through everything from imaginative tactile art and craft projects, to playing bongos in a group music experience, to listing to the wonderful playful songs of Dre Towey live."
Using JAM's slogan, Beth Ann Kissko, of Darien, added, "We love to `dress for a mess.'
"JAM is great because each class involves an art project that you'd never want to tackle at home," she said. "Dre thinks of creative projects that the kids haven't seen before."
Towey's philosophy comes from a belief that "there's so much pressure on kids in so many programs and we're kind of forcing them to grow up before their time and projecting on them what art should look like or what music should sound like.
"When we set up materials here, we don't tell them what they should do with it," she said. "We just kind of let them play."
For information, visit www.juniorartandmusic.com or call 203-309-5700.