Express Yourself

It's just kids being kids

Music to Mini Ears

And you thought classical was boring. Not when taught by Cleveland-based virtuoso pianist and longtime instructor Roberto McCausland-Dieppa. Although his busy performing schedule doesn’t allow him to teach Cleveland kids anymore, he’s still helping little pianists discover a love of the classics. He just repackaged Beethoven’s music — kid style — in a CD and book. An animated DVD is due for release in September. In “Beethoven for Kids,” Ludwig’s music comes alive with cartoon drawings and kid-friendly stories. Did you know, for example, that Ludwig was a fanatic bather but he always re-donned the same smelly outfit? “Beethoven was quite a character,” says McCausland-Dieppa. “Practicing isn’t a chore once kids get to know him, and that’s what this whole project does.” Book: $25.40, CD: $17.98, available on Amazon and other Web outlets

And You Don’t Stop

Hip-hop culture is brought to life with the Progressive Arts Alliance at Playhouse Square. Kids 13 to 19 brush up on their rap and rhyme skills, learn how to scratch records like professional disc jockeys and even create their own graffiti art. The next class is Aug. 18 and 19. $150 for the two-day session;, (216) 771-4444, ext. 3338; 1375 Euclid Ave., The Idea Center at Playhouse Square, Cleveland

Digi Life

Go digital in the Fine Arts Association’s new SBC iMac lab. Semester-long instruction in graphic arts starts in September. Learn desktop publishing, including photo integration, templates, montage art, T-shirt art, posters, Web design and sound. Kids can bring their digital cameras or photos to class to incorporate into their projects. The FAA has classes for all ages in music, painting, drawing, pottery, theater and dance; check its Web site for more., (440) 951-7500; 38660 Mentor Ave., Willoughby

Bringing up Baby

Bring your infant to music exposure classes or take the 3-year-old to dance class at Beck Center for the Arts. Starting in September, a wealth of programming for babies is back, with sessions such as Early Childhood ABC, Dalcroze Eurythmics and Early Childhood Dance. The center offers a comprehensive list of classes for all ages, with instruction in theater, music, pottery, painting, drawing and cartooning., (216) 521-2540; 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood

Make it and Take it

Getting crafty is a snap with all the glue, glitter, beads and threads found at Jo-Ann Etc. Call the location nearest you for a schedule of sewing, beading, scrapbooking and knitting camps. Book a birthday party (ages 5 to 12, between $8 and $12 per child) and attendees receive instruction and supplies for a craft (decorated flip-flops or a painted bird house) they build in the party room. It’s BYOC: Bring your own cake. Every third Saturday of the month, show up at 10 a.m. with your kids for a free “make it and take it” project. Create sun catchers, clay sculptures or decorated foam visors. (Schedules vary — call for specifics.) For a location near you, visit


Use Your Hands

The Spirit of Clay helps kids bring raw clay to life as they learn to use the pottery wheel, make coil pots, use the slab roller and paint their creations. Kids ages 4 and up can paint clay pottery or make a mosaic out of glass beads and tiles at the artsy, earthy studio. Pottery classes for kids 7 to 12 cost $70 for four classes;, (440) 684-0001; 828 SOM Center Road, Mayfield Village

Together Time

Every Lowe’s store offers free Build and Grow Kids Clinics for kids in grades two through five the second Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. The Stow location’s clinics have been so popular, the store added an extra session at 11 a.m. It’s a great opportunity for always-elusive quality time: Parents must accompany kids as they build projects. The August project is a wooden model sailboat., Stow location: (330) 920-9280, 3570 Hudson Drive

Park it with a Book

Lincoln Park, in Tremont, has the best of everything for summer: community pool, large grassy space and now a free storytelling hour too. Merrick House Partners in Literacy is sponsoring Storytelling in the Park Aug. 23 from 1 to 1:45 p.m. Bonus: refreshments too! For more information, call Merrick House at (216) 771-5077.

Move and Groove

Families with kids of all ages learn how to fall, move and dance together through Contact Improvisation at a free class Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. “If you could combine surfing, wrestling, getting a massage and aikido, that’s what Contact Improvisation feels like,” says instructor Colleen Clark. “Here kids learn the art of physical give-and-take in a safe, unusual way. They’re gently lifted and tossed as they discover how to allow their bodies to safely yield into a fall — and this is a great segue into dance arts. It’s dance and it’s a blast.”, e-mail at; Outside on Wade Oval near the Botanical Garden through September (and at 2026 Murray Hill Road in fall/winter), Cleveland

Twinkle Toes for Tots

Your tiny dancer can put on her ballet pinks and channel the Sugar Plum Fairy at All About Dance! by Kristen. The Fairy Princess Ballet class teaches toddlers the basics of ballet, and if they aren’t as graceful as the Sugar Plum Fairy, they’ll make up for it with style — instructors help students make fairy princess outfits, complete with tiara, wand and skirt. The class is $65;, (330) 688-6000; 3038 Graham Road, Stow

Dance Empowerment

The Center for Families and Children, a social services agency, offers several free painting, dance, clay and mixed-media classes for kids 6 to 17 as part of their RapArt program. Get hip with RAD (Rap Art Dances). The free, after-school class teaches kids how to choreograph and create their own dances and then put on a performance., (216) 932-9497; 1941 S. Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights

Show Some Skills

Programs abound at the many branches of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. Two of our faves: Thursday Knights, in Room 2 of the Maple Heights branch, is an evening of chess for kids 6 and up every Thursday from 7:30-8:30 p.m.; and Guys and Books at the Fairview Park branch Aug. 17, 7-8 p.m., where fourth- through sixth-grade dudes and their dads (or uncles, granddads, etc.) will get together for book talk and an activity. Registration is required for all events; call (440) 333-4700 for Fairview Park, (216) 398-1800 for Maple Heights.

Act Out

Singing and dancing and everything fun: It’s “The Music Man” auditions, for kids 7 and up at Near West Theatre. The group auditions are a great opportunity for your little music men and women to try out their chops on stage. Sept. 5-7, 6 p.m. for kids 7 to 12, 7:30-10 p.m. for kids 13 and up;, (216) 961-9750; St. Patrick’s Club Building, 3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland

Spinning Yarns

Plushy yarns in all fibers and colors, patterns galore and a fashion designer on-site to help unravel the mysteries of knitting at Knitting on the Square. Transform a skein of 100 percent-wool yarn into a kaleidoscopic rainbow with Kool-Aid, then learn how to knit it into a scarf. Two sets of classes (Aug. 9 and 16 or Aug. 11 and 18) introduce kids to dyes and the basic knit stitch., (440) 285-5648; 153 Main St., Chardon

Step to It

See local teens perform cutting-edge material all around town this month through the STEP program at Cleveland Public Theater, designed to encourage inner-city kids to get involved in theater. The group will act out “The Young Blood Hungers,” a performance based on the writing of Harlem Renaissance writer Marita Bonner. Dates include Aug. 5, Lincoln Park (Tremont) at 7 p.m. and Aug.11, Mall B (downtown) at noon., (216) 631-2575; 6415 Detroit Ave., Cleveland

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