Provided by Meredith Flory
Two local mothers are using their talents, passion, past work and educational experiences to fill a need in the Augusta homeschool community. In 2018 Erika Bible and Christi Wildes opened INSPIRE Studios to encourage children in theater and music through camps, classes and lessons.
Bible and Wildes were a part of the music and theater community in Augusta’s River Region and other communities where they’ve lived before devoting their talents to this new endeavor. Both performed with the Augusta Players and taught private lessons— Bible in voice and piano, and Wildes as a voice and acting coach. Bible was previously an elementary school teacher and performer at Walt Disney World while Wildes was the co-owner and founder of Singing Princesses and Pirate Parties until January 2019. Each developed a desire to work with the homeschool community after experiences teaching their children and teaching at homeschool co-ops.
They see musical theater as a way to develop other life skills, and their passion is to use music to inspire and encourage children. Wildes says she “has a passion to help others, especially youth, learn how to be more confident and bring out the best in themselves.” INSPIRE is an acrostic that means: to use my Imagination, my Narrative, my Strengths, and Prepare me to Include, Respect, and Encourage others. Bible and Wildes are co-directors, teach classes and hold camps through their new business endeavor.
During summer, they host a musical theater camp. Bible remarks that “watching the children grow closer together and encourage one another” is her favorite part. They have plans to host more summer camps in the coming year, as participation thrived in the first year. The co-directors plan to grow with the need. While camp is open to all children, during the school year INSPIRE has a choir that is mostly open to homeschoolers looking for a way to be a part of a music group or class. They will be performing The Messiah for Young Voices this December. The children will also engage in community service with their voices by performing at an assisted living facility. Dates for public performances will be posted on their Facebook page @inspireaugusta.
Classes for the choral group include instruction in group singing, with melody, harmony, and music theory lessons. They aspire also to host special guests or lessons on choreography and acting. Families interested in participation in camps and auditioning for the choir can email Bible at email@example.com.
Wildes’ concern is that “in our world today, some kids feel that can’t be themselves for fear of ridicule. Our theme, INSPIRE, is meant to encourage youth to use who they are to better themselves and encourage those around them.” She hopes her groups give a home to students who may not find joy or talent in academics or sports, the typical areas where children are usually praised. Instead, she wants to show how music and theater is more than just what students may watch in pop culture, and that gifts in music and movement can assist in many areas of life, such as public speaking in the workplace.
This article appears in the December 2019/January 2020 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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