Learning Ahead: April 4th-8th, 2016

Weekday community-based educational opportunities can be found throughout the four counties of Western MA all week long!

This week we are featuring 15 community-based educational opportunities that can be selected to support the interests and education of self-directed teens, homeschoolers and life-long learners:

Check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for our comprehensive list, including ongoing learning and play opportunities for younger children and intergenerational community events.

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Berkshire County

Monday, April 4, 11am-5pm
North Adams residents: One of the world’s premier centers for making and showing the best modern art is right in your backyard, and today it’s free. See something new in one of the temporary exhibitions or revisit your favorite permanent works at MASS MoCA on the 4th of the month, when it’s free for 01247 residents. Right now you can view the stunning large-format, high resolution, nature-inspired photographs of Clifford Ross, contemplate Ran Hwang’s installation, Untethered, created out of buttons and pins, and find new ways to understand the spaces around you while exploring the sculptures of Richard Nonas. Bring an official ID or utility bill with your address on it. 413-662-2111. 1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 7, 5:30pm-7pm
Do you want to learn to swim, or improve your swimming technique? The Polar Bears Masters Swim Team will be teaching adult swim lessons at four levels of instruction. Register for one of two sessions: 5:30 – 6:15pm or 6:15 – 7:00pm on Thursdays, April 7, 14, 21 and 28. Even if you afraid of being in the water, you are welcome and encouraged to attend a session and become more comfortable with the help of these instructors. Register in person at the Berkshire Family YMCA, Pittsfield Branch. Email any questions to Aquatics Manager, Ashley Kirchner at akirchner@pittsfieldfamilyymca.org or call 413-499-7560. 292 North Street, Pittsfield, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 7, 6:30pm
With the rise of free verse and prose poetry, the poetic form has become harder and harder to pin down or define. You’re invited to share a poem, whether it is famous or obscure, rhythmic or free form, rhyming or not, at the Meekins Library. Don’t have a poem to share yet? Use this event as motivation to create something new! Come hear a wide range of poems selected by members of your community. For more information call 413-268-7472 or email rwildfong@cwmars.org. 2 Williams St, Williamsburg, MA. (FREE)

Friday, April 8, 8am-10am
The many species of birds called “warblers” are not necessarily closely related, but do have similar characteristics. They are small, vocal birds whose diet consists of insects. “Warble” is an old English word which used to mean “melody.” Come look, and listen, for wood warblers at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary. You will observe several species of birds in this rich habitat of meadows and wetlands. This is an adult program; however, participants are welcome to bring along their interested teens. Beginners are welcome and registration is not required. Please bring binoculars. 413-637-0320. Holmes Rd, Pittsfield, MA. (>$)

Want some extra tips on warbler-watching? Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology has some for you:

Friday, April 8, 10am-11:45am
Shakespeare has had one of the longest lasting impacts of any author. His plays from the 16th and 17th century are still performed regularly and are often required reading in high school. Even if his works fell out of popularity he would still have an enduring impact on the English language, since he invented hundreds of words we use every day including “amazement,” “hint,” “mimic,” “lonely,” “generous,” and “secure.” Hear some of Shakespeare’s words in action at the Tina Packer Playhouse performance of Macbeth. A post-show discussion will follow. 413-637-1199 x131. 70 Kemble Street. Lenox, MA. ($)

Franklin County

Tuesday, April 5, 6:30pm
If you are a fan of jazz music, then you are most likely familiar with the concept of improvisation. In jazz, there is typically a set structure for a song, and designated times for various musicians to improvise solos, making them up as they go along. Musicians in other genres improvise as well, sometimes as a means of writing and developing a song, and sometimes during live performances. Gideon Freudmann will be making frequent use of improvisation during his cello performance at the Whately Library when he plays classical, blues, jazz, electronic, funk and folk music. Please. RSVP at 413-665-2170. Whately, MA. (FREE)

Get a preview of Freudmann’s incredible improvisation at this TEDx performance:

Wednesday, April 6, 6pm
What do you think of when you think of New England landscapes? You might picture colonial style houses, a mix or early and modern architecture, and plenty of stone walls. Kevin Gardner, a builder and restorer of traditional New England stone walls, will be discussing their emergence and significance to the landscape at the Greenfield Public Library. As a part of this presentation, he will demonstrate how they are built by designing a mini, tabletop stone wall. Whether you have a stone wall on your property, enjoy encountering them on your drives and hikes around New England, or would like to create one yourself, you’ll be sure to leave this session with new appreciation and understanding of these classic landscape features. 413-772-1544. 402 Main St, Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

Friday, April 8, 7pm-9pm
It has been argued that poetry may actually predate literacy. Rhythm and rhyme were possibly first used as mnemonic devices, recited as a way of remembering oral history, genealogy, or law. The fact that poetry may have first been recited or sung, blurs the lines between musical lyrics and written verse. Come to Great Falls Discovery Center to hear folk band Windborne play contemporary and traditional folk music. American folk music, like poetry, often tells a story. In addition to American folk traditions, Windborne often include original songs from include songs from Corsica, the Republic of Georgia, Bulgaria, Quebec, and Basque country in their performances. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA. (DONATION)

Hampshire County

Monday, April 4, 8:30pm
Emily Dickinson’s poetry has inspired musical interpretations and adaptations from composers such as Judith Weir, Simon Holt, and Aaron Copland, to name a few. Ellen Gilson Voth, director of the chamber choir Novi Cantori, will give a brief talk at the Emily Dickinson Museum on the ways in which Emily Dickinson’s poetry has been set to music. Novi Cantori will also perform excerpts from their program, “Voices of New England.” 413-542-8161. 280 Main Street, Amherst MA. (>$)

Tuesday, April 5, 7pm
For most of human history, people lived by foraging wild plants and hunting wild animals. We are lucky to have the nutritional knowledge we do now about food, yet we have lost a good deal of our understanding about edible plants. In this workshop at the Jones library you will learn about the trees, shrubs, vines, canes, and herbaceous perennials that flourish in New England, and the fruits, nuts, and vegetables which can be harvested from these plants. This group will discuss the medicinal benefits of plants, as well as techniques for planting and growing food on your own. Making the decision to grow edible plants in your garden is a learning experience and a worthwhile investment into your physical health. Participants who have children can think about ways to educate their kids about edible plants and get them involved in caring for them. This can teach your child patience, responsibility and healthy eating habits. Comments and questions will be welcome. For more information please call 413-259-3223. Woodbury Room. 413-259-3090. 43 Amity Street, Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Wednesday, April 6, 12pm
If you’re lucky enough to have running water in your home, you turn the faucet on, and water comes out. You push a level and your toilet flushes. But where does the water come from? Where does it go? This is your chance to tour the Amherst wastewater facility and see what goes on there. For one thing, tiny microorganisms in the wastewater are able to feed on biodegradable matter. Learn about the ways in which humans have exploited natural biological processes in order to treat wastewater. Please call the Hitchcock Center for the Environment at 413-256-6006 to register. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

LeVar Burton’s informative overview of wastewater treatment is a great resource for anyone interested in learning more!

Friday, April 8, 1pm-6pm
While the exact origins of punk are a matter of contention, it is safe to say the subculture emerged in the mid 1970s in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. The word “punk” refers to a musical genre, a philosophy, and a movement. Politically, punk music and its fans are associated with anarchism. The aesthetic of punk music, fashion and art is one of minimalism and individual empowerment. The association with zines, for example, points to a distrust of mainstream media sources and a do-it-yourself attitude. The UMass Amherst W.E.B. Du Bois Library will be hosting “Documenting Punk,” for its 11th annual social change colloquium. Speakers will discuss ways in which to chronicle and preserve the rise of this subculture. Campus Center Room 163. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Hampden County

Wednesday, April 6, 6:30pm
Are you a beginner mandolin player? Bring your mandolin to the Storrs Library for this three part series of mandolin lessons! For those who don’t know, the mandolin is a string instrument in the lute family. This instrument originated in Italy. In the United States it is often utilized to play folk, celtic or bluegrass music. One Wednesday a month, April 6, May 4th and June 1st, join other beginners as you grow into more knowledgeable and skilled musicians together. Seth Roberts of The Blueberry Hill Boys will get you started with the basics at this first session. Email questions to: asethroberts@gmail.com. 413- 565-4181. 693 Longmeadow St, Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Thursday, April 7, 12:15pm-1:15pm
What is the difference between a traditional French garden and an English garden? English gardens are less formal while French gardens utilize symmetry. English gardens, emerging in the early 18th century, broke from the French tradition of order. Come to the Springfield Museums to learn more at this talk, “The English Garden: Perfection on Earth.” Lecturer Curt DiCamillo will walk you through the history with plenty of photographs to illustrate the cultural impact of English gardens. 413-314-6488. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (<$)

Enjoy this English cottage garden tutorial for inspiration in your own garden design!

Thursday, April 7, 5pm-8pm
Flower arranging is an art and a science. An arranger of fresh flowers must cut the stems and place them in the right amount of water at the right temperature to keep the flowers alive. At the same time, the arranger must think about color, shape and placement of the flowers and trimming them down for the best look. Explore the Springfield Museums of art, history, and science while also taking in the sight of gorgeous flower arrangements at every location. This 4th annual Festival of Flowers will also have a Floral Fashion Show with models displaying accessories created with flowers. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street. Springfield, MA. (Non members $; Members <$)

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