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Special Teaching Resources in the Arts (Spectra)

Image from SpectraFest at Westwood

Our goal is to make the arts an essential part of every student’s education.  

SPECTRA artists represent some of Tuscaloosa’s best.  These artists are highly skilled professionals selected not only for artistic excellence, but also for the ability to communicate effectively with young people. For students, a tremendous variety of in-school arts activities allow student involvement in visual arts, music, and acting. Concerts, demonstrations and other activities are also available both in-school and on site throughout the community.

Connecting artists to classrooms with these easy steps:

  • Read policies then select the art activities or performances based on your classroom or curriculum needs.
  • Calculate the total cost for the program (including classroom size and/or mileage if noted).
  • Secure approval from your administrator or principal.
  • Call or email Sharron Rudowski, Education Director, with the name of your selected activity, preferred date and time and number of students participating.


The In-School Concert/Demonstrations and Plays for Children offer a careful balance of performance and instruction.  Space needs are flexible. Program lengths vary from 30 to 50 minutes, depending on the program and audience age.  Some experiences are offered in workshop format only, in which a classroom size group works closely with an artist and has the opportunity to participate more effectively in the artistic process. Maximum class size has been established to assure successful involvement of all students.  

Teachers must remain with students for the duration of all activities. Prices for each event vary and are listed with each program description. When maximum numbers are exceeded, the program fee may increase.  
Federal Mileage Rates may apply for some programs.

Programs are scheduled subject to the availability of the artists. To schedule a program, contact Sharron Rudowski, Education Director, at 345-9801, or email education@tuscarts.org. It will be helpful to have your school’s calendar, daily schedule and enrollment figures when calling. A confirmation/invoice will be sent after scheduling.  

All scheduled and confirmed programs are considered binding. Two weeks’ notice must be given by the school if the program is to be rescheduled. Should illness, inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances prevent the artist from performing, SPECTRA will offer the school the option to reschedule or receive a full refund.

Music and Dance

History comes alive through music. The history of the Blues is presented highlighting important time periods in Alabama History. This 45 minute interactive program entertains and educates up to 500 students. GRADES: K-12  FEE: $250

Theatre UAB Cabaret celebrates the greatest female singers and hottest girl groups of all time! Selections include Lollipop, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in his Kiss,) Stop in the Name of Love, Wilson Phillips’ Hold On and Destiny’s Child’s super anthem, Survivor. Catchy tunes, memorable ballads and driving rhythms make this collection perfect for all ages. Arranged by Roger Emerson, Ed Lojeski, Jay Althouse, Kirby Shaw & Mark Brymer. Publishers: Hal Leonard Corporation & Alfred Music Publishing; Directed by Valerie Accetta; Musical Direction by Carolyn Violi; GRADES:  All Grade Levels  TIME:  App. 40 minutes; Fridays only  FEE: Bibb, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount, Cullman, Walker & Tuscaloosa Counties: $200 + 54 cents per mile; All Other Counties:  $250 + 54 cents per mile.

In this class Christopher Davenport will explore music and songs brought from the British Isles to Appalachia in the 18th and 19th centuries. Students will learn these songs and sing along to banjo, fiddle, and guitar. Handouts will be provided.  GRADES: All ages  FEE: $125 per session

A fun-filled 45-minute program designed to introduce students to the brass family of the symphony orchestra.  This narrated program is presented by the Tuscaloosa Symphony Brass Quintet.  Designed for audiences up to 500.  GRADES: K-6    FEE: $275

A varied program by Shelton State Community College singers demonstrates unique vocal styles that can be heard from classical arias to Broadway and pop styles.  
GRADES: K-6    FEE: no fee

An interactive rhythm program with award winning teaching artist, author, and drummer, John Scalici!   This program puts a drum in the hands of every student as they learn about the many uses of drums and rhythm across cultures. There are many rhythm-based activities in each presentation designed to improve listening,  communication, respect,  and teamwork. Activities from John’s book,  "Learn In Rhythm", provide cross curricular lessons in math, science, and language arts!    GRADES: 3-8    FEE: Prices range from $300-$600 depending on number of sessions. Artist prefers classes by rotation ( maximum of 50). Sessions are 30-45 min each. Fees are all inclusive.

Children will receive hands-on experience with a variety of symphonic instruments such as violin, trumpet, flute, etc. from the Tuscaloosa Symphony Guild.  Limited to 30 students per half-hour.  GRADES: 3 - 5    FEE: no fee

A fun look into jazz through performance and interaction between students and musicians.  Jazz is put into context for students then introduced to the jazz style, repertoire and history.  Presented by faculty and students in Jazz Studies at UA. 25 - 50 minutes.  GRADES: K-6    FEE: $175

Explores movement and its development from its origins to the present.  Students participate in an interactive program that explores dance in relation to the evolution of music then create their own work.  45 minutes. Designed for groups up to 30. GRADES: K-5    FEE: $80

A mixture of classical Indian dance with Western moves and gymnastics. Enjoyed by all age groups. Taught by Dibya Singh, local dance and yoga teacher.  45 minutes. Designed for groups up to 30. GRADES: K-12    FEE: $80


Storytelling and Theatre

11  THEATRE UAB KIDS ON THE BLOCK: People Are Different!
Our new Kids on the Block program explores complex real-life situations with colorful life-size puppets that younger audiences are naturally drawn to. The characters challenge the kids in the audience to share their own ideas and insights on the situation they are trying to resolve.  "People are Different" features Nam, a boy from Southeast Asia who feels he doesn't belong at his new school in America. His new friends help him see that everyone is unique in their own way, with different histories, traditions, and beliefs. Our "People are Different" show strives to build empathy and understanding, the proven antidotes to hatred and intolerance! Directed by Lee Shackleford. GRADES: K-4  Time: 40 minutes; Fridays only  FEE:
Bibb, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount, Cullman, Walker & Tuscaloosa Counties:  $200 + 54 cents per mile; All Other Counties:  $250 + 54 cents per mile.

12  THEATRE UAB SHAKESPEARE COMPANY: Othello, The Moor of Venice, abridged
Many critics consider Othello the pinnacle of Shakespeare’s dramatic work. Unsurpassed as a classic tale of love, envy, jealousy and conspiracy, Othello resonates in today’s world. Can the fragile love of Othello and Desdemona withstand Iago’s schemes and manipulation? UAB Shakespeare Company brings the immortal tragedy to vivid life in this modern adaptation of a masterpiece. Adapted and Directed by Dennis McLernon; GRADES: Middle Schools, High Schools, Retirement Communities and other Adult Facilities;  Time:  App. 50 min. (abridged); Fridays Only; FEE: Bibb, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount, Cullman, Walker & Tuscaloosa Counties:  $200 + 54 cents per mile; All Other Counties:  $250 + 54 cents per mile

13  THEATRE UAB: Jack and the Beanstalk
Goldsmith’s adaptation of this children’s literary classic has been delighting audiences for years at Columbus Children’s Theatre, Ohio, where he serves as Artistic Director and Playwright. Jack’s mother is overwrought when he sells their cow for a mere handful of beans. But when the beans sprout to a towering beanstalk, a silly, less than bright giant and his many treasures just might ease their woes. Played to hilarious heights by four actors! Written by William Goldsmith; Directed by Jack Cannon; Grades: K-6  Time: App. 45 min.; Fridays only FEE: Bibb, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount, Cullman, Walker & Tuscaloosa Counties:  $200 + 54 cents per mile; All Other Counties:  $250 + 54 cents per mile

Some of West Alabama’s finest actors are available to tell a variety of tales or those that are appropriate to your current curriculum with advance notification.  GRADES:  K-6    FEE:  $55

These workshops introduce students to the concepts of performance through theatre games and improvisation.  30 students or fewer per session. 1 to 2 hours in length (can accommodate class schedule).  GRADES: 1-12    FEE: $55 per session

Visual Art and Craft

In the age of clicks and beeps, photography continues to capture our moments and imaginations. When and how did this magic begin? During Fun with Alternative Photography Processes with Christopher Davenport, students will learn various digital photography and imaging techniques to print beautiful and creative Cyanotype photographs. Van Dyke and Cyanotype are safe and lo-fi processes developed during the 19th century requiring only paper, a few chemicals, and the sun. GRADES: All ages FEE: $175; Limit 15 per session

A modern spin on studying the history of  self portraiture  and learning about the visual message a self portrait sends to their viewers. Each student will create a self portrait using oil pastels while observing master self portraits and learning about the history behind them. GRADES: All ages FEE: $60 per class  SUPPLIES: $2 per child

An exploration of the book as an art object.  A brief history of handmade books will be presented, with an emphasis on bookbinding.  Students will be instructed on how to create books out of paper, thread, glue, and card stock, they will then write and illustrate their own book. Designed for small groups (30 or fewer).  Up to 60 minutes.  GRADES: 1-8  FEE: $80 / Federal mileage rate may apply. SUPPLIES: $2 per student 

Sports Artist Rick Rush will teach students how to draw using common shapes and demonstrate the art of serigraph printing techniques. Students will also participate in a demonstration using a silkscreen image. All students will leave with a personally created masterpiece. Class to be held at the Rick Rush Fine Art Gallery, 2701 University Blvd. Groups of 45 students or less. 1 hour. GRADES: K-6   FEE: $125  SUPPLIES: Provided

(20 - 23 A/B) Classes can be modified to fit any age.
20  DaVinci Sketchbooks
Students will learn about the Renaissance man, Leonardo DaVinci, his many talents and how he became many things, from mathematician and inventor to engineer and architect. Students will then see the connections between these subjects and how drawing can inform many fields. They will draw, make their own inventions, solve problems and create sketchbooks. Interdisciplinary Unit. 2 day lesson, 1 hour each. FEE: $150 plus $2 per student for materials

21  Musical Collages
Students will learn about artist Henri Matisse and his methods then make their own musically inspired collages in his style. This lesson connects music notes with visual elements and breaks down simple vocabulary terms that connect the two art forms. Kinesthetic movement involved. Interdisciplinary Unit. 2 hours (can be done in 2 one-hour lessons).  FEE: $150 plus $2 per student for materials

22  Animals, Animals, Animals
Inspired by Eric Carle, students will learn how to look at animals and make them out of simple shapes. This lesson starts with reading one of Eric Carle’s books and taking a closer look at his artwork. Students will learn about the color wheel and vocabulary words associated with a basic understanding of color theory then make their own colored paper before the cutting of shapes begins. 2 day lesson.  FEE: $150 plus $2 per student for materials

23  Bringing the Art Museum to the Classroom
These two lessons are aimed at exposing children to the visual fine arts and how to respond to artwork beyond “I like it” or “I don’t like it.” This helps their eyes to see, their minds to think critically and their mouths to speak with a more appropriate vocabulary. They do not produce an art “product” but will learn critical thinking skills. No supply fees apply.

A. Critical Response: Surrounded by large image reproductions of famous art works, students will explore important questions and distinctions about art. Through interactive play, students learn to evaluate art with different criteria, differentiate between preference and judgement and respect differences of opinion about art. For older groups, a writing exercise can be applied. 1 hour. FEE: $75

B. Fabulous Four: Students will learn about four famous artists and how to differentiate their distinct styles. This introduction to painting techniques, styles and subject matter will help develop their art vocabulary and encourage a wide range of ways to classify art. Interactive lesson and group discussion based. Lesson can be modified to introduce any media: painting, sculpture, photography, etc. 1 hour. FEE: $75

Two part class - Session 1 (2 hours): Overview of Southeastern Indian pottery, how to hand build and decorate a pot and make an “animal effigy.” Pottery is taken away to be fired.    Session 2 (1 hour): Fired pottery is brought back to the class for students to paint with acrylic paints then seal.  Designed for small groups (30 or less) but can accommodate up to two separate classes at the same school per day.  GRADES: 3-6    FEE: $100 / Federal mileage rate applies for distances longer than 100 miles round trip.  SUPPLIES: $2 per child

In the traditional style of Southern folk potters, children will love sculpting faces on pre-made mini-face jugs. Presented by Kerry Kennedy.  GRADES: K-6    FEE: $8 per child

Students can create their own dream catcher and weave a talking feather while learning the folklore behind the craft through storytelling as well as hands-on experience.  The University of Alabama Museums lead this hands-on experience.  Designed for small groups (30 or fewer).  Three hour project.  GRADES:  4-6    FEE: $100  SUPPLIES: $2 per child

Students learn why certain masks were important to Native Americans with a variety of gourd masks displayed for reference. Precut gourds are available to make similar projects. Each student picks the mask they will make, cleans and prepares the gourd and decorates their mask.  Designed for small groups (30 or less) but can do up to two separate classes at the same school per day.  1.5-2 hours.   GRADES: 2-6    FEE: $100 instructor fee / Federal mileage rate applies for distances longer than 100 miles round trip.  SUPPLIES: $4 per child

The art of bead-making, also known as lampworking,  will be traced back to its origins while demonstrating the complexities and creative potential of ornamental bead and glass design.
GRADES: K-8   FEE: $155 per day for multiple demonstrations or $55 for a single class demonstration; Federal mileage rate may apply.

Explore the exciting and fun art of mosaics.  Students will learn about the different types of materials and tools used to make mosaics.  A mosaic piece will be created for your school to display after the demonstration. GRADES: K-6   FEE: $200 per demonstration day plus supplies

Students learn about the historical Quilters of Gee’s Bend, AL, the elements of design and the art of stained glass mosaics in an arts/social studies integrated program with DANA Teaching Artist, Linda Muñoz.  Students make a stained glass mosaic quilt to hang in their school.  Fee: (Includes supplies) 1 Day Program (1 hour): $225-students will make a small quilt panel (24 inches x 24 inches); 2 Day Program (1 hour each day): students will make a larger quilt panel (36 inches x 36 inches): $425; 3 Day Program (1 hour each day): students will make the larger quilt and will grout it: $600 / Federal mileage rate may apply.

Students will create a fun, colorful temporary gourd home for migrating birds. Missy Miles will lead the class in painting techniques, lessons on composition/scale,  and the interesting history of the gourd.  GRADES: 1-6  FEE: $75 / Federal mileage rate applies.  SUPPLIES: $4 per student

32  RAKU
The 500 year old Japanese method of rapid firing
pottery. Watch as the colors come to life when the pottery is removed from the hot kiln. Daniel Livingston will demonstrate the process and explain how the firing works.  The demonstration must be done outdoors. GRADES: K-12  FEE: $75 for a single demonstration (approx. 90 min.) $200 per day (up to 3 demonstrations)


Special Resources for Teachers

Tuscaloosa, Northport, and The University of Alabama offer a wealth of information, activities, and services to support local teachers in their quest for a well-rounded arts experience for their students.  All venues require reservations.

The facility features 16 (14’ x 9’) murals located on the second floor and painted by artist Caleb O’Connor.  The subject matter includes depictions of the history and industrial growth of Tuscaloosa, North Alabama and the nation.  Judicial tours are also offered.  Tours can accommodate groups up to 50.  All ages.  Call 561-1670 for more information or to schedule a tour.

Come enjoy one of the most breathtaking collections of fine art in America and experience history from the heart of the Americas to the Far East in original masterpieces.  Featuring such artists and artisans as: John Singer Sargent, George Luks, Edward Potthast and Andrew Wyeth. Tours specifically geared to student groups include “Elementally Art” and “The American Spirit.” Call 205-562-5280 or email kthurman@westervelt.com or whawkins@westervelt.com for more information.

The Murphy African-American Museum offers innovative educational programs and changing exhibits that increase the knowledge of the accomplishments and contributions of local African-Americans in Tuscaloosa and the country as a whole.  Admission is free, and donations are accepted.  Call 758-2861 to schedule a tour.


Option 1. UA large ensembles (orchestra, band, choir) will open dress rehearsals for students to gain an appreciation for many types of music and preparation of concerts.  Option 2. UA School of Music faculty, staff and/or music students (classical or jazz) share information about their career with short demonstrations in a one-hour presentation. Days/times vary. Contact Dr. Jane Weigel at 348-6741.

The UA Arboretum maintains plant collections for botanical education and appreciation.  It features 2.5 miles of walking trails through a mature oak/hickory forest, wildflower garden, ornamental plants, children’s garden and a tree platform utilized for educational field trips.  Field trips can be tailored to classroom needs.  For more information or to schedule a visit, call
205-553-3278 or go to arboretum.ua.edu.

The nationally recognized Kentuck Art Center welcomes small school groups for prearranged tours and demonstrations with Kentuck resident artists for a fee. Students ages 6 and up. Call 205-758-1257 for information.

CHOM offers a wide variety of educational opportunities and programs for students, preschool-6th grade.  Resources expand the school curriculum and enrich cultural and social education.  Each visit is unique and participatory, and with teacher input, the museum staff will gear the visit toward class objectives.  Admission charged. Reservations are required.  Call CHOM at 349-4235 for information.
Field trips to the Alabama Museum of Natural History are tailored to fit the needs of your group.  Call 348-9473 to schedule a tour.  The 320-acre Moundville Archaeological Park features the Jones Archaeological Museum, preserves 26 prehistoric, Mississippian-era Indian Mounds and presents the  Moundville Native American Heritage Days.  To schedule a tour, call (205) 371-2234.

Field trips to local art galleries are available in Tuscaloosa. Call Sharron Rudowski at (205) 345-9801 to schedule visits that include informational tours.
Harrison Galleries
O’Connor Studio
Paul R. Jones Collection
Tuscaloosa Museum of Art
The Arts Council Galleries: Bama Theatre and/or CAC
UA Gallery at the CAC
U.S. Federal Building Murals


For reservations for Bama Fanfare or Fanfare Caravans contact

Sharron Rudowski
Director of Educational Programs
(205) 345-9801
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