Bruce Dobkin, M.D., is director of the Neurological Rehabilitation and Research Program, co-director of the Stroke Program and co-director of the Wireless Health Institute at UCLA. He came to UCLA in 1973 as a medicine intern and completed his neurology residency in 1977.
FOR MORE THAN 40 YEARS, Design for Sharing (DFS ) has made it possible for Los Angeles County public school K-12 students to visit UCLA ’s Royce Hall and experience diverse forms of artistic activities and performances. Although research and patient care demands don’t leave me with much free time, I attend two-to-three DFS programs a year.
As I make my way through campus for a performance, I can always tell when I am close to Royce Hall. Busloads of students are lined up outside, eagerly waiting to enter UCLA ’s great landmark. Their diversity reminds me of a gathering of the General Assembly of the United Nations. They are experiencing something that could be life-changing. For most of the students, it is their first live performance and their first time on a college campus.
The one-hour lectures/demonstrations are always magical. The artists thrive on the enthusiasm created by the students. The kids sing, clap, dance, sway to the music and are fully captured by the stage presence of the performers, their voices, theatrics, dance, music, poetry and, very quickly, their vision.
After a performance, the youngsters tour the university and often send letters of thanks, saying they really appreciated the artists, as well as seeing students who are similar to them. DFS gives them a brochure about courses that are needed in order to apply to UCLA , which maybe helps them better see the path to college.
One of my favorite performances was Stefon Harris and his jazz band. Stefon demonstrated to a full house of sixth-to-12th-grade students how the drummer, pianist, bassist, horn player and vibraphone player pick up a short musical phrase and then play off each other. Effortlessly, the audience learned how to collaborate in making music. During the Q&A, a thin little boy, maybe 12, asked if he could try playing the vibraphone. Stefon indicated his permission by handing him some sticks. The youngster hit a few notes. Stefon played some notes off of his instrument. They went back and forth until the rest of the musicians joined in. Next thing we knew, this youngster was leading the jazz band. The cheering and clapping young audience discovered how to create art.
For more information about UCLA Live’s Design for Sharing and upcoming performances, go to: cap.ucla.edu/dfs/