A studio is traditionally a place where apprentices learn under the tutelage of a professional artist or craftsperson. It is a workspace where one can practice and refine artistic techniques. Studios are typically messy and busy places. Indeed, Loris Malaguzzi, the philosophical founder of the Reggio approach, was adamant that “schools should be made of spaces where the hands of children could be active for messing about. With no possibility of boredom, hands and minds would engage each other with great liberating merriment in a way ordained by biology and evolution (Malaguzzi, 1998, pp. 73–74).
A Reggio-inspired studio is first and foremost a learning environment. It is not a curriculum, a technique, nor a sequence for building skills toward desired and pre-established outcomes. In a Reggio-inspired music studio, acquiring such skills as pitch matching, beat acquisition, rhythmic ability, and melodic accuracy are important, but these abilities are not the goal of studio activities. The music studio is based on the philosophical assumption that all children have a natural capacity to develop musical skills and abilities therefore these talents can be developed naturally while practicing and refining the art.
In Reggio terms, the studio is where children build an artistic vocabulary. This vocabulary is built by introducing key elements and processes of a particular art. As children become comfortable and familiar with the elements and processes, they begin to gain the ability to express ideas more fluently through the medium of that artistic language. In addition, aesthetics are particularly important for studio learning. Art studios, referred to in Italian as “ateliers,” are carefully set up to look inviting and pleasing to the eye, because in Reggio terms, the “environment is the third teacher.”
Malaguzzi, L. (1998). History, ideas, and basic philosophy. In C. P. Edwards, L. Gandani, & G. Forman (Eds.), The one hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach—Advanced reflections (pp. 49–97). Westport, CT: Ablex Publishing.