Reconnecting With Your Creative Side

It’s no secret that jobs, raising kids and life in general often prevent us from pursuing artistic and personal interests.

But once children are grown and work demands begin to slow, it frees up time to explore those interests or rekindle forgotten passions. And one of the benefits, according to Glastonbury-based psychologist Dr. Eve Marie Perugini, is that it can be good for our mental health.

“From an emotional perspective, later years are a great time to revisit activities that brought us joy or perhaps something we think we missed,” she says.

From cooking and art classes to guitar lessons and acting, there are a host of opportunities to ignite one’s creativity.

If there’s an instrument you’ve always wanted to play or one you’ve been meaning to pick back up, Music & Arts ( offers almost every kind of lesson you can think of at one of its four Hartford-area stores: Avon, Vernon, West Hartford and East Hartford.

Guitar, percussion, vocal and piano instruction is available, along with most brass, string and woodwind instruments, and a few unconventional options, too, including the accordion, mandolin and steel guitar.

Weekly lessons average $25 to $35 per half-hour session (depending on the instrument and instructor) and are paid by the month.

Students also can participate in the stores’ frequent recitals and open mic nights, giving them a chance to perform in front of a live audience, which helps promote learning.

“It’s a very important part of the education process,” says East Hartford store manager Kyle Tripp, adding that the store teaches more than 400 students a week, and many of the students are retired adults.

Music & Arts also offers group, couples and parent-child lessons, giving students the opportunity to bond with other musicians or spend time with loved ones.

No instrument? No problem. Most instruments can be rented or purchased at the stores.

Guitar Center in Southington also offers lessons, including guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, vocal, as well as recording software instruction for the aspiring studio producer.

Free group classes are also held monthly. For dates and more information, visit

Art and Photography

There’s an artist in each of us, just waiting to come out.

Whether your passion lies in sculpture, drawing, painting, printmaking, watercolor, ceramics, photography or other concentration, non-credit and credit courses are widely available for students who wish to explore the arts.

Manchester ( and Tunxis ( community colleges offer a wide selection of art classes through the year, with most following a typical college semester schedule.

MCC also offers a variety of credit-free personal enrichment courses ( in subjects such as art techniques, jewelry-making, floral and interior design, and more general art courses.

Interested art students also can enroll in classes at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic (

June Elizabeth Dunn, assistant dean of Continuing Studies & Enhanced Learning at ECSU, says many adult learners come to the university to pursue a creative interest as a non-degree student.

“We’ve had retired business executives return to take up guitar or other musical instruments, ‘sandwich generation’ women explore the possibilities of printmaking and the other visual arts for sharing their life stories, and a number of individuals who may be proficient in one artistic medium (quilting, for instance) take classes to learn new techniques to incorporate into their art.”

For details, contact ECSU’s Office of Continuing Studies & Enhanced Learning at 860-465-0206.

Other places to enroll in art instruction or workshops include the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford (, West Hartford Art League (, Wethersfield Academy for the Arts (, Glastonbury Art Guild (, Middletown Art Academy (, Art League of New Britain (, Farmington Valley Arts Center (, and Creative Arts Workshop ( in New Haven.

Writing And Theater

Who hasn’t dreamed of penning the perfect novel or taking a curtain call on stage? Would-be actors can hone their craft at any number of places including Hartford Stage (, which offers a variety of adult classes including a Shakespeare Performance class (beginning in October), as well as Scene Study and Introduction to Acting classes to be held later this year.

“Our classes attract students from a wide range of ages, including those over 55,” says Jennifer Roberts, director of education at Hartford Stage. “Many students join our classes to try out something they’ve always wanted to explore but haven’t.”

Playhouse on Park in West Hartford (, also holds acting and improv classes throughout the year as well as private acting lessons and master classes.

Sea Tea Improv ( in downtown Hartford is another option, with numerous courses and workshops in storytelling, sketch, technique and other improv-related genres.

Writers of all skill levels, working on any kind of project, can receive one-on-one help at the Hartford Public Library ( through the UConn Writing Center program, held on Saturday afternoons from noon until 4 p.m. Writers are welcome to come to discuss their goals and material with consultants from the University of Connecticut, who offer assistance, guidance and technical support related to growing as a writer.

Though it’s a commute, the Westport Writers Workshop ( holds dozens of writing classes covering everything from memoir writing and fiction to screenwriting and children’s literature. The classes and workshops are ongoing and range from beginner to advanced.

Culinary Arts

If you’d like to sharpen your cooking skills, Sur La Table ( in Canton offers classes at the store on how to make just about anything including pizza, Italian feasts, desserts and Asian food. It also has classes on various techniques including grilling, knife skills, cast-iron cooking and using an instant pot.

Cookshop Plus ( in West Hartford holds classes several times a week covering a variety of cuisines and techniques. From Middle Eastern dishes to making a great burger, there’s a little something for any palette.

Foodology (, a cooking school & bakery cafĂ© in Plantsville, holds all sorts of fun classes instructing students on how to make things like autumn New England dinners, pies, football food, Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts and holiday meals. It also holds events like a family “Chopped” food challenge.

Wine connoisseurs and beginners alike can sign up for classes at The Wine Institute of New England in Guilford ( Classes cover everything from wine and food pairings to wine-tasting techniques.

Manchester Community College offers a series of one-day culinary workshops in topics ranging from the Art of Pickling to the Cuisine of Venice, the Wines of Celebrities, Thanksgiving Pies and Autumn Appetizers.

Williams Sonoma ( in South Windsor also offers classes through the year. For details, call the store at 860-644-1990.

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