Never Stop Learning, Rhode Island!
Students of the world, unite! You don’t need to matriculate to scoot up behind a desk and start learning or help those you love learn something new. Does someone you know want to master the art of belly dancing or become the head chef of your kitchen? Meet new people while honing burgeoning crafting skills? Here is a partial round-up of opportunities to learn a new skill in Rhode Island. Gift that hard to please person on your list a set of lessons or buy some lessons for both of you so you can join in the fun! Giving someone the chance to learn a new skill is a gift that will last long after the Christmas lights have been packed away, and trying to learn that new skill with them is a great way to bond over a newfound talent.
The following list has just a few ideas. Our state is filled to the brim with creative talents and many of them teach. Think about favorite destinations or hobbies for that certain gift recipient, and then ask about classes at those places. Musicians can point you toward musical training, bartenders can tell you where to study the art of the pour, and just about every sport has trainers somewhere. Here are some starting ideas.
Cluck: Everyone’s favorite urban supply and farm store on Broadway in Providence wants to pack your supply kit with knowledge along with farm tools. There’s a cold frame building class on February 6. A month after that, they teach lessons on how to hunt the mushrooms growing in the depths of the forest. Mushroom hunting is a growing trend and this class can give you the information to hunt mushrooms safely and with great skill. (cluckri.com)
If you’re closer to Wakefield, you might also consider Southern New England Mushroom Hunting (search Facebook).
Rhody World Music: I challenge you to find a company that offers both belly dancing classes and ukulele jam sessions at the same time. Okay, I found one. Rhody World Music, founded in 2013, offers private and group classes that you aren’t likely to find anywhere else. Rhody World Music prides itself on creating a multicultural space where community is built and new and exciting skills are obtained! therhodycenter.org
The gift of music has been known to lighten souls. Other places to check out include Wakefield Music (Ukelele classes and other instruments | wakefieldmusic.com) and Blackstone River Theater (everything from music appreciation with Duke Robillard, to step dancing, to dulcimer, to stone carving (?), to… more ukeleles | riverfolk.org/programs.html)
Cooking!: The holidays are famously stressful, especially if you have to endure your mother-in-law’s traditionally terrible cooking at every family gathering. This year, send her into the kitchen with Easy Entertaining so she can learn from the best. Go with her and you can learn how to bake bread together! The best part of baking bread is that after you’re done, you have fresh bread to eat. Literally every time you bake bread this happens … you should try it. easyentertainingri.com
Look for other cooking classes regularly at the venerable Al Forno (alforno.com). Chef Walter’s Cooking School, where classes are taught by the local TV Chef, has numerous options (although Knife Skills for Couples sounds a little frightening | chefwalterscookingschool.com), Professor Chef in North Providence (professorchef.com), David Dadekian’s classes (eatdrinkri.com) and of course, at culinary behemoth Johnson & Wales (jwu.edu).
Four Corners Art Center: You know that really crafty friend who out-does everybody else during the holidays by piecing together a quilt using the material from your high school formals? Well, this year you could be that crafty friend! Take classes at Four Corners to learn how to do a bunch of crazy cool stuff. Let’s be real, you’re not going to teach yourself how to rug hook or make ornaments. The teachers in Newport’s premier art center are there to give you the artistic nudge you need. (fourcornersarts.org/index.php)
RISD: Does someone on your list want to hone their artistic abilities? Does taking classes at one of the country’s best art schools sound good? Rhode Island School of Design offers classes for kids, teens and adults! You don’t need to make a four-year commitment to get a world-renowned education. Sign yourself or your art-curious friend up for non-credit classes in fine arts, product development, design studies, digital design, the business of art and design or art history and appreciation. (ce.risd.edu)
More Art: From the obscure to the sublime, AS220 also offers a wide range of art classes. They’re a bit harder to find out aboput, but they include one-time and short-run classes on old-fashioned dark room photography and new-fangled laser cutters, robotics and 3D printing. Or help them learn welding, metal sculpting or how to “Recycle a Bike” at the Steel Yard.(thesteelyard.com). Finally, don’t forget arts like hairstyling or make-up taught at Flipp (flippsalon.com)
Martial Arts: A black belt would look good on anybody, right? Hone the skills you already have or learn a totally new form of physical expression! Karate can help you defend yourself and is great exercise. There are martial arts schools every few blocks, and location is often crucial for actually attending, so look around your home or where your giftee works. There’s a range from gentle Tai Chi to ball-busting Krav Maga. And there’s always fencing (rifac.com).
More Sports: Rock climbing – it’s perfect for winter … if you do it indoors. Check out Rock Spot Climbing (rockspotclimbing.com). Or if your climbing urge is directed towards silks or ropes, consider Arielle Entertainment (ariellearts.com). Gallup to the class gift certificates offered by C&L Stables (candlstables.info) or spring for a Boston Skydive adrenaline boost (in Smithfield, despite the name | bostonskydivecenter.com). Almost any other sport that lights up your giftee’s eyes probably has classes somewhere – from pole fitness (jmkennedyentertainment.com) and burlesquercize (search Facebook) to racecar driving (not for winter | seekonkspeedway.com).