Old Dog, New Tricks

The area's best classes to keep you busy
The Minnetonka Center for the Arts offers dozens of classes (for both adults and kids) throughout the year - from pottery to wood-carving. So give it a, uh, spin!

Lake Minnetonka

The bright crisp days of fall are all about transition; the season changes and we experience the best combination of old, familiar traditions and new, challenging opportunities. As the leaves turn and rustle—before we are tempted to settle into a cozy, complacent winter—we have some time to grow. Traditional and less conventional venues offer a myriad of ways to grow mind, body and spirit throughout the coming months. Whether you focus on a hidden artistic talent, a new physical challenge or an autumn recipe, your spirit benefits—as you grow and change along with this transformative season.

Get Creative
Writing is one of the most effective ways to engage our minds, and The Loft Literary Center exists to engage writers. With classes at Hopkins Center for the Arts, you don’t have to travel far to learn Reading to Write Better (a better understanding of how good writers tell stories) and Revising Prose. Write on the spot at Gale Woods Farms in Minnetrista, using its natural beauty for inspiration at the Knowing Our Place Writing Retreat. Published author and professor emeritus Steve Simmons will lead writing exercises to guide your creative nonfiction piece. Later, you could bind your work at Three Rivers Park District’s bookbinding class (November 1), as you learn basic techniques and complete a book made from nature-inspired papers.

With your native language mastered, how about tackling another? In the ever-changing world economy, both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese are increasingly important. With language classes through Hopkins Community Education, you can facilitate communication in a more diverse workplace, impress your boss and welcome new neighbors.

More designer than linguist? Learn the Essentials of Landscape Design at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. An expert will teach you how to create a landscape design considering: style, focal points, and balance; tools, costs and maintenance; and project staging. Minnetonka Center for the Arts is a valuable artistic resource, with its surprising variety of different media and genres—from lost wax bronze and concrete sculpture classes to interesting photography and painting offerings, with 10 percent off your first-time-there class. Three Rivers Park District teaches you to paint botanicals at its daylong Silverwood Park workshop. Learn the anatomy of a leaf and skills used in traditional botanical watercolor and take home your painting.

Like learning a foreign language or a new artistic technique, learning to play a musical instrument enriches mental development. Local music stores provide a great combination: lessons taught by professional musicians and a resource for new and used gear (so you can try something new without a huge financial investment). Bud’s Music Center in Hopkins offers classes on more than 15 instruments in its quaint setting, while Minnetonka Music in Excelsior boasts songwriting lessons for those who crave more individual expression. Minnetonka’s La Musique Music Studios’ recital is in December, so start now to be prepared for your performance.