Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category


Community Supported Arts Project

April 19, 2014

A collaborate project and much more

Susan Bickford is an adjunct professor at the UMA. Recently she did a most interesting collaborate project that challenged students in a unique way. You’ll learn about the project in this post along with Susan’s story.

Susan’s most recent project

1560699_479914208779321_552558491_nThe Collaborative Portrait Project began in my 2-D classroom four years ago. I wanted to develop a project that required a group effort, like the experiential education games that we played on Cow Island at Ripple Effect. I wanted to translate that group leadership dynamic to art making. At the same time I had to deliver the value studies lesson. I was also mandated to work both digitally and manually. So in this project I begin by asking the students to research and nominate a hero, “give me three good reasons why I should vote for your candidate”. At first they suggested movie stars and pop idols, like Micheal Jackson, Hugh Jackman, and they were all male. I hinted that they could go deeper and choose people that were more meaningful to them, more relevant of the present time, and more deserving of an epic portrait. Now we are getting nominations like Malala Youzefsai, Amelia Earhardt, Edward Snowden and the Dalai Lama. Each time I do the project I figure out a better way to do a certain aspect of it. The students give me suggestions.

1495476_480294335407975_371321812_nThe most recent iteration of the Collaborative Portrait Project is the Farmers Edition. Over the course of making a video documentary of a growing season on the Goranson Farm, farmers in general had become my heroes. In this case I nominated the farmers that I had worked with in the CSA: Community Supported Arts Project with the Harlow Gallery. Ten of the farmers that participated in that project agreed to be subjects for the portraits. I solicited Allison McKeen to take photographic portraits of the farmers, applied a coded matrix and digital filters. Now all I needed was a group to help me make the 360 panels. Deb Fahy who helped to find funding for the project connected me with the education committee at the Harlow Gallery through which 10 teachers committed to doing the project with their classrooms. I taught the teachers the methods at workshops and distributed the panels. Our first meeting was in April, the students made the panels during the Fall semester and we showed the portraits at the UMA Danforth Gallery in January. We even got materials donated by local businesses: Artist and Craftsman Supply and A.C. Moore. Ten four foot portraits of farmers from Maine, made collaboratively by 10 teachers and their 250 students. Each panel is lovely, it is amazing how they all fit together. You can see them now on the website at Epic Portraiture throughout most of history has been reserved for monarchs, religious leaders, and the very rich. Images of the few, commissioned by the few, made by a master. They reveal the dominant paradigm of their time. Andy Warhol utilizing mechanical reproduction shifted the subjects of portraits to include ordinary people and cinematic moments. Chuck Close magnified virtuosity and mastered imperfection as beauty. In contrast, making portraits in collaboration, redefines how we see ourselves as a group. This is a radically different model, many with many, not icons but locals, not virtuosity but inclusiveness. My colleague Robert Rainey designed a gorgeous documentary book of our process with a DIY section which you can view and purchase on blurb.


What are your next steps with the collaborative project?

Thank you so much for asking me that question, you might think that after doing this project with 360 moving pieces and so many people that I would be exhausted but there is something about the group dynamic that is energizing me. You have to follow your flow, so I want to do this nationally. “100 heroes” is what I am calling the next iteration for this system of collaborative portraiture. I want to work with teachers across the country, teach them the project, have each group nominate a local hero and feed it into the system. We will all learn about what amazing things local people are doing all around the country. One thing I learned from the Farmers Edition was that the kids really enjoyed being part of a larger group. It inspired them to work really hard on their panels. To belong to this larger group was expansive and empowering. Another thing that confirmed to me by Carolyn Brown from Camden Hills Regional High School was that the digital filters assisted the students in their manual reproduction. The abstract nature actually facilitated the value study because it reduced the preconception of content. I want to highlight both of these discoveries in the national project. I am developing an online interface so that all of the portraits will be remotely uploaded to the internet, and the participants will be able to pick their panels much like you would pick an airplane seat. Then apply the filters, print them out and manually and reproduce them. Finally they will send them all, carefully coded, snail mail in a packet to the exhibition site. The collection of portraits serves to empower through involvement, and make visible an index of hope for the future. Can you imagine all these newly elected heroes, portraits traveling in pieces across the country toward their exhibition to be put back together like ambassadors of hope? It gives me chills.

What is your background?

As an artist I have always pieced my living together with lots of part time work. I grew up here in Maine, in Yarmouth. My fathers side of the family goes back seven generations in the Lisbon Falls area. When I graduated from college I worked doing environmental graphics in DC for a short time. But I soon moved back to Maine and started my own business making fine craft jewelry. I had big clients like Barneys and Nordstrom as well as many small galleries. I did wholesale trade shows for 15 years, as well as taught ceramics and metal smithing at North Yarmouth Academy and continuing education venues. Then I had my daughter Bella, which changed everything because I wanted to be with her all the time. When she was three, I started the MFA program at Maine College of Art (MECA) which really re-invigorated my art practice. My mom encouraged me to continue my studies. I studied at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in the early eighties, now it was the new millennium and so much had changed in those 15 years. In the Masters program at MECA I was required to read and write, to think and articulate my thoughts. My artwork is systems of interactivity. Sometimes I make installation with projected video and sound that viewers can modify with their movements and voice. Other times I make projections for theater. I was the artist in residence at Ripple Effect on Cow Island for several summers, living in a tent, being a video instructor, making rings and environmental sculpture. Nature is a very important element in my work. Since 2003 I have been teaching at the college level within the University of Maine system, Augusta, Farmington, USM, and Orono and more recently at MECA. I teach 2-D, 3-D, Electronic Art and various seminars.

How did you get interested in art? 

I got my start in art because my Grandmother Vivian took me to art classes with her on Tuesday nights all through high school in the seventies. We drew with colored pencils, Mr. Matolchy and Lee Bean were my teachers, I wasn’t very good at drawing but I learned to see, make marks and the discipline of practice. Then my parents funded my undergraduate studies at RISD. I probably would not have gotten accepted if not for those classes. My Dad suggested I major in Industrial Design because it was applied, he was an engineer and liked that idea. It has served me well, I have a fond place in my heart for machines and manufacture, and well functioning, elegant objects. I like problem solving and design process. The jewelry that I made was modular and utilized all of that training. When I think about installation it is with a knowledge of three dimensional space and ability to build things.

What is your role at UMA?

Since 2003 I have been an adjunct faculty member at UMA. We have great art facilities there, for printmaking, sculpture, photography, painting, electronic art and ceramics. The faculty are really passionate about teaching and their media.  Most of our students are place bound and would not have the resources to travel to other locations to study so I feel we are providing a valuable service for Central Maine. In the twenty-first century everyone utilizes media so having some visual literacy is a skill employers are looking for.

For more information email


The Ant Girls

April 17, 2014

UMaine, Lewiston

The University of Maine, Lewiston campus is the site for an art exhibit called Ant Farm. The Ant Girls are artists Dorothy Schwartz, Rebecca Goodale, Vivien Russe and Colleen Kinsella. These 4 Maine based artists have been collaborating to merge art and science through the visual exploration of leafcutter ants. The Atrium Art Gallery, 51 Westminster St., Lewiston is the exhibit location and will remain until June 6. The show is a great example of the connection of art and science and would be an excellent exhibit for students to visit.

If your school has limited funding for field trips please note that the Maine Arts Commission Ticket to Ride funding is still available and this is a perfect opportunity for your school to apply for the funding. Information and details are located at

I am delighted to think that Ticket to Ride funds can be used for this–it is such a creative explosion of science and art put together by 4 artists working in different mediums plus a soundtrack! ~Carolyn Wollen

Artist Dorothy (Deedee) Schwartz passed away in March but her husband, musician Elliott performed at the Ant Farm opening this past week with musicians Caleb Mulkerin and Colleen Kinsella. Elliott and Caleb composed the piece “Ant Girls” for the show.

You can read the Ant Girls blog to learn more. Included are more photos of the exhibit, and listen to the sound tracks of the piece that Elliott and Caleb composed at


photo 2

photo 3



I am delighted to think that Ticket to Ride funds can be used for this–it is such a creative explosion of science and art put together by 4 artists working in different mediums plus a soundtrack!


Julie Richard Remarks

April 9, 2014


These are the remarks that Executive Director of the Maine Arts Commission, Julie Richard presented at Arts Education Day at the State House, Augusta, April 2, 2014.

Arts Education Day_1869 copy

I have been in Maine for about a year and a half and I feel like I am finally getting settled in. Even though this winter has been endless… Having moved here from Arizona, the transition has been quite something!

Arts education has always been a passion of mine. I am a product of a strong school music program which guided my desire to study voice in college and later arts administration. Without band and chorus every day, I would not have made it through high school. Yes, I had both every day – all through junior high and high school. That is not something most of our schools anywhere in this country can boast.

When I was interviewing for this job, I was asked to provide my vision for the future of the arts in Maine. Providing strong arts education programs in ALL of our schools was at the core of my message. Without the arts in our schools, our students will not have the critical thinking skills, creativity, problem solving abilities or poise to lead the creative economy of the future. Let alone developing musicians that can lead our orchestras, artists that can fill our galleries or dancers that can stretch our imaginations.

When our leaders talk about creating jobs and investing in science and technology – without including the arts – they are leaving out the most critical component – the creativity that drives the ideas and inventions that have built our country.

It is critical that we make STEAM – part of our vernacular. Let’s take STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – and add the A for arts – to ensure that our students are developing all parts of their brains so that Maine’s future economy can thrive.

When I hired Argy Nestor – our new Director of Arts Education – from the Department of Education to lead our arts education initiatives, I made a conscious decision that arts education would be a key and critical component of our future and that we would do whatever we can to strengthen arts education in our schools. From providing professional development for arts educators to make them the best they can be to conducting research like the Arts Education Census to know exactly who the haves and the have nots are in our state. We need to make sure that we work together to be successful.

Last summer, the Maine Arts Commission and the Maine Department of Education finalized a Memorandum of Understanding that ensures that our two departments will work together to achieve our goals. We are committed to doing the best we can for our State’s students and our educators. Thanks for coming today and supporting arts education in our state.








Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Linda McVety

April 8, 2014

 MSAD#61 Lake Region School District Music Educator

This is the fifth blog post for 2014 and the third phase of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative of this series sharing arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others.

IMG_3477Linda McVety is the K-5 general music and grade 3 literacy intervention teacher at MSAD #61, Laken Regiona School District. She has been teaching for 34 years and 25 in her present position at the Songo Locks Elementary in Naples. Population: 495 students.

What do you like best about being a music/art/drama/dance educator?

The best part about being an elementary music teacher is that I have the potential to reach children and give them the gift of music. When asked what I teach I always say “I teach children first.” I can have fun every day and give joy through music to children that may not have a lot of positive in their lives. I want my students to realize that they will have music throughout their lives.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1. Support from administration and community
  2. A teacher that believes in the importance of the arts in every child’s education
  3. A teacher who understands the way children learn and can develop his/her lessons and assessments to reach most of her students.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

  1. It helps to keep me organized and focused on the goals that I want to accomplish at each grade level
  2. Rubrics help me empower my students to take ownership of their learning

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative?

Sharing and communicating with arts colleagues has been invaluable. I have been able to see what programs are around the State of Maine and have a give/take relationship with my colleagues.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Watching students have that “aha” moment-that says “I love this music” or “I understand this music”. Showing my students my love for playing the cello.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

  1. All of the extra duties
  2. Attitudes of people who only think of the arts as a “prep” time and not as a valuable part of the educational community
  3. No enough time to plan and put valuable lessons together

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

Having 3 wonderful and successful sons is my #1 accomplishment!

Students that come to school because they love music class.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

  1. Learn discipline techniques but find a way to have fun
  2. Learn and practice collaborating with classroom teachers-find the time to communicate with them
  3. Find another arts colleague to bounce off ideas with and design lessons with-don’t keep yourself in isolation
  4. Go to workshops created by other arts educators-never stop learning

 If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

 I would take a few students around the world to see music, art and dance in different cultures.

 I would buy instruments for students who could not afford them.

 Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

Sometimes I forgot to use music as my own saving grace and distressing mechanism. I don’t regret anything in raising my wonderful sons and giving them great educational opportunities, however I do regret not traveling to see more of the world.






MECA Opportunity

April 5, 2014

Maine College of Art – ages 9-17

Screen shot 2014-04-03 at 12.17.12 PMAt MECA, we believe art is essential to a healthy society and a thriving culture. We want to empower our youth to engage in art making that changes who they are and how they see the world. To this end, we are offering full summer camp scholarships to the two students who answer the essay question below with the most conviction and clarity of expression.  Artists are innovative, hard working problem solvers who play a critical role in our society– we want to help you get there.



YOUTH Category: Ages 9 – 12
TEEN Category: Ages 13-17

DEADLINE: April 30, 2014

All contestants must adhere to the age requirements of each category. Contestants must compose an original essay with limited guidance from others. The essay must be 250-500 words.


Ever dream of going to art school? Well, here’s your chance! The contest winner will receive one free summer art pass. This means that you could win a summer of free art education from the Maine College of Art. Painting, graphic design, photography—we offer a comprehensive arts program, found here.


Once you’ve completed your essay, fill out our Online form (see ‘Apply Now’ tab). Submitting the form requires you to get authorization from your parents. So before you send in your essay, be sure to explain what the competition is all about and make sure that your parents are in full support!


Each entry will be judged based on originality, clarity of thought and motivation, and expressiveness in writing. Winners will be contacted by phone during the first week in May ’14.

Courtney Cook
Director of Continuing Studies


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Suzanne Goulet

April 1, 2014

Waterville Senior High School visual arts teacher

This is the fourth blog post for 2014 and the third phase of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative of this series sharing arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others.

A Visual Art Educator at Waterville Senior High School, her business card reads, “Suzanne Goulet. Art – Traditional, Digital and Emerging Media.” In 1990, after hiking the Appalachian Trail and managing a small ski area, she thought that it was time to begin teaching. In those 24 years she has taught and created classes of all levels; Introductory to AP.

A registered Maine Guide, Suzanne enjoys sharing her love of the outdoors with her students by advising the Outing Club and is a volunteer sign maker with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club and the International Appalachian Trail Club Chapter. She is currently lucky enough to have an eagle’s nest in view of her classroom studio and is eagerly awaiting this year’s clutch.

What do you like about being a visual art educator?

I remember someone telling me that an engineer’s job is different all the time; that it changes every day; and are presented with new problems to solve constantly. Educating has the same benefit. There are no recipes that will be successful with all students, so one must craft an approach and deliver. Lots of medias to explore and creations to be made – before you made it…. it did not exist.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual And performing arts education?

  1. Trust – Essential between students and teacher. Creating and performing are personal and strategies for accepting criticism can be taught and nurtured.
  2. Understanding – The Arts have different goals (and benefits) that are a bit more complicated to measure achievement and require patience from students, teachers, administrators and the community.
  3. Quality – A continued quest to perform at a high level and to always be learning and seeking.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

Assessing is all about taking stock; figuring out where you are and then making a plan for where you want to go and how to get there. Striving for a culture of self-starters with initiative and the confidence to ask for help and collaborate, I have found quality assessments are great ways to scaffold students to meet these goals (which sometimes are shifted).

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

Have been provided the opportunity to meet and work closely with colleagues that are striving for quality – personal and statewide. My perspective of our rural state with lots of nooks and crannies is now transformed to a layout of creativity and excellence.

What are you most proud of in your career?

How divergent the careers and paths of my students are: Industrial designers, film makers, public relations experts, attorneys, environmental engineers, botanists, ornithologists and parents…of children that I am now teaching!  Usually the above statement is enough, but I have been blessed with having some pretty amazing teachers throughout my own learning experience. Honoring these educators, remembering what they did for us – for me – by striving to do the same for my students is a goal I strive for…to make a difference.

A number of years ago, Waterville SHS started a Renaissance Award program to recognize student achievement and growth. At the end of the first year, an inaugural educator award was given…I was truly surprised to be the first recipient. The greatest honor of that award is that the nomination came from a very quiet student that took the time to let others know that she truly appreciated the work that we do. It was at that moment that I realized the overwhelming power of quality relationships…and the legacy to my teachers.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

            The need for sleep.

Seriously, there is always something more that can be done. Instruction, curricular and support services are best when unique for each student…and requires time…and the need for sleep gets in the way.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

Envisioning, imagining and striving for quality. Building strong foundations takes time and a lot of calculus is employed to improve the timing of converging forces.  Here is one of my favorite movie quotes to help illustrate, (From Star Trek (2009))

Scotty: [back to Spock Prime] The notion of transwarp beaming is like trying to hit a bullet with a smaller bullet wearing a blindfold whilst riding a horse.

Everything is possible…..want something to happen…..just tell me that it is not possible (does this make me sound stubborn…..or optimistic?)

Look into your crystal ball: What advice would you give to teachers?

You don’t have to be a “Teacher Leader” to be a Teacher Leader. A rose by any other name…….

Take the time to develop quality relationships with your students. Consider a three minute “talk in the hall”, a random can of “Moxie” or nominating and taking the time to recognize quality in students – academic and personal.

If you were given $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

Education – I have five nieces filled with wonder and energy and have always dreamed of a school (education) experience on a bus (even got my Class B license for this). Drive west to study the history of US expansion and its’ impacts, calculate travel approximations, recreate with region specific adventure, enjoy cultural music, play, write, write, draw, draw, photograph and dance. Would love to do this with students and nieces!

Nurturing a Spark – Some know that I “go west” each summer for rejuvenating wanderings. I have challenged former students to find me….the award is a dinner of their choosing – none have yet succeeded….though three came close (less than one mile away) in a remote section of Montana……would use the funds to offer a week in a remote lodge with ranch cooking!

Creating the Space – An addition to my current studio classroom. About 30 feet out….three stories high (so my upstairs colleagues could look down in to our atrium). Did I mention that the roof would be a clear dome so we can watch the eagles? An integrated ramp would be a part of the space so that all students would have access to the fruit tree that is also growing here. If this could not happen….then I would settle for a direct door to the outside in my current studio classroom…a nice set of French doors!

Time Travel – How much is a helicopter?…..this would give me more time (here’s the sleep thing again). Quick trips to Lewiston and Smithfield. Love it!

            Space Travel – Yeah…I’d go.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

No big ones……just little ones. Still have lots of plans and dreams. Continuing to suck the marrow out of life – why wait?


Arts Day at Gorham Middle School

March 30, 2014

646 middle school students

On Wednesday, April 2nd, instead of going to regular classes, all of our 646 middle school students will be rotating through various sessions in Art, Music, Dance and Theater for Arts Day. Last year we had a Music and Dance Day and it was so successful with the students, staff, and community that we decided to do it again and incorporate all the Arts!

Many local artists are generously volunteering their time or greatly reducing their normal fees to join us for this great event. Also many of our talented staff members who also have hobbies or second careers in the arts will be running workshops.  Students will sign up for their choice of workshops and the whole school will have the opportunity to hear our Gorham High School Concert Band perform in our auditorium.

Last year, we hosted the Maine Marimba Ensemble, the Jerks of Grass played in our auditorium, we had a local musician from York come in to talk about his brief experience on the X-Factor and what it’s like to try to make it big in the music industry, some DJs from Q97.9 came in and gave a presentation, we had a Zumba workshop and a Hip Hop dance workshop, a music therapist, a steel drum workshop and Annagret Baier’s African drumming session which was by far the most popular!

Here is the line up for the student offerings for April 2:

PETER RIMKUNAS Illustrator, Video Game Designer, Animator are just some of the art forms that Peter uses. This presentation includes the artist’s background and examples of his creations.

TESSA O’BRIEN Tessa is a painter and artist who designs on a large scale. She has painted many signs and murals for restaurants in Portland and she has also designed, constructed and painted huge art installations for big music events like Bonnaroo and Phish festivals. In this workshop, Tessa will share some of her artwork and help students create a lettering project.

DARALYN MCCOLL Learn what it takes to be a designer! You will hear a brief description of the background of an artist and see many examples of her art made with different materials. Find out how you can be paid to create art for a company or own your own design company. Daralyn uses digital programs to create a variety of work and will have you help with making your own creation.

“STICKS AND STOP MOTION ANIMATION” – MRS. DAWSON Bring your laptop for this fun and interactive animation session in the DEC

“COTTAGE INDUSTRIES” – MR. CARPENTER! Selling your arts and crafts. Mr. Carpenter will talk about and demonstrate his own Cottage Industries including jewelry making, crochet, card making and painting.

“MAKING SOMETHING FROM NOTHING” – MRS. HANLEY / SPINDLEWORKS SCREEN PRINTING! Screen print preemie baby onesies with Ms. Holden to donate to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. This is a great chance to learn how the screen printing process is done. Class limited to 6 students.

LIGHTS UP IMPROV WORKSHOP! Maine’s David LaGraffe from Lights Up Improv and Portland Players is coming all the way to GMS to offer us this Theater Improv Workshop! You will spend time working with partners and in groups being silly and creating fun scenes. This is a great opportunity to work with a really fun and talented actor! Definitely not to be missed

CONTRADANCE – KIM ROBERTS WITH CARTER & SARAH LOGAN OF THE JERKS OF GRASS Contradance is a folk dance that has become tradition in New England. Similar to square dancing, dancers are partnered up and listen to directions that are called out during the music. During the dance you have to mix up and switch partners when the caller calls it so you have to really listen and stay on your toes. Think Cha Cha Slide meets folk country.

HIP HOP DANCE – DANCE STUDIO OF MAINE Join some of the fabulous instructor’s from Gorham’s own Dance Studio of Maine and learn some hip hop dance moves you can show off at the next GMS Dance!

AFRICAN DRUMMING – ANNEGRET BAIER Work with renowned drummer Annegret Baier playing various drums and rhythm instruments to learn African songs and rhythms. This session was our most popular session last year!

MARIMBA PLAYING WORKSHOP Learn how to play marimba just like the Maine Marimba Ensemble with Matt Wasowski from the Gorham School of Music. Class size limited to 10.

BLUES SONGWRITING WORKSHOP Learn how to write your own Blues song with Jim Svendsen from the Gorham School of Music. Choose a topic, write the lyrics and perform your song for the class.

GORHAM HIGH SCHOOL ACOUSTIC COFFEEHOUSE & POETRY SLAM Matt Murray is bringing Gorham High School singers, songwriters, guitarists and poets to GMS to perform their own original works. You will definitely recognize some of these artists!! ! POP KARAOKE! Just how it sounds! Join Mr. P. in the 8th grade wing for a karaoke singing extravaganza. Limited to 30 students.

GUITAR & SONGWRITER’S WORKSHOP! Learn and review some basic guitar chords and chord progressions and learn how to go about writing your own songs with GMS’s own singer/songwriter, Mr. Lambert.

A CAPELLA WORKSHOP Join Señora Krohn to learn how to sing in an a capella group. Sra. Krohn has lots of experience singing in a capella groups as you all saw in the Talent Show this year. She may even break out a little beat boxing if you’re lucky!!

Thank you to Gorham Middle School General Music Teacher and Choral & Steel Band Director Tracy Williamson for sharing this information for the Maine Arts Education blog and thanks Gorham Middle School staff for providing this opportunity for your students!



March 29, 2014

Sarah Robinson’s capstone project at UMaine – Sarah’s Another Student’s Story is at

GMAFlier copy


Another Teacher’s Story: Judy Fricke

March 18, 2014

Featuring one teacher’s journey as an arts educator

This is the second blog post for 2014 and the third phase of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative of this  series of blog posts telling arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read the stories and to learn from others.

DSCN0239Judy S. Fricke is an Early Childhood (EC) Music Specialist at the Main Street Music Studios in Bangor, Maine. Judy has been an EC Music Educator for twenty years, first in Collierville, TN and for the last four years in Bangor. In those twenty years she has had opportunities to work with children ages one month through five years in parent/child class settings and with children one year to five years old in a large preschool of 350 students. At Main Street Music Studios in Bangor she has 23 students who attend age-bracketed classes with a caregiver. She uses John Feierabend’s First Steps in Music curriculum as the basis for all of her classes since studying with him 19 years ago.

What do you like best about being a music educator?

While working with our youngest learners, I will never tire of watching the “light bulb” gleam in their eyes as they feel the rhythm in bounces or anticipate the tickle at the end of a tickle rhyme. I will never lose the joy in watching a one year old gain control of his or her arm muscles and begin to play a drum with a steady beat, or of listening to a three year old gain control of his or her voice muscles and begin to “echo sing” dead on pitch. I also will never get tired of watching the confidence grow in the parents of these children as they learn how to interact musically with their little ones.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

The three keys I would consider highest on my list for a successful arts program would be:

  1. Unbridled passion for what you teach
  2. A safe, exciting, and encouraging environment in which to teach
  3. A wicked good sense of both humor and humility

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

As an independent instructor of the very young, formal assessment is not part of my program. Yet, informal assessment has been part of my day to day lesson planning since the beginning. By tweaking my planning based on the specific ages of my students I am able to deliver developmentally appropriate activities for various physical, mental, and attention levels.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

The MAAI has given me the opportunity to meet and interplay with arts teachers and early childhood educators from around the state. I am sure I would never have had that opportunity on my own. Thank you Argy for this gift.  MAAI has made me much more aware of my place, or lack there of, in the incredibly complex world of arts education in the state. I have felt more connected, as well as more alone, in the last year as I worked beside fellow educators. We need more early childhood arts folks involved in MAAI. I need collaborators on my level so that the important work of laying the foundations for the K-12 programs does not feel as much as an afterthought, but more of the beginning of something wonderful.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I was teaching in Tennessee long enough to see children that I had in preschool excel in high school music programs and continue on to study music in college. I cannot take complete credit for these achievements, but when I would see them as young adults and they would raise and lower their arms while making a slide whistle sound, I know I had made an impression. A good impression can bring an exceeding sense of pride.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

I teach in a lovely old downtown building. The other teachers with whom I work have private studio rooms for private lessons. I teach in the lobby because it is the only space large enough for my classes. Therefore, we have folks walking through the classes, stopping to ask questions, and opening and closing the door to let in very cold air. These physical issues often get in the way of my teaching, but trying to handle it in stride and continue to love what I do makes up for it. The people I work with are professional musicians and teachers and are so supportive of my program, I know I am a better teacher because I am there.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

I believe finding Main Street Music Studios on-line from Tennessee was a brilliant stroke of luck! I was just looking for any kind of employment in the downtown area so that I could walk to work once we moved to Bangor. Yes, having the 16 years of experience to bring with my proposal for the early childhood program here helped, but the fact that Bangor had the Studio for me to be a part of was definitely luck!

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

I believe the word I would most like to share with fellow teachers is “collaborate”. If you are a K-6 teacher, and you have a PreK program in your school, find out what you can do with the EC teachers to help them with their goals for the arts – in doing so, you are only enhancing your programs. Same goes for high school teachers – work with your middle school counterparts. Middle school folks work with your elementary counterparts. In doing so, everyone will be working toward the same ultimate goal – that of giving every student the best arts experiences possible in a way that makes sense to both the programs and the students.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

If I were given $500,000.00 to do with as I please, I would make an endowment to the University of Maine Systems for the purpose of creating an Early Childhood Music Education program and a Music Therapy program. Then I would ask to teach in the Early Childhood program and I would take classes in the Music Therapy program.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

If I have the fortune to live until I am 94, I hope I am still able to bounce little ones on my knee and sing soft lullabies to them when they are tired. If I can do this, I will not have any regrets.

Well, I might regret that I never got that $500,000. And so might a lot of very young children.


Creativity and Art Education

March 14, 2014

Orlando artist launches global art awareness project using paper bag mushrooms

April 1st – May 31st 2014


Doug Rhodehamel

website :


Do you know the mushroom man? You might, and you might not even know it. Orlando Installation artist, Doug Rhodehamel, has been covering the planet in his whimsical paper bag mushrooms for more than 20 years. This spring he is asking the citizens of the world to help promote his awareness program: The SPORE Project.

Developed in 2005, the SPORE Project was designed to promote support for creativity and art education by constructing and planting patches of mushrooms made from brown paper lunch bags. Why paper mushrooms? Quite simply, they are fun and easy to make.

Whether real or constructed from paper bags, mushrooms awake the imagination, seemingly popping up whimsically overnight like a magical, storybook happening – and they are familiar worldwide!

With the help of many different participants, Rhodehamel has managed to plant mushrooms on every continent in the world … including Antarctica. This time around, rather than merely planting as many mushrooms as he can, Doug hopes to focus more on the purpose of the SPORE Project. “What I really hope to achieve is more on the awareness aspect of this project,” Rhodehamel says. “I want people to know just how important creativity and art education is. A lot of people take both for granted, but without the twin forces of creativity and art education we really have nothing.”

This spring, Rhodehamel himself will be planting masses of mushrooms in unexpected areas during April and May, located all around Orlando and in other parts of Central Florida. He hopes that schools, community centers and individuals around the world will join him in the effort to use paper bag mushrooms to create art education awareness.

Why spring? Spring will have sprung, and the kids (as well as their teachers) will be full of the season’s fever and will need something fun to do in school. Based on his past efforts, Spring is a great time for making mushrooms: It has a calming effect on everyone; the cost of materials is extremely lo, averaging 5 dollars per hundred mushrooms; and children especially love painting them.

Photos of the individual plantings will be posted on the SPORE Project website to give participants a sense of involvement. They will be able to point to a part of the project and say “I did that!”  The project’s Facebook page also allows participants to communicate, organize and post photos of what they have done, or intend to do.

Doug also has two secret pet paper bag mushroom projects in the works. One is to have mushrooms planted on the lawn of the White House, and his other endeavor hopes to send a mushroom up to the International Space Station. He has already developed a specialized mushroom perfectly suited for space travel.

The SPORE Project is open to anyone who wants to participate. It’s a great excuse to get some friends, relatives, coworkers, or inmates together to create something. Make some mushrooms and plant them in someone’s yard and above all, have fun! You’ll be helping to make the world a better place.

The SPORE Project is web-based, and everything you need to know can be found at


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 904 other followers

%d bloggers like this: