Archive for March, 2010


A Matter of Conscience

March 30, 2010

Harlow Gallery

Five works of art expressing social issues from the view of Maine high school students earned awards at the opening of “A Matter of Conscience”, at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell.

First Prize went to Annah Kimball, Gardiner Area High School (see photo). Second Prize was awarded to Maggie Ditre from Maranacook Community High School for “Walter,” her college junk mail collage. Tied for Third Prizes were Whitney Wei from Hall-Dale High School for her sculpture, “Size 14”, and Alex Spies from Mt. Ararat High School for his work, “The Tides of War.”

The Peace Jam Youth Group from the Unitarian Universalist Community Church in Augusta won the group prize for “Recycled Peace: The World Watches Us and We Watch the World”. Group members include Katelyn McAuliffe, James McAuliffe, J’rae Mendall, Cale Mendall, Tonia Reiter, Vanessa Gilbert, Katie Gilbert, Marie Donisvitch, Soren Donisvitch, John Hutton, Sean Oshima, Keiley Chaisson, Ben Barnes, Nick Barnes, Gracie Kavenah, Christian Heath, Maya Bentley, Connor Fahy, and Miriam Nielsen. Photos and artist statements are available online by clicking here.

Cheryl Harper selected twenty-one pieces for the show from thirty-five entries by HS students from across Central Maine. Parents were complimented at the opening for supporting artistic development of their sons and daughters and encouraged students to pursue their creative expression. Following the awards, she shared slides of her own social/political art with exhibition attendees. Appreciation was expressed to Evergreen Foundation for generous financial support of the event hosted by the Harlow Gallery, home of the Kennebec Valley Art Association.


“Songs in the Key of Art”

March 30, 2010

Greg Percy: Art Educator/Musician

What do you get when you mix an art educator with a musician? YES, songs about art and the art world. Some of the titles to his songs are:

  • The Red and Yellow Blues
  • Complementary Colors
  • Secondary Samba
  • Picasso Polka
  • I Draw the Line
  • Pop Andy
  • From Matisse to You
  • Tints & Shades
  • Monet’s Mom
  • Marry an Art Teacher?
  • Pollock’s Eyes
  • Born Toulouse

Greg uses a variety of music styles from pop to polka to punk. The songs are about artists or have an art theme. They are catchy, fun tunes which kids remember and in the mean time are learning information. You can learn more about Greg and his work by clicking here. And you can download/purchase his songs on iTunes or on his website. He does visit schools and perform, I actually read about him from a teacher who had him visit her school recently.


One Teachers Voice: Beth Wiemann

March 30, 2010

The proposed cuts – UMaine Division of Music

The Academic Program Prioritization Working Group (APPWG) Committee, led by Provost Susan Hunter, is taking comments on the proposed cuts to the Music Division offerings, but only through next week. You can send comments directly to Dr. Hunter via FirstClass, or send comments to the address described on the Committee’s website:

“I can summarize the proposed cuts by saying that the B.A. in Music, the B.M. in performance and our graduate degrees have been targeted to be eliminated. My argument to the administration will include the facts that many of the actual courses required by the B.M. in Music Education degree (which is NOT in danger) are the same courses that are required by the other undergraduate degrees. So, any possible savings will come only with eventual faculty retirements. We in the Music Division have already discussed ways that we could adapt to offer many of these degrees even when we have fewer faculty after 2014. So, we are working towards keeping the Division strong, both by attracting the same variety of music majors that we have in the past, and keeping the Music Education program strong by offering the opportunities for advanced study that our graduate program gives them.”

Beth Wiemann
Chair, Music Division
Associate Professor
University of Maine
School of Performing Arts
Orono, ME 04469-5788

(207) 581-1244


The “Karen’s” Collaborate

March 30, 2010

Bringing dance to Brewer

Karen Montanaro and 4th grade student

I had the opportunity to visit State Street School in Brewer last week to visit one of Karen Hartnagle’s dance programs. She does an amazing job organizing and supporting dance education. She understands the value and positive impact that a well developed program can have on students. She understands it so much that she has sent all of her dance instructors to the National Dance Institute in New York City for training.

I was delighted to see Karen Montanaro working with 4th graders in the Brewer school. Karen just returned from her third training session in New York. If there is a question about the value of a dance education program just watching Karen with students would change anyone’s mind.

The pride and focus of each student is amazing. We all know the importance of focus in our lives. And it is such an important key to learning. Some of Karen H. other dancers were present during the session. The 4th grade teachers were fortunate because they had a professional development session of their own with Karen afterwards. Yahoooooo for the “Karen’s” for the outstanding work they are doing.


AOS 92 Department Art Exhibit

March 30, 2010

Vassalboro, Waterville, Winslow

During November and December AOS 92 students had artwork on display at the Maine Department of Education. Congratulations to the students and art teachers for their work that you can view the work in the gallery – AOS 92, the artwork can be found on the right side of the front page under ‘Pages’. A GREAT BIG THANK YOU to art teachers Robin King, Kathy Keene, David Matteson, Ryan Kneeland, Katrina Billings, Crystal Douglas, and Ann Roy. A special thank you to Suzanne Goulet for organizing the exhibit!


Maine Drama Festival State Winners

March 29, 2010

Intense, Imaginative, Poised, Creative and sooooo much fun!

I was able to attend some of the Class A State Drama Festival in the beautiful Strom Auditorium at Camden Hills Regional High School. The students were awesome! The New England competition will be held at Falmouth High School on April 15, 16, 17th. For more information please click here.

Class A winner: Skowhegan High School The Cherry Orchard

Runner up: Falmouth High School The 13 Clocks

Class B winner: Hermon High School Sure Thing

Runner up: Rockland District High School Wiley and the Hairy Man


Online Choir

March 29, 2010


This is an interesting piece created by American composer and conductor Eric Whitacre. There were nearly 250 submitted YouTube videos which he took and spliced together to form an online choir performing “Lux Arumque,”. Once created he posted the entire piece on YouTube.

Whitacre and producer Scott Haines used social media — his blog, a Facebook page and YouTube — to assemble and audition singers for his piece. He sent the sheet music out so people could submit videos featuring them singing individual parts. He then sifted through the videos and edited the audio parts together to form a very professional-sounding choir.

Not only did he assemble the individual voices but then he visualized this 3D choir. This is a great example of utilizing more skills than just “singing” or “playing”.  The thinking, imagining, creativity, collaborating, engineering and so many other skills were utilized.

Watch the performance below and let us know what you think!


Finding a Bucket to Carry the Tune

March 29, 2010

Article written by Dr. Louise Pascale, Lesley University

Finding a Bucket to Carry the Tune: Ways to Shift the Paradigm for Non-singing Classroom Teachers

Dr. Louise Pascale

In many of today’s school’s across the United States, we have music teacher’s working hard at delivering a wide range of musical experiences to their students.  For many, their curriculum is diverse and reaches a wide range of learners.  Singing is one of prominent activities emphasized in a music curriculum.  Singing occurs in various settings, often within the confines of the music room, in public performances and very often, led by the music teacher, in all-school gatherings.

For the past fifteen years, I have been working in the Creative Arts in Learning Division of Lesley University, traveling around the country, teaching teachers (most of them classroom teachers) how to integrate music (and other arts) into their basic curriculum.  Over the years, I began to notice an interesting and unexplained phenomenon.   Every time I suggested to a group of teachers that we sing together, I would first hear gasps, a brief moment of silence and then a series of unrelenting reasons why they couldn’t or don’t sing.  “I’m not a singer,” one would say.  “Oh, trust me, you don’t want me to sing.  I’ll just listen.”  “I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.”  “I stopped singing a long time ago.”  This bantering would continue until they were convinced that I was convinced they were truly “non-singers.”

My first impulse was to persuade them otherwise, and I would try desperately to negate any bad feelings or beliefs they might have about singing.  But I discovered that they were equally determined to persuade me that what they were telling me was undeniably true; they really couldn’t sing.  Their incredible sense of knowing about their lack of singing ability made a profound impact on me.  They were certain, without doubt that they were truly non-singers.  No amount of convincing was going to change their mind.

With every group of teachers I encountered, I faced exactly the same scenario:  teachers tried to convince me they couldn’t sing and I tried to convince them that they could.  I tried assigning books and articles for them to read filled with rationale strongly advocating that everyone is a singer.  But they were unconvinced.  They simply “couldn’t sing” and they thoroughly resisted changing their attitude.

Finally, my curiosity and frustration got the best of me.  I realized I needed to find a way to make sense of this “non-singing” phenomenon, first simply to understand it and, second, to change it, or help shift the paradigm in a substantial way.  I needed to find a way to understand what was underneath the meaning of phrases such as “I can’t sing” or “I don’t have a voice.”  What in the world could those statements really mean?

The situation was even more perplexing because the paradox I faced was this:  despite a lack of confidence about singing, in the case of every group of teachers I worked with, I witnessed them as singers.  They participated in the singing activities and from my perspective, they all sang and thus, at least for me, they all qualified as “singers.”

On the one hand, the teachers were telling me they couldn’t sing.  They were resigned to this fact and as a result never sang and never even considered singing with their students.  This, I found, very disturbing.  On the other hand, I saw that they could and did sing.  It occurred to me that in order to shift this paradigm, so that they might sing with their students, I first needed to do more than simply “convince” them they were singers.  As a first step, I needed to find a way to understand, from their perspective what they meant when they used the terms, “singer” and “non-singer.”

The Research Study: Examination of the meaning of singing
I began my research by surveying a selected group of self-declared non-singers and posing three questions: What is a singer? Are you one?  How do you know that?  The data interestingly, provided revealing insights into the meaning of what they believed it meant to be a “singer.”  People who define themselves as “non-singers” feel they lack the qualities inherent in being a “singer.”
The survey data revealed that “singers” were:
Able to sing in key
Willing to practice
Musically expressive
Vocally talented
Had a great voice and could hold a tune.
Had a pleasant voice
Like to perform and sing solos
Were often sopranos

Singer and Non-singer:  A cultural and social construction  
Although there were a few explicit stories about having been told to “mouth the words,” most of the “non-singers” who I interviewed seemed to simply “know” they couldn’t sing, without being able to name of source of their knowing.   This source was finally clarified when I interviewed a woman from Barbados.  She unraveled the mystery.  After some consideration, she looked a bit surprised herself but concluded that when in Barbados she’s a singer but in the U.S., she is not.  “Singing in Barbados is for fun, not performance,” she declared.  No one cares what you sound like.  The purpose of singing is to build community.  It is a recreational and social.  In that setting she is a singer.  Singing in the U.S., for her, is connected with talent, skill, performance, solos, and virtuosity.   In that cultural context, she considers herself a non-singer.

The type of singing that has been and continues to be most often valued and implemented in schools based in an ethnocentric value system, one that emphasizes product and performance and stresses skill building.  This type of singing recognizes the existence of the two categories, singer and non-singer.  There is another model of singing, one that is rarely equally valued in schools, the community singing model.  This model is more process oriented and emphasizes participation, stresses social value and enjoyment only.  This model recognizes and functions with only one category: singer.

Both types of singing have a place in our educational system but it was the results of this research study that showed t that is was the community singing model, the model that emphasizes participation, and enjoyment that shifts non-singers over to singers.  When the so-called non-singing classroom teachers actually experience this kind of model for singing themselves and take note of what happens when they sing together for the joy of singing, they are willing, if not eager to return to their classrooms and sing with their students.  They realize that they do not need to become experts in music.  They do not need to teach note reading or conduct vocal exercises.  They need to simply provide a place for singing where students feel included, where every voice is heard, where singing literally builds a cohesive ensemble of voices.

If music education is going to continue to flourish and be valued, everyone in the school must participate and be part of the music making.  We cannot afford to have classroom teachers announcing loud and clear that they can’t sing.  They must be included.  Here are suggested strategies music specialists can use to begin this process:

  • Accept community singing as a valuable aesthetic                                                   Organize all-school sings where the focus is on participation and community building, not developing skills.  This will provide a venue for everyone to feel comfortable.  Pitch songs in an accessible range.  Classroom teachers will most likely, at first, claim they can’t sing but the music specialist can bring an awareness of other perspectives of singing which will help to make the shift.  Remember:  the meaning of singing is an invention of the culture and society.  Provide the opportunity to embrace multiple perspectives of making music.
  • Encourage everyone to feel they are singers                                                               Once classroom teachers are willing to consider singing, they need the opportunity to sing and keep singing. They will shift their thinking when they have had a positive experience with singing by actively singing in an environment that is accepting and encouraging.  Avoid teaching vocal skills, using technical terms, labeling them as a “soprano” or “alto,” etc.  An elementary music specialist made the following observation when she tried to make this shift,

I watched the classroom teachers in my school who told me they weren’t musical, couldn’t sing, felt scared about singing noticeably change once I began redefining singing in more than one way.  They contribute to the musicality of the school as much if not more than the so-called “musicians.”  (Elementary music specialist, K-5, New London, CT  7/01

  • Assist classroom teachers in finding repertoire that is easy to sing and easy to learn in their classroom                                                                                                    Once classroom teachers begin singing, they will be eager to find repertoire that their students will enjoy.  They want songs that will “work.”  Encourage classroom teachers to build a repertoire from their own experience.  Teach them particular favorites among the students.  The students will begin to experience that singing is something everyone does, beyond the “music room.”  It gives singing a new importance and “normalcy” because everyone (classroom teachers included) is singing.
  • Make a visit to the classroom and sing the songs together                                        Help the classroom teacher identify students in the class who are particularly comfortable with singing and capable of leading a song.   Model tips for song leading.
  • Provide an atmosphere that encourages every voice to be heard.                           Establish singing opportunities that help create a safe environment such as, putt everyone in a circle, avoid solos, pitch songs in keys that are accessible to all voices.  Most importantly, announce to the group immediately that the goal of singing together is for everyone to participate, build group cohesiveness, listen to each other, have fun.  Avoid making judgments about voice quality or teaching of vocal technique.

At its most basic level, this research examined the meaning of “singing” and suggests that everyone is a singer and that the meaning of singing must be broadened to become more inclusive.  I have presented a case for creating schools where everyone sings, suggesting the possibility of creating more humanistic educational communities that encourage finding, recognizing, listening to and celebrating every voice.

It is time to open doors in the domain of music education and transform the places where and with whom music is created and experienced.  Music education is a construct growing out of our particular society and history and now it is time to begin viewing it through a wider, more critical lens.  If we expect our students to become open learners, eager questioners, seekers of knowledge, then we educators must begin to perceive teaching and learning through multiple lenses and with imagination.  We can no loner be complacent about the current construction which allows some of us to think of ourselves as “non-singers” any more than we can continue to think of ourselves as “non-listeners,” “non-participants,” “non-members of the community” or non-learners.”  We must begin to expand, revise, engage ourselves more authentically and adventurously in every component of education.

There is much to gain for everyone in the school community when cultural and societal boundaries are broken down, minds are released and creativity enlisted.  We do an enormous disservice to ourselves as educators and to our students as learners to remain singularly structured with boundaries that are created and perpetuated within one paradigm.  It is everyone’s benefit to include as many people as possible in experiencing the joys of making music and we are foolish not to do so.

Pascale, L. (2002). Dispelling the myth of the non-singer: changing the ways singing is perceived, implemented and nurtured in a classroom. Lesley University Dissertation. Lesley University, Cambridge, MA

Published in Massachusetts Music News, Spring 2006 (p.40-1)


New Hampshire Institute of Art

March 28, 2010

2010 High school drawing competition

Katy Laverdiere, Bangor High School

The New Hampshire Institute of Art is holding their 2010 high school drawing exhibit until April 10th in the French Building Gallery. At the opening reception each student was presented a certificate of participation. More than $4,000 in Institutional Scholarships were awarded including tuition scholarships to the Institute’s BFA program and Pre-College Summer Workshop.

Congratulations to the following Maine student artists and their teachers:

  • Samantha Bartlett, Maine Central Institute, Pittsfield, “Obscured Perspective from Above”. Art teacher: Jill Schvartz
  • Allison DuBois, Livermore Falls High School, Livermore, “Opposite Hand Portrait of Sam Charles”. Art teacher: Helga Heyck
  • Tyler Hunt, Bangor High School, Bangor, “Natascha”. Art teacher: Sarah Tabor
  • Katy Laverdiere, Bangor High School, Bangor, “Weeds”. Art teacher: Sarah Taylor
  • Brian O’leary, Casco Bay High School, Portland, “Brakes and Bars”. Art teacher: Diane Manzi

Tyler Hunt, Bangor High School


Common Core State Standards

March 28, 2010

Mathematics and English Language Arts

You are invited to provide feedback on the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and English Language Arts by going to The deadline for providing feedback is April 2, 2010.

“The goal is to have a common core of state standards that states can voluntarily adopt. States may choose to include additional standards beyond the common core as long as the common core represents at least 85 percent of the state’s standards in English language arts and mathematics” (National Governors Association, Forty-Nine States and Territories Join Common Core Standards Initiative, 6/1/2009, ).

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