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Another Student’s Story

January 11, 2016

Bossov student – Abi DeSchiffar

AbiDeSchiffart2It is hard to find something to say about the arts that has not already been said. I could reiterate how students involved in the arts typically have better test scores and how being involved in the arts forces children to use different sections of their brains, the same sections used for mathematics and problem solving. The statistics that prove the value of the arts have already been said over and over again. The only thing I have left to tell is my own story and how being involved in the arts has changed my life.

I grew up surrounded by music. My mother played the piano, both at home and at church, and my father played the guitar. When my sisters and I were little, my father used to play the guitar and sing to us every night before bed. As a result, I grew up associating music with family and love. When I was eight years old, I was introduced to the piano, and I almost immediately fell in love. Here was something with which I could create a sound beautiful to anyone listening. For me, learning to read music was like learning how to decipher a new code, and the result was a beautiful melody. Of course, my playing sounded far from beautiful when I first began, but over the next nine years I would learn to put my heart into what I was playing, and make the keys seem like an extension of my fingertips. The piano was the first instrument that I learned how to play, and as such, it will always have a special place in my heart.

Following the piano, the next instrument that I learned how to play was the trumpet. When I first picked it up in the fifth grade, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. The trumpet fascinated me. Here was this bold, proud instrument that was very unlike the graceful, yet equally powerful piano. I played in a band all through middle school and into high school. The trumpet has opened many doors for me and allowed me to meet many interesting people. If only for that, I am very grateful that I decided to pick it up for the first time all those years ago. In subsequent years, I would learn a little bit of other instruments, such as the clarinet and flute very briefly, but the trumpet and piano remain the two instruments that I play today. The piano is something private that I play primarily for myself, while the trumpet has led to me being a part many different bands and learning how to play with other people.

When I was in the third grade, only nine years old, I was introduced to a program known as Destination Imagination. DI is a creative problem-solving competition that one participates in on teams of seven or less. It wasn’t until DI that I truly learned how to act, improvise, and problem solve on the spot. DI changed how quickly I thought and how resourceful I could be when faced with a challenge. In addition to changing my thought processes, it also taught me a great deal about teamwork. During a DI challenge, you do not have time to argue or come up with separate solutions; you just have to build off of each other. DI opened a whole new aspect of the arts to me, acting. I found out that I loved to perform and to act with other people. I will be forever grateful to have the skills that participating in DI taught me all those years ago.

Though all of the arts I mentioned above are very important to me, it is the art of ballet that truly holds my heart. It is ballet that taught me about dedication, work ethic, passion, striving for perfection, and how it feels to absolutely love what you do. I first walked into a ballet classroom when I was just under four years old. Since that moment ballet has been a huge part of my life, although I did not officially start ballet training until I was around eight years old. As I got older, I began to dance five to six days a week, driving three hours a day in order to do so. I even left home my sophomore year of high school to attend Bossov Ballet, at Maine Central Institute (MCI) in Pittsfield. Through studying ballet I have learned more about culture, artistry, and respect, both for others and myself, than in any other aspect of my life. It is impossible to count the millions of plies I have done in my life, or pirouettes, but each movement still contains a different aspect in it that I can improve. Ballet has constantly challenged me, ever since I took that first class. That was a part of what attracted me to ballet in the first place. As a child, academics always came easily to me. Ballet, on the other hand presented a challenge that I had not previously faced. It provided me an escape on the rougher days and a place in which I could find a home with the routine of a classical ballet class. During class, there is not room to focus on anything besides the movements, music, and instruction. It provided me a break from all of the stress and worries of the world outside that small, beautiful studio. As a ballet dancer, being in an empty studio leaves me with feeling of peace and acceptance. I believe that I will always feel this way, even when I am no longer able to dance.

As I mentioned earlier, I arrived at MCI three years ago for my sophomore year. It did not take me long to realize that one area in which MCI truly excels is in the arts. From it’s outstanding music program to the equally proficient visual arts program, Maine Central Institute succeeds in presenting it’s students with the benefits that the arts have for them. Personally, I have been involved with many of the different arts programs at MCI, with varying levels of commitment. In playing the trumpet in the school concert band and pep band, I am constantly impressed by the skill of some of the musicians on campus, as well as the leadership of Mr. Dean Neal. While I am in the concert band, there are many other musical groups on campus in which I do not take part. These students meet both during and after school to practice and rehearse. They put in countless hours of time into this program and into their instruments.

The vocalist groups on campus are just as, if not more, impressive. The two vocal jazz groups won first and third place respectively at their state competition, which is almost unheard of. In addition to Mr. Neal, at MCI there is another music instructor, Mr. Wright, a talented musician himself, who teaches his students how to love playing the piano. He welcomed me when I first arrived here three years ago, inviting me to play in the piano recital, even though I could not fit piano into my schedule, and allowing me to use his room to practice. While I am not a part of the visual arts program, I have seen the evidence of their work around campus and in the many productions they help build props and sets for. I did, however, have the privilege to be a small part of the drama program here at MCI. Through participating in the one-act drama team, I was able to witness students come out of their shells and learn how to perform. I saw them become the characters they were portraying and how their confidence grew. For me, that was the best part of the whole experience. It was in watching some of them find something that they loved to do, and to their surprise, found out that they were good at it.

The program at MCI that I am most invested in, and that has affected me the most, is Bossov Ballet. Being a part of Bossov for the past three years has not only changed my dancing, but also who I am as a person. The amount of respect that I have for our instructor, Natalya Getman, is impossible to put in words. She has taught us not only how to respect the art, but also how to respect ourselves and those around us. She dedicates countless hours to the program and to us, her students. It is Natalya who makes Bossov Ballet the incredible program that it is and who maintains the high level of training in technique, performance, and artistry. Through daily classes and rehearsals, we work to perfect the art that we all chose to pursue.

The arts provide communities that are accepting of all different types of personalities and that provide a place for these individuals to feel comfortable expressing themselves. When I first arrived at MCI, the arts community really welcomed me. It is among the dancers of Bossov that I have found my best friends and those with whom I have developed my closest relationships with at MCI. Through the other arts programs that I have been involved in during the past two years, I have met the majority of the people I relate to and enjoy the company of at school. Arts programs provide places for anyone with the dedication and work ethic to pursue his/her chosen art form to find a home. The arts have changed who I am as a person, and I will be forever grateful to all of those who helped me or supported me in pursuing them.

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