Archive for the ‘Community’ Category


MALI Teacher Leader Story: Will Stecher

June 19, 2018

Music Educator

This is the LAST of several blog posts in 2018 that include stories of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 7 Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about each leader. CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 93 Teacher Leaders and 8 Teaching Artist Leaders. CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories. Thank you Will for sharing your story!

Will Stecher is a music teacher working with students in grades PreK through grade 4; including beginning band in RSU19 – Newport and Corinna Schools. Will is I finishing up his 4th year in his current position and his 7th year of teaching overall. He is responsible for around 460 students between the two schools, teaching general music and 4th grade band.

What do you like best about being a music educator?
The moments when the kids begin to see and feel why we do this thing called art, when they know the song so well that they aren’t even thinking about who is watching them or whether it’s a cool thing to do. The moments when they realize that making music in any form is fun and they want to do it more. The moment when a kid who has been working hard on a song finally breaks through and plays it just right. When kids come into a performance feeling good and regardless of the how that performance went, they are feeling good about what they have done.
What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?
Literacy of your discipline is extremely important, being able to talk about what you are doing when you perform, or discuss the techniques of playing an instrument or what style you are creating within is a key to arts education. Great instruction is also a key, so that kids have a good foundation in the discipline no matter where they go in their schooling or in life. Passion from the instructors the kids have in the arts is a third key. We wouldn’t be in this line of work if we didn’t love our material and transmuting our love so that kids can make it something they love or like to be a part of, is extremely important too.
How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?Assessment has allowed me to see where students are doing well and where they need assistance. It helps students to see these things too, so that ideally, they can become stewards of their own improvement. As artists, we live a life of assessment. always looking at the way things are becoming or happening right in front of us. Ideally, we are passing that on to our students.
What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?
The people I have met and connected/reconnected with in my involvement with MALI have been the biggest benefit. It can make such a difference in the life of a teacher to know that all you have to do is reach out and someone will answer and help in a way that is pertinent and useful. MALI has done that for me.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of the students who continue on in the arts due to the experiences they have in my classroom. Some of these are students who decided long ago they were going to be musical and those kids are great. Just as sweet though, are the kids who haven’t made that decision yet and still participate fully and completely and begin to decide that they want to sing in the middle school chorus or audition for show chorus or keep on playing that instrument because they want to, not because someone is making them.
What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?
Paperwork and time. Paperwork essentially creates a second job for the teacher when the time could very well be spent on improving and creating meaningful instruction. And I always wish that I had time for those kids just starting out with band instruments to really secure fundamentals before they move on.
What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?
I have frequently been told by supervising teachers, administrators and others that I seem to get along with students at all levels, that I know how to relate to them. I feel that this is something that I have not come to just by chance, though circumstances of my life have certainly contributed to it. I think it has come about through experiencing all types of people and learning about all sorts of things, even those that don’t seem to have a connection to our profession.
Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?
Remember to make time for the things that remind you why you teach. Join a band, sing with a group, draw or paint or create or whatever you do. Don’t lose touch with your art because it can help ground you even when you seem to be floating off.
If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?
Professionally, I think the $500,000 would have to go at least partially toward teaching materials and making sure that I and the other teachers in my area had everything wanted or needed to teach the kids I have to the best of my ability. Orff instruments, band instruments, the whole nine yards. SmartMusic for the band kids. A piano lab at the high school. Funding to improve the coming auditorium space in our district
On a personal level, that is a big number and I don’t rightly know what I would do.
Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets? At 94, I don’t imagine I’ll have too many regrets. I think that even though I could have chosen so many other paths in my life, the one I have continually chosen is the one that I was meant to be on.

Davis Sisters

June 18, 2018

Community performance

Sophie and Josie Davis are planning their concert “Farm to Fiddle” on Friday, July 6 at 7 p.m. in Waldoboro. Their wonderful friends Nathan Lesser, Jaime Feldman, Colin Wheatley, and JY Lee will join them in a performance that celebrates beautiful music and local farms in the Midcoast area. The concert at the Broad Bay Church in Waldoboro.
This is part of Sophie and Josie’s ongoing effort to draw connections between the arts and the natural world. “We strive to use music to connect people to the environment and landscape and to establish a sense of place and an appreciation for the agricultural tradition that defines so many aspects of our community. The concert will feature projected images capturing life on local farms while we play Tchaikovsky’s rousing Souvenir de Florence (and some folk music too!)”.

Vox Nova Chamber Choir

June 17, 2018

Fourth installment of The Four Seasons concert 

Vox Nova Chamber Choir to present “The Four Seasons: Summer Solstice” in concert, Universalist Church, 1 Middle Street, Brunswick, Sunday, June 24, 7:30 p.m.

The music for Summer Solstice features the Maine Premiere of “the national anthems” by Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-Winning composer, David Lang. Lang takes fragments of text from the anthems of all 193 United Nations member states and unfolds the piece at speaking speed, with plenty of room for breaths between phrases and plenty of clarity to the words. It has the feel of sad and eerie intoning.

Surrounding this musical monument are lush, verdant symbols of summer in full beauty of the season: Whitacre’s “Go, Lovely Rose” and “With a Lily in Her Hand.” Barnum’s “Sweetheart of the Sun,” “Afternoon on a Hill” and “The Sounding Sea.”  Gjeilo’s haunting “Across the Vast, Eternal Sky,” and “Identity and The Ground” from The Sunrise Mass. “Stars” by Ešenvalds features tuned water glasses representing the luminescent heavens that cross the summer night sky.

Vox Nova Chamber Choir (Est. 2009) under the direction of Dr. Shannon Chase, champions the expansive body of modern and contemporary choral repertory.


Tickets may be purchased online in advance with a credit or debit card  or at the door. General Admission: $20 Senior: $15 College student with ID: $10.


Shannon Chase, Director

(207) 200 -3995


George A. Voyzey, PR Coordinator

(207) 409-2134


Samantha Smith Challenge

June 16, 2018

300 students attend event

Thomas College was the location for the annual Samantha Smith Challenge where 300 middle school students gathered to share the artwork and civic engagement projects they’ve been doing. Artist Rob Shetterly’s latest subject of his portraits – Americans Who Tell the Truth Series was Kelsey Juliana. Kelsey is a 22 year old who has a landmark public trust case, Juliana v. US. She spoke with the students attending about civic engagement: “We have everything to gain from taking action and everything to lose from not.” Kelsey’s portrait was unveiled and added to the Americans Who Tell the Truth exhibit.

Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT), an organization that promotes civic engagement through its “Models of Courageous Citizenship”, a series of 240 portrait by Robert Shetterly, and the Maine Association for Middle Level Education (MAMLE) hosted the fourth annual Samantha Smith Challenge, an art, education, and civic engagement conference for Maine middle school students, at Thomas College on Monday, June 4.


Portland Ballet

June 14, 2018

Portland Ballet

Portland Ballet received an Arts Learning grant from the Maine Arts Commission (MAC) for the 2017-18 school year. I had a chance to visit the program during the winter and was so impressed with the commitment the teenagers were making to the dance program. The following information provided by the Portland Ballet staff will give you a glimpse of the program and it’s history.

Founded in 1980, Portland School of Ballet (PSB) has been the premier dance education center of southern Maine for over three decades. Professional and inclusive, the School is dedicated to bringing dance to people of all ages and skill levels, while at the same time maintaining it’s focus on training young men and women for professional careers. In a unique partnership with schools across southern Maine, our CORPS Program allows for qualified high school students to pursue pre-professional dance training as a compliment to their academic studies. PSB’s Syllabus Program (for dancers ages 7-19) is a six level program in which classical ballet taught according to a developmental curriculum. Along with our Young Dancer Program, which is focused on dancers ages 3-7, Adaptive Dance for students with special needs, and adult classes for life long learners, Portland School of Ballet’s highly trained faculty and experienced management enrich the lives of all levels of students in the Portland Area and beyond.
In 1994, Portland Ballet established an innovative partnership with Portland High School, resulting in a pre-professional performing arts high school curriculum this is unique in the state and has spread across the region. Qualified students continue to be granted early release, when necessary, to Portland Ballet for three hours of daily intensive study in ballet, variations, jazz, modern, dance history, pedagogy and stage craft.  Participants may earn transcript credit in Physical Education and Fine Arts.  Today, a variety of schools may arrange academic schedules to embrace CORPS, whose students have gome on to BFA programs like Butler University and The Hartt School, to prestigious summer prgormas like New York City’s School of the American Ballet and Boston Ballet, and professional positions at American Repertory Ballet and Dance Theater of Harlem.
The benefits of being an active member in the CORPS program are numerous and these dancers develop skills in areas they are able to use in every walk of life, not just those applicable in the ballet studio or on the stage. Students are able to fine tune skills they are already developing such as time management, communication styles and adaptability as they navigate the usual work load of a high school student on top of the of the demands that come along with this program. In addition to this, I think one of the biggest benefits dancers take away from the lessons learned in the studio is that of a deep knowledge for how use of respect and discipline create an amazing space in which they are able to not only understand themselves better but can appreciate what others are capable of as well. In ballet, respect for the art form, for the teacher, for others in class and for one self is probably the most important thing that is taught from generation to generation in the classroom. With that understanding of respect a discipline follows that enables the growth of ballet technique and this is the basis for artistry to thrive. The benefit of this process is the ability to express oneself.  When we are able to do this a confidence is instilled that stays with us through all walks of life.  Being a part of the CORPS program and having the opportunity to focus completely on developing oneself as an artist leads to these young adults gaining a better sense of who are they are and who they are able to become.
As educators of these young adults we hope they are able to use the skills learned at the barre and on the stage to help them achieve their goals of becoming professional dancers. But this does not cover the whole scope of our ambitions for them. Becoming a professional dancer has many obstacles, many of which are beyond one’s control, and having gone through the process ourselves we realize that only a percentage of our students may be able obtain a job as a dancer. This does not give us pause. We understand that the abilities learned in the ballet classroom apply to so many aspects of life and passing  these lessons down to our students is extremely fulfilling. Our hopes for these young dancers is that when they step beyond our walls the respect, discipline, self awareness and confidence go with them to help shape their lives. We look forward to seeing how what they have learned in the studio has helped propel them in the direction of their own dreams, whether they become a professional dancer, a patron of the arts or any other wonderful part of our community.
If you have questions about the CORPS program please contact Nell Shipman, Artistic Director at or Milena Hartog, Assistant to the Artistic Director at

Waldo Theatre

June 13, 2018

Raise the Roof

A Barn Party to benefit the Theatre Restoration 

Tops’l Farm in Waldoboro will be hosting a fundraiser for The Waldo on August 1st. There will be live music and fantastic local food courtesy of Harvest Moon Catering and Pemaquid Oyster Company, so be sure to get your tickets before they sell out!

Please join us for an amazing evening of music, food & drink at Tops’l Farm’s beautiful new timber frame barn!

We will have John Stirratt of Wilco & The Autumn Defense playing alongside Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, as well as local musicians Oshima Brothers and The Ale House String Band playing on the outdoor stage.

Food, provided by Harvest Moon Catering, will feature wood-fired, local, farm-to-plate cuisine, as well as a cash oyster bar with oysters from Pemaquid Oyster Company.

Wine and cocktails, as well as exclusive beers from Waldoboro’s own Odd Alwives Farm Brewery will be available at our cash bar.

All proceeds are going toward the Raise The Roof building campaign, so come out and be a part of a local renaissance!


A Grandson’s Reflections

June 11, 2018

Russell Kaback

Russell Kaback is a member of the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster. Russell will be providing musical reflections on his grandfather life before, during, and after the Nazi era at the PortFringe Festival. The show is a staged reading of the first act of a piece of musical theater inspired by the life story of his grandfather, a Polish Jew who spent four years in the Nazi concentration camps. There will be a talkback after the performance in which the audience is invited to discuss the work.

Russell Kaback is a songwriter, performer, and educator who lives in South Portland, Maine. He has been bringing this performance to classrooms in Maine as part of his mission to teach the history and engage the next generation.


SAT 6/16 @ 4:30pm
SUN 6/17 @ 9:45pm
THU 6/21 @ 9:45pm


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