Archive for the ‘Music’ Category


Marshwood Middle School

September 25, 2017

MALI Teacher leader and Teaching Artist Leader collaboration

It’s been a lot of fun planning, and an idea that began as a seed back in snowy February, but Marshwood Middle School Grade Seven and Eight Chorus is embarking on a new curriculum to compose an original work that will be premiered at their June concert with guidance and instruction from two MALI teachers.
Thanks to Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader, Kris Bisson and Teaching Artist Leader, Brian Evans-Jones. Below is the description of this fabulous work!  

Bridging Adolescent Learners – A River Runs Through Us: Composing our Story is a year-long chorus composition unit that will be explored by the Grade Seven and Eight Choruses throughout the 2017-2018 school year. Through weekly classwork, a field experience, and working with a guest poet-in-residence, students will create their own original lyrics, melodies, harmonies, and accompaniment for an original piece to be performed in their June concert.

An important aspect of this project will be the S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) inter-disciplinary explorations students will make throughout the project. Also critical to an authentic learning experience will be the integration of our work with poet, writer, and MALI Artist-TeacherBrian Evans-Jones, a local resident of South Berwick, who will lead the students as Artist-in-Residence in finding their writing, speaking, and singing voice.

An early piece of our project is to bring the entire chorus (seventy students) and Mr. Evans-Jones on a field trip to the bridge on Vine Street in South Berwick, the Great Works Bridge, at Leigh’s Mill Pond and the Great Works River. This trip will take place on SEPTEMBER 19 from 8:15 – 9:50 a.m. Here the students will be able to have a direct experience with the river as well as with the condemned bridge structure in order to create more meaningful and informed writing for their musical composition.

Coincidentally, the existing bridge, closed in 2007 due to deterioration beyond the state of Maine’s repair, is being removed in 2018 and a grassroots effort to construct a footbridge is already successfully raising funds to support the effort through their group, The Great Works Bridge Brigade. The Chorus students will have the opportunity to discuss their work with them and take action to make a difference financially, musically, and ethically in their local community.

Goals of this project include science, mathematic and technological integration; collaborative learning, creative thinking, listening skills, reflective writing, problem solving; exploratory composing techniques, music theory, form and analysis; various recording platforms, and online manuscript technologies.

Students will keep worksheets, reflective journal sheets and videos, and e-journals in Google Classroom to record thoughts, reflections, and developing lyric and melodic ideas.

The opportunity to have an artist-in-residence is a wonderful enhancement to the curriculum being explored. Having an expert help students with their learning is always a beneficial experience for all. Last year was the first time Choral Director and MALI Teacher Leader, Kris Bisson, and her students composed in the choral ensemble and the experience was amazing:

“Through composition in the chorus classroom, students are able to explore their own individual and collective ideas that help them express themselves personally as well as musically. Students elevated and increased their musical knowledge through the composition process and it was such an engaging and advanced learning experience for all. I am very excited to have the students reflect on their sense of place in their community, the history of our rivers and towns, the importance of keeping a bridge to connect our community, and have the opportunity first-hand to directly influence change around them.  At our Spring Concert, June 5, we will be sharing an informance, or interactive performance, where the students will have the opportunity to share their learning and conduct audience participation at our premiere performance.”

A very special recognition of appreciation is extended to the Marshwood Education Foundation for supporting this project.

Updates throughout the year can be found on our website:

All-National Ensembles

September 22, 2017

Orlando, FL


The following students will be representing Maine in the All-National Ensembles in Orlando, Florida, November 26-29. Thank you to the music educators who have helped prepare these students on their musical journeys!

  • SOPHIE BLAIR, percussion – Brunswick, Teacher: Mike Scarpone
  • KATARINA BOJARSKI, euphonium – Brunswick, Teacher: Mike Scarpone
  • JASON ALMQUIST, tuba – Lewiston, Teacher: Jenna Nelson
  • AARON BROWN, bassoon – Massabesic, Teacher: Adam Goad
  • ELIJAH CARET, horn – Massabesic, Teacher: Andy Forster
  • AUBREY FOSSETT, horn – Waterville, Teacher: Sue Barre
  • BENJAMIN ALFORD, bass – Gould, Teacher: James McLaughlin
  • BENJAMIN BAUMGARTE, tenor – Brunswick, Teacher: Ashley Albert
  • CORRIGAN FARNHAM, soprano – Greeley, Teacher: Sarah Bailey
  • LOGAN GILLIS, alto – Brunswick, Teacher: Ashley Albert
  • CHRISTOPHER HASCALL, tenor – Bonney Eagle, Teacher: Allen Thomas
  • CALEB RANDALL, bass – Sanford, Teacher: Jane Kirton


September 10, 2017


This 12 year old Darci Lynne performed on America’s Got Talent and wowed the audience AND the judges. Her proud family watches from backstage and the audience. Darci worked for 2 years after being given her first doll, a bunny, Petunia, on her 10th birthday. She was a shy child and has found her voice that comes through her puppets (with her mouth closed). She wants to help keep ventriloquism alive since it is no longer common. She has a wonderful voice and manipulates and interacts with the the puppets incredibly well also! Amazing! Two Youtube videos below – others on the internet.

Do you have any students who might benefit from considering ventriloquism or from viewing these videos? I encourage you to share with others!


Phineas Newborn Jr

September 9, 2017

Amazing jazz musician

I’ve been reading about Phineas Newborn Jr and very impressed. Seems so unfair that he was such an accomplished musician but didn’t get the recognition he deserved. For those of you who may not be familiar with his work…

Mr. Newborn was born in Whiteville, Tennessee in 1931. He was born into a musical family, his father was a drummer and brother a jazz guitarist. He studied piano, trumpet, tenor and baritone saxophone. He first played in an R&B band led by his dad, with his brother on guitar. Joining them were Tuff Green on bass, Ben Branch and Willie Mitchell. They were the house bank at Plantation Inn Club in West Memphis, Arkansas from 1947 to 51. In 49 they recorded as B.B. King’s band and as the Sun Records sessions in 50.

He started performing in New York and made his first album as a leader in 1956. He had trios and quartets that included Oscar Pettiford, Kenny Clarke, George Joyner, and Philly Joe Jones. He became known far and wide and worked as a solo pianist in Stockholm in 58 and Rome in 59.

At age 29 in 1960 he performed “It’s Alright with Me” on the ABC-TV series Music for a Spring Night. Soon afterwards he moved to Los Angeles and recorded piano trio albums for the Contemporary label. The critics were harsh and Newborn ended up in a state mental hospital with emotional problems. He also injured his hand which impacted his playing.

Dues to his ongoing health problems his career was interrupted and he faded from view. Unfortunately, he was not appreciated to the level that his musical talents afforded. He came back in the 70s and 80s but it wasn’t enough. In 1989 doctors discovered a growth on his lungs and he passed away.

Thankfully there are many recordings found on YouTube (and other locations) where we can appreciate his amazing work. Below is one of them!


Melodica Men

September 8, 2017

A music educator and a musician



September 7, 2017

Opening day

My best teaching colleague always called the teacher first day of administration speeches the “Tally-ho” speech. Depending on the topic, it was more times than not, predictable. The first day for teachers in Charlottesville this year was 2 days after the events that took place. Needless to say this unpredictable event turned the day’s plan upside down and the superintendent asked herself: “How could we possibly help our teachers process these events, so that they in turn could help our students?

The superintendent, Rosa Atkins, had worked with her leadership team during the summer on a plan to roll out the district’s strategic plan. She knew that they had to completely re-think the plan to acknowledge and and address the immediate needs.

“We needed to take time to acknowledge the trauma that we and our students had experienced. In addition to grieving, could we possibly hope for a little healing and inspiration to guide us into the new year?”

When I read this in the article that Rosa wrote and was published in Education Week Teacher, August 23, called Charlottesville Schools Superintendent: ‘We Will Need to Lean on One Another’In Charlotteville, led by Superintendent Atkins, included a clear message reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. words: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” It was the teachers and schools that “shine the illuminating light of learning, the warm light of relationships, the beautiful light of creativity and the arts, the clarifying light of truth and fact, and the reflective light of introspection.” Every member of the staff member, 800 of them, was given a glow stick and formed three hearts out of the glow sticks and sang “Lean on Me”. The three hearts represented the three who lost their lives due to the rally.

One music teacher wrote on Facebook, “Today our whole city schools’ faculty came together to kick off the year. And do you know what we did? We sang. We need each other’s voices. All of them. This is why I do what I do.”

Of course, I thought about the power of the arts and how they often bring people together. And, I found myself wondering which school districts in Maine were addressing this topic head on? I wondered how many of the first teacher days agendas included or acknowledged the topic? I wondered how many ‘welcome back to school letters’ sent from superintendents and principals acknowledged the issue? I wondered how many educators see our role and responsibility?

I learned about the letter that the superintendent in Portland Public Schools sent to the staff and the resources that were put together to help guide the role and responsibility we all have as educators. No, it wasn’t the predictable letter or message but it was the right one. I applaud superintendent Xavier Botana and the Portland school district for taking a stand and providing support for the district staff. Perhaps Superintendent Botana’s background influences his lens. He came to the United States as a Cuban refugee who didn’t speak English. His experiences are similar to those of many children in the district. Inspired by his work in Portland’s changing community, he says, “Education can transform lives in this land of opportunity.”

Tomorrow I will post the resources that will be useful to educational staffs – in and out of schools – across the state and beyond. If you have resources please share them with me at so I can pass them on to others. We can all use a little guidance on the topic.



Piano Scholarship

August 29, 2017

Brian McGorrill Memorial Scholarship 

The Marston-Kotzschmar Music Club, formed in 1965 by the merger of the Marston Club for women and the Kotzschmar Club for men, established the scholarship in 2010 to commemorate Brian McGorrill, a beloved piano teacher and performer. The Club consists of approximately 50 members who meet monthly in members’ homes in the Greater Portland area for concerts. Members perform a wide range of music including light opera, jazz, and classical pieces. Occasionally guests are invited to perform as well.


One $500 scholarship is awarded annually. The recipient is expected to perform a ten to fifteen minute piece at a Club concert on one of the following dates:

February 4, March 6, April 10 or May 8, 2018


  1. Piano students who attend or plan to attend college (ages 17 – 23).Graduate students are not eligible.
  2. Students must live or study in Maine within 75 miles of Portland (Rockland to Waterville to Farmington, and Rumford to the New Hampshire border).
  3. Students may be studying privately or at a school; they do not need to be music majors.
  4. Teachers may nominate more than one student per year; teachers may re-nominate students in subsequent years if the eligibility requirements are still met.


A brief letter describing the student’s strengths and how he/she would benefit from the scholarship should be emailed to either of the MK Scholarship

Committee Co-Chairs:

Shirley Helfrich or Barbara Smith


Deadline for receipt of the nomination letter is September 16, 2017. The teacher of the scholarship recipient will be notified by October 1, 2017.

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