Archive for the ‘Music’ Category



December 1, 2015

Rob Duquette On Kindness!

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 6.41.58 PMI like having the first post in December on this topic: KINDNESS. I capitalize it because I want to emphasize how important it is to me. Yes, I am shouting! Often the arts infuse a sense of kindness perhaps because most often the arts are positive!  We know that when students are making art or music, dancing or acting it involves their heart and soul. And, audiences watching, listening, learning, looking, discussing, and/or feeling the arts involve their emotions. This covers the big picture, whether people are engaged in creating and/or people appreciating.

Rob Duquette is a musician who brings the topic of kindness to students through his music. Rob kindly answered questions about the work that he does and you can learn more about his goals in this blog post.

Some of you might know Rob’s wife and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader from phase 2, Andrea Wollstadt. Andrea teaches, K-5 music at John F. Kennedy Memorial School in Biddeford. One of MALI’s teacher videos on assessment in a standards-based arts classroom highlights the work that is going on in Andrea’s classroom and school. You can view it at

And, many of you also know music educator from Bonny Eagle High School and MALI Teacher Leader, Jake Sturtevant. Jake collaborates with Rob – learn more below.

Rob’s website is at and his email is Feel free to contact him if you have a question or wish to learn more.

  1. What is your Kindness program about – what are your goals, what do you hope the outcome(s) to be?

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 6.41.33 PMIt’s about taking some of these songs I’ve written and using them as a vehicle to talk about some very serious issues that need to be addressed at their age. It’s too late to start in Middle School in this day and age, they need to hear about kindness and about the importance of how we treat each other. Ultimately its about teaching students how to interact in a way that creates an environment where everyone is heard, everyone can be themselves, everybody is treated in a manner that they too would like to be treated. That’s some of the things, and I know that’s a tall order, but you know, I’d take one of them, and then we can work on the next one! I think a lot of our contemporary problems are no different from any other time, we all struggle to find a way to communicate what we want, or what we don’t want in a way that is not violent, or confrontational, in a way that we can take the time to understand each other. It’s simple, but so hard to do when everyone is busy, or maybe angry about something we don’t know about.

A long term goal for me is to be out of a job frankly. I want all these things I bring to schools to be part of a curriculum, so it would be addressed and talked about every school day. I want kids to come out of school knowing that they can do anything they want in life and they can reach their goals while helping and being kind to others. It’s not just about them, it’s about everyone they come into contact with!

  1. Tell us about your song writing – what inspires you to write/work with students sharing your songs?

I love to connect with an audience, and from the start I was able to instantly connect to the K-5 audience, I’m not sure why, maybe cause I’m a goofball, or they relate to the music. But as far as songwriting goes, I try not to get in the way too much, I think there’s a message in every tune I come up with, or maybe it’s just meant to be silly, and for a laugh, which is good too! But I just try to get as deep into what it’s trying to say as possible, without being too wordy or deep too. As eclectic as I get as a listener and a student, I still love a good catchy melody, a pop hook if you will. Speaking of silly, I just wrote a “gown up” song about how many people have beards now, AND how difficult it was for me to grow a beard at one point! There’s no message, it’s just fun, it’s called “the decade of the beard”.

  1. What does a typical Kindness session look like/contain when you work with a group of students.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 6.41.06 PMWell K-5 is the typical age group, sometimes it’s split into K-3 and then 4 and 5, I don’t think one way is better than the other at this point. Sometimes its better to have everyone together, 5th graders can get swept up in the excitement of the show a bit more I think when they’re bunched in with everyone, otherwise I tend to approach 4 and 5 a little different, it’s always a balance between how much I talk and how much I play and interact! It’s a balance that is different every show! That’s where my jazz training comes in!

Also I’ve lately been playing an occasional daycare or pre-school, which has been real fun!

  1. Tell the meartsed readers about your background.

Fortunately, I didn’t have too much pressure as an early music “student”. I had an old Yamaha guitar and a very old electric organ around the house that I would explore on. That is how I’ve approached all my subsequent instruments! With a sense of curiosity and an exploratory nature, because I didn’t have anyone telling me how it was supposed to be done. In 4th grade I played the clarinet in school and only left that to finally join the percussion section in middle school. And although I was always playing in rock bands from that time on, my 4-12 experiences in school bands were invaluable and as important to my development as was the less structured, improvisational learning that has always been important to me. I went on to get my undergrad in classical percussion and jazz drum-set performance, and my Masters in jazz studies with a focus in World Music. I still take lessons every few months. Still exploring……

  1. What is your philosophy about living in a world that sometimes seems challenging?

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 3.42.42 PMI have different practices that help me; yoga, meditation, exercise. I find that helps everything! I also find reading different spirituals texts helpful, not one in particular, but along with my studies in world musics, I also study some of the spiritual practices that accompany the genres, I particularly like Buddhism, but I’d never pick just one! And everything I put in my songs I try to do everyday. They’re lessons for us too. I think it comes down to what I try to attach to each song, a lesson, or a tool, getting tools in your “kit” that you can use when you’re angry, when you’re not feeling open, when you’re fearful. I’ve been working on this for twenty years exactly, and I’m still getting deeper and deeper into what it means to be kind and to serve others. And I’m definitely not kind all the time!! But I try to use these tools and practice what I preach.

  1. What advice might you offer to students or adults in dealing with what is happening in the world and/or in some cases individual communities?

Well I think it’s easy to get caught up in all the fear that’s being generated. I’m not saying it’s unwarranted, but I think getting swept up in it can keep us from taking time to be present, and see things around us that are good. When that’s happening, I think we’re less likely to want to make someone else feel good. I think it’s been proven enough by now that one simple act will make a ripple effect and would make multiple people see the good in the world. One simple act can be very powerful and one simple song can be too! There’s so much good in the world, but with media, social media and everything in our faces like it presently is, we sometimes miss the kindness that’s all around us. Some days are hard. It’s hard to see that. There’s so many aspect to it, like if you can find your Dharma – what you’re meant to do – then your work is going to make you happy, you’re doing what fulfills you. I think we all are at better places when we’re interacting with face to face with each other and being creative in some way.

  1. You have a relationship with Michael Chase. Tell us a bit about his work and how what the two of you do, connects/intersects?

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 6.41.53 PMWell Michael is a dear friend, and we share a common goal of wanting to change the world basically. And we joke that my program is the feeder program, just like sports! I keep it relatively light and introduce important aspects and make it fun and interactive, I love when students play in my band, I mean let’s face it, they don’t want to hear me just talk to them! Michael on the other hand can show up and just talk to students 6-12 and engage them. And of course, unfortunately he needs to address some heavy topics like suicide, drug use, etc,. And of course that’s stuff that I bring up in my presentations by talking about being kind to your body, finding that Dharma I mentioned earlier, I try to lay the groundwork with my program, but still keep it fun. We get together regularly to talk about this stuff, it’s of the utmost importance to us.

  1. You not only create for the school programs but you also perform. Tell us about that part of your work (and play).

Well I started writing music partially because of Jonathan Edwards when I was an early teen. He inspired me to write, he was singing about the earth and matters of the heart, and spirit, and it made sense to me. So playing with him over the past few years has been fabulous. I also run my own group called “duquette” although a lot of those shows have been solo, or maybe just with bassist John Kumnick, who used to play with David Bowie and Cyndie Lauper, and others. But I don’t play bars anymore, so even the “grown up” shows I come with stories and songs, and sometimes all that takes is a guitar, and a song, as much as I’d like to play in a bigger band, it’s all about that connection. When we have the budget I ask Jake Sturtevant – a fabulous pianist but a great educator as well – to join. Then we can add more of that improvisational element I love. But it’s about the connection, and the stories, and nobody does that better that Jonathan Edwards, so I get to watch him every concert!


Eastern Maine Pops Orchestra

November 22, 2015

Tempo – an orchestra for young musicians



In Today’s News

November 19, 2015

Mary Cheyney Gould

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 5.51.23 AMBROOKSVILLE — Mary Cheyney Gould of Brooksville died on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, at 3:22 p.m. at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, in Blue Hill.

Born Sept. 28, 1924, in Bluefield, W.Va., to Lulu Raft Cheyney and Clyde Irwin Cheyney, she was predeceased by her parents and her one sister, Elnora Cheyney Wickham, and her first husband, Boris Erich Nelson. She is survived by her son, David Irwin Nelson and his wife, Patricia, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; her two grandchildren, Courtney Rose and Drew Irwin Nelson, and her great-granddaughter Ayla Rose Nelson. Her second husband, George J. Gould, died in 1979 and is survived by two daughters, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

A lifelong musician, she studied piano under her mother’s tutelage from age 5 to 7, then going on to other teachers. She attended local schools through high school, when fine choral director Elizabeth Shelton stimulated an interest in choral music and arranged for attendance for three summers at the Westminster Choir College High School Clinic, then held in Massachusetts at Mount Hermon School. This experience caused a lifelong addiction to both choral music and New England from which she never recovered. It also determined she would attend Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J., graduating with a BMus degree with majors in voice and organ in 1946.

She married Boris Erich Nelson in June 1946 and moved with him to various academic positions at the University of Massachusetts, Hampton Institute, Va., and the University of Toledo, Ohio. At each of these locations she held organist/choir director positions in various churches and temples, at one time in Virginia serving a Baptist church, a Jewish temple, and a Greek Orthodox church while teaching at Hampton Institute and conducting a community chorus, The Meistersingers, concurrently. 1957-58 was spent in Antwerp, Belgium, as a student of Flor Peeters, renowned organist and director of the Antwerp Conservatory. This led to many organ recitals in Europe and the United States.

In Ohio, she served at Episcopal Church for 13 years, taught organ and piano privately, performed with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra both as orchestra member and soloist, and played chamber music with various groups; and most importantly, formed a two-piano duo with Shirley Shafer Roe, an Oberlin graduate and fine pianist.

From 1954 to present, she spent every summer in Maine. From 1957 to 1973, she taught and performed organ and piano at the New England Music Camp in Sidney. In 1973, she moved to Brooksville, married George J. Gould, a retired Toledo, Ohio, lawyer and longtime friend and built a house for year-round residence. This home is on the Bagaduce River and it was here that she founded the Bagaduce Chorale in 1974. The Bagaduce Chorale is a community chorus of 80 to 90 singers who come from 18 different towns to rehearse and perform in Blue Hill. She served as a conductor and accompanist for 25 years, retiring in 1999 to become director emerita and to continue to serve as accompanist only. The love of studying and performing two-piano music was continued in Maine when she joined renowned pianist and conductor Fritz Jahoda in concerts over many years.

In 1983, she joined Marcia W. Chapman and Fritz Jahoda in founding the Bagaduce Music Lending Library, which had its first home in the house on the Bagaduce. In 1985, the Music Library moved to its present quarters in Blue Hill, where she continued to volunteer as music director until her death.

She was a nationally recognized croquet player and coached many who came to play on her home court.

In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the Bagaduce Music Lending Library Capital Campaign, in Blue Hill.

There will be no immediate service, but there will be a celebration of her life. The details will be announced in the near future.


Transformative Language Arts Network

November 14, 2015

August 12-14

Deb Hensley (early childhood educator, musician & poet ) and Martin Swinger (nationally awarded singer/songwriter and arts educator and on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster) are chairing an exciting conference in Maine in 2016, August 12-14 and we’d love you to be part of it.

Transformative Language Arts Network (TLAN) is a vibrant community of artists, writers, poets, singers, teachers, facilitators who believe we can change the world for the better with WORDS!

Other TLAN conferences have focused on written word. Deb and Martin are aiming this conference at exploring SUNG WORD If you believe singing words creates intention in the universe, this conference is for YOU!! OF COURSE, you DON’T have to be a singer to participate – by no means will that be the only thread to follow! ALL forms of writing, story-telling and verbal communication are vitally included!



The conference is all about sharing words and music, singing, improv circles, poetry, spoken word, story-telling, professional and inspirational support and will include many diverse, informative and interesting workshops. (Workshop proposals from anyone will be considered!) Internationally celebrated vocalist, Rhiannon will be our Key-Note (Singer!) and has the amazing ability to unite a group in inspiration and intention.

Super Early Bird Rate is only $160 if you sign up before November 15. Such a deal. You won’t find a more inspiring gathering for such an affordable amount. We’d so love it if you could come. Please feel free to pass this invitation along to like-minded friends.

Ferry Beach ( is in southern Maine and it’s absolutely stunningly gorgeous in summer.  Room and board – there are several options available – are separate and will be negotiated directly with Ferry Beach.   You’ve longed for a retreat at the beach, why not do it with other poets, writers and musicians?!

Some scholarships will be made available as needed. If you have questions please contact Martin at




Beautiful Collaboration

October 21, 2015

Misty Copeland and Yo-Yo Ma

On The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, American Ballet Theatre’s first black principal ballerina Misty Copeland performed the courante from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2 with legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma.


This We Believe!

October 20, 2015

MALI makes it clear

This summer while attending the Teach to Lead Summit in Washington D.C. the team representing the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative decided to take action on the MALI Teacher Leaders idea of creating Belief Statements. The topics were selected based on the past 4 years of MALI and ones that MALI Teacher Leaders are engaged with, individually and/or collectively: Arts Integration, Advocacy, Assessment Literacy, Creativity and 21st Century Skills, Educator Effectiveness, Effective Teaching and Learning, Proficiency Based Learning and Student Centered Learning, and Teacher Leadership.

IMG_1901At the Summer Institute that MALI had August 3-5 participants worked in groups to draft the statements of which everyone provided feedback on during the institute culmination activity. As a follow-up to the institute they were updated with the suggestions and went back to the teams who collaborated on the writing of them. One last look by the Leadership Team and what you can read below is the result of the several months process. The collaborative effort is another example of the grass-roots work of MALI.

These statements were created to help guide MALI as we continue to move forward with our work. Will these This We Believe statements change? Perhaps, as is most things with MALI, changes are made to move the initiative forward to meet the needs of Arts education in Maine which should positively impact every Maine student.

These statements now live on the Maine Arts Assessment website at!this-we-believe-statements/cmni and were unveiled recently at the Biennial Statewide Arts Education conference on Friday, October 9.

  • ARTS INTEGRATION… allows for cross-curricular collaboration within the creative process. Interconnected learning provides students an opportunity to demonstrate understanding and knowledge using multiple avenues.

  • ADVOCACY… educates communities that arts education is essential. Arts advocacy should involve the presentation of solid, factual information that challenges misconceptions about the role of the arts in our society. Arts advocacy should also highlight the various benefits of the arts through the creation and viewing process; involving the larger community in purposeful and meaningful ways.

  • ASSESSMENT LITERACY… is an ongoing dialogue between stakeholders that informs instruction, supports learning, clarifies understanding and validates what we do as educators.

  • CREATIVITY AND 21ST CENTURY SKILLS… quality arts education is critical to fostering Creativity and developing 21st Century Skills. The arts provide authentic, real life opportunities that nurture:

    * Collaboration

    * Communication

    * Critical Thinking

    * Creative Problem Solving

    Creativity is the ability to connect ideas, information and issues, through exploration, and in novel ways in order to develop personal and relevant solutions.

  • EDUCATOR EFFECTIVENESS… effective teachers are passionate, and love what they do. They are problem solvers, able to reach all learners. They are informed about current pedagogy. They are flexible and can adapt their perspective. They are positive, with a focus on developing student growth.

  • EFFECTIVE TEACHING AND LEARNING… effective teaching leads to effective learning when students are actively engaged, the learning is individualized and relevant, and feedback leads to informed teaching practice and improved student progress.

  • PROFICIENCY BASED LEARNING AND STUDENT CENTERED LEARNING… students are encouraged and empowered to become independent learners, ultimately taking charge of their own education. Experiences within the learning environment are active, collaborative, and engaging; supporting students to explore their artistic processes in meaningful and purposeful ways.

  • TEACHER LEADERSHIP… is collaboration, the ability to foster change, challenging and supportive of others, advocating for the needs of all, and inspiring others to become leaders. Teacher Leadership is an intentional, collaborative strategy which supports and inspires: a) students and their learning through effective teaching practices and  b) the teaching profession through shared expertise, resources, and high quality and ongoing professional development.

Please note: On August 3, 2015, MAAI, the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative, announced its new name, MALI, the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative. MALI is a program of the Maine Arts Commission. You can read about it at Please email Argy Nestor if you have any questions at


NEW Resource Bank Unveiled

October 18, 2015

Awesome resources for you!

MALI_V1_Color_100ppiNEWS FLASH

Last week at the Statewide Biennial conference at the Point Lookout Conference Center one of the exciting announcements that took place was the unveiling of the MALI (Maine Arts Leadership Initiative) Resource Bank. This is the second year in a row that funds have been provided by the Maine Arts Commission to create resources that are useful to all arts educators.

The resources are located at


  • During the 2013-14 school year the MALI Resource Team created a template that was used for the team to create resources. You can download it from the site and use them yourself.
  • A searchable data base that includes resources for the following categories: Dance, Media Arts, Music, Theater Arts, Visual Art, Creativity, and Student Voices.
  • The Maine Learning Results Standards document
  • Pictures and links to the contributors so you can communicate with them if you’d like to
  • A bit of the history

All of us at MALI are very excited about the Resource Bank and hope that you find it useful. We encourage you to take some time on the webpage to search topics. Certainly they can be used ‘as is’, or you can adapt or adopt them, as is.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 12.07.50 AM

A great big thank you to Catherine Ring and Barbara Vinal for working closely with the Teacher Leaders who were part of the Resource Bank team and to create the searchable website!

Thank you to the Maine Department of Education for the funding to create the website!

Please note: On August 3, 2015, MAAI, the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative, announced its new name, MALI, the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative. MALI is a program of the Maine Arts Commission. You can read about it at Please email Argy Nestor if you have any questions at


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