Archive for the ‘Music’ Category


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Pamela Kinsey

March 31, 2015

MAAI Teacher Leader series

This is the seventh blog post for 2015 on the Phase 4 Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s (MAAI) Teacher Leaders sharing their stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others. You can learn more about MAAI at and learn more about all 61 of the MAAI Teacher Leaders at!teacher-leaders/c1qxk.

Sunday best 1Pamela Kinsey serves on the MAAI Leadership Team along with being a Teacher Leader. She teaches music in Easton, Maine where her responsibilities include General Music K-6 (including Recorder), Beginning Band, Elementary Chorus, 7-12 Band, 7-12 Chorus and High School Jazz Choir. Pam has taught Music Appreciation at the High School level as well and she is the Co-Team Leader of the Wellness Team! She has been teaching music in some form since high school and gave private lessons. She has maintained a private ‘studio’ of varying numbers of students ever since. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education (with an instrumental emphasis on Flute) from the School of Music at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. Pam has been teaching in schools since 1984, and in Easton since 1988.

What do you like best about being an music educator?

One of the things that I like best about teaching music is that it gives me an opportunity to share my love of all types of music with new ears. I see students from a young age and watch them grow and mature into wonderful young ladies and gentlemen and amazing young musicians. I can look back at several of my students and see them still actively participating in music! It is very rewarding. I have second-generation students continuing in the musical paths of their parents. I take them to concerts of every type available in a region where that is not necessarily the norm. Seeing their eyes roll at the prospect of going for the first time to the American Folk Festival in Bangor and then seeing their eyes light up at the idea of attending the Folk Festival a second…or third or fourth time….that is what makes me love my job. When students come back and seek me out to tell me how things are going. When students call me on the telephone to chat. When students invite me to their weddings and baby showers because we became friends while we were making music together. Those are all reasons that I teach music. It is a life style, not just a job.

What advice to you have for young teachers?

My advice to teachers and students alike is to take advantage of as many of the opportunities that present themselves to you as possible. You never know when something new will be the thing that hooks your interest and it might just take you places unimagined and amazing!

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

Keys to any successful program? I think that first of all, you must love your art form. I think it is important to be out there, practicing our craft, and letting the students see us in that light. My students know that I play in a Community Band. I bring them on a bus to see the diversity of membership from young to old, all participating together. They know that they are invited to play in the group once they have the ability or the desire! My students know that I play in a Community Orchestra. Again, I bring them on a bus to see an orchestra in action. We don’t have a string program and I like them to see that art form live. They also know that I am involved in music at my church. Again, music is more than my job: it is my vocation, my passion and part of my daily life. Truly, I practice what I teach!

I think it is important to help students to succeed, but equally important to let them know that failure is OKAY! They have to make mistakes with their singing and playing so that they can learn from them and grow as musicians. It makes me sad when I ask students ‘Is it okay to make a mistake in music class or in school?’ and have them answer ‘NO’. I tell them of course it is okay…that is how we learn! If we make a mistake because we are trying, then we know it is there and it is something we can fix.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

I consider myself an ‘Old Dog’, and ‘new tricks’ come hard to me. Assessment in my classroom has forced me to re-evaluate how I am teaching and connecting with my students…especially the younger ones. We now have clearer reasons for doing what we are doing and the students are taking more ownership. Now when they create, I show them the rubric that tells them exactly what to do for each level of grading. When they try to hand that in, I remind them that they still need the rubric to complete the project. They can view and listen with discerning eyes and ears, because the expectations are clear. That is very powerful.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

Becoming involved in the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative has given me more confidence in my teaching and in my advocacy skills. Finding my way as a department of one was difficult, since there was no support system that understood what I was trying to accomplish. Now, I am part of a caring, safe and supportive community of Arts professionals, ALL of whom understand what I am trying to accomplish and the struggles that I encounter on a daily basis, since they are very often shared struggles.

What are you most proud of in your career?

In my career, I am most proud of the relationships I have built with students and the hope that they possess an appreciation of music that will stay with them throughout their lives. I am proud of the fact that others see me in leadership roles that I might not have seen myself in. I have built up a rapport with other Arts educators throughout the state and region as a result of these leadership roles. I am proud to be a past chair of the District VII Northern Maine Music Educators Association, the former Secretary of the Maine Music Educators Association and the current President of the Maine Music Educators Association. I am also very proud of the work of MAAI and I am pleased to be a small part of the amazing leadership team and ‘Argy’s Army of Artists’!

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

Sometimes, I think that all of the mandates for standardized expectations get in the way of teaching…and learning….simply for the joy of teaching and learning. There are expectations that our students have the very highest level of achievement, but we are allowed only the very minimum of time in a week to meet these expectations. Of course, funding is an issue in all of education. For me, time to prepare and collaborate with others would be amazing, but again, there isn’t time in the day for this type of group planning in the Arts, especially in a Music Department of one.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be do to “luck” or circumstances?

Hard work and determination are necessary in any job. I think that one thing that I have accomplished is a successful blending of a 7-12 Band. Many years ago, we moved our 7th and 8th graders form the Elementary School, where I had a proper Middle School Band, to the High School and I was told there was no room in the schedule for Middle School Band and the program would now be a combined Band. You can imagine my concern at the idea of mixing students with two years of playing experience with students with five years of playing experience. I feel that the people in the position of making that decision really didn’t understand what they were expecting would just ‘happen’. It was a real struggle, especially at the beginning. Now, however, it is a successful blending of abilities and the Band is pretty darned great in my opinion! On the surface, it was just expected, but I had to be creative and work very hard to make it succeed and not lose students due to frustration by being too difficult or too easy.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have funding like $500,000! I would begin by purchasing instruments, so that every student would have the opportunity to play an instrument, regardless of financial status. New instruments are psychologically better than used. In a rural, depressed area, often cost is the only deterrent to playing an instrument and I hate seeing students have that obstacle in their path. If I could put an instrument in the hands of every child to use for their entire school career, I would love that.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets? 

When I am 94, and I can only hope to have that longevity, I hope there won’t be any regrets! I know I won’t regret my career choice. I was fortunate enough to have a grandmother that had a very long life. When she was in her 90s she was still making music, playing in three hand bell choirs, and playing the piano. She is my musical success story for my students. If you have music in your blood, you will always have music in your life!


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Best Coin Ever Spent

March 28, 2015



Music Therapists Recognized

March 9, 2015

ABC News

In the segment of the ABC news called Person of the Week on Friday, March 7, David Muir Music Therapists as the Persons of the Week. The story was focused on Gabby Giffords whose recovery included intense work with music therapists.

It is great to know that Gabby’s recovery had to do with her work with music therapists but it is even better to know this group of “educators” is being recognized for their impact on rehabilitation of so many.

See the segment at this link:


MAAI Winter Retreat

March 5, 2015

MAAI Teacher Leaders taking the lead

MAAI Group Feb28bLast weekend the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative Teacher Leaders met in Rockland for a professional development opportunity and for phase 5 planning. This is a yearly event, that is not only productive – generating ideas to meet the needs of arts teachers, but it is also a great opportunity to meet with cherished colleagues.

On Friday night Sarah Swain provided a workshop that was called Advocacy Video Creation. The goal was to learn basic technical and design aspects of video-making. The essential questions were: How can video be used as an effective communication tool? and How can I create videos with the visual interest that engage and inform the viewer? Participants created videos on a variety of topics. Thank you Sarah for sharing your wisdom and expertise!

On Saturday the Teacher Leaders met all day at the Gamble Center at the Farnsworth Art Museum. We reflected on Phase 4, celebrated the many accomplishments of individuals, and were provided updates on the work underway. Among the parts to celebrate are how several Teacher Leaders are taking on leadership roles in their schools and/or districts across the state.

Participants were asked to self-reflect on their individual teacher needs on the following topics:  Proficiency-Based Education, Teacher Effectiveness, Students-centered learning, Creativity, Technology, Assessment, Advocacy, Arts Integration.  They each brought an artifact that is symbolic of their MAAI journey. (Where you were, where you are, and where you may be headed?)

This lead to the next part of the day sharing artifacts and noticing similarities among the Teacher Leaders. This helped in determining the goals for all regions of Maine. The goals were condensed for a carousel exercise that generated SOOOOOO MANY WONDERFUL ideas on how to address your needs.

The day ended with a quick feedback that generated a Wordle. This wordle was based on the following question: Write 1-2 words that describe your feelings about MAAI based on your experiences.Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.01.23 PM

And this Wordle was based on the following question: Write 1-2 words that describe your feelings about MAAI as you plan for future activities and professional development.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.03.10 PMWe are all looking forward to Phase 5 and we intend to celebrate and I can guarantee you that the many ideas have your best interest in mind to assist you in dealing with the teaching challenges of today.

In the near future I will post the “call for teacher leaders” for Phase 5 of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative. I hope that you will consider taking on this role. Watch the blog for information.

Thank you to Mount Desert Island High School Art educator Charlie Johnson for creating this video showing the highlights of the MAAI Winter Retreat.



Who Are They?: Bay Chamber, Part 6

March 4, 2015

Adult learner

This blog post is part of a series called Who Are They? where information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

Shepherd Building

Bay Chamber offices and music spaces are located in the Shepherd Building, Rockport

Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School is the first organization being highlighted. Located in Rockport, they provide rich music opportunities for students of all ages in the mid-coast area. Monica Kelly is the Executive Director. You can learn more at

This is the last post on Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School and the following one was written by Laura Chaney, the development director and can be reached at

Please tell the Maine Arts Ed blog readers about your role at Bay Chamber.

I am the Director of Development at Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School, a role that helps generate necessary resources to enable Bay Chamber to invest in its programs and services for thousands of citizens of all ages across Mid-Coast Maine. I am also a fairly new adult student at the Bay Chamber Music School, enrolled in private violin instruction since September 2013. Bay Chamber offers access to an expert faculty, a welcoming atmosphere for interested students of all ages, and affordability regardless of one’s financial status.

Please tell the story of how and why you decided to take violin lessons at Bay Chamber.

A native Mainer who returned to the state after a 30 year hiatus to join the staff here at Bay Chamber, I made a personal commitment to return to some form of music instruction. Having been a vocalist and dabbler in other musical instruments, I had contemplated returning to voice or piano instruction and then decided that I wanted to challenge myself with learning something completely new. I settled on the violin for many wondrous reasons, with one core factor being the ease of transportability in a boat for summer living along the Maine coast.

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What do you know about the benefits of taking lessons or learning something knew as we begin to age?

I promised to give myself the gift of music for two major reasons: to rediscover the passion that music inspires in my soul and that had been put on hold for sundry reasons, and to reinvigorate my brain. It is well-documented that routine reduces brain synapsis responsible for healthy memory functioning and I felt that as I approach my 60’s, it would enhance my life greatly to keep my brain healthy and active. Music is one of the most influential energies for extending auditory, communication and concentration abilities as well. All of these benefits in addition to the joy that arises from learning, playing, and working through each new musical challenge are gifts I give to myself each and every day.

Can you relate your experiences learning the violin in comparison to what you know about the benefits?

Violin - ScrollOn many an occasion, I say to my talented and compassionate instructor Gilda, “this makes me feel like my brain is twisting!”  I literally can feel my brain working hard to tackle new learning curves, which with the violin, are mental and physical.  I am activating muscles I have not used, strengthening fingers that are gaining unforeseen agility, working to separate my right from my left hand functions, focusing on relaxation (definitely a challenge for someone like me), and gaining mental flexibility and concentration in my work and in general. It is nearly one and a half years since starting my new musical endeavor.  I do feel I think differently, that I am a bit more at mental ease and responsive. I look forward to what comes next!

The fear of the unknown, fear of failure and fear of not being able to learn something new tends to trap us adults into sticking with similar habits day in and day out – whether it be our jobs, our homes, our daily rhythms that we have established throughout our many decades.  Science tells us that we need to shake things up for ourselves to remain vital and healthy, and I might add, happy.  Music sends energy waves throughout our body like no other discipline has yet shown. Pick up a new instrument today and learn something new about yourself that you did not notice yesterday. It is well worth the try.

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Another Teacher’s Story: Cynthia Keating

March 3, 2015

MAAI Teacher Leaders series

This is the third blog post for 2015 on the Phase 4 Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s (MAAI) Teacher Leaders sharing their stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others. You can learn more about MAAI at and learn more about all 61 of the MAAI Teacher Leaders at!teacher-leaders/c1qxk.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 5.22.59 AMCynthia Keating is in her eleventh year of teaching general music education to K-­2 students at Village Elementary School in York. Her students receive music once a week for 45 minutes. Once a month, on a rotating Friday schedule, students receive music twice a week. She previously taught in Suncook, NH, Ogunquit and Wells, Maine ­ totaling 32 years of instruction in elementary music education. However, you may have wondered who those fantastic musicians were that provided all the ceremonial music for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY?!?! Well………Cynthia was one of them because she attended the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY! It has been 35 years since she helped play the national anthem for our Men’s Ice Hockey team as they received their gold medals after having beaten the Men’s Russian Ice Hockey team!

What do you like best about being a music educator?

There is nothing more pure and beautiful than the singing voice of a child​.​

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1. Having support from my fellow teachers and administrators
  2. Being a passionate, engaging and well educated professional
  3. Being flexible and understanding of ALL teaching positions within my school

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

I have definitely found assessment in my classroom to be helpful. When I used “I Can Statements” for the first time, I had a huge “Ah ha!” moment.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

  • Finding my BFF
  • Having conversations with people that believe, like me, that the arts are essential
  • Having the freedom to express oneself in a safe environment

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am proud that I am a lifelong learner. I NEVER want to become “that teacher” whom everyone is wondering,“When is SHE going to RETIRE?!”

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

BEWARE THE BLACK HOLE filled with negativity!

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

  • Staying up to date on new things in education
  • Staying fresh on current practices.
  • Staying informed and open to new ideas.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

Surround yourself with others that think like you. *Don’t necessarily follow the crowd.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

I would create an auditorium, with a phenomenal light and sound system, in OUR school to accommodate our entire school’s population. We would have plenty of room to perform and dance and display our arts properly! It would be ​amazing​!

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

Someday I ​will​ be 94, ­ I have longevity on both sides of my family! But I won’t be looking back ­ I’ll only be looking forward!

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Arts Education Month

March 1, 2015

Celebrate with students, family members, parents, grandparents by recognizing students

I have always felt grateful to be in the field of Arts education. I never lose sight of what my career choice is all about, and still base my decisions concerning arts education on this question: What is in the best interest of every student?  I am so encouraged by what is going on in education today – finally, the student is being moved to the center of the education circle. The shift for teachers is changing, we are no longer the ‘disseminater’ of information but we’re becoming the “guide on the side”. And, in my opinion, this is just the way school should be, (even if disseminater is not a word)!

I have always loved March because it is the time earmarked to celebrate students and the arts! It is  is Youth Art Month and Music in our Schools Month. Please send your stories about how you are celebrating Arts education and students stories about how the arts impact their lives. Either email me at or post your comments at the bottom of the blog.

Youth Art Month is a month of promoting art education in the United States. Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 7.48.03 PMIt is observed in March, with thousands of American schools participating, often with the involvement of local art museums and civic organizations.

Started in 1961 through the Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI) and in cooperation with the National Art Education Association (NAEA), Youth Art Month exists to:

1. Recognize art education as a viable factor in the total education curricula that develops citizens of a global society.
2. Recognize art is a necessity for the full development of better quality of life for all.
3. Direct attention to the value of art education for divergent and critical thinking.
4. Expand art programs in schools and stimulate new art programs.
5. Encourage commitment to the arts by students, community organizations, and individuals everywhere.
6. Provide additional opportunities for individuals of all ages to participate in creative art learning.
7. Increase community, business and governmental support for art education.
8. Increase community understanding and interest in art and art education through involvement in art exhibits, workshops, and other creative ventures.
9. Reflect and demonstrate the goals of the National Art Education Association that work toward the improvement of art education at all levels.

See more information at:

The information above is from the National Art Education Association.

In addition, March is Music In Our Schools Month

MIOSM LOGOThis a great time to highlight the importance of  comprehensive, sequential music education taught by exemplary music educators for all through concerts, lessons, and public performances and advocacy activities. Yes, we know that these are things that should be happening day in and day but this will help you to remember to pay closer attention to your students who are participate. March has been officially designated by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) for the observance of Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM®), the time of year when music education becomes the focus of schools across the nation. MIOSM began as a single statewide celebration in 1973, and has grown over the decades to encompass a day, then a week, and then in 1985 to become a month long celebration of school music. The purpose of MIOSM is to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children – and to remind citizens that school is where all children should have access to music. MIOSM is an opportunity for music teachers to bring their music programs to the attention of the school and the community and to display the benefits school music brings to students of all ages.

See more information at

This information taken from the National Association for Music Education.


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