Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Dianne Fenlason

April 5, 2016

MALI Teacher Leader series

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This is the fifth blog post of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 5  Teacher Leader stories. This series contains a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work they are doing as Maine arts educators. CLICK HERE for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE for more information on the 73 of the MALI Teacher Leaders. CLICK HERE for Arts education resources. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past stories. There have been 64 posted to date.

20160324_142730Dianne Fenlason currently teaches middle school bands, grades 6-8, at Spruce Mountain Middle School. In addition, she teaches the following at Spruce Mountain High School: piano, guitar classes, contemporary vocal ensemble, a rock history perspective and performance class called Rock of Ages. She has taught a variety of other music electives over her 28 year career. Dianne has been at Spruce Mountain, formerly Jay Public Schools, since 1995.

What do you like best about being a music educator?

The best part of my job is working with my students and seeing them progress through the years that I work with them. I used to work with grades 4-12 students and to see the transformation of these students is awesome.

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

For me the keys to a successful arts education include providing an opportunity to any student, creating a challenge for all students and establishing a rapport with each student. I also believe working with students beyond the classroom can greatly impact the success of your program within your school. Seeing students in another setting outside my class and them seeing me as well has benefits to building respect for one another and in a word, is fun.

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

I have always felt assessment has been crucial for student progress and I had been doing instrumental performance assessment since I began in 1988. At first I used assessment simply to have an opportunity to hear high school students individually and try to provide them with feedback. Today I use assessment similarly but also incorporate a specific scaffolding of expected skill outcomes as well as a tool for students to self assess and track their own progress.

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

My involvement with the arts assessment initiative has provided validation that what I had been doing was on point and it has made me focus my instruction on the specific outcomes I feel are important for all students.

What are you most proud of in your career?

The proudest moments in my career all revolve around student success. I once had a senior trumpet player perform the National Anthem standing on the pitcher’s mound at a state baseball playoff game. Whether taking students to adjudicated festivals, or instituting new and different ensembles or performing music that students may perceive as unattainable and having them realize group and individual success, is something that keeps me teaching year after year. Also seeing students pursue or participate in music beyond high school provides an undeniable sense of pride knowing that what you do and have done has made a lasting impact on their lives.

IMG_0173What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

All professions have hurdles but I have never felt I couldn’t improve or do a better job. There is always someone who does it better and if I can learn from them and it helps my instruction with students than I am willing to do that. The educational field has undoubtedly become more difficult since I began and it has meant doing things differently and working harder to maintain the same expectations I have always had. Social and economic changes as well have greatly impacted students lives but I will always stand by the adage that students will meet whatever bar you set, so why not keep the bar high.

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

I would have to say that my “luck” is that I continue to enjoy what I do. There is a quote that describes what we do that says something like “art is hard work masked by fun.” As visual and performing arts educators we not only teach students but also administrators and communities that the arts are not a frill but a necessity. This agenda never happens by luck but only from hard work, commitment and a belief that arts truly enrich our lives. I have told myself that when what I do is no longer fun, then I am done.

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

If I were to give advice to any teacher I would say make sure you love what you do and be willing to sacrifice for others while maintaining a balance for yourself at the same time. Teaching can often times commandeer much of our energy but it is important that we find a sense of accomplishment in what we do and find ways that refill our tank when we feel we have given everything we have.

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

If I were given $500, 000 I would build a performance venue and become the house manager. There are not nearly enough large theaters or concert halls in the state of Maine. Augusta, our state capital, does not have a performance hall to draw people to the area. I would try to use the hall to provide performances for local schools and community groups to attend shows as well as perform in the local facility. If we can encourage performance attendance early in young people than I believe they will be patrons of the arts later in their lives.

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

At age 10 I knew I was going to be a music teacher. I never wavered in that decision, so if I live to be 94, I will look back with no regrets. I don’t believe in “if only.” I was once asked why I continued to teach at my school and I replied by saying, “it is where I am supposed to be for now.” I am blessed to have worked with many wonderful students and excellent educators and colleagues over my career. In the end, I will have given all that I was capable of and if I made a positive impact on one student or colleague than my time was not wasted. I feel confident that I have made an impact on some and to me that is most rewarding.

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School Song Unveiled

March 30, 2016

CRMS

Music educator Allysa Anderson and musician Joani Mitchell

Music educator Allysa Anderson and musician
Joani Mitchell

Camden Rockport Middle School premiered their very own newly commissioned school song recently in an assembly with the student body and teachers participating proudly.

The song is entitled “Sail On” and has been created through a collaboration of staff, student, and community input and commissioned by a leading choral arranger/composer of middle school and high school music, Roger Emerson. During the ceremony  they listened to a video tape of a message from Roger and congratulated the students for their contributions to the song creation.

This project was funded through a Youth Arts grant that began last spring and has continued into this school year.

It was great seeing Allysa Anderson, CRMS general and choral music teacher (and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader) at the premiere! You can read the description from idea to fruition, in Allysa’s own words below the video. Marvelous work, (and play) Allysa!

Allysa’s personal statement

For years I have dreamt about Camden-Rockport Middle School attaining a school song. In my previous school employment, I had written one but this school was different.  I wanted it to be “awesome” and needed to tap into some “awesomeness” to make it happen right.  One day I was surfing the web and decided to send a composer (whose arrangements work really well in the choral groups at our school), Roger Emerson, a message, inquiring if he would be interested in writing a school song for us. Pleasantly to my surprise he responded that he had a window of time in the near future he would be able to serve us. I immediately began seeking grant money, receiving the principal’s approval, and getting the ball rolling with data collection.

It was important that the song be all-inclusive because a sense of community was driving the project. Using a writing prompt, we asked students, staff, and parents “what was important to them about our school and the place in which we live?”  Teachers were collaborative, flexible, and extremely supportive of this effort from the start. We worked with the composer Roger Emerson on the lyrics to get exactly what we were looking for, including adding a verse of our own. I had a vision of the song format, incorporating certain musical aspects including a bridge section that we could use in assemblies where each grade level would chant a part specific to its class. Although Roger did not write this part, we were able to do it on site; and he agreed to add it to our copy of the music. It was also critical to me that the song be written with the notion of adding instrumental band components in the future. Therefore, the key and the meter are reflective of this in the piece.

One of the highlights of my professional career was holding two Staff “classes” on workshop days where our teachers, ed techs, and custodians came to my music room to learn the school song. I pretended they were “middle schoolers” (mostly because I was nervous to stand in front of 40+ peers!) and taught them the song. It was a great community builder for our staff;  and, on a side note, I believe it led organically to advocacy for music within our school.

Realizing the massive scale of teaching nearly 400 students outside of the regular routine this new song in the midst of a few other major projects, including a school musical, I sought out the help of a colleague, Ian McKenzie. Over the course of three weeks and in a variety of creative places within the schedule, the two of us taught the song to the student body. As tech coordinator, he put together a video tutorial leading up to the all school assembly.

On a Friday in February (of our already yearly-programmed school Spirit Week), the entire school population came together in the gym to culminate the project and premier the song.  Musically speaking, it wasn’t perfect; but it was perfect in the sense that it was fun and brought everyone together on the same downbeat with the same positive message about learning, school, and life.

Music creates togetherness and just simply makes you “feel good”. I believe that this project did just that and hope that it will for years to come. I am blessed to work in such a supportive school and to have had this opportunity in some small way to impact positively a community through music. I dream it can be a reality for every school and every music teacher.

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The Little Mermaid

March 27, 2016

April 1, Strom Auditorium, Camden

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader Allysa Anderson is directing her middle school students in The Little Mermaid.

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Virgil Bozeman

March 21, 2016

MALI Teacher Leader series

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This is the third blog post of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 5  Teacher Leader stories. This series contains a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work they are doing as Maine arts educators. CLICK HERE for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE for more information on the 73 of the MALI Teacher Leaders. CLICK HERE for Arts education resources. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past stories. There have been 62 posted to date.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 5.23.50 PMVirgil Bozeman IV has been teaching at Richmond Middle/High School for 17 years. He teaches 150 students in grades 6-12 Choral and Classroom Music, the total population grades 6-12 is 270. Virgil has four choruses, grades 6, 7/8, and two high school. In addition he teaches grade 6 and 8 General Music and AP Music Theory.

What do you like best about being an arts educator?

I believe that music educators are in the enviable position of being able to leverage naturally intense student interest to promote critical thinking, demand strong work ethic and introduce students to the incredible depth and breadth of our tradition. It is easier to get students to sing Rachmaninoff than to read Tolstoy.

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

  1. Quality repertoire
  2. Individualized assessment
  3. Quality repertoire

I know this is pithy, but I firmly believe that great music is the best teacher my students will have.

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

Simply put, the better I have become at assessing individual student growth, the more my individual students have grown. I used to think that changing the way I assessed would necessitate a drastic change in my teaching methods. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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

Across the state our music/art/dance/drama colleagues are doing innovative work in the area of student assessment. Many are already involved in MALI, as are a ever-growing number of teaching-artists. It is a tremendously fertile collaborative environment. I can always count on the fact that solutions are already being developed and tested for assessment challenges that I am experiencing in my classroom and ensembles.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud when graduates from Richmond High School continue be active music makers in college and beyond.

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

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Virgil, center, in deep discussion with colleagues at the MALI summer institute, August 2015.

I am lucky to teach in a supportive small school with a terrific student/teacher ratio that allows me to focus more easily on the individual needs of students. That being said, our small size can sometimes be a barrier, both in limiting the repertoire I can introduce to our students, and working within a schedule that can prevent interested high-school students from being able to enroll in music classes/ensembles throughout their careers.

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

Creating the culture and expectation that our students will have to approach music from styles/cultures/languages that lie far outside their immediate experiences and interests. I used to think it was just “something in the water” in Richmond, but now recognize how important it was to remain true to this vision, even when students occasionally exhibited frustration at not being able to sing enough of “their music”.

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

When I first arrived in Richmond, the school had just cycled through four teachers in a five year span. That turnover had sapped the continuity and morale of the music program. Don’t think that the grass is necessarily greener somewhere else. Most arts educators encounter barriers where they work, be they schedule, budgetary, cultural, or facilities-based. If it feels as though there are too many barriers to building and maintaining a quality program at your school, it just means that there is important work that needs doing, and nobody is better suited to this work than you.

Also, keep searching for opportunities to improve your musical chops. We need to model life-long learning to our students, and they need to see us doing it.

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

Make a lead gift for the construction of a suitable performance space at my school, sock away living expenses to take a sabbatical to finally pursue a DMA in choral conducting.

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

Aside from not knowing how they kept my corpse animated for 20+ years, I will regret knowing that there were students who could have learned so much about themselves through learning how to use their voices, and either they never walked through my classroom door, or I failed to reach them when they did. IMG_0087

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Vox Nova and Daponte String Quartet

March 19, 2016

Combine concerts

Vox Nova Chamber Choir, under the direction of Shannon Chase, will join artistic forces with the DaPonte String Quartet to present, “With Strings Attached,” a concert program of music for chamber choir and string quartet. Concerts will take place at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 15 Pleasant Street in Brunswick, Maine on Saturday, April 9th at 3:00pm & 7:30pm and on Sunday, April 10th at 3:00pm.

This exhilarating concert features the song cycle, The Golden Harp, by American composer Gwyneth Walker and the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore. Rose Horowitz, Poetry Out Loud Maine State Champion of 2015, will perform the readings. Also on the program, Eric Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs set to poems by Hila Plitmann.

Concert sponsor is HM Payson.

Vox Nova Chamber Choir 2

Tickets will be available and for sale online starting April 1, 2016. $20 general admission at the door or online at www.voxnovachamberchoir.com. $10 general admission for current college students with an ID card, cash or check accepted at the door. Payment method include Visa, Master Card, Discover or American Express. Make checks payable to: Vox Nova Chamber Choir. Tickets for children 18 and under and accompanied by an adult, are free and available at the door only.

Vox Nova Chamber Choir, founded in 2009, features members of the Maine Midcoast musical community including Bowdoin College faculty and alumni. The group champions the expansive body of modern and contemporary choral music an seeks to engage audiences in a fresh musical experience through exposure to new music by living composers. Although the choir typically performs an entirely a cappella repertory, Vox Nova has become known for inventive programming and has sought in recent years to engage soloists and instrumentalists in meaningful collaborations to bring its audiences a well-rounded listening experience.

Please contact Dr. Shannon M. Chase, Director at smchase207@gmail.com, 200-3995.

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Master Musician Visits Waterville

March 17, 2016

Waterville students benefit

IMG_2924Waterville schools had the privilege of hosting Srinivas Krishnan, an Indian Musician, for a week-long residency. The educational experience impacted the 80 members of the high school band, the 40 member chorus and 50 member orchestra. In addition, Srini worked with the 38, grades 4-8 elementary and middle school gifted and talented students from AOS 92 (Waterville, Winslow, and Vassalboro).

Singing WedWhile in Waterville Krishnan, taught the students about music from other cultures, cooked and treated them to Indian food and told stories. As often happens when providing unique learning opportunities for students, he enlightened the students about life and humanity. Scrini’s goal is to work in small towns to share his culture with students who would not otherwise be able to have access.

Not only was this a learning opportunity for students but when teaching artists spend time in schools, teachers benefit as well. It was an initial contact that Scrini had with Sam Lyons while he was at USM that lead to this residency. It was evident that Scrini impacted Sam and music educators Sue Barre and Ciara Hargrove as well.

With HS teachers

Ciara, Scrini, Sue, Sam

I joined Maine DOE visual and performing arts specialist Beth Lambert for the culminating performance at Waterville Senior High School and it was evident that the impact Scrini had on the music program and students during the week was enormous. In addition to the performance that I attended the community packed the auditorium on one evening that a day school was canceled.

Playing Tablas with HS Students

Playing Tablas with high school students

Srinivas Krishnan who goes by Scrini, is a Master Percussionist from India and has been trained under four master musicians in India. He gave his first solo recital at the age of 16 and was featured as a percussionist at the University of North Texas at the age of 21. Srinivas performs on the tabla, the ghatam, the Middle Eastern dumbek, the Irish Bodhran, and the mridangam. He has degrees in areas of the science, engineering and management from Miami University. You can read his entire biography at THIS LINK.

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Ciara and Scrini singing

The English department chair, Katie Dunn sent the following note to the members of the music department Sue Barre, Ciara Hargrove, and Sam Lyons:
Thank you for such a heartwarming cultural experience on Friday. I was overwhelmed to see so many of our students singing and playing music with Scrini Krishnan. Over a quarter of the school was on that stage! And they had embraced this Indian rhythm and sound that is so different than what I imagine they usually hear and play. It was awesome to see and hear the results.

Check out a segment of the performance Scrini directed with the audience by CLICKING HERE.

Amy Calder from the Kennebec Journal attended the Friday concert and she describes the experience very well in the article at THIS LINK.

IMG_1768I think the experience was best summed up by accomplished sophomore musician Soren Nyhus, 15, a cellist in the school orchestra. “We all work to make the music better with the notes, the rhythms and all that stuff. Working with Scrini taught me that music is more than working on the notes. Music has the ability to speak to all of us through the heart, music is our common language.”

CLICK HERE for a glimpse at a rehearsal with Scrini that lead up to the performances.

CLICK HERE for video footage of the afternoon at Waterville High School.

Sue Barre, department chair, hopes that Scrini will return and involved more learners as part of a Global Rhythms Concert. If you’d like more information please contact Sue at sbarre@aos92.org.

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Josh Bosse

March 8, 2016

MALI Teacher Leader series

MALI_V1_Color_100ppiThis is the first blog post of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 5  Teacher Leader stories. This series contains a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work they are doing as Maine arts educators. CLICK HERE for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE for more information on the 73 of the MALI Teacher Leaders. CLICK HERE for Arts education resources. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past stories. There have been 60 posted to date.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 5.41.55 AMJoshua Bosse currently teaches music, grades K-12 at the Madawaska School Department (MSD). He graduated from the University of Maine, Orono in 2011, and has been teaching at MSD since. Josh teaches almost 500 students throughout the week and am responsible in teaching them general music (EC-8), band (elementary, middle & high school), marching and pep band (7-12), guitar ensemble, and chorus (elementary). His true passion, however, lies with the high school band, because to hear the students express their feelings through music is truly amazing! “I get so excited when we learn a new piece, then as we work on it, I can see the growth and beauty coming from the students, and to have a concert at the end of the semester to show the audience how much we have grown and developed as musicians; it’s what I live for!

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

1) Passion, 2) Communication, and 3) Drive. The reason that you need passion is because if you are not passionate about what you teach, how can you instill passion into the heart and souls of these students who you are molding to become well rounded adults. Communication with other arts educators has been a saving grace for me this year! Getting different ideas, getting help with understanding of certain topics, and much more has helped me so much this year. Drive is also a must, because there are those days where it seems that everything you do is either not heard or respected, and some days you are completely stressed out! Most, if not all, of us have had those days, but what gets us through it is our passion for the arts and communication with other arts teachers in order to “vent” out frustrations and get different ideas to use for our classrooms. Having both passion and communication, definitely drives me to be a better educator.

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

Since joining MALI, I have been able to come up with my standards which I have also been able to implement in my high school band class. Since I have started using my standards, I have been more focused on the growth aspect of each student rather than the “final product.” I have also been having students keep track of their learning, and I know that they are seeing a growth in their musicality, which in turn helps for a better “end product.”

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

I have become a bigger advocate for the arts, by leading workshops, connecting with other arts teachers, and much more.

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

The biggest thing that gets in my way of teaching is having all the laws/rules and all the paperwork that we have to fill out in order to make sure that we are “effective” teachers. I feel as though there is so much happening outside the classroom, that it actually effects the inside of our classroom. I also feel that time is a huge factor in becoming a better teacher. Sometimes there is just not enough time to get to the things that you want to, which may change the outcome of a certain product.

What are you most proud of in your career?

The thing that I am most proud of and worked hard at in my career would have to be being part of MALI. The reason that I say this is because I have become a better music educator and a better advocate for the arts. Looking at myself in regards to these two things, I am seeing growth in myself and in my students. They are actually learning the material that I am presenting to them, and in turn, it makes me feel more accomplished as an educator, because I know that they are receiving a wonderful music education.

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

The best advice that I can give to other teachers would be to COMMUNICATE!!! You don’t know how many times I have had to talk to other teachers and/or professionals who actually “get” what I am going through. The good, the bad and the ugly are great things to share with fellow colleagues. I don’t know where I would be without the communication aspect of my job!

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

If I was given $500,000, the first thing I would do is pay off mine and my wife’s student loans and other bills. They have been such a hassle to deal with since starting my “real life” in the “real world.” My life would be much simpler without them, and that way, I can actually save up and do the things that I want. With a quarter of the money gone, I would definitely donate to my church, purchase some new(er) instruments and fix some of our other instruments for my school, take a nice vacation to Europe with my lovely wife, and actually start a family without financial worries. Whatever I have left, I would save up and continue working to the point of retirement.

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

I do what I love on a daily basis, and not everyone can say that. Looking over my short (but sweet) career, there is nothing that I regret doing. I look forward to being able to continue instilling my love of music into the children that I teach; there is nothing to regret about that!

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