Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

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MALI Mega Oxford Hills

April 13, 2018

Fabulous learning opportunity

Over 70 PK-12 arts educators and Teaching Artists traveled to Oxford Hills High School in late March to attend the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative conference. The workshops varied greatly and participants had the opportunity to attend three during the day.

Thank you to the Oxford Hills visual and performing arts staff and administrators for providing the space for the conference. One week before the conference we learned that their workshop day turned into a teaching and learning day due to the many snow days. We are grateful that they were still able to make it happen.

Kris Bisson, Kate Smith, Brian Evans-Jones

A huge THANK YOU to visual arts teachers Cindi Kugell and Samantha Armstrong for all of their attention to detail.

Thank you to the following who offered workshops:

  • Cindi Kugell – Bookmaking 101: summative assessment never looked so good!
  • Lindsay Pinchbeck – The Arts and Emotional Intelligence
  • Dorie Tripp – Flexible Grouping Strategies for the General Music Classroom
  • Catherine Anderson – Tableaus of Courage: How to Help Students Engage with Complex Content through Theater
  • Samantha Armstrong – Stars and Stairs
  • Phil Hammett – Creativity
  • Tom Luther – Improvisation Crusader: Improvisation as an Essential Musical Skill
  • Nancy Harris Frohlich – Inspiring Environmental Stewardship Through Visual Arts
  • Lori Spruce and Tim Christensen – Integrating Curriculum: Making it Happen at the High School Level
  • Mandi Mitchell – Looking in the Mirror: The Importance of Student Self-Reflection
  • Brian Evans-Jones and Kris Bisson – Bridging Adolescence: A River Runs Through Us – Composing our Story
  • Jenni Null and Linda McVety – All Aboard for Arts Travel, Full STEAM Ahead!
  • Bronwyn Sale – Teaching Aesthetics and Criticism: Approaches to Standard D
  • Andrew Harris – Creativity and Taking Back the Classroom

Amanda Huotari

In the middle of the day we had the fabulous opportunity to work with and learn from Teaching Artist Amanda Houteri from Celebration Barn Theater.

Participants during Amanda’s session

In June there will be an opportunity for teaching artists. PK-12 arts teachers and teaching artists will have an opportunity to apply to be a leader. Watch the blog and weekly email to learn more.

Dr. Katie Rybakova and Thomas College pre-service teachers

Jan Gill and Jenni Null

Kris Bisson and Brian Evans-Jones presenting

Tom Luther presenting

Mandi Mitchell

Samantha Armstrong and Linda McVety

Teaching artists Tim Christensen, Tom Luther, and Brian Evans-Jones

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MALI Teaching Artist Leader Story: Tom Luther

April 10, 2018

Teaching Artist – musician

This is the one 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 Tom for sharing your story!

Tom Luther teaches piano, digital/computer music, composition, and improvisation. He’s been at it for 6 years and has no real favorite ages or levels. Teaching is very much a shared pursuit with Tom’s students, meaning he considers himself as much a student as they are. He can, and has, studied the same material/concept as his students, and they can share what they’ve learned about it. Tom tells his students: “I’m not any better at this than you are, I just have a bit more experience practicing”. He thinks this notion is essential for learners, especially new learners, to take ownership of their study.

What do you like best about being a teaching artist?

Being able to revisit concepts through my student’s eyes, and re-experiencing the study in new and unexpected ways.

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

  1. Ownership of the art, and having the permission to create.
  2. Objective observation/reflection
  3. Active participation as both audience and performer. This is especially true of the audience piece. Experiencing work outside your own is essential for greater learning and particularly inspiration.

Have you found assessment to be helpful in your classes, workshops and residencies, and if so, how?

I have two main methods of assessment; recordings/listening sessions and master class style formats. Each allows the opportunity to practice objective listening, and speaking objectively about music. Having students listen to their own performances is especially helpful, as is will often point to a) how much progress they have made, and b) help them to hear how much better they sound than they initially felt. It’s also tremendously helpful as in terms of “practice performance” and dealing with the accompanying anxiety .

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?

The opportunities for learning are tremendous, and very motivating and inspiring. This is coupled with an amazing network of teachers who are a fabulous resource for feedback. I think that we all benefit from the collective intelligence and imagination of the group.

What are you most proud of as an artist and/or a teaching artist?

I take great pride in helping my students believe. For too long, the arts have been viewed as “for them, not us” because of a misguided idea about talent and ability. I am proud to be helping my students believe in themselves, and strive toward their goals.

What gets in the way of doing a better job as a teaching artist?

The current culture’s emphasis on “end product” versus “process”; the lack of belief in the intrinsic value of the arts( and the accompanying over-reliance on utilitarian value); general “anti-reflective” attitudes. I would also cite the rampant commodification of music as a fairly significant hurdle.

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

I raised $4400 in a crowdfunding campaign a few years back. Those things always look easy until you run one.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a teaching artist or is just starting out?

This is one of the most important and fulfilling things one could ever do. This is an opportunity to guide an inexperienced mind into the world of the arts. This is an opportunity to sculpt learning, both for the student and yourself. This is an opportunity to help make lives better, more rich, and more well rounded. Don’t do this if you think it will be easier than getting a “day job”. Don’t do this if you think its “easy money”. Don’t do this to gratify your own ego. Becoming a teaching artist is to become a mentor, and take responsibility for starting (or continuing) a student on a magnificent life’s adventure.

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

Honestly, pay off my mortgage. While this may at first sound a bit selfish (and it may be), but the reality for all teachers is that financial issues are always a source of stress and distraction, and can potentially drive an individual out of the profession, simply because they can’t take care of the everyday basics. That said, I would take the remainder and consult with my finance whiz brother-in-law to grow a fund to support arts education programs in under-served areas. Arts education should not be contingent on income level.

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

Probably. I maintain pretty high, and probably unrealistic, standards for myself and it is extremely likely that there will be at least one thing I haven’t done yet. Then again, I have a bad habit of assuming things and ideas that won’t necessarily transpire, so who knows. I can say that I am going to try my best to avoid regrets.

Tom spends some of his time teaching in Rockland at the Midcoast Music Academy

In the fall of 2017 Tom had two strokes back to back. As part of his ‘come back’ he created a weekly video to share his learning, his pathway to recovery, and to inspire his students (and others) to use a growth mindset. The amazing video series is called Practicing My Way Back and can be accessed at Spheremusik, Tom’s YouTube channel. 

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Congrats Waterville High School

April 6, 2018

Heritage Festival, New York City

Recently Waterville High School musicians traveled to New York City for the Heritage Festival. Not only did they come home with awards but they had a chance to experience part of the culture that New York has to offer.

Chaperone and Waterville High School nurse Ann Bouchard describes the pride in the music students and their trip to New York City:

So lucky to have been part of this amazing experience with exceptional musicians and people—-our students!!!  Colleagues and chaperones were top notch.  Thanks to our music educators for giving the gift of music to our children and students and for enriching our lives with their gifts.  As was said at the festival, “The arts make our world civilized.”  Thank goodness something does and these educators and musicians have a hand in the civilizing of our part of the world”.

Sue Barre with her son and daughter, juniors at Waterville High School

Waterville music educator Sue Barre words to school staff on the return from New York:

“We had a wonderful few days. First and foremost we would like to share the compliments we received on how polite and well behaved our students are. Kudos to all at WSHS for that”!

DESCRIPTION OF THE EXPERIENCE

Ensembles are adjudicated on a scale that is used nationwide at Heritage Festivals. Student ensembles were from California, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, and Maine. This included 700-800 students.

Gold awards indicates scores of 90-100. The Waterville ensembles that earned Gold ratings:

  • chorus
  • sound check
  • strings
  • band
  • jazz band

Four of the six awards presented for Outstanding Musicianship were presented to Waterville students

  • Alex Lecrone – sound check
  • Soren Nyhus – strings
  • Natalia Fuentes – string
  • Aubrey Fossett – band and jazz band

Each school was asked to nominate a student who not only is a strong musician but also a good school citizen, scholar, and overall person. Selected for this award from the entire festival was Waterville’s Soren Nyhus!

  • Best overall Band Program – Waterville
  • Best overall String Program – Waterville
  • Best overall Instrumental Program – Waterville
  • Adjudicators Award for Concert Band – average of 92 or more on scores – Superior Performance
  • Festival Award for Best Program – Waterville

Congratulations to the Waterville Music educators for their outstanding teaching and preparing students to participate in this event!

  • Sue Barre – Band and department chair
  • Ciara Hargrove – Vocals
  • Graybert Beacham – Strings
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Dance Grant Recipient: Prescott School

April 4, 2018

MAC Dance Education Grant – Chrissy Fowler

The Maine Arts Commission (MAC) established the Dance Education grant in 2015 to provide funding for schools to provide a learning opportunity for students in grades PK-12. Four schools, hundreds of learners, and four dance teaching artists from the MAC teaching artist roster have benefited from the funding. This funding is made possible through a dance performance sponsored by several community dance studios and school dance education programs in Maine.

Traditional social dance artist, Chrissy Fowler has been working in Prescott School, Washington this year providing instruction for the school’s K-6 students and staff. This dance residency is made possible from the Dance Education grant.

You can find Chrissy’s teaching artist profile on the Maine Arts Commission roster. The dance education grant is available right now for those interested in obtaining funds for the 2018-19 school year. For more information please go to the blog post called DANCE EDUCATION FUNDING. The deadline is Wednesday, May 2. 

Here’s the story from this year’s grant recipient… Thank you Chrissy for providing it.

Chrissy earned her M.Ed. in 1996 and started calling both community and contra dances in 1999. She has led school residencies for about a decade, and has been an educator for aeons. Leading contra dance residencies lets her combine PK-12 teaching and traditional New England social dance, the dance form which lets her identify as a “dancer” even though she doesn’t feel physically graceful. In this tradition, you work with a partner as well as everyone else in your set. Although there are sometimes roles which can be danced by anyone (e.g. “lady” or “gent”), there is no designated leader or follower. All dancers have equal agency in making the dance work—and we’re all in it together. Chrissy loves that! She’s also on the board of a local non-profit, Belfast Flying Shoes, which has a comprehensive outreach program including support for school dance residencies, such as the one at Prescott School.

RESIDENCY DESCRIPTION

All of my residencies have common goals: everyone participates in the dancing, exhibits pro-social behaviors, and makes connections across grade levels, and the residency culminates with a community dance for students, staff, and families.

At Prescott, we’re trying a few new things. First, my visits are structured in three mini-residencies, each comprised of four weekly visits and a culminating dance. Spreading it out over three seasons (fall, late winter, and late spring) has allowed me to integrate a bit more into the school community.

The residency also specifically connects to local history. Charlie Overlock, who fiddled and called for dances for 66 years, was born in Washington. He led dances all over his hometown and nearby. I’ve shared some of Charlie’s story with the students and I’ve taught dances I don’t usually use in schools – such as the foxtrot, which featured prominently in his program for the Washington High School Class of 1921’s graduation dance.

Finally, I was privileged to meet with the staff before the start of school, to find out what they wanted from the residency. Based on their input, I have made a special effort to articulate ways they can use the dances in their own classrooms (e.g. adapting them for movement breaks) and I’m putting together an annotated bibliography of children’s literature related to dance, especially various forms of traditional social dance. (When complete, the bibliography will be available to others via chrissyfowler.com and belfastflyingshoes.org)

GREATEST BENEFITS 

I lead dance residencies in many schools; some have me back every year. I think students, staff, and families value the chance to connect in a fun and active way… with eye contact, broad smiles, cooperation for all ages, and a lot of moving to music. And I think that’s the same at Prescott. We’ve witnessed a lot of joy and delight, and the best part is that contra dancing is something that they can do in their community for the rest of their lives. Maybe even with their own children.

LANGUAGE

Rather than any specific vocabulary words, I hope the learners take with them the kinesthetic language of moving their bodies through space in particular patterns. Contra dance figures such as “do-si-do” or “allemande left” are very positional, and there is also a tremendously strong left:right, clockwise:counter-clockwise dimension. We know that movement builds cognitive pathways, and contra dance can be a great way to learn, concretely, about equal and opposite forces, patterns, or directionality. The various figures also can support strong proprioceptive and vestibular systems, although that’s certainly not something I’d expect learners to articulate!

I also hope that they experience some social-emotional learning, such as the thrill of positively connecting with someone by dancing with them. Or doing the hard work of getting through a dance that’s challenging—either because the figures are complex or because you have to muster the inner strength to be kind and respectful to someone who’s not your favorite dance partner.

FUTURE REMEMBRANCE

It would be a thrill if anyone remembered the ways that contra dance is part of their own local history in Washington. Beyond that, I hope they internalize that moving – together – to songs and fiddle tunes can be both social and fun for all ages… and at any level of gracefulness!

WHAT PARTICIPANTS ARE SAYING

When students were asked for their response to the opportunity to learn with and from Chrissy, 6th graders said:

  • It is fun to learn to social dance.
  • It’s really different than I thought it would be.
  • I think it kind of feels like country but also feels a little like Scottish dancing.

Grade 6 teacher, Jim Freyenhagen:

I have been amazed at how quickly the students picked up the rhythm and the steps. The dancing makes them interact (in a positive way) with kids they don’t normally interact with.

Not only are they learning to dance but they are practicing their social skills with their peers and younger students.

Principal, Nancy Stover:

I think one of the highlights of this residency has been watching (through Chrissy’s magical techniques) how the students and staff have been able to abandon their inhibitions and try something out of their comfort zone. It has been amazing to observe students who struggle with peer relationships walk up to someone from another grade and ask if they could be their partner. It’s also heartwarming to see how well the older and younger students work together. They help each other learn the dance steps with patience and kindness, laughing and smiling all the way.

The community dance was a huge success! Parents and community members participated and those that initially observed from the audience, joined in and before the evening had ended, everyone was on the dance floor. The word spread throughout the community and we’ve had many people ask when the next community dance is scheduled. This residency has been one of the most rewarding I’ve experienced. It gives everyone a sense of belonging and inclusion while having fun! 

COMMUNITY MEMBER, HAZEL KOPISHKE, HISTORY

Charles E. Overlock was born in Washington in 1870.  His father Samuel played fiddle for kitchen dances. At the age of 6 or 7 Charles was sneaking his father’s fiddle and learning to play.  He played for his first kitchen dance at the age of 11 and continued playing for dances for 66 years. For the first years, most of the fiddle playing was for dances in homes in the neighborhood that could be  walked to. Later he would travel by horse and buggy, and in 1916 in his first automobile, to play at the many grange halls and dance halls in the area often traveling from 5 to 20 miles. Through the years the Overlock Orchestra included his wife Clara and daughter Josephine playing organ and piano and his son E. Burnell  on drums along with local cornet players. His orchestra usually consisted of 2 or 3 people but did grow to 4, 5 and once 6 members. He played for more than 300 dances at Light’s Pavillion located within sight of his home on Rt 220 between Washington village and So. Liberty.

Charles Overlock was a country fiddler that could not read music but kept people dancing for many, many years.

This information was taken from the book Sixty-Six Years A Country Fiddler, Charles E. Overlock  by E. Burnell Overlock, published 1984.

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Vox Nova Chamber Choir

April 1, 2018

 “The Four Seasons: Spring Equinox 

Vox Nova Chamber Choir presents its third installment of The Four Seasons concert series with a performance Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 3:00 PM at The Orion Performing Arts Center, Mt. Ararat Middle School, 66 Republic Ave., Topsham.

The music for Spring Equinox celebrates nature’s awakening from winter. Hyems’ “Be Gone, Winter!” heralds the departure of the frozen season. Stephen Paulus’ “Spring” and “Afternoon on a Hill” herald the earth’s rebirth through her flora and fauna. White’s “Blue Estuaries,” “Nightingales” by Finzi, Tippet’s “Dance: Clarion Air,” provide traditional fader while the whimsical “Language of the Birds” accompanied by string quartet and composed by Australian composer Veronika Krausas pokes fun. Ole Gjeilo’s “Across the Vast Eternal Sky” highlights rebirth with imagery of a fiery sunset representative of the phoenix.

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

TICKETS

Tickets may be purchased online in advance with a credit or debit card at www.voxnovachamberchoir.org and at the door.

Cash, check and debit or credit card accepted at the door via our box office.
General Admission: $20
Senior: $15
College students with ID: $10
Children 18 and under accompanied by an adult: $10

FMI contact Shannon Chase, Director voxnovachoralconsort@gmail.com or George A. Voyzey, PR Coordinator georgevoyzey@gmail.com

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Who Are They? Oxford Hills Region Part 5

March 29, 2018

Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association (OHMPAA)

This blog post is part of a series that aims to bring awareness to the Maine Arts Ed blog readers about the many visual and performing arts venues and educational opportunities in the Oxford Hills. The Oxford Hills Region of Maine is a perfect setting for the arts as it is centrally located where the rolling foothills of the White Mountains and beautiful lakes regions intersect. Located 45 miles north of Portland, 35 miles east of New Hampshire, and 20 miles west of Lewiston-Auburn, the region hosts multiple year-round opportunities for learners of all ages and a thriving arts community. The Oxford Hills School District (SAD17) is Maine’s largest school district in geographic area, with nine community schools, a regional middle school, a comprehensive high school and the Streaked Mountain School, an alternative school for high school students. The Oxford Hills include the towns of Buckfield, Harrison, Hartford, Hebron, Mechanic Falls, Norway, Otisfield, Oxford, Paris, Poland, Sumner, Waterford and West Paris. A great big THANKS to Diana Arcadipone for writing this series of posts.

Dan and Shirli Allen founded OHMPAA in 1985 because they saw a need for a local venue for music, dance and theater in the Oxford Hills. At that time, the primary outlet for the performing arts was for students at the local high school. Except for Ragtag in Bethel, adults had no real performance opportunities. “Back then, we were bare bones and used the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School stage and any other place we could find,” says Jeff Orwig, member (and institutional memory) of the advisory board since the early 1990s. The early group performed works in the public domain and musical reviews because the royalty fees were minimal.

In early days, ticket sales covered all expenses: costumes, musicians, sets, props, and publicity. It has always been important to the group to produce shows that are affordable to the community. Early audiences of 50-75 enjoyed shows at a variety of locations. A local appliance store saved boxes for the sets and OHMPAA was able to produce at least one performance each year. When the high school stage was not available, OHMPAA performed in their then home at Paris Hill Academy.

In 2002, OHMPAA started doing shows in the Norway Grange #45, located at 15 Whitman Street in Norway, ME.  Jeff says “We felt like a moving company because we were doing winter shows at the Grange and summer shows at the Academy.” They eventually made an agreement with the Grange that it could become their home. Finally able to settle into a permanent space, OHMPAA upgraded the electrical service, built an extension onto the stage, and made numerous improvements. Today, OHMPAA cherishes this fine historic building and cares for it as if it was its own.

One pivotal display of community support was when local bookseller Erica Jed from Books N Things in Norway became a ticket agent as a courtesy to OHMPAA. She sold tickets for the past 12 years until recently when she sold the store. Thankfully, the new bookseller, Adrienne Cote, is opening The Tribune, and will honor this tradition. According to Jeff Orwig, this community gift has helped to expand ticket sales to the current capacity of 100 seats.

Jenny Adams, President of the Advisory Board, states the mission of the organization: OHMPAA is dedicated to the presentation of quality entertainment on a regular basis featuring the talents of local residents. On January 1, 2009, OHMPAA became a program of Norway Maine Opera House Corporation which is a 501(c)(3) organization. Today, the advisory board numbers 15 and represents a blend of performers, business and community leaders and audience advocates. Regulations have become more complex and members need to be able to navigate a wide array of complex issues however in the early days, board members were a group of artists who did everything. The board still chooses all of the programming and runs this non-profit organization as a break-even business.

Programming usually consists of two full length main stage shows — most often a play in June and a musical in November — 8 performances each. They also produce “extras” which are training workshops like Audition Workshop and Theater 101, which draw from a panel of local experts: Sally Jones of Norway (former teacher at OHCHS), Ethan Wright of Buckfield (teaches Music at Buckfield HS), Jamie Swenson of Portland and Kristen Short of Norway.

The program below is set for the 2018 season. Tickets sell from $8 to $12 per show and can also be purchased at the door or at The Tribune bookstore. OHMPAA accepts proposals from new directors for full length shows, one acts and children’s theater. The selection process takes place in the summer and two shows, plus extras, are chosen for the subsequent season.  TO LEARN MORE. For GENERAL INFORMATION or MORE INFORMATION. Or email OHMPAA@gmail.com.

  • June 14-24              Noises Off  A farce by Michael Frayne
  • July 28                     This is what Happened; Backstage Stories compiled by Sally Jones
  • November 8-18       Little Shop of Horrors by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman
  • December 6-9         The Gift of the Magi  and The Happy Prince in four area churches NO CHARGE
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Dorie and Hope Connect

March 28, 2018

Arts integration at its finest

Art Teacher Hope Lord and Music Teacher Dorie Tripp collaborated to create an amazing learning opportunity for their students in the RSU 38, Maranacook area schools.

Hope working on the drum at the MALI summer institute

Hope and Dorie became Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leaders last spring as part of phase 7. Both are inspirational leaders who shared their integrated work at the MALI winter retreat in March.

At the MALI summer institute in August 2017 they participated in the drum building session with MALI Design Team member Lindsay Pinchbeck. Out of the learning opportunity they decided to involve the students in cross-curricular and cross grade level learning.

Hope worked with her general art & design students to build drums and create tribal printing stamps. They brought their ideas and stamps to the 5th graders who used the stamps to make designs on 16 drums.

The students experimented with the sounds that the drums make by using different materials for the drum head and by how tight they attached them. They already started to use the drums and are looking forward to the spring concert to perform with them for the community. Both Hope and Dorie are glad to share their ideas in more depth, if you’re interested!

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