Posts Tagged ‘Maine Central Institute’

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Congratulations Music Educators

January 13, 2019

Two music teachers recognized

Dean Neal

For 20 years band directors from across the country have been nominated to the School Band and Orchestra Magazine for the award titled “50 Directors Who Make a Difference”. Representing Maine this year is Dean Neal, music educator who has taught for 29 years at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. Congratulations Dean! Below you can read his story published with the other 49 recipients at THIS LINK.

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

There is no singular moment which compares to the great sense of pride I have in being a part in helping music education become an integral part of the school community at Maine Central Institute. When I first began teaching at M.C.I. in 1990, music classes and ensembles were present, but they had not yet realized their great potential to influence the lives of each person in our school community. Through the joint efforts of K-12 Music Educators, parents and students, music now enjoys being a part of a vibrant arts community which impacts our school and local community in significant ways.

How do you hope to make a difference in your students’ lives?

I hope to give them a voice to express their thoughts, emotions, and creativity through music. Regardless of their chosen instrument be it wind, percussion, voice, piano, string or digital music creation; each student has something to say and something to share through music which is programmed for them or music which they select or create. Effective art has the ability to communicate with people in powerful ways and I am thankful to be a part of bringing that out of our students.

I have a zippered vest which I wear to school most days. On this vest is embroidered a simple three-word phrase “Work in Progress.” I want my students to know that I am a “work in progress,” they are a “work in progress,” the music we study is a “work in progress,” each class is a “work in progress,” and likewise each performance is a “work in progress.” This is not meant to convey a sense of never-ending work but rather the reality that each day brings with it new challenges and new accomplishments. It is exciting to be on the “construction team” of their “work in progress!”

Tom Lizotte

Congratulations Tom Lizotte, music educator from Cape Elizabeth High School! Tom was recently named the 2019 John LaPorta Music Educator of the Year by the Berklee College of Music and the Jazz Educators Network (JEN). Tom will receive his award at the JEN conference in Reno, NV, and at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival.

Thomas Lizotte is an accomplished music educator who has influenced the artistic lives of thousands of students. He is a teacher at Cape Elizabeth High School in Cape Elizabeth, ME. Thomas Lizotte has been in public education for the past 30 years. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, with degrees in music education and wind conducting. He has taught high school in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida and Maine. His primary jazz influences have been Dave Sporny, Dave Demsey Paul Alberta, Don Doane and Steve Massey. He is a regular contributor to The Instrumentalist magazine. Long active as a teacher and judge in the marching arts, he is a member of three teaching halls of fame – Massachusetts Drum Corps, Boston Crusaders and Maine Music Educators.

Read more about Tom and his award at THIS LINK!

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Another Student’s Story

January 11, 2016

Bossov student – Abi DeSchiffar

AbiDeSchiffart2It is hard to find something to say about the arts that has not already been said. I could reiterate how students involved in the arts typically have better test scores and how being involved in the arts forces children to use different sections of their brains, the same sections used for mathematics and problem solving. The statistics that prove the value of the arts have already been said over and over again. The only thing I have left to tell is my own story and how being involved in the arts has changed my life.

I grew up surrounded by music. My mother played the piano, both at home and at church, and my father played the guitar. When my sisters and I were little, my father used to play the guitar and sing to us every night before bed. As a result, I grew up associating music with family and love. When I was eight years old, I was introduced to the piano, and I almost immediately fell in love. Here was something with which I could create a sound beautiful to anyone listening. For me, learning to read music was like learning how to decipher a new code, and the result was a beautiful melody. Of course, my playing sounded far from beautiful when I first began, but over the next nine years I would learn to put my heart into what I was playing, and make the keys seem like an extension of my fingertips. The piano was the first instrument that I learned how to play, and as such, it will always have a special place in my heart.

Following the piano, the next instrument that I learned how to play was the trumpet. When I first picked it up in the fifth grade, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. The trumpet fascinated me. Here was this bold, proud instrument that was very unlike the graceful, yet equally powerful piano. I played in a band all through middle school and into high school. The trumpet has opened many doors for me and allowed me to meet many interesting people. If only for that, I am very grateful that I decided to pick it up for the first time all those years ago. In subsequent years, I would learn a little bit of other instruments, such as the clarinet and flute very briefly, but the trumpet and piano remain the two instruments that I play today. The piano is something private that I play primarily for myself, while the trumpet has led to me being a part many different bands and learning how to play with other people.

When I was in the third grade, only nine years old, I was introduced to a program known as Destination Imagination. DI is a creative problem-solving competition that one participates in on teams of seven or less. It wasn’t until DI that I truly learned how to act, improvise, and problem solve on the spot. DI changed how quickly I thought and how resourceful I could be when faced with a challenge. In addition to changing my thought processes, it also taught me a great deal about teamwork. During a DI challenge, you do not have time to argue or come up with separate solutions; you just have to build off of each other. DI opened a whole new aspect of the arts to me, acting. I found out that I loved to perform and to act with other people. I will be forever grateful to have the skills that participating in DI taught me all those years ago.

Though all of the arts I mentioned above are very important to me, it is the art of ballet that truly holds my heart. It is ballet that taught me about dedication, work ethic, passion, striving for perfection, and how it feels to absolutely love what you do. I first walked into a ballet classroom when I was just under four years old. Since that moment ballet has been a huge part of my life, although I did not officially start ballet training until I was around eight years old. As I got older, I began to dance five to six days a week, driving three hours a day in order to do so. I even left home my sophomore year of high school to attend Bossov Ballet, at Maine Central Institute (MCI) in Pittsfield. Through studying ballet I have learned more about culture, artistry, and respect, both for others and myself, than in any other aspect of my life. It is impossible to count the millions of plies I have done in my life, or pirouettes, but each movement still contains a different aspect in it that I can improve. Ballet has constantly challenged me, ever since I took that first class. That was a part of what attracted me to ballet in the first place. As a child, academics always came easily to me. Ballet, on the other hand presented a challenge that I had not previously faced. It provided me an escape on the rougher days and a place in which I could find a home with the routine of a classical ballet class. During class, there is not room to focus on anything besides the movements, music, and instruction. It provided me a break from all of the stress and worries of the world outside that small, beautiful studio. As a ballet dancer, being in an empty studio leaves me with feeling of peace and acceptance. I believe that I will always feel this way, even when I am no longer able to dance.

As I mentioned earlier, I arrived at MCI three years ago for my sophomore year. It did not take me long to realize that one area in which MCI truly excels is in the arts. From it’s outstanding music program to the equally proficient visual arts program, Maine Central Institute succeeds in presenting it’s students with the benefits that the arts have for them. Personally, I have been involved with many of the different arts programs at MCI, with varying levels of commitment. In playing the trumpet in the school concert band and pep band, I am constantly impressed by the skill of some of the musicians on campus, as well as the leadership of Mr. Dean Neal. While I am in the concert band, there are many other musical groups on campus in which I do not take part. These students meet both during and after school to practice and rehearse. They put in countless hours of time into this program and into their instruments.

The vocalist groups on campus are just as, if not more, impressive. The two vocal jazz groups won first and third place respectively at their state competition, which is almost unheard of. In addition to Mr. Neal, at MCI there is another music instructor, Mr. Wright, a talented musician himself, who teaches his students how to love playing the piano. He welcomed me when I first arrived here three years ago, inviting me to play in the piano recital, even though I could not fit piano into my schedule, and allowing me to use his room to practice. While I am not a part of the visual arts program, I have seen the evidence of their work around campus and in the many productions they help build props and sets for. I did, however, have the privilege to be a small part of the drama program here at MCI. Through participating in the one-act drama team, I was able to witness students come out of their shells and learn how to perform. I saw them become the characters they were portraying and how their confidence grew. For me, that was the best part of the whole experience. It was in watching some of them find something that they loved to do, and to their surprise, found out that they were good at it.

The program at MCI that I am most invested in, and that has affected me the most, is Bossov Ballet. Being a part of Bossov for the past three years has not only changed my dancing, but also who I am as a person. The amount of respect that I have for our instructor, Natalya Getman, is impossible to put in words. She has taught us not only how to respect the art, but also how to respect ourselves and those around us. She dedicates countless hours to the program and to us, her students. It is Natalya who makes Bossov Ballet the incredible program that it is and who maintains the high level of training in technique, performance, and artistry. Through daily classes and rehearsals, we work to perfect the art that we all chose to pursue.

The arts provide communities that are accepting of all different types of personalities and that provide a place for these individuals to feel comfortable expressing themselves. When I first arrived at MCI, the arts community really welcomed me. It is among the dancers of Bossov that I have found my best friends and those with whom I have developed my closest relationships with at MCI. Through the other arts programs that I have been involved in during the past two years, I have met the majority of the people I relate to and enjoy the company of at school. Arts programs provide places for anyone with the dedication and work ethic to pursue his/her chosen art form to find a home. The arts have changed who I am as a person, and I will be forever grateful to all of those who helped me or supported me in pursuing them.

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Bossov Ballet Theatre

January 8, 2016

Maine dance program for learners, ages 4 to adult

I had the opportunity to visit Maine Central Institute recently to learn more about the Bossov Ballet Theatre. The staff was wonderful to meet with me and as a follow-up share the information below. I was very impressed with the dance instruction provided by the Artistic Director Natalya Getman and with the passion exhibited by the students in class and in a follow up conversation. If you have any questions about the program please contact Jen Beane at jbeane@mci-school.org.

IMG_1392Bossov Ballet Theatre (BBT) was founded on February 23, 1996 by Col. Michael D. Wyly and Andrei Bossov, a former principal dancer with St. Petersburg’s Kirov Ballet. Initially an independent corporation, Bossov Ballet Theatre was housed on the campus of Maine Central Institute (MCI) in Pittsfield, Maine. In 2013, BBT officially became a part of MCI.

BBT at MCI offers an after school program for students from ages 4 to adult. In addition, the program offers high school-aged students who qualify for the opportunity to study classical ballet (Russian style) as part of the academic curriculum. This unique program, the only one of its kind that we are aware of in the United States, allows students to earn full academic credit for ballet training. These students receive three and a half hours of ballet class during the school day, and two and a half hours on Saturday plus rehearsals. The curriculum includes technique, pointe, partnering, classic pointe variations, character, and acting.

IMG_1361In addition to ballet, students take a full college preparatory high school curriculum, grades 9 through 12. The ballet course counts for 2 credits each year and is continuous all four years. Students can matriculate as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors, depending on their previous credits earned at other institutions. Ballet and other academics are all on MCI’s campus along with dormitories and dining. Classes are small; the year-round ballet class includes 15 select students.

Historically, MCI’s ballet students have been the school’s highest achievers in terms of SAT scores and grade point average. Students who complete the program are uniquely positioned either to matriculate to an outstanding college or join a professional ballet company. BBT dancers have gone directly from their senior year in high school to companies and colleges such as the following.

Schools

  • Academic Ballet School of St. Petersburg, Russia (“Vaganova Academy”)
  • Hart School, Hartford, Connecticut
  • Suny Purchase, New York
  • Denison University, Granville, Ohio
  • Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts
  • University of Utah, Utah

Ballet Companies

  • San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco, California
  • Ballet Met, Columbus, Ohio
  • Joffrey Ballet, Chicago, Illinois
  • Ballet Theater of Maryland, Annapolis, Maryland
  • Ballet Illinois, Peoria, Illinois
  • Bejart Ballet, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Columbia Classical Ballet, Columbia, South Carolina
  • Louisville Ballet, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Nashville Ballet, Nashville, Tennessee

Classes are taught by BBT Artistic Director Natalya Getman. Getman was born in Russia, where IMG_1368she was a gymnastics champion by the age of ten. She studied dance at the Leningrad Academy Choreographic School (Kirov Theater) and graduated with honors from the Uzbek Choreographic School. Upon graduation from the Uzbek School, she joined the Turkmenistan State Theater of Ballet and Opera. In 1995, Getman joined the Moscow Ballet and began touring with them to countries such as Turkey, Spain, Israel, and China. In 1999 she came to the United States with the Moscow Ballet to dance and teach choreography to local children to allow them to dance in the children’s roles with the visiting company when they traveled with The Nutcracker to their city. Getman joined Bossov Ballet Theatre in 2001 as an instructor and became Artistic Director in 2013.

BBT at MCI also offers a six-week Summer Intensive and students can apply to take 1, 5 or 6 IMG_1367weeks.  The five-week intensive program will culminate with a full performance of Don Quixote on Friday July 29 and Saturday July 30 at the Williamson Center for Performing Arts in Fairfield. In addition to Getman, the summer faculty includes Elena Petrichenko and Sergey Chumakov, soloists with the Moscow Ballet. Petrichenko and Chumakov perform both in the US and internationally and come to MCI each summer directly from Moscow.

In addition to the performance at the end of the Summer Intensive, each year BBT students have the opportunity to perform two full-length ballets that have been professionally staged at area theaters. BBT just completed its annual production of The Nutcracker and the school is looking forward to this year’s spring show, featuring The Ugly Duckling, at the Waterville Opera House on May 13 and 14.

Students who are interested in Bossov Ballet Theatre can visit the website at www.mci-IMG_1379school.org/ballet, email bossovballet@mci-school.org or call the Admission Office at 207-487-2282. Auditions are required as part of the admission process and can either be done in-person or by sending a video. Fees for the program are based on the class level in which the student is placed after auditioning. Merit scholarships are available for the year-round and summer intensive programs. Students who are interested in joining BBT are invited to visit a class, though an appointment should be made in advance.

BBT is fortunate to have students from around the country and the world. In addition to IMG_1371classical ballet, the program teaches students key skills including memorization, time management and discipline, which can aid students in all aspects of their lives. It also instills a deep love and appreciation for dance, music and the visual arts while allowing students to investigate their varying interests. The high school students are encouraged to join other student clubs and co-curricular activities while at MCI and have a “normal” high school career. Many of the students who choose to not pursue ballet professionally have gone on to very successful careers in medicine, communications, business and other areas.

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