Posts Tagged ‘Midcoast Music Academy’

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

September 30, 2019

Ideas

We all know that Maine has had a bottle bill which includes paying a deposit on most bottles when purchased. When my sons were children one of their responsibilities was to count the bottles when the barrel was full and help return them to our local bottle redemption center. And, yes they’d get to keep the money.

Did you know that the Maine Returnable Beverage Container Law has been in place since 1978? It’s a real success story. Maine is one of only 10 states with a law in place. We all know that everyone doesn’t think this is as fun as my children did. We certainly see bottles on the sides of Maine roads periodically.

Collecting and returning bottles is one thing we can do to help out our community but, what about all the supplies and equipment when they outlive their usefulness? What happens to them? Below are some programs and ideas that I know are in place – I’m guessing that you know of others. Please email them to me at meartsed@gmail.com or share them at the bottom of this blog post so others can learn about them.

  • Crayola ColorCycle program – Crayola and schools across North America are banding together to help kids understand the importance of their role in protecting the environment. That’s why we launched Crayola ColorCycle. Through this initiative, students in K-12 schools across the continental United States and parts of Canada can collect and repurpose used Crayola markers. ColorCycle is also a great opportunity for teachers and their students to explore eco-friendly practices. Specially developed standards-based lesson plans are available to enrich instruction and promote lively class discussions. Its easy to create an account with Crayola and send your used markers to them for recycling. For more information CLICK HERE
  • Vietnam Veterans of America accept donations of used musical instruments and will arrange for pick up. For more information CLICK HERE
  • Ruth’s Reusable Resources – Located at 39 Blueberry Rd., Portland. Ruth has been at this for 25 years and if you’ve never been to the store I highly recommend it. Their mission is to ensure that all students, from pre-k through high school, have the basic supplies and creative tools for literacy, STEAM, and health education through the environmentally-conscious distribution of donated business supplies. For more information CLICK HERE.
  • The National Crayon Recycle Program – This “recycling” education, community service has made it possible to stop more than 120,000 pounds of unwanted crayons from going into landfills with the help from schools, organization educators and kids across this country. For more information CLICK HERE
  • MAMM (Maine Academy of Modern Music) will take used instruments off your hands. For more information email Jeff Shaw, Executive Director and Founder of MAMM at jeff@mamm.rocks.
  • The Crayon Initiative collects crayon and recycles them into new crayons and sends them to children hospitals across the country.
  • You can drop off used instruments that are in fairly good condition to MCMA (Midcoast Music Academy) in Rockland. They often use them with their students.
  • Recycle crayons yourself
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Midcoast Music Academy

June 19, 2019

Spring recital

Midcoast Music Academy’s spring recital is coming up at the Strand Theatre, 345 Main Street, Rockland.

Sunday, June 23

1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – two different performances

Come on down to one the most highly anticipated studio events! It is always an energetic, exciting event full of great music and talented students. Due to ever increasing enrollment at the studio, as well as the addition of several new ensembles and group classes, MCMA will be holding a two-part performance:

– Part One features students performing solo and takes place from 1:00-2:30.
– Part Two is comprised of ensembles and groups of students and is from 3:30-5:00.

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teaching Artist Leaders Tom Luther and Joe Cough both teach at MCMA and will be participating as well.

Midcoast Music Academy is grateful to the Strand Theatre for their continued support in hosting MCMA’s student recitals.

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The Extension Cords

May 16, 2019

MAMM winners

The Extension Cords who performed at the pre-conference of the Maine International Conference on the Arts in September 2018 were just recognized at the Maine Academy of Modern Music Slam! The members, Camden Hills Regional High School students, Owen Markowitz, drummer, Katherine Bowen, electric bass, and Myles Kelley, keyboard came together in 2016. The Jazz-Inspired Trio performed at the arts education conference through the Midcoast Music Academy and their instructor Stu Gurley.

They are impressive and serious and you can listen to their music on SOUND CLOUDThey are often performing in the mid-coast so hopefully you can catch a live performance of The Extension Cords.

Congratulations Katherine, Owen, and Myles for winning the MAMMSlam and your prize of  $1,000. The Extension Cords will be playing at “Jazz in June” in Camden June 14, 7:30 p.m. at the Camden Opera House.

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MALI Teaching Artist Leader: Joe Cough

March 5, 2019

Teaching Artist – Musician

This is one of six blog posts in 2019 that include stories of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 8 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 96 Teacher Leaders and 11 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 Kerry for sharing your story!

Joseph Cough is a Music educator with a specialty in Voice, Guitar, Composition, Theory, Piano, Trumpet. He joined MALI this year as a teaching artist and teaches all ages at the Midcoast Music Academy.

I didn’t know right away that I wanted to teach people music.

In fact, for a long time, I was discouraged from pursuing a career in music and performing arts, either directly or indirectly. It wasn’t until I attended the College of the Atlantic where I actually thought that I was able to make anything from a music profession. I was greatly inspired by John Cooper, the professor of music there. His ear for music and ability to abstractly write out pitches that he heard (and sang back) was like watching an artist paint a canvas. I wanted to be able to do that too, if only for myself.

It was because of him that I needed to understand music inside and out. How does it work? Why does it work like that? Why is this pleasing to me aurally and this not? I wanted to know every detail about a piece of music, no matter who composed it. What scales were used? What modes? What chord progressions can be heard?

In large part, I’ve accomplished that.

Not to say that I understand EVERYTHING about music, but I’m now in a place where I have reached one goal. One goal, of many more. There are many things about music that I have yet to think about and discover. The list of what more I want to do is endless. I’ll never reach the end goal of complete musical proficiency and knowledge.

And that’s ok.

I don’t have those kinds of expectations of myself. In fact, I don’t have any expectations of myself. Well, I do expect myself to put all of my effort into what I’m doing, and to keep a positive and open-minded attitude, but I don’t have a master plan, or an end goal that, if not reached, means I’ve failed. I don’t fail.

Even when when I’ve cracked a note on stage, mistook a perfect 5th for a perfect 4th, muted a string incorrectly, or have played the same passage on the piano at a tortoise speed 28 times, I’ve learned from every one of those experiences. Learning what works, what doesn’t, what is challenging, what isn’t, these are all victories. Gaining this knowledge, despite its positive or negative effect is always and opportunity for growth. This is why I don’t fail.

This is why no one fails.

This is the most important message that I have for anyone who wants to listen.

This is more important than knowing your major scales from memory.

This is more important than having perfect singing posture.

This is more important than ‘good’ pedagogical practice.

There is no ‘good’ or ‘perfect’ or ‘best’ in music.

There is no ‘bad’ or ‘imperfect’ or ‘worst’ in music.

Music, to me, is an experiment. The great thing about this experiment is that when something goes awry, laboratories don’t explode, or things don’t catch on fire. Yet, many students that I’ve worked with over the years are so cautious around music as if one of these things might happen. The good news is, I’ve never seen anyone maimed because they squeaked when they sang, or melted because their dynamics were not interpreted correctly. This is how we learn. This is how we discover what we are. This is how we see what we’re capable of. A lot.

We have preconceived notions of what music should be, and what it shouldn’t be.   

If Schubert didn’t do this, it shouldn’t be done.

If Hendrix did this, it’s the right thing to do.

This is nonsense.

When I teach, I don’t show students what they should do to be a musician. We’re all musicians. We’re born that way. I strive to show them what they’re already capable of doing. Take risks, experiment, make ‘mistakes’ (if there is such a thing).

I’m not advocating that we shouldn’t or needn’t learn from the musicians of the past, and learn music in an academic way.

Schubert was a ‘master’ of German lieder, this is what he did and how he did it.

Hendrix transcended the guitar. This is what he practiced and how.

It’s important to learn all 12 major scales backwards and forwards.

It’s important to train your ear to hear all possible intervals on our tempered scale.

It’s vital to practice the physicality of your instrument.

There are many things someone studying music ought to know.

This is how we communicate with other musicians. This is a way to work with and collaborate with other music artists. If we all speak the same language, we can create stories together and understand them. Does this mean if someone isn’t ‘100% fluent’ in music that they won’t be able to speak and be understood?

No.

But the more we learn, the more we explore, the more curious we are, the more we can teach others our language, and they can teach us theirs. We can share our stories.

It has taken me a long time to truly understand this. Nothing about my musical experience came quickly, or easily. But instant gratification to me is cheap, and contains no substance. I’ve enjoyed every moment that I’ve picked up the guitar, sat at the piano, sang a self-created vocal exercise. I’m thankful that I can do it as often as I do. I wasn’t born with innate knowledge of music and ‘how it works’. We all have the ability to be musicians, but do we all have the time to invest in the craft? I’ve been told many times that I’m ‘talented’ or ‘gifted’ because I do what I do.

I’m not talented. No one is. Talent implies some divine deity bestowed a gift to me that I didn’t have to work at. I wasn’t born an experienced musician, but the hours that I’ve put into the craft give me that experience. This is the other message I have for any learners: our mindset dicates how far you can take your musical journey. Your thoughts tell you your story.

I hear this often in lessons. “This is too hard”, or “I’m just not good enough”, or “if only I started when I was 6 taking lessons, then I’d be good now”. These few word sentences are stories, and we often tell ourselves these stories over and over and over again. They become our story, our reality. The story ends, but is played on a loop. Again, and again, and again.

But what if we changed our stories to “this is challenging, but with more time, I’ll get it”, or “I’m not where I want to be yet musically, but I’ll continue to strive toward what I want to be”, or “this is what I’m capable of now, and I take stock of my accomplishments and will continue to add to them”. These stories don’t end. They are ever evolving. They have substance. They don’t just stop.

So, in a roundabout way, this is where I am now. Even for teaching, I continue to write and edit my story of what I want to be as an educator. In anything really. I literally can do whatever I want to artistically, professionally, etc. It just depends on how much time one has/wants to invest in it. I cannot create professional singers, or guitarists, or composers. But with time, anyone can create the artist within themselves. Any student can write the story in their own mind. Once in the mind, it can manifest itself in any way imaginable.

This is but a small sample of my story. A chapter. I don’t have all the answers. I’m not even sure I could give sound advice to a new incoming Teaching Artist. My style is different than everyone else’s. Maybe the only advice I could give would be to be kind to yourself. Teaching is, an art. Like anything, it needs to be practiced, tried, retried, reworked, adjusted. No one is born a ‘gifted’ educator. But I’ve learned and received some gifts along the way from my colleagues and mentors and teachers. This is why I’m happy to be a part of the Maine Art Leadership Initiative as a Teaching Artist Leader. I can learn from other’s experiences, and they can learn from mine.

What I learn from my colleagues and students in the coming years will all be included in the next chapter of my story.

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Midcoast Music Academy

February 20, 2019

Creating new music

Midcoast Music Academy (MCMA) provides strong opportunities for learners of all ages to learn music and in addition, they support and encourage ‘out of the box’ thinking.
An example of this recently took place when instructors Tom Luther and Joe Cough co-taught a lesson with the intention of coaching students to create a new piece of music. Tom and Joe are both Teaching Artists Leaders with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI). The students, Cameron Pinchbeck (alto sax) and Aili Nell Charland (guitar), improvised and performed an amazing piece. They started with Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”, and their improvisation took them to a totally new work. Tom said: “I think that this is a great example of what can happen when you give students choice, and help them to believe that their story is worth telling.”

LINK TO THEIR PIECE

Midcoast Music Academy (MCMA) is a community music school founded in January 2012 and located in downtown Rockland, Maine that provides the highest quality music instruction to students of all ages and skill levels in a fun, relaxed, and creative environment. MCMA emphasizes access to music education regardless of financial constraints and combines the fundamentals of music – theory, notation, and ear training – with a contemporary approach to learning. At MCMA, we believe students should learn to play what they love and love what they play.
If you have questions please contact Tom Luther and Joe Cough.
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Blues Festival

July 14, 2018

Rockland

If you love the Blues I’m sure you’re aware that the annual North Atlantic Blues Festival is happening this weekend at the public landing in Rockland, July 14 and 15. Amazing performers will be there to delight the audiences and all of Rockland will be providing music and food offerings in the spirit of the festival. Performers include: Kat Riggins, Vanessa Collier, Bobby Rush, Tab Benoit, Lil Ed and the Blue Emperors, Wee Willie Walker and the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra, Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter Connection, Lurrie Bell, Ilana Katz Katz, Slam Allen, and Mud Morganfield.

Opening the festival are students from the Midcoast Music Academy. After a week of music camp where they’ve had the chance to broaden their music abilities they’ll open on both days on the main stage.

They were featured on WABI 5 television which will give you an idea of the amazing opportunity that they’ve had this week. Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teaching Artist Leader, Tom Luther, is seen in the footage working with students. His bright smile says it all! And, the students say it best! CHECK OUT the LINK.

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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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