Posts Tagged ‘Midcoast Music Academy’

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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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Practicing My Way Back

November 6, 2017

Tom Luther

Tom is a piano player working at the Midcoast Music Academy and a new Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teaching Artist Leader. In September Tom had, not one stroke, but two. In line with Tom’s incredible positive attitude he is an amazing example of growth mindset.

Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for himself he decided to take advantage of his condition and document what he is doing as part of his rehab. Each week he creates a video that provides what and how he is doing for his students (and others).

His videos are located on his YouTube channel spheremusik. To date he has 7 videos in the series called Practicing My Way Back. If you are a music educator, I am sure they will be of special interest to you. All educators will find these fascinating and there is a good chance you will want to share these with your students for multiple reasons.

Tom can be reached at tomluther@midcoastmusicacademy.com

Tom did an interesting project that was included in a blog post in February called 1,000 Musicians Follow-up and a post in June about a course he was teaching called Live Coding Using Sonic Pi.

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In Today’s News

August 21, 2017

Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist

Tom Luther, one of our new Teaching Artist Leaders with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) made the news today. Tom is a musician and teaches piano and digital/computer music. He works at the Midcoast Music Academy in Rockland.

He has created a plan for his MALI work called Standards without Standards. How Teaching Artists Can Create a Flexible Learning Template. Tom spent three days with other teaching artists and PK12 arts educators at the MALI Summer Institute at Thomas College earlier this month. His application for Teaching Artist Leader included: “I’ve found teaching to be an intensely creative act, as well as a tremendous tool for personal growth, both for myself and my students. Teaching has helped me become a better listener and observer.”

You can read the entire article from the Village Soup by CLICKING HERE.

Tom’s bio

Tom Luther is an improvising composer, pianist, and media artist working in acoustic and electronic environments. He has performed throughout the state of Maine with his modern jazz group TLQ (Tom Luther Quintet), an ambient music trio called Algorithm, and as a soloist. Luther is also a media artist, working with video, live installations, and interactive objects. In his work, Luther applies traditional composition, improvisation, generative, and interactive techniques, drawing freely from his experiences in numerous musical forms. The messages and stories are universal, and genre is simply a cultural idiom appropriate to a certain group at a certain time. Luther explores these notions through adapting techniques from different genres to create hybrid works that straddle the worlds of jazz, classical, electronic, and ambient music, bending genre and blurring the boundaries that define them. He has released two albums of his music with the TLQ, “Everything Is Blue” (2012) and “Necessity(2015). His interactive installation “Spine” premiered at Waterfall Arts in 2015, and he has shown two multi-media works as the Kelpie Gallery’s annual “Wet Paint on the Weskeag” fundraiser. Luther was a featured solo performer at “Jazz on a Summer’s Eve” at the Camden Opera House, and performs regularly with TLQ and as a sideman with the Mike Whitehead Group. He is currently working on a new ambient/downtempo trio, and an interactive floor puzzle that creates music. Luther is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music, and studied privately with pianist and composer Anthony Davis.

 

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Live Coding Using Sonic Pi

June 5, 2017

Using simple computer code in real time

The Midcoast Music Academy in Rockland is offering a class called Live Coding Using Sonic Pi taught by Tom Luther. Not to long ago I wrote a blog post on the academy at THIS LINK and a post that Tom Luther contributed to at THIS LINK.

Live Coding is a way to create sound and music using simple computer code in real time. The program we use is called “Sonic Pi”, and it is designed for simplicity and flexibility. It’s language is easy enough to pick up quickly for a beginner, and it’s design is deep enough for a more advanced user.

This class is for anyone, regardless of experience level with music or coding. Participants will learn the basics of the language, and how to use it to create simple to more complex pieces of music from a small set of tools.

The class covers

  • Simple sound/music making (simple musical structure/form) Basic definitions (synth terms, code syntax)
  • Altering sounds
  • Using on board samples & using your own samples
  • Using effects and synthesizers
  • Adding random elements
  • Live looping versus preplanning

This will be a hands on class, and we are going to make a lot of noise!

For more information and to register contact Midcoast Music Academy 207-701-7410 info@midcoastmusicacademy.com.

Take a look at this youtube video for a brief overview to get an idea of Sonic Pi.

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In Today’s News

May 18, 2017

Looking for a music school?

I visited the Midcoast Music Academy in the winter and included a story about the academy in April on THIS BLOG. The article below is written by Dagney C. Ernest for the Village Soup.

ROCKLAND — The downtown Midcoast Music Academy, which has grown from a one-lesson-room space and 30 students to a 2,100-square-foot suite with a faculty and more than 120 students (plus 40 on the wait list), is looking for a new hand at the wheel.

Founder/director Tom Ulichny and his wife, Anne Bardaglio, MCMA’s programs and operations manager, announced May 16 that they will be relocating to Ithaca, N.Y., this summer to be closer to their families.

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision, but … it’s the right next step for us at this time,” Ulichny wrote in the MCMA spring newsletter.

In the time since MCMA opened its doors in 2012 — those doors being above E.C. Moran Insurance on Main Street — the music school has expanded exponentially. In 2014, it moved into the multi-tenant building at the corner of Main Street and Park Drive; and in 2016, it expanded that space to almost double in order to accommodate a growing faculty and student base.

Last year, the small business also began the process of becoming a nonprofit — a logical step for an organization with a mission “to provide excellent, accessible music education to any committed student” and a policy of never turning one away. From its first year, the school has fundraised to provide scholarships for some of its private students, who have ranged from age 4 to 70-something and study classical to jazz, rock, pop and blues. This year, MCMA has awarded more than $25,000 to deserving scholarship recipients.

Berklee College of Music graduate Ulichny and his faculty also have partnered with 14 schools and organizations throughout the state to provide workshops, seminars and supplemental programming. Since its founding, MCMA has delivered lessons to more than 700 students and forged partnerships with North Atlantic Blues Fest, Maine Lobster Festival, Strand Theatre, Island Institute and RSU 13.

The need to provide support and presence for their family members brought the couple to their unexpected decision.

“It’s amazing how the universe can change things on a dime,” Ulichny said.

This spring, the couple started to realize their priority is to be close to family, he said. And they realized something else, too.

“The school can continue to grow and thrive without us — we’ve laid the foundation, and we’ve modeled it as a community music school, and therefore, it really belongs to the community,” he said.

Ulichny and Bardaglio plan to make a gift of the school and all of its assets to an individual or organization willing to continue the mission and spirit of the school. Facilities include six lesson rooms and one large ensemble room, all professionally equipped and soundproofed. There is a secured lease with Main Street frontage and the ability to expand.

The newsletter indicated the couple are currently in discussions with several nonprofit organizations (interested parties may request a summary of total assets and liabilities by contacting Ulichny). And they promised to remain actively involved throughout the upcoming transition. Their personal transition will include putting their beloved St. George house — “a lovely old fixer-upper that we’ve done a ton of work on over the past five years” — on the market.

Bardaglio, an adjunct professor at Unity College the past two years, has been offered a good position at a charter school in Ithaca doing curriculum development, as well as teaching. And Ulichny is slated to perform his soon-to-be-released EP in coming weeks on WCLZ in Portland. Opening an April 14 concert at the Strand, he previewed a trilogy from the EP that documents the wrenching process that brought him and his wife to their decision.

The three tunes encompass anger, acceptance and gratitude. The latter is reflected in a song titled “Other Hand” and includes the lyrics: “I won’t hold on/Just ’cause I built it/I don’t own it/It’s just borrowed to give away.”

 

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Midcoast Music Academy

April 13, 2017

Making music

I had the opportunity recently to visit the Midcoast Music Academy (MCMA), a community music school located at 279 Main Street, downtown Rockland. I walked in to a space that breathed music like a dragon breathes fire. It was a warm feeling with tons of energy. I was greeted by the director and founder Tom Ulichny. He and his wife Anne Bardaglio established the academy in 2012 and they are fully committed to providing music lessons to community members of all ages. In their words: “And when we say “community music school” we mean it: we believe that an exceptional music education should be available to any committed student, regardless of financial constraints”.

They provide 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, they believe students should learn to play what they love and love what they play.

The academy offers both private & group instruction for all ages on a wide variety of instruments including acoustic and electric guitar, drums, world percussion, bass guitar, double bass, piano, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, voice, violin, viola, and ukulele. They’ve established a scholarship program to be sure that lack of funding doesn’t get in the way of learning opportunities.

In addition they work collaboratively with other organizations in the midcoast including schools and organizations to support and enhance the existing music education programs. Tom and Anne are also committed to adding value to the community by bringing professional musicians to the area for short visits providing concerts/programs and long term as well.

Tom says: ”Music is truly a universal language, and is one of the most powerful tools we can use to communicate with each other and build community. It breaks down all barriers; whether that’s social, political, racial… and it builds confidence, promotes active listening, and empowers students of all ages. MCMA is passionate about spreading music education and keeping it accessible to all who are interested in developing these skills, regardless of financial constraints.

The midcoast is fortunate to have MCMA as part of the community. Stop by and say hi to Tom and take a tour of their beautiful space with several studios to make beautiful music. To learn more check out their website by CLICKING HERE.

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1,000 Musicians Follow-up

February 6, 2017

Power of connecting

Alan Crichton, Waterfall founder

Alan Crichton, Waterfall Arts founder

It is great being on the road with the Iditarod. I am reminded at each event how interesting, varied and connected arts people are and that they are the backbone of communities – large and small. While at the Belfast Iditarod held at Waterfall Arts it was great to see old friends and colleagues including founders of the arts center, Alan and Lorna Crichton and director of programming Martha Piscuskas. I also had a chance to meet new people like composer, performer, and media artist Tom Luther.

Tom approached me and said that he has been following this blog for quite some time. He teaches at Midcoast Music Academy in Rockland. A center that I’ve been hearing about but haven’t had the chance to visit yet. They are doing amazing work providing learning opportunities for young people in the mid-coast. Tom promised to connect me with the founders Tom Ulichny and Anne Bardaglio. Interestingly enough he did let them know we met and on Friday night, two days after we were in Belfast, I attended the Pecha Kucha in Rockport and there was Tom presenting. He shared the story of the academy and afterwards I met him in person.

Tom Luther,

Tom Luther, composer, performer, and media artist

Anyway, it turns out that Tom Luther lives not 4 miles up the road from me and he was inspired by the blog post 1,000 Musicians Perform, January 8. I asked him to relay his story so I could let others know what he did after reading the post. You’ll get to meet Tom yourself if you attend the March 17 Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Mega-regional conference at Hebron Station School since Tom will be there.

In Tom’s own words…

A few weeks back, Argy Nestor posted a really cool video on her Maine Education blog. It showed 1000 musicians in Italy performing David Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel”. I was struck by both the magnitude of this event, and the timeliness of the posting. I don’t know if when the video was actually done, but I had been thinking about Bowie recently, as just about a year has passed since his death. As I listened, the idea hit me to fool around with the tune, and see what I could do with it. I wound with a much softer, slower version that is really a vehicle for improvisation, and has a flexible form that can change with each performance. Aside from toying with the notion of a trio arrangement, I really had no plan for it (“bottom drawer music” we call it), until I decided to play it at a church gig that I do regularly. Unbeknownst to me, the Pastor’s sermon that week was about spiritual revolution, so it was a perfect fit. I told Argy about the whole thing when I saw her at the Maine Arts Iditarod, and she reminded me that the true power of art is in connections like these. So thanks David, and thanks Argy!

You can check out Tom’s version he calls Lazarus Dreaming at his soundcloud post at
https://soundcloud.com/tom-luther-music/lazarus-dreaming. Learn more about Tom Luther at his site: tomlutherpiano.com.

And, if you’ve been inspired by blog posts please do share your stories so others can learn from you!

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