Posts Tagged ‘Robyn Walker-Spencer’

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Young Artist’s in Quarantine

June 23, 2020

Student’s share their stories

This is part of a series highlighting the stories of young artists in quarantine. The period of free time that many people are experiencing has led to a sense of freedom in creating– when not held back by the standards expected by society and in much of art education (or needing to prove talent/fill resumes) it’s incredible what can be done. Alone in your room with just a paintbrush or guitar has led many students to find a new independence in art when they have the ability to create just for themselves. We’re hoping that by telling these stories, a change will occur in the way we approach arts education, to focus on the growth of the individual, even after quarantine comes to an end. Thank you Robyn Walker-Spencer, 2020 graduate, Camden Hills Regional High School, for launching this series of young artists in quarantine.

This post is written by Caleb Edwards who will be a senior at Watershed School in Camden in the fall.

What instruments do you play and what is your artist medium?

  • I play violin, piano, drums, mandolin, and I sing. I draw with colored pencils.

When did you start making art and playing music?

  • I started playing violin at age 8 and picked up other instruments over the years. I have been drawing forever, but I guess I started taking it seriously in middle school.

What experiences have you had with arts education in the past that shaped your experience?

  • My Waldorf School elementary experience definitely sparked my interests in the arts, especially life drawing.

What role does art and music play in your life now?

  • Music is everything for me and I am hoping to go to college for music production and composition I’ve picked up a few more instruments one the years since I started playing the violin. I also work with Logic Pro and produce both my music and help other artists on recording.

How has quarantine changed the way you approach art (new sense of independence/freedom)?

  • I think the extra time has had the biggest impact. I did a month-long project through a media class at school which I wrote and recorded a piece of music everyday. This turned into a welcome routine in my life and the outcome is a large collection of work I can draw from in the future.

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Young Artists in Quarantine

June 9, 2020

Student’s share their stories

This is part of a series highlighting the stories of young artists in quarantine. The period of free time that many people are experiencing has led to a sense of freedom in creating– when not held back by the standards expected by society and in much of art education (or needing to prove talent/fill resumes) it’s incredible what can be done. Alone in your room with just a paintbrush or guitar has led many students to find a new independence in art when they have the ability to create just for themselves. We’re hoping that by telling these stories, a change will occur in the way we approach arts education, to focus on the growth of the individual, even after quarantine comes to an end.

This post is written by Robyn Walker-Spencer, 2020 graduate, Camden Hills Regional High School who had the seed for this blog post series.

At 18 months, my family would play “name that tune” with me as I was strapped into my high chair, gleefully crying out the names of song after song, with an impressive base of musical knowledge for my age. I was by no means a prodigy at any point in my life, but as I grew up I felt my love for music grow with me. I took part in piano lessons, then band and chorus in middle school, and eventually musical theater, guitar, and chamber singers once in high school.

I never planned on studying music or becoming a professional in any aspect of the arts (I will be majoring in biology at Bowdoin in the fall), but it didn’t matter. Music and performing was something I always did for myself. As a child, I made up songs to sing as I played in the yard, and now I will play guitar for hours after a long day to blow off steam or relax. I love to express myself on stage, become an evil nanny or a god-fearing nun, and singing in Chamber Singers at my high school has always been cathartic.

I started lessons at Midcoast Music Academy in Rockland, Maine, in the spring of 2018. I was able to discover the importance of music to my own mental health, but perhaps more significantly I began to develop somewhat of my own musical pedagogy. Much of my previous music education had been extremely structured: practice for this rectial, prepare for this audition, complete a piece following specific guidelines. I practiced because I was told to practice (most of the time) but I didn’t enjoy it– it was seemingly necessary to get better, but I spent many a piano lesson wondering if it was even worth it. Starting high school added in another layer. Not only was our creative time structured, but many students kept participating for the sole reason of padding their resumes. At MCMA, I initially found it difficult to get away from the mindset of what I fondly considered mandatory misery– I wasn’t used to practice being something that I felt motivated and excited to do. So what changed? For the first time I wasn’t being ​told​ to do anything– each lesson was simply exploring what interested ​me,​ what ​I ​wanted to learn and improve at. And if my attention shifted, it was fine! We just moved in a new direction. I was practicing frequently because I wanted to, and because I was excited about what I was learning.

I think that this period of quarantine has provided that same sort of change for a lot of young artists my age. For the first time in a long time, we have all the time in the world and just ourselves to keep our minds busy. Groups like ​Quarantine Karaoke​ on Facebook show people coming together to make music from all over the world– people who normally never perform but are now creating for the sake of creating. I’ve seen friends pick up new instruments and play for themselves for the first time. I’ve personally stretched far out of my comfort zone, teaching myself recording techniques on my laptop and even writing a song for the first time. The period of free time has pulled aside the curtain and has really just exposed people’s raw selves: we are able to create art just for the sake of creating. We are practicing because we are excited about it. And we are taking risks that we never would otherwise.

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