Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Special PMAC Spotlight: The Graduating Class of 2016

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2016!

As another year passes, we congratulate the many seniors who have spent time making music and art with us over the years. Some have been with us since they were in kindergarten, some have come on later but all have been impacted by the arts.

We asked this year's seniors to share their stories, including their future plans are and why they believe a community arts education is important. 

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I currently take private lessons with Jim Dozet.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: The arts, specifically music, and even more specifically jazz, are a massive part of my life.  I've loved music my entire life.  I honestly can't remember when my first music lesson was.  It might have been piano around the age of 3.  Had I not been introduced to music at a young age, I most certainly would not be where I am now.  I believe that fine arts should be present in everyone's lives.  Through the arts, we learn to express ourselves creatively.  This is such an important skill in life, to be able to speak, not just verbally, but also through art, music, theater, and dance.  I have stuck with music for my entire life, and I plan to continue.  I’ve been honored to be around supportive people and talented mentors who have guided me through my musical endeavors.  A fine arts education can truly be life-changing.

What are your plans for next year?:  I will be attending New York University next year, majoring in Jazz Studies/Performance and minoring in Political Science.  I am so thrilled to have been accepted into such a competitive program, and am looking forward to studying with the likes of Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Mark Turner, Adam Rogers, Chris Potter, and Stefon Harris, among others.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?:  I took voice lessons with Taylor O’Donnell for around 4 years, (8th grade-Junior year). We usually did ½ hour sessions and worked on expanding my vocal range, specifically my middle mix voice. Taylor is not only my teacher, but also my friends. I look up to her more than anyone else in my life and she truly is the best role model and teacher I could have ever asked for. She has not only taught me vocal techniques, but has also helped me emotionally and spiritually. Taylor is an incredible woman and I am so lucky to have had her as a teacher.
I also really loved the A Cappella camp she ran for a year during the summer of my freshman year. It was super fun to choose songs we wanted and work with kids my age while having Taylor there to encourage and help us the whole way through. I specifically loved the warm up sessions she had us do; one person would start on a random note of their choice and we would go around the circle, each person adding a different note onto the previous ones. It always ended up sounding beautiful and was a relaxing way to start the session.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: An arts education should be apart of every person’s life no matter the age or level of experience. For me, the arts, specifically in music, have helped me heal from a lot of rough patches through my life and made me feel confident in myself. Music and practicing can be so frustrating, but once I could nail something I was working on, I felt so accomplished and proud of myself. Music is always my fall back when I have a hard day at school or something in my life isn’t going as planned. I always looked forward to Wednesday’s to have that 30 minutes away from everything else happening in my life and completely immerse myself in music and happiness. PMAC in a lot of ways was my safe place and helped me grow in more ways than just musical improvement.

What are your plans for next year?: It’s extremely scary but also exciting to announce that I will be attending Simmons College in Boston, MA. I will be a Neuroscience and Behavioral Studies Major on the Pre-Med track. I also have plans to join their A Cappella group called The Sirens. Music will always have a special place in my heart and I’m so grateful for Taylor and all she has taught me.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?:  I started doing the PMAC summer Jazz camps when I was in 7th grade, I joined Matt Langley’s Saturday Jazz Band in High School, and I’ve taken trumpet lessons with Chris Klaxton. I also did a youth/adult Brass Ensemble with my sister this winter.
What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: Victor Hugo said, "Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." As a student of both writing and foreign languages, I've often found myself tasked with conveying the ineffable. Throwing down my Thoreau and my Nouveau Bescherelle, I reach instead for my trumpet. If there is anything magical in this world, it's the human mind's response to music. I've sung protest songs with French teenagers on a Paris city bus. I've collected musical instruments to be sent to the developing world. I've played for young painters, and shared the stage with avant-garde trombonist Curtis Hasselbring. To each place I've traveled, whether in the Seacoast or abroad, I've brought music, forged in me by the arts educators who have seared their sacred brand into my life. Though I'm off next year to college, to be re-yoked to my Bescherelle and my Thoreau, I have no doubt that music will carry me to places yet unknown. It is for this spirit unlocked in me that I have to thank my arts educators, at PMAC, at Berwick, at Oyster River, and those who wait in the uncharted future.

What are your plans for next year?:  I will be attending University of Rochester (in New York State), where I’ll major in International Relations and continue to play in Jazz Bands.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I am currently a member of the Bow Street Youth Ensemble! I am a first violin, and it is actually my first semester with this orchestra. I have, however, played with PMAC before; I played with the junior ensemble for two years in third and fourth grade. I was able to see Joshua Bell through Bow Street, which was my very first time seeing a classical player live. I was also able to participate in the 25th anniversary alumni concert last summer.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: An arts education to me is a way of learning so many different things: history, culture, expression, etc. Learning to play music has taught me about people I would never have learned about otherwise. It has given an appreciation for complexity, and has given an avenue to express my emotions in both a formal as well as a more independent way. To me, this is the goal of any education in arts.

What are your plans for next year?:  Next year, I will be attending the University of Rhode Island as a dual Chinese and Communications major, with a minor in French. I have been accepted into the Chinese Language Flagship, a five-year national program based around superior fluency. I will spend up to a year in China as a result, studying and working in an internship. I love languages, and hope to use them in my career once I graduate. I do not know what I want to do, but with my programs of study, I know that the options are not limited!

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I took lessons at PMAC for many years, and played in the first youth rock band with Chris Weisman. Later I moved to the youth jazz band with Matt Langley, where he introduced me to jazz. I absolutely loved doing the awesome sweaty summer camps all those years. The lessons I learned and music I played there will be with me for a long time.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: To me, an arts education is a hugely important part of one's development. Focus on the arts for me opened my mind to new musical experiences and challenges in my emotional and musical lives. All the incredible mentors I've had through PMAC and elsewhere have taught me about how to be a better musician, but more importantly a better person.      

What are your plans for next year?:  I am really excited to attend The Berklee College of Music next year. My current teacher, Jackie Santos, is a professor there and I am really excited to continue working with him. It is a big step for me, but I am prepared and excited to continue my journey. I wouldn't be where I am today without the excellent steppingstone into music that PMAC was for me. 

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I study guitar with Nick Phaneuf and it has always been a great part of my week.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?:  An arts education means a huge amount to me, I have played piano since I was little and I care about music so much.  An arts education has definitely impacted my life for the better as it has jumpstarted my love of music.

What are your plans for next year?:  My plan for college is I am going to the University of Denver to study business, however I will most definitely continue my pursuit of music.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I currently participate in Bow Street Youth Orchestra. 

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: Arts education is vital for the success of future generations. I am incredibly fortunate to have learned music skills that are applicable across different instruments, genres and ideas. Music has helped me to form some of my most rewarding friendships. I am very thankful for these opportunities.

What are your plans for next year?: Next year I plan to attend Emerson College to major in Political Communications.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I am currently part of the Bow Street Youth Orchestra as a part of the viola section.  I have been part of Bow Street since I was in 6th grade and have participated in the orchestra every semester. I study viola with Augusto Salazar, who is also the Director of the Bow Street Youth Orchestra.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: To me an education in art provides kids with another outlet to help deal with what life throws at you. Playing and listening to music helps me distress; it give a place where I can put my energy.  I honestly don’t know who I would be if being part of a musical group was not a part of my life. 

What are your plans for next year?: Next year I am planning to go to Smith College to major in biology.  When I get there I am going to run track and hopefully be part of the orchestra there.  I am extremely excited for the next part of my life to finally start.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I have been taking violin lessons with Diane Tiezzi since I was seven years old. I took guitar lessons with Bryan Killough for a time when I was younger. For several years, I participated in Bow Street Junior Ensemble and Bow Street Youth Orchestra. I also attended two sessions of Summer Rock Camp.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?:  To me, an arts education is an opportunity to learn how to think creatively and how to express oneself. An arts education also gives students the chance to connect with and learn from other members of their community. I have met many kind and inspirational artists during my time at PMAC, who have influenced both my education and my life as a whole. Through my studies at PMAC, I have begun a pursuit that enriches my day-to-day life and gained a greater appreciation for music, arts, and artists of all kinds.

What are your plans for next year?: Next year, I will attend Bowdoin College, where I plan to study French and English and participate in the college orchestra and string ensembles.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I started off taking Piano lessons at PMAC with Katherine from age 4-8. I then switched over to viola and continued to take lessons through PMAC with Katie Backus, Jessica Helie and Augusto Salazar. I became involved in Bow St. Youth Orchestra in 7th grade and have continued through my senior year of high school. Last year I had the honor to be a part of Max’s Spectacular Orchestra as well.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: Having an Arts Educations through PMAC has fostered a love for music and also participating in musical groups. The basis PMAC has given me will lead me to be comfortable participating in any type of band or orchestra in the future. With this basis, I plan on continuing to play and share music for the rest of my life.

What are your plans for next year?: Next year I’ll be attending Wesleyan University and hope to play in the orchestra as well as chamber groups. I may even audition for an a cappella group!

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I have participated in multiple programs since I was 7 or 8 years old. First, I played for three years in the semester long rock groups, playing the violin where I learned to play within a group. Later, when I was 9 or so years old, I began to take private lessons with Augusto Salazar. To this day, I am still taking lessons from Augusto. When I was roughly 11 years old, Augusto coaxed me into joining the Bow Street Orchestra. For the first few years, I played in the Bow Street Junior Ensemble, and eventually I made it into the more advanced Bow Street Youth Orchestra. Over the years I progressed through the ranks, and currently I hold the concert master position in the Orchestra.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?:  An education in music means a great deal to me. Firstly, it means exploration. Not only have the lessons and ensembles taught me how to read, play, and write music, but they have shown the other world that music exists in. With the aid of my teachers, I have been able to navigate and explore this world opening doors to many great opportunities in my life to grow and develop as a person.
 Music has impacted me profoundly in a few different ways, but most importantly, it has taught me how to teach myself and finish difficult tasks. While learning Bach concertos, or playing in an orchestra with other players maybe aren’t the easiest things, they helped me grow. By struggling to learn a piece, or working with other musician, I have built the problem solving skills and know-how, to learn/finish other difficult tasks in my life. Music has helped me learn who I am, and how I work.

What are your plans for next year?:  Next year, I will be taking a gap year. As of right now, the skeleton plan consists of moving to Washington State in order to gain residency for college. Afterwards, I will be attending Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I currently take guitar lessons with Bryan Killough, and play outside of class just for fun, trying to learn as many songs as I can.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: Playing the guitar has always been a bit of an outlet for me, especially when I'm stressed. It's very difficult to get frustrated with it and the result of hard work is very tangible.

What are your plans for next year?:  Next year I’m attending Norwich University in Northfield, VT and plan to begin a degree in either physics or aeronautical engineering, and I will continue to play guitar while doing so.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: At PMAC I have been taking trumpet lessons with Chris Klaxton for the past two years. I have also participated in the Teen Jazz Workshop over the summer.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: Arts education is very important to me. I would say that it means a chance to explore creative outlets in a way that still fosters learning, allowing you to reach your potential to a fuller degree. I know that without arts education I would have never been able to fully discover my passion for music.

What are your plans for next year?: I will be attending Simmons College in the fall where I hope to study music and physics.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I currently participate in piano lessons with Mike Effenberger. In the past I participated in the Teen Jazz Ensemble and the Teen Rock Band in the summer where we played at Prescott Park.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?:  I love being part of the arts.  I am in the PHS marching band and jazz band as well as participating in PMAC.  I think that the arts is an important part of everyone’s development and I’m so happy to have been able to express myself through my music.

What are your plans for next year?:  I am going to Tufts to study Engineering.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: For the past nearly five years I have participated in the teen rock ensembles, summer camps, and interned with the junior rock ensembles. I was also a part of the Round Robin Festival last year through PMAC.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: I started playing piano at a young age and since then my focus has been pretty much entirely on music/music related subjects, so I would say it means a lot to me! I think it is a very important thing to give kids the chance to experience such a fun and interesting thing as musicianship. I don't know who I would be if I weren't a musician, I can't really imagine anything I would find more interesting.

What are your plans for next year?:  I am taking a gap year to travel, work on independent projects, and figure out whether or not college is the right path for me. I would really love to go to Berklee College of Music the following fall, but there is still plenty I want to do and need to consider between now and then!

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I am currently taking violin lessons with Diane Tiezzi. I have been taking lessons with her since 2005. I have participated in PMAC recitals, performed at weddings, and volunteered to play at assisted living and nursing homes.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: An arts education is valuable and essential in becoming a well rounded, creative, and disciplined student. It has given me a greater appreciation for the music and arts. It allows people to make connections to the many different aspects of learning, while also giving a new perspective to the way one sees the world.

What are your plans for next year?: Next year I will be attending College of the Holy Cross. I am unsure of what I will be majoring in, but I plan to have a pre-health concentration. I hope to continue playing violin in college and appreciate the gift of music.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I currently participate in drum lessons with Mike Walsh and am in the PMAC Teen Jazz Band. I also play with the Bow Street Orchestra. In the past I have taken guitar lessons with Nick Phaneuf, piano lessons with Mike Effenberger, and drum lessons with Jim Rudolf. In addition, I have taken many semesters of PMAC Teen Rock Band and attended the Summer Rock Camp multiple times.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: Being a part of all these ensembles and lessons has impacted me greatly - so much so that I am pursuing a life of it. An arts education to me means a life of expression, hard work, fun, love, and creativity. I am happy to have found the thing that I want to spend my life doing so early on and a lot of it is due to the amazing teachers I’ve had the privilege of studying with throughout my life so far.

What are your plans for next year?: I am very excited to be attending Berklee College of Music next year in the class of 2020, where I will be studying drum performance.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: At PMAC, I had the fun and the privilege of being in several ensembles and taking lessons.  The ensembles are great because you learn the ins and outs of playing as a team.  I was in Rock Band with Mike Effenberger and Nick Phaneuf many times when I was younger, which was great fun.  I was also in Jazz band with Chris Klaxton, who gave me a chance to explore playing saxophone, which was a new instrument for me.  I also grooved with Jim Dozet in the Jazz Guitar Ensemble multiple times, which I really enjoyed.  For lessons, I've taken Voice, which is not my strong suit but has helped me a lot, with Taylor O’Donnell and Erin Smith.  And lastly, I take Recording lessons with Jason Crigler, which has been cool because that is what I hope to be doing in the future. 

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?: Arts Education - I guess “art” differs from “science” in that art involves how we feel and express ourselves.  Ever since I can remember, music was part of my life and I always wanted to better understand how it works.  So, for me, a music education has been a personal adventure; something I thrive on.  I'm thankful for places like PMAC that help people explore their passions and for the friends I met there. 

What are your plans for next year?: Next year I'll be in the Music Industry Program at the College of Saint Rose in Albany NY.  I'll be continuing to study music and also production and the business side of music.

What program/s have you participated in at PMAC?: I am in the PMAC Teen Jazz Ensemble for the spring, and I was in it for the fall as well.  I also went to the PMAC Summer Jazz Workshop during the summer before 9th grade.

What does an arts education mean to you? And how has it impacted your life?:  Music education has given me a lot of experience playing in an ensemble and really interacting with other musicians.  It has also given me a lot of performance experience.

What are your plans for next year?:  Next year I'm going to be attending Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Congratulations class of 2016! We can't wait to see what you do next!

Friday, January 29, 2016

January Music Therapy Advocacy Month

The following is a blog post from PMAC's Music Therapist, Virginia Macdonald. We hope you enjoy it!

Virginia Macdonald works with a Music Therapy client at PMAC.
January is music therapy advocacy month.  I am a music therapist and decided that this is the year I am going to toot my industry's horn! Pun totally intended. With any therapy, it is in the relationship with another that one comes to understand something new about themselves.  In music therapy, I think we have an added advantage - we are working in music, which most people already have some relationship with.  What is unique is that at the end of the session, our clients have new resources they can tap into, and more open networks of communication with the self that are therapeutic, thought-provoking, or physically/biologically stimulating. There is no 'one size fits all' method of music therapy, as each person will react to and benefit from different aspects of music. For some, clinical improvisation to practice communicating non-verbally with another, or working on social skills, may be most useful. For others, learning to play an instrument stimulates new responses that dramatically change how they enjoy life and see the world. Whatever the case, it is the process of working in music, and not the end product of performance, where the therapy happens.  I have had the pleasure of working with a woman who is a poet, a philosopher, and has now found her inner musician. I asked her to share a post with me to celebrate music therapy advocacy month and she graciously accepted.  Here is her account of her experience:

The difference between enjoying music and music therapy is simple but profound:  when I catch myself using music to either soothe me or to work through something difficult, it becomes therapeutic.  I’m not sure which is more powerful:  when I deliberately use music to enhance my life, or those fleeting moments when I check in with myself and recognize that I’ve got a few notes in my head and I feel more peaceful than usual.  It may only last a few seconds, but the mindfulness that the music is helping me feel better is the therapy.  It’s right there, at any time, and it’s available to anyone.  The trick is to use it and recognize its value.

I challenge myself with music.  I’m 61, with arthritic hands and a neurologically challenged brain that has a mind of its own.  What was I thinking when I chose to learn how to play the piano?!  Something in my head knew that it was the right decision, even though it still surprises me that I’m a piano student.  The enrichment that decision has provided me with continues to astound me.  The awareness of what the music does for me as I learn the piano has made me recognize that the healing powers of it are constantly in my life.  I sing in my head all the time – who doesn’t?  But when I ask myself what that music is doing for me, it becomes more powerful.  Now I envision my fingers playing notes on the keyboard as I hum notes, sing, or hear a song.  The possibilities of using music for healing become endless.

Language is an essential part of my life, and the music has become a new language to decipher.  It has the same effect for me that my writing does.  It’s a process of discovery and enrichment, and I can find myself playing one little section of a song over and over and over and being enthralled with the relationship between the music and my emotional state as I play.  It doesn’t end there – the experience continues in my head after the practice is over.  It’s a profound connection with my Self.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Special Student Spotlight: Bob Doty

Student Bob Doty Plays in the Fall 2015 Blues and 
Bluegrass concert at the Press Room in Portsmouth.

This month's spotlight goes to one of our adult Saxophone Students, Bob Doty. 

Bob played the piano and the cornet briefly as a child but neither stuck. These early lessons instilled in him a desire to someday learn how to play an instrument. After years or working for the NH Division for Children in child protection and educational services, Bob finally picked up the Saxophone at the age of 58. 

Retired now, Bob spends his time making music with other adult musicians - some who have been playing their entire lives, and some who have gotten an even later start than him. We had the pleasure to ask Bob about his experiences as an adult beginner musician, and the challenges and rewards he's found in music.

Portsmouth Music and Arts Center: How old were you when you started playing the saxophone?

Bob Doty: I was 58. As a kid my parents had me take piano lessons, and later the cornet. Neither were successful but I developed a desire that, some day, I would try again to learn to play an instrument.

PMAC: What made you decide to start playing as an adult?

BD: I went to a Blues Concert several years ago at the Pease Tradeport and one of the groups was the PMAC Adult Blues Band. I loved their performance and in particular the saxophones.  Afterwards, Russ Grazier explained to the crowd that PMAC had a program just for adults and it was open to anyone who ever thought about playing an instrument. It must have been Karma!  I called him a couple of days later. A few weeks later he had me play with the Blues Ensemble, who were very supportive,  and I was hooked.

PMAC: When you started playing, who did you study with? What were your biggest challenges to overcome?

BD: I took lessons with Russ [Grazier] and played in several ensembles that that he led. My biggest challenges were and continue to be playing in time and in rhythm. I have to work to play well. I record most sessions for later review and practice at home a few times a week.

PMAC: You've been a participant of many ensembles here at PMAC. What have you played in? How is playing with others different than making music alone?

BD: I've played in the ensembles that a sax can play in: New Horizons Band; Saxophone Ensemble; Brewery Lane Big Band,  Jazz Pioneers and Adventurers; and the Blues Band. It is very enjoyable to play in a live forum, to be part of the music and not just listening to yourself, which tends to get boring. Playing with others requires discipline, listening to others and becoming part of something bigger than yourself.   
PMAC: What do you feel that playing the saxophone brings to your life?

BD: I have met some very nice people who come from different backgrounds but all have a common purpose; to play music. When I play I feel a sense of joy, even when I'm just practicing. Playing with others in a live band and making music is a great feeling. A year ago I started playing the Ukulele in a group at the Dover Senior Center and I get a similar feeling so it's not just limited to the sax. It just feels terrific.

PMAC: What would you recommend to someone looking to learn how to play an instrument at any age?

BD: I think may people are afraid that they'll embarrass themselves or they are just waiting for some kind of push to get them going. Consider this the push. Learning to play can be hard but it's loads of fun when you actually hear notes coming from your instrument. People at PMAC are very supportive, so just come in and give it a try.

Thank you, Bob! 

If you're interested in learning to play an instrument or begin your visual arts education, whether you're a novice or already an advanced artist - PMAC has something for you! Head over to our website and sign up today!