2016-05-19 / News

Musicians mentor area students

By Ben Meiklejohn
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH – A local community concert band performed two joint concerts with fifth grade band students this week. Members of the Maine Pops Concert Band have been visiting the fifth graders regularly throughout the year to mentor and give instruction as the students begin learning their instruments.

Scarborough band director Christopher Fletcher said members of Maine Pops Concert Band showed up at Band Rental night, when the students first got their instruments, and showed them how to put them together and even get a few tones out of them.

“This helped greatly when I was working with the students in the first few weeks of school,” Fletcher said. “Throughout the year, volunteers came in during the school day and worked with individuals and small groups of my students … I noticed that connections are being made between my students and members of the Maine Pops Concert band volunteers they worked with.”

The Maine Pops Concert Band has participated with several school districts in recent years as part of Music In Our Schools, an annual effort by the National Association for Music Education to celebrate music education. The band has worked with bands in the Saco and Falmouth school districts, and started a collaboration with Scarborough schools this week.

The band, which rehearses weekly at Scarborough High School, plans to mentor this year's fifth-graders as they progress through grades in middle school and eventually high school.

Kathleen Martin, of Biddeford, has played clarinet in Maine Pops Concert Band for 20 years. She has also played in the Alumni Band in Biddeford for 28 years.

“I wish we could spread ourselves even thinner to help in more schools,” Martin said. “Music is positive. It teaches how to be an individual and a part of a group, part of a community.”

Martin said music education is important because it combines art, math and science.

Martin is a manufacturing supervisor at AVX Tantalum Corp. in Biddeford, where she has worked for 43 years. Although she isn't a professional musician, Martin said music is something she would never want to give up. Martin said establishing relationships with young musi- cians helps them to realize that music can be a part of their lives, whether they seek it as a profession or not.

“I like playing music, it's something my mother had to yell at me to go and practice,” Martin said. “I thank her for that gift I got.”

Martin said although she learned the clarinet first, she did learn the saxophone in high school.

“I played saxophone in high school because the jazz band had all the cute boys,” she said.

At the concerts, the fifth-grade band played a few selections by themselves and the Maine Pops Concert Band also performed their own material. In between the two sets, members of Maine Pops Concert Band joined the fifth-graders to play a short rendition of Ludwig Beethoven's “Ode to Joy.”

Fletcher said the students were impressed with the music the community band played, and the concert was a highlight for the students, as well as the parents who have witnessed their children's progressions.

“I also think it was a great opportunity for parents, community members and students to see that playing an instrument can be a life time pursuit and interest and also the joy making music gives both participants and audience members,” he added.

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