We are excited to partner with the St. Petersburg Dance Alliance to present this wonderful event as part of St. Petersburg Arts Festival this month! Two of the works employ new original music by local composers Elizabeth A. Baker and Sean Hamilton.
Our Town: A Moving Dance Tour of St. Pete
A project of the St. Pete Dance Alliance and Dance Linkages
September 17, 2017 @ 6:00p
Shuffleboard Courts, and various locations in downtown St. Pete
Our Town is a curated series of original, short, site-specific dance performances that occur in and near multiple historic and iconic locations throughout downtown St. Pete. This performance is presented as part of the SPFestival 16. The audience travels from piece to piece, on a guided, walking tour that begins at the Shuffleboard Courts and ends in the Mural Alley along 6th and 7th Streets. Choreographers include Helen Hansen French, Kellie Harmon, and Andee Scott of the St. Pete Dance Alliance, in addition to Elsa Valbuena, Erin Cardinal, and Alex Jones. Additional collaborators include the New Music Conflagration, with an original music composition by Elizabeth Baker that will be downloaded onto smartphones by audience members on site.
This unique evening of dance performances blends dance, music, art, architecture, and technology, creating moving public art in and around iconic and historic sites in our beautiful city. Produced by the St. Petersburg Dance Alliance and Dance Linkages, with support from the St. Pete Arts Alliance and Creative Pinellas, Our Town invites the audience to engage with dance and their city in new ways.
Our Town begins at the Shuffleboard Courts and additional sites include outside the Mirror Lake Library, Face the Jury, the open-air Post Office, Cycle Brewing, and the mural alley.
Producer: St. Petersburg Dance Alliance and Dance Linkages
Concept and Direction: Andee Scott
Contact: Andee Scott and Helen Hansen French
We’ve all read the articles about how music “makes kids smarter” and “why we need to save the jobs of music educators.” We’ve been smacked upside the head and down the street by facts upon figures about why music education is important. At the end of the day, all of these statistics, while a major motivation for lawmakers and school boards, don’t get to the heart of the matter. Kids love music. Music makes kids happy. Music gives kids a sense of accomplishment and kids who study music are setup for a lifetime of opportunity. These are truths which don’t need to be tested by a series of double-blind studies where Group A is given a strict regimen of white noise and standardized tests while Group B embraces math while listening to Mozart. These truths are self-evident in the shining eyes of a 6-year old who just memorized her first recital piece or the teenager who worked out the frustration from his first break-up in marching band practice or the child who, silenced at home, finds a voice in the school musical.
However, facts and figures are important to the argument for music education in schools as well as private music education. They are particularly important in a society which, steamrolling towards technical efficiency and robotic automation, places less importance on the antiquated acoustic fascinations of yesteryear. Sifting through PowerPoints and Excel Spreadsheet Data from the Department of Education is at the best of times difficult and exhausting. It’s often hard to glean a clear summary, but this study of 12th graders from the Florida Department of Education conducted between 2007-2008 found that students enrolled in music courses for eight semesters or more graduated with a mean GPA of 3.1; whilst students who were not enrolled in music courses graduated with a mean GPA of 2.7. Numerous writings exist about the ways in which music engages multiple parts of the brain. Children receiving music education are stimulating both sides of the brain regularly, which leads to excellence in other subjects which isolate one or the other side of the brain. Music: It’s better than Lumosity and fills the house with something far more enjoyable than the beeps and boops of an iPhone game!
The 2007-2008 study goes on to say that for the general population, the more music and arts classes taken, the higher the student achievement in all measures:
- For students on “free and reduced lunch,” an indicator of socioeconomic levels, the more music and fine arts classes in a child’s academic career, the higher the students’ achievement in all measures.
- For students divided by ethnicity, an increase in music and art classes yields a marked improvement in students’ achievement in all measures.
- The more arts classes taken, the less likely a student is to dropout of the cohort group.
The last point is especially poignant when considering that in 2007-2008, more than 25% of the 12th grade cohort not enrolled in music classes failed to graduate. In comparison, less than 5% of those students taking 4 or more credits in music failed to graduate.
In a letter to Dr. Eric J. Smith, Florida Department of Education Commissioner, from Senators Stephen R. Wise and Nancy C. Detert, after reading the data findings of the study, wrote that
“Given these measures (graduation rate, SAT, FCAT Reading, Writing, and Math) are the primary means established by the Department of Education and the Legislature for evaluating student achievement, and given that the arts have a significant, positive impact, we must conclude that the arts are an important element of the curriculum…The more arts classes taken, the less likely a student is to dropout of the cohort group”
What does all of this mean? Simply put… music assists students from diverse backgrounds in academic excellence which gives them the tools for a lifetime of success.
On Saturday, March 29, 2014 we took a trip to Philip Benjamin Tower and shared our love of new music with an enthusiastic audience of their residents. Ezra Haugabrooks (viola) and Madeline Varda (piano) presented a short program featuring the work of Ernest Bloch. We had a wonderful time and cannot wait to share new music with the residents next concert season! Catch the recording of the concert on our website in the next couple weeks!
On February 26, the NMC staff with the help of local musician Elliot Dickinson visited Brighton Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, Florida. Dickinson performed a series of duets alongside Executive Director, Elizabeth A. Baker fusing electronic and acoustic sounds which inspired the children to later try a myriad of instruments The NMC brought with them.
Brighton Preparatory does not have a musical program. There is no band class. There is no chorus class. For many of the students this was their first time touching a trombone or trying a flute. Production Manager, John Macdonald guided the kids through the ins-and-outs of both trumpet and saxophone, while, Cultural Development Coordinator, Keirsten Johnson handled clarinet duties. Director of Community Outreach, Fofi Panagiotouros led the way with flute demonstrations, meanwhile, Dickinson shared his love of trombone with the students. Baker provided a special musical treat for the kids to try in addition to the traditional band and orchestral instruments, a MOOG Etherwave Plus Theremin!
Channel 10 even stopped by to cover the story for a short spot on the evening news!
INSTRUMENTAL PETTING ZOO!
Also, John Cage & Arvo Pärt!
Thanks to the generous invitation from Saint Mark’s Missionary Baptist Church in Saint Petersburg, Florida we were able to introduce a great number of children to various musical instruments this December! We also, shared our music with the adults of the church and community when our Executive Director performed selections (Dream by John Cage and Basso Ostinato from Partita für Klavier by Arvo Pärt) for a service.