WILMINGTON — Thanks to a generous donation by a Wilmington City Schools anonymous patron, Wilmington Middle School is benefiting from the Muse Machine, a nationally recognized arts education organization.
Since its inception in 1982, the Muse Machine has produced 30 annual musicals and 17 summer concerts and engaged thousands of students through arts-integrated classroom instruction, interactive workshops, and professional development for teachers. It annually serves 70,000 students and their teachers in 10 counties in southwestern Ohio.
This school year, WMS students are experiencing a bit of culture outside their social setting or home community. In November, seventh-grade students enjoyed a performance by Michael Kelsey, an accomplished guitarist who has traveled the country performing favorites by Eric Clapton, Santana and B.B. King.
Kelsey — known for blending all types of music, rhythms, objects, and audience interactions — takes song ideas from students in the audience and creates brand new music on the spot. Often times, it sounds as though he is playing more than one guitar at a time.
According to Kelsey, there is a five-piece band in his head and they are all trying to escape at the same time through his hands, feet and mouth. He hangs onto a guitar and sees what happens.
In January, students “traveled” to London, England via Muse Machine performers who presented “Shakespeare Sings” to a packed house of WMS sixth-graders.
Four young singers in the Dayton Opera’s Artists-In-Residence program, who were selected from national auditions and are committed to singing opera as their career, filled the auditeria with the sounds “Romeo and Juliet” singing their famous lines to each other rather than reciting their monologues filled with love.
The group performed songs titled and grouped by BIG IDEAS. There was “Party Music” and “Love Scenes” followed by Shakespeare’s well-known “Death Scenes” and finally COMMEDY.
Often intimidated by just the name Shakespeare, students enjoyed the fast-moving connections between Shakespeare and the opera, and they discovered that many opera composers have been inspired by the words, characters, and situations in Shakespeare’s plays.
In late February, eighth-grade students will enjoy a performance of “Now Hear This: The Story of Sound” where artists and musicians Michael and Sandy Bashaw join forces with filmmaker David Sherman to create live music and a motion picture event unlike any other.
Information for this article was provided by Diana Miller, who coordinates communications for several area schools.