Lisa Sabin and John Cimino of The Learning Arts perform for Ticonderoga Middle School students.
The Great White Way came to Ticonderoga Middle School recently.
That’s when The Learning Arts, a collaboration of music and education professionals, presented “Broadway and Carnegie Hall” to students.
Performing show tunes from Broadway musicals such as “Oklahoma,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Wicked” and others the artists entertained and taught.
“They’re phenomenal,” John Donohue, Ti K-8 principal, said of The Learning Arts. “It’s a great opportunity for our kids to enjoy these professional artists. It’s a wonderful learning experience.”
Besides performing, members of The Learning Arts did workshops with students that incorporated science, English, math, history and art.
The Learning Arts team spent three days in Ticonderoga — one at the elementary school presenting “Music for the Imagination,” one at the high school presenting “Freedom and Imagination in the Jazz Age and Beyond” and at the middle school.
“My colleagues and I from The Learning Arts come to you as teaching allies, partners in the enterprise of educating and growing our children,” John Cimino, leader of the troupe, told Ti teachers. “Our contribution is that of a catalyst, a spark from the outside world to add fresh energy to the learning you facilitate and inspire everyday.
“Our medium is the arts, and very particularly, music,” he said. “But our goals and methodology reach well beyond music and the arts to life skills and virtually every discipline in the school curriculum. As catalysts, we accelerate learning’s hidden processes and facilitate connectivity across the disciplines. We nurture imagination, creativity, empathy and curiosity and help students to look inward for self-discovery and reflection.”
Joining Cimino were pianist Tom McCoy, flutist Donna Wissinger, singer Lisa Sabin and percussionist Kyle Ritenauer.
Cimino studied biology and physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before studying music at the Juilliard School of Music. An operatic singer, he has performed at the White House and the United Nations. He has sung with Luciano Pavarotti.
“We’ve already asked them to come back next year,” Donohue said. “They’ve been great fun and almost everything they’ve done relates to our curriculum.”
It certainly was fun at the Ti Middle School. Students were involved throughout.
While singing George Gershwin‘s “Embraceable You” Cimino began waltzing with a teacher, peering into her eyes as students laughed in approval. While singing “Popular” from the play “Wicked” Sabin offered students tips on gaining popularity — pointing out they’ll never be as popular as she is.
“We set the stage for moments of more outward discovery, connecting concepts in science with the physics of music, musical traditions with social issues and world history, excellence in athletics with excellence in the arts and in life,” Cimino said. “Discoveries such as these can be eye-opening and refreshing, even stunning, but unless they are harvested, validated and distilled for their meaning, they can fall by the wayside and lose their potency.”
Wayne Chagnon, Ti elementary school music teacher, said The Learning Arts program provided students with an opportunity to experience top-flight performers close to home.
“I’ve been so impressed with the music at our school the past few weeks,” Chagnon said, also refering to visit by Blues musician Guy Davis earlier. “Our students have had opportunities seldom found in the North Country.”
The Learning Arts visit to Ticonderoga was free to the school. The cost of the three-day program was covered by an anonymous donor, Donohue said.