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Fourth, fifth and sixth grade students had a special treat this February.  They participated in a master class with the Sherman Chamber Ensemble featuring violist Arthur Dibble and violinist Jorge Avila, as well as founding members Susan Rotholz on flute and
director Eliot Bailen on cello.

The goals of the class were to introduce students to chamber music and to brainstorm solutions to dysfunctional group dynamics.  KCS band director David Poirier communicated with Mr. Bailen in advance of the workshop so that the group would address specific issues that sometimes hinder the progress of KCS students.


Students eagerly participated in identifying the dysfunctional behaviors that the ensemble exhibited with a healthy dose of humor.  Some examples were as simple as arriving late to rehearsal. Others, such as not counting accurately or not playing in balance, were
more challenging for students to identify, but the students eagerly participated throughout. 
Many of the students were pleasantly surprised that they enjoyed chamber music. “It isn’t ALWAYS boring and hard to sit through.”

“I remember what they said.  They demonstrated it clearly, and (were) funny.” 
Afterwards, students responded to the workshop with comments like, “I learned that in chamber music everybody has to work together,” and “You should give constructive criticism in a nice tone.”  Some were especially attuned to the idea of giving specific feedback: “I remember what insecure, defensive, and inflexible (mean) and I remember when the flutist said, ‘I’ll play my A and you can copy it."
Mr. Poirier was pleased to hear that some students planned to apply what they had learned to band rehearsals: “I will now write in my notes and practice.”  “I will concentrate more on the music and listen to what my instructor is telling me.”
Perhaps the best indication of the success of this program was that students could transfer the lesson on group dynamics to other areas.  “Group dynamics are important in hockey so you make smooth plays and work together.”  “(In) chorus we need to be considerate of others, respectfully tell things they should do differently.”  “I will listen to others in groups.”

A benefit given by the Lenz and Perkins families and the efforts of ArtsAlive@KCS made this workshop available to KCS students.