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The Times
  • Musical visitors to Poland inspire imagination, practice

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  • POLAND — If you closed your eyes and listened during a recent event at Poland Central School, you could tell it was winter without even stepping outside.
    There was the whooshing of the wind, the thud of feet running through the snow and the sound of people shivering.
    All of the noises were made by Poland students participating in a musical performance by violinist Heidi Schaul-Yoder of the Learning Arts.
    Schaul-Yoder and other musicians from the Learning Arts performed for Poland students on two days in December and conducted music workshops for some students.
    Students made the whooshing sounds with their mouths while moving their hands through the air, smacked their hands against the floor to make the sound of boots running through the snow and hugged themselves and shivered to make the sound of people feeling cold. The music played on the violin also conveyed the wintry feelings students were acting out.
    After the first performance for elementary students, Poland Elementary Principal Christopher Clancy spoke to the students about the experience.
    “I was amazed how much you were able to use your imagination today,” Clancy said. “Music makes us feel things — such as cold, warm, fast and slow.”
    The Learning Arts is a subdivision of a large corporate education outreach program. A private donor provided a grant for the group to go to schools in the Adirondack Park region. The Learning Arts has visited about 60 schools in the area, and this was the second year for Poland.
    Students in schools in the Adirondack Park Region — particularly in schools farther north — don’t have a lot of opportunities to go to concerts or have musicians come in and perform, said Matt Ward, a percussionist for the Learning Arts.
    “The idea is just bringing music to schools and giving kids exposure to something they probably haven’t heard before,” Ward said.
    In addition to playing twice for elementary students on the first day, the Learning Arts performed music of myths, fables and literature on the second day for middle-school students and music related to human and civil rights for high-school students.
    Ward and Schaul-Yoder were joined by pianist Tom Cuffari, flutist Elivi Varga and singer Maja Lisa Fritzehuspen for the performances.
    The Learning Arts also conducted singing, flute and percussion workshops for some students.
    At the end of the first elementary performance, Clancy also talked to his students about an important lesson they could learn about practice and not giving up when struggling with something. He said the performers needed to practice very hard to be so good at singing and playing instruments.
    “I want you to think about something you want to be very good at,” Clancy said. “You should try and try and try and try, and someday, you’ll be as great as you want to be.”

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