Local students in Orono and Hermon are getting a taste of show choir with performance workshops at their schools by Young Americans this month.
As part of the nonprofit organization’s 2014 Fall International Music Outreach Tour, the first three-day intensive workshop was held this week at Orono High School. It culminates in a Saturday performance, featuring both participating students and the Young American’s cast. Next week, the music performance workshop heads to Hermon High School where students will participate from Oct. 12 through 14.
During the three-day workshops, students are trained in vocals, dance, theater and improv performance, simultaneously gaining valuable life lessons in self-esteem and confidence building. The workshops are open to all students in grades three through 12 in the surrounding areas.
Morita Tapley of Morita’s School of Dance in Hermon is a strong advocate for the positive life experience student’s gain from training and performing with the show choir.
“[Young Americans] want to instill a lot of confidence and get students willing to try new things,” Tapley said. “They teach in a way that is so uplifting and encouraging, it’s something that [students] won’t forget.”
Orono High School believes its arts program is already very strong but is looking to further emphasize its commitment to the program by hosting the Young Americans.
“Anytime you have young adults who are excited, positive and talented and are willing to share that gift with students, the students can’t help but feel encouraged,” said Cami Carter, a teacher at Orono High School who has assisted in organizing the Young American’s visit.
Since participants are not required to have any formal experience, the Young Americans workshops often expose students to things they didn’t know they had the ability to do.
“You’ll see kids who are just so very quiet and then by end of these three days they’ll be out on stage singing and dancing like they’ve been on stage their whole life,” Tapley said.
Rachel Caron, of Brewer, and Mackenzie Leal, of Newport, are both current members of the Young Americans cast, which has allowed them to travel across the country, encouraging children to participate in the performing arts.
The final performance of Orono’s workshop will be Saturday, Oct. 11, at the Orono High School gymnasium with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $8 for students. Profits go towards the Young Americans’ mission to educate, fund and encourage music departments across the country.
Tapley first made the push to get the Young Americans to travel to Maine in 1989, 10 years later they held their first workshops in Newport and Hampden. Since then the show choir has been coming to Maine every three years.
“It’s one of the things I wish everybody could participate in,” Tapley said.
The Young Americans have been committed to teaching students the importance of music and dance for 52 years, making it the oldest show choir in the country. Young Americans is California-based and has programs worldwide.