Rediscovering the Feral Girl

Gail

Gail Martin

 

Lexington Visual Artist Reinvents Herself Through Music

By Digney Fignus

Today’s world is ever-changing and often challenging. People who want to make sense of it all, or at least gain a clearer understanding of the chaos that surrounds us, often defer to society’s artists, musicians, or shamans (who are many times one-in-the-same) to interpret the confusion. It’s been that way since time immemorial. Music, art, and spirituality have always been intertwined. From the first scratches of ochre painted on cave walls to the ancient echoes of primal rhythms beaten on a hollow log, it’s what makes us tick. It’s that “feral” ground where images and metaphors emerge from the stillness of the mind or the world of dreams. They are the fuel that has forever sparked the engine of creativity. This is the landscape where Lexington singer and songwriter Gail Martin draws her inspiration.

After 15 years as a recognized visual artist whose critically acclaimed collections have been exhibited most recently at the prestigious Bromfield Gallery, Martin flipped the script and in 2007 began to concentrate full-time on music and songwriting. Gail is just one of the millions of baby boomers who have decided to reinvent themselves at midlife. It’s a new lifestyle model that the flower-power generation has enthusiastically embraced. With the Pew Research Center estimating that 10,000 baby boomers will be retiring every day for the next 19 years it’s something we can expect to see more and more. For those not ready to retire full-time, pursuing the arts offers an array of opportunities for second-act careers.

At age 58, Gail recently previewed her first studio recording, Feral Girl, at Flora restaurant in Arlington. It was an intimate and eclectic crowd of 30-plus supportive listeners and friends. Gail was accompanied by fellow Lexingtonian and accomplished musician Peter Warren on electric guitar, dobro, and lap steel. They seamlessly performed most of the songs from Martin’s debut CD as well as a few new originals and select cover tunes, including Joan Osborne’s inspirational “One of Us” and the classic Santo & Johnny instrumental “Sleepwalk.”

1744392

Gail Martin and Peter Waren performing

Feral Girl is a collection of 11 original songs drawn from hard-won experience as well as the world of imagination and dreams. Gail’s freshman CD is a mix of plaintive appeals, stories of transformation, and stark images of life, its struggles, and its triumphs. Martin examines the mysteries and wonders of existence in songs like the opening number “River” and “Unfinished Wings” with its ethereal harmonies. She fearlessly tackles subjects like growing old in “Ugly Trees” and “Last Flowers of Fall,” and homelessness in her haunting narrative “Bessie.” “Life Hard as Stone” shows off her early roots and a familiarity with the traditional form of folk music in her tale of revolutionary New England farmers.

The process of creating Feral Girl was also a journey of rediscovery. In Gail’s words, “A few years ago, I discovered that at some point of the process of becoming a well-civilized young lady, a part of my personality had been exiled to the depths of my subconscious. I came to call her my feral girl. As I explain in a note on the CD, if I hadn’t recovered the spirit and courage of this part, I wouldn’t have been able to do this work. So I dedicate the album to her.”

Gail grew up in rural New Jersey near the Pennsylvania border. She moved to Boston to attend the Art Institute in 1973 with her self-confessed “Farrah Fawcett hairdo and platform shoes.” She arrived on the scene with the idea of becoming an illustrator or commercial artist. Unfortunately, she soon became disillusioned by discouraging teachers at the school who Gail in some ways blames for “banishing the feral girl” that the new CD is dedicated to. Martin soon left the Art Institute in favor of Emerson College where she became a theater major. Having hands-on experience at creating and designing sets eventually led to a job as a window designer at the Jordan Marsh store that was then located on Washington Street in Downtown Crossing. It was a wonderful creative outlet that led to a passion for visual art and eventual success as a recognized artist in her own right.

When asked about the transition from visual arts to music, Gail reflects, “I was actually very surprised to find how connected the song-writing is to visual art, and how quickly the ability to write my own songs emerged. I think in images and images drive both endeavors. All those cover songs I learned also served as a crash course in writing. The other big surprise was that I felt music allowed me to be even more expressive than the visual arts, enabling me to engage on a deeply energetic as well as imagistic level.”

Feral Girl is a profoundly personal project for Gail. “I have been practicing meditation for many years and most years I take a silent retreat of between one to six weeks. I go to a place in rural Massachusetts that allows me to spend a lot of time in nature, and many of my songs grow out of this opportunity to deeply connect to the nature of life and existence. I’m fascinated with this world and the workings of the mind, how to heal our deepest sorrows, and how to be happier, and try to share what I learn in the songs.”

When I was at the Flora CD preview, I also got a chance to talk with Barry Jacobson, Gail’s partner for the last 30 years and husband of 25 years. Barry first met Gail when he was Registrar of the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and she signed up for a course in yoga. Yoga and meditation are an ongoing theme in their lives. Many of the fans at the showcase were friends from the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center where both Barry and Gail have been practicing meditation and yoga for over 20 years. Gail draws unabashedly from that spiritual well. In her words, “The nature of mind and the mind of nature are my primary inspirations.” The meditation center was also where Gail first met Peter, her musical accompanist, and fellow performer at Flora.

Gail’s choice to preview Feral Girl at Flora is particularly poignant because Chef Bob Sargent, the culinary master at Flora, was in many ways the catalyst for her current musical career. Chef Bob heard Gail singing at a mutual friend’s party they happened to both be attending. Soon afterward he invited her to sing on a recording that one of his musician friends was working on. That experience of recording in the studio sparked a reemergence of one of Gail’s girlhood joys. “As a teenager, I wanted nothing more than to be Joni Mitchell. So my early training on guitar focused on finger-style playing. I sang in the park, sang in chorus, sang in my bedroom. I performed in a folk trio, called (somewhat embarrassingly) Rainbow. In 2007, after many years of exhibiting visual art, my love of music re-ignited when a friend asked me to sing back-up vocals on his CD. I decided to rededicate myself to this somewhat neglected area, dusted off my guitar, found a great vocal coach and started anew. I must have learned 100 cover songs in the next couple of years, and that training period, combined with the feeling for imagery that had informed my artwork, led me to writing my own songs.”

You can hear some of her early influences like Joni Mitchell and Patty Griffin in Gail’s musical crafting. Besides meditation, dreams also play an important role in her writing. Her husband Barry confessed that Gail dreamed about the homeless woman and her dog “Bessie” in incredible vivid detail before putting their story to music. In contrast, Gail’s song “River” came to her while kayaking and contemplating “becoming one with life itself.” Like the river, “To endeavor to live without resistance to whatever state we find ourselves in, come what may.” Her efforts have attracted critical acclaim as well as the attention of local folk legend Vance Gilbert who calls Feral Girl, “satisfying…atmospheric. Her voice is perfect, the stories and writing magnificent, the playing clear and swinging.”

Gail Martin’s transition from artist to balladeer is still evolving, “The process of songwriting is still somewhat mysterious and miraculous to me. I find inspiration in the strangest places, when I am attuned to the world around me in the ideas, the metaphors, the stories seem to arrive synthetically. That is to say that I often feel as though I am a receiver as much as a creator, and that my job is really to practice the skills needed to present the music well, and keep myself open to what wants to be expressed through me. Each song feels like a gift, and with each one I wonder anew at my great good fortune.”

When she is asked about the rewards of recording and producing Feral Girl she is quick to reply, “The biggest thrill has been opportunities to work with talented local musicians. I never found a satisfying way to collaborate in the visual arts, and so art-making was a mostly solitary and sometimes lonely process. When I began to work with other musicians, I was delighted. All the talented people that came in to record on the CD brought so many wonderful musical ideas to the project. It’s like borrowing other peoples’ genius! After so many years of working alone it almost feels like cheating.”

Accompanying Gail on the Feral Girl recordings are Peter Warren; co-producer Larry Luddecke of Arlington’s Straight Up Music studio; Susan Robbins and Marytha Paffrath of the Internationally known women’s world music ensemble Libana; local musicians Valerie Thompson, Beth Cohen, and Jim Gray; and nationally known singer-songwriter Vance Gilbert.

Sunday, November 2, marks the official release of Feral Girl with an afternoon concert at The Burren in Davis Square, Somerville from 2:00PM to 5:00PM. The show is free and open to the public. The performance will feature Gail and Peter as well as other special guests who performed on the CD.

For more information, visit www.gailmartinmusic.com

Colonial Times contributor DIGNEY FIGNUS and his band perform in clubs and festivals around New England. Check www.digney.com for the latest information on upcoming shows.


 

Gail Martin and Peter Warren performing

Gail Martin’s CD – Feral Girl – is available at www.gailmartinmusic.com

Share this:

MAESTRO of the MASTERSINGERS

Adam Grossman’s 20th Season20th

By Jane Whitehead

At 9:00 p.m. on a wet Wednesday evening, twenty or so of the Master Singers of Lexington are sight-reading a song by 19th-century French composer Claude Debussy that requires them to sound like tambourines.

During the tenure of Music Director Adam Grossman, the accomplished chamber chorus has met many such demands. Known for his championship of contemporary composers, and his encyclopedic knowledge of music from Bach to Broadway, Grossman has challenged his singers to imitate everything from blaring taxi horns to farmyard animals, as well as leading them in acclaimed performances of masterworks of the classical canon.

Adam Grossman

Adam Grossman

To mark his twentieth season with the Master Singers, Grossman has worked with board members to devise programs around the theme: “New Works, Old Favorites, Returning Friends.” “Every concert has a new piece by a composer we’ve premiered in the past, and all the guest artists have also played with us before,” he explains.

The opening concert of the season, at 8:00 p.m. Saturday November 1, at First Parish Church, Lexington, features songs by Mendelssohn, Debussy and Barber, with the first performance of Ruth, a setting for chorus, soloists, piano and clarinet of a part of the Biblical Book of Ruth, commissioned by the group from Vermont-based composer Sara Doncaster. Guest clarinetist Katherine Matasy will also perform Debussy’s Première Rhapsodie for clarinet and piano, with the Master Singers’ longtime accompanist Eric Mazonson. “Eric is a very important part of my experience with the group,” says Grossman, “ and a very important part of what we do.”

 Programs Playful and Profound

“One of Adam’s amazing strengths is his inspired, creative programming,” says tenor David Getty. He and his wife, the late Sarah Getty, joined the group in 1976 when it was still a chamber chorus of The Masterworks Chorale, under the direction of the late Allen Lannom.  “Adam puts together programs for the four concerts each season, each based on a theme, combining works within a program that contrast and complement one another, and showing great diversity across the season,” says Getty.

The group’s annual Pops concerts show Grossman’s ”playful and creative mind,” says Getty. With titles like “Sue Me!” “By the Numbers” and “Come Rain or Shine,” each concert brings together songs from many eras, linked by a shared theme. For the 2014 Pops concert, “Shall We Dance?” the program included favorites from Broadway and Hollywood, mixed with Gilbert and Sullivan, Argentine tango and a sixteenth-century German galliard. One of tenor Haris Papamichael’s all-time favorite Pops events was “Food, Glorious Food,” for which the program was presented in the form of a menu.

“Adam is first and foremost a serious musician,” says soprano Hope Tompkins, a veteran of choral groups large and small, from Manhattan to Boston. “He makes it possible for the Master Singers to delve deeply into and bring forth the sounds of many centuries, from Claudio Monteverdi to Eric Whitacre,” says Tompkins, who joined the group in 2011. She also appreciates Grossman’s sense of fun, recalling the time when at a Pops concert, he handed out giant day-glow colored sunglasses to all the singers for their rendition of “Stayin’ Alive” from Saturday Night Fever.

 A Life in Music

Grossman’s step-brother Joshua Cohen has sung bass with the Master Singers since 1995. He realized at an early age that Grossman had serious musical talent. When they attended a summer music camp in New Jersey together as young teenagers, Cohen remembers that all the campers were given clarinets to try. “I was tweeting around and Adam was playing melodies,” he says. “You got a real sense that he was already on his way.” Grossman pursued undergraduate studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and at Boston University, before focusing on composition as a graduate student at Brandeis University.

Grossman’s career in conducting, composing and music education has made him a familiar figure on many podiums in the Greater Boston area and beyond. He is currently conductor of the Junior Repertory Orchestra on the New England Conservatory of Music Preparatory School, and teaches in the Newton public schools. He is the former Music Director of the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, former conductor of the Boston Cecilia Chamber Singers, and has taught at the All Newton Music School, and in the Brookline and Somerville public schools, and made guest appearances with groups including Symphony by the Sea, the Longy Summer Orchestra and Chorus Pro Musica.

Grossman’s style as a conductor, says Cohen, is self-effacing rather than self-promoting. “He’s not a ‘personality’ conductor,” says Cohen. “He’s not someone who spends a lot of time talking about his philosophy of music, or describing things in poetic terms. He believes in putting the music first, not the conductor.”

Master Singers’ founding member, soprano Harriet Chmela, 78, says: “I have seen a lot of growth in Adam’s conducting since he began directing the Master Singers, and the group has grown along with him. This has been a very productive twenty years.” Grossman’s demanding but respectful approach to his singers is an important part of that success, says Chmela. “Singers are treated with sensitivity and trust and this is very important for harmony in the best sense of the word,” she says.

Soprano Catherine Sukow agrees. “Adam’s style is a great combination of respect for the music, respect for the musicians, adventurousness, creativity in programming, and passion for the performance,” she says.  As an educator with a good sense of humor, he makes the whole rehearsal process a pleasure, she says, from “slogging through the difficult parts” to “building cohesion, adding nuances and bringing it all together for the concert.”

 Taking Music to Schools

In 1997, two years after taking over as Music Director of the Master Singers, Grossman started a Children’s Concert series in collaboration with Lexington public schools. “I’m very happy to be able to bring this kind of music to children,” he says. “A lot of kids think choral singing is something you do while you’re in school, or in college, and not only do we give them a chance to sing with us, we show them that this is something some people do for their whole lives.” This season’s free concert will take place at Clarke Middle School, on Saturday March 14, 2015.

A previous Children’s Concert at Clarke encouraged Catherine Sukow to audition for the Master Singers, three years ago. “As a mom, I appreciated the fact that they came to sing a concert for and along with the students,” says Sukow. She wondered about the source of “the crazy, fun rounds that they got the whole audience to sing,” and found out later that they were Grossman’s creations.

Sukow looks forward to tackling a full-scale Grossman composition in the final concert of the season, on May 16, 2015. This will mark the official 20th Anniversary celebration, says Grossman, who will make also an unusual appearance on that occasion as a violinist, in the ensemble accompanying guest artist Frank Powdermaker in J.S. Bach’s Violin Concerto in A Minor. As for his own composition for that concert, Grossman says: “it is not yet completed or named.” He adds with a laugh, “But we’re talking about May here, so we’re on schedule.”

Grossman’s ability to inspire loyalty among his singers is attested by the long-term commitment of so many members of the ensemble. “I look forward to each season, and hope to be part of the adventure for many more,” says Chmela. For his part, Grossman highly values his enduring partnership with the Master Singers. “No conductor is guaranteed a position,” he says. “Anybody who has the good fortune to be a music director, let alone to work with a group for 20 years, is a very lucky person.”

 


 

 

brochure2014final

Share this:

Local Couple Creates “Lexington Soaps”

By Devin Shaw

Umesh Shelat

Umesh Shelat

In 2005 Umesh and Radha Shelat had a son. By the time he was two years old he had developed mild eczema. “We tried everything, over-the-counter products…commercial products. Nothing worked at all, it wasn’t severe but it was causing irritation, so my wife decided ‘I’m going to make my own soap’,” Umesh explained.

The homemade soap helped his son almost immediately, “It was very plain and non-fragrant—but it worked; the eczema was gone after two weeks,” Umesh told me. After that, she began experimenting with different fragrances and different essential oils. “We loved it,” he went on to say. “For about a year we just made it for ourselves. We started giving it away as gifts. Our friends liked it.”

Umesh comes from a business background; he has spent 20 years working in the investment industry on both the buying and selling side. He realized that there was potential with the soap they were making. “We thought, ‘We like it, our friends like it—maybe other people will like it?’”

Radha spent time perfecting her recipes. “We continued like that for a couple of years, and in 2012 we formed our company Lexington Soaps,”  Umesh said.

The chemistry of soap making is called saponification.  According to the soapmaking expert David Fisher from About.com, saponification is an “exothermic (gives off heat) chemical reaction that occurs when fatty acids come into contact with lye.” Saponification, he explains, means “turning into soap” from the word, “sapo” the Latin word for soap.
A precisely calibrated recipe is crucial, because each kind of vegetable oil requires a different percentage of lye in order to fully saponify. The by-products of the saponification reaction are glycerin and soap. Radha comes from a highly technical engineering background that requires extreme precision. Her background has translated well into soapmaking. Said Umesh, “You have to be very precise. It’s very detailed oriented.”

“The first process involves combining butters and oil,” he explained. “Then you add a lye mixture to it that reacts with the butter and oil combination to create the soap.” The big vat of soap has to be poured immediately into specific molds. The saponification process takes 24 hours. Once that 24-hour process is complete there is not lye left. “The next day we take it out of the mold, cut it and stamp it. We let it cure for 4 weeks.”

Quality is very important to both Umesh and Radha. They had always wanted to have their own business and according to Umesh they regularly asked themselves, “What can we make that we feel is the best product out there—without mortgaging the house?” After discovering their ability to make high-quality soap they had an answer.

Umesh and Radha want to provide an outstanding product to the residents of Lexington. Umesh explained, “We live in this town of Lexington—and it’s a unique town. We have a product that is representative of what we love about Lexington. It’s a quality of life; the people that live here are the best at what they do. After living here for years, it occurred to me that we want to have a product that was consistent with the theme and the culture of the town on an intellectual basis—a high quality product for a high quality town. We realized by making soap we could deliver on that dream.”

 

cucumbermelon Shaving Soap
coconutlime BB Sage Shave Cream
lavender3
Lexington Soaps makes a wide range of all natural products. Clockwise from top: Cucumber Melon Soap, Sandalwood Shaving Soap, Sage Lime Soap, Blackberry Sage Shaving Cream and Lavender Soap.Each soap is made from emollient rich butters and oils and delicately scented with essential oils. These handmade soaps are beautiful and make great gifts. Find them at Theatre Pharmacy in downtown Lexington and Santoro’s Ace Hardware in Bedford. Order direct from: www.lexingtonsoaps.com.

www.lexingtonsoaps.com

Umesh gave me a sampling of their soaps to try for myself. I was impressed. The fragrances are refreshing, but it is the moisturizing quality of the soap that is superior. “Our soaps are not super-high lather, and if you look at other high-end soaps they don’t claim to have a lot of lather either. We want to create tiny bubbles that will help moisturize the skin.”

The all natural ingredients are highly emollient. For example, the Cucumber-Melon soap contains real pureed cucumbers along with African Shea butter, canola oil, palm kernel oil, extra virgin olive oil, castor oil, distilled water, and cucumber melon essential oil.

The Lexington Soaps recipes have been developed with care to provide a gentle, luxurious experience. They also offer Body Butter, Lotions, Balms, Sugar Scrubs, Shaving Soaps and Cream as well as lip balm. The fragrances range from Cranberry Spice, Sage Lime, Oatmeal Honey to a White Tea and Ginger. “We have floral, herbal, citrus and woodsy fragrances. We follow a certain perfume pattern,” Umesh explained. There is an unscented soap for those who are sensitive to fragrance and rich and gentle goat milk soaps.

 

Spa Kit

The Lexington Soaps Spa Box makes a great gift.

Package

Each soap is packaged in its own “drawer” for a lovely presentation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shaving products really delivered. I’ve been shaving since an early age and have incredibly sensitive skin. Since I often suffer razor burn, I am always on the hunt for great products. I have tried everything including an expensive line from Nordstrom and the exclusive Shaving Company brand. In every dimension, the Lexington Soaps products surpassed even the most expensive products I have tried. My skin was well moisturized, free of razor burn and the shave was incredibly close. My typical five o’clock shadow did not show up until much later which was an added bonus!

Umesh and I agree that shaving should be enjoyable. Lexington Soaps provides a shaving soap that is perfect if you use a brush while shaving; and if you do not use a brush you can use their shaving cream as I did. “The shaving cream is all oils and butters. It is emolliating and extremely moisturizing,” Umesh said.

If you want to treat your skin, especially if your skin is sensitive, summer is a great time to give these products a try. Sun, saltwater, insects and sweat can be a nightmare for delicate skin. Lexington Soaps products can be found at Theatre Pharmacy and Santoro’s Ace Hardware in Bedford. You can also purchase their products from their website Lexingtonsoaps.com.

Share this:

Lexington Montessori Celebrates 50 Years

By Jennifer Goebel

 
Where Pleasant Street crosses under Route 2, a collection of unassuming white, Federal-style houses hosts one of Lexington’s educational rock stars: Lexington Montessori School. This June, LMS celebrates its 50th anniversary. For many Lexingtonians, School Exteriorthis may come as a Logosurprise—Lexington is known for its excellent public schools, but this world-class Montessori school tends to fly under the radar.

Started in 1963 by a group of Lexington parents looking for a different kind of education for their kids, the small preschool opened in its present location—130 Pleasant Street—in 1965. Fifty years later, the campus consists of four buildings and has a student body of 230. Students range in age from 21 months to young teenagers (8th grade), and come from more than 20 surrounding towns.

“LMS is here because there are Lexington families who believed in Montessori. When you choose Montessori, you are choosing a different educational philosophy,” says Aline Gery, LMS’s Head of School since 2006. “We’re grateful to be part of such a wonderful community that supports us.”

 

WHAT IS MONTESSORI?

Montessori schools take their name from Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator who opened her own school, Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House), in a low-income district of Rome in 1907.

 

The Montessori Spark
In 2011, Wall Street Journal ran an article about the surprising number of highly successful, creative people who are Montessori graduates: Larry Page and Sergei Brin (Google founders), Will Wright (creator of Sim City and Spore), Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia founder), Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder), Sean “P. Diddy” Combs (Rap artist), and Julia Child (French chef). Dubbed the “Montessori Mafia,” many of those interviewed credited Montessori with allowing them to think creatively and discover things on their own.

 

“Maria Montessori was all about watching kids,” says Gery. “She paid attention to the fact that kids don’t spend a lot of time sitting down. She realized that manipulating their environment is critical to how they learn and how their brains develop.”

Montessori’s educational philosophy initially caught the attention of educators all over the world, but after a brief popularity that lasted until the 1920s, the movement stalled. In 1953, Dr. Nancy Rambusch, an American educator in search of alternatives to traditional schools, met Mario Montessori, Maria’s son, at a conference in Paris. Inspired, she started teaching Montessori classes in her New York City apartment for her own children and others, and launched the first American Montessori school in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1958. Today, there are more than 1300 Montessori schools in the United States, including more than 400 programs in public schools.

 

A BOOK GROUP AND A DREAM

Jane1

Jane Mack

LMS’s founding can be traced back to a women’s book group in Lexington in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The story goes that the group read one of Montessori’s books on early childhood education, and became inspired to try it in Lexington. Jane Mack (photo at right), a member of the group, travelled to Greenwich, CT for workshops in Montessori teaching at the Montessori school founded by Rambusch. Mack was the school’s first teacher, holding classes in the basement of Temple Isaiah in 1963. Happy with the program’s success, Mack and parents of the preschoolers looked for a permanent home for the school, and finally found one in the old David Wellington Homestead, which had just recently ceased its run as a restaurant called The 1775 House.

Mack continued to teach classes, lead the school, and travel to conferences to learn more about Montessori education. She studied the Montessori approach to infant and toddler care at the Montessori Birth Center in Rome, and continued to supervise the LMS toddler program as she spearheaded the growth of the school. Mack served as headmistress until her retirement in 1991. Under her leadership, the school grew to 200 students from 18 months to sixth grade. When the school added a lower elementary building in 1990, it was named in her honor.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF CLASSROOM

Biff Maier teaching.

Biff Maier teaching.

Montessori classrooms around the world may differ, but all of them have some things in common: multi-aged classrooms, self-directed learning and discovery for long blocks of time, and no grades or tests.

“When people go see a Montessori classroom for the first time, I tell them they should think in terms of seeing a professional environment, like an architectural firm,” says Biff Maier, Director of Faculty and Curriculum Development. “It  might look confusing—you might see a small group having a meeting, a few people working at drafting board, people doing presentations, and some people standing around the coffee machine chatting. You wouldn’t think it was bedlam, you’d think people are working. That’s what you will see in an LMS classroom—there will be kids working on a problem together in one part of the room, a teacher giving a small group lesson in another part, and some kids chatting or wandering around.”

Montessori schools are also famous for their manipulative materials. Rooms are laid out in categories—literature, math, science, history—and curriculum materials are sequenced from the most fundamental to the most complex. While there are milestones and educational objectives that all the children must reach, when and how they accomplish those, with whom, and how they demonstrate mastery, are primarily directed by the students themselves.

“The best of my day is hearing from the kids how their day is going,” says Jasmine Duffy, Children’s House Head Teacher for PreK and Kindergarten, and an LMS alum herself (1999). “I love watching the children work with the Montessori materials and make their own discoveries.”

Maier admits that this is hard for some parents and teachers. They may really like the idea of kids taking leadership roles in their learning, but they still want the accountability that comes with conventional classrooms and conventional metrics of achievement: standardized tests and grades.

“There’s a different kind of trust in Montessori schools,” says Maier. “I tell teachers that the secret of classroom management is to not be surprised when people are doing what’s appropriate, but to be surprised if they don’t. If they feel trusted, the students will respond. That’s what good bosses do.”

Above Aline Gery, LMS’s Head of School since 2006, pictured with her literature circle.

Above Aline Gery, LMS’s Head of School since 2006, pictured with her literature circle.

Gery, who was a high school teacher before coming to LMS, says that how she talks to and understands kids is very different now that she has been immersed in Montessori.

“That pervasive respect for kids, the way all the adults interact with their smaller charges here, is infectious. I think kids leave here with more than just knowledge; they know they have something to offer. They are confident kids who succeed as citizens of their new communities.”

 

TEACHING THE TEACHERS

This summer, Montessori teachers from around the country and the world will come to LMS to receive training at the Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collaborative. Maier, who has been training teachers for more than 30 years, is excited to have the training program at LMS for the second year. The program had been in New Rochelle, NY for many years, but recent changes allowed him to bring the program to Lexington.

Training Montessori teachers is different from most other teacher training. It looks, in fact, rather like a Montessori classroom.

“We treat the teachers the way we want them to treat the kids. Autonomous, independent, in charge of their own training,” explains Maier. “We give teachers a real toolkit, not just a philosophy. We tell them what to do and even what to say. Montessori is scripted, but even so, people using the same script can have very different styles and ways of connecting.”

 

TEACHING THE KID’S KIDS

As it enters its sixth decade, LMS is seeing children of former students enroll. And, three teachers currently on staff are LMS graduates themselves.

“Being a Montessori teacher helps keep me optimistic about our uncertain global future because Montessori truly believed that children are significant agents of social change,” says Laini Szostkowski, Upper Elementary teacher and LMS alumna (1991-2001).

Long after they leave the school, LMS students remain connected. Maier brings back a group of students who have gone on to high school or college to talk about how Montessori education has shaped their lives each year.

“So many of them say the biggest difference that Montessori made in their lives was the habit they made of having relationships with teachers. They felt confident and valued, and weren’t afraid to jump the fence between teachers and students that exists at so many schools,” explains Maier. “They also talk about organizational skills they learned, and how much they like being in control of their education.”

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS

CHfrontoldphoto

Pictured left: The Montessori property when it was the 1775 Restaurant (note 1775 on chimney). At the right, an original menu from the restaurant. Despite the restaurant’s name, the original house was likely built circa 1805 by David Wellington, known as “Captain David,” who was a tanner and farmer, as well as the deacon of the First and Follen Churches. The house then passed to his son Francis Wellington, and then to the Bartlett family, who were also farmers. Around 1936, the house was transformed into the restaurant, which it remained until LMS purchased and renovated it in 1965.

“So much has happened in 50 years to strengthen the school,” says Gery. “Some families are with us just for the preschool years, while others may be with us for 13 or 14 years, sometimes longer if they are sending more than one child through the school. It’s their support and their vision that allows us to expand and grow.”

The school’s former life as a restaurant is not forgotten by town residents or the school’s leadership, however.

 

menu1775

“Just last week, a woman came into the building because she was lost. It turns out she had her wedding reception at The 1775 House Restaurant,” says Gery. “People still remember this area before Route 2 was built. These buildings are part of the Lexington community.”

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration scheduled for June 14 (see above), the school is inviting members of the community who might have pictures, information, or artifacts from the early years of the school to stop by and share their history and memories.

“We would really love to hear from students and teachers from the very earliest years of the school,” says Gery. “When alums and past parents visit LMS, they often say that all they loved about their time here is still evident, while also being pleased to see we have solar panels, student gardens, an expanded library and, most of all, a middle school!”

Share this:

Twelfth Night at Bridge School

Curtain CallBy Laurie Atwater

Visit Bridge School in the early morning before class, or after school, and you may find that you’ve been transported back to Shakespearean England by enterprising thespians and their intrepid director Leslie Colby.  Long after Lexington lost its elementary theater specialist, Ms. Colby has kept theater alive at Bridge.  For fourteen years, her Shakespeare Troupe has been staging an abbreviated version of Twelfth Night or What You Will.

“It started out as a class project,” Ms. Colby explains.  But when the curriculum began to move to quickly to accommodate in class projects of any scope, Colby was undeterred.  Giving generously of her own time, she actually expanded her little Shakespeare experiment to include all Bridge 4th and the 5th graders who wanted to audition.

The Bridge Shakespeare Troupe was formed with the goal of presenting one yearly production that was true to the text and the spirit of the original.

And Ms. Colby knows her Shakespeare.  She earned her BA and Masters in theater education and has directed and acted in many adult productions over the years. Her husband Robert (Bob) Colby is the director of the elite graduate program in theater education at Emerson College.  Together they have theater in their blood.  Most recently Ms. Colby was the recipient of an LEF Summer Fellowship Grant which she used to study drama in London at the Globe Theatre.  “I did some workshops there and I did a lot of work with Shakespeare.”  Work that she’s putting to great use at home in Lexington. Colby tells me that the sets for the play are modeled on the original Globe Theatre sets for Twelfth Night.

What’s great about this story is that I would never have known about Ms. Colby or this Twelfth Night production if it were not for one parent who wanted to highlight this great educational experience in town.  She reached out to me because she realized that special alchemy was happening at Bridge school—that moment when teaching and learning were combining to create the magical potion called education.  This isn’t test prep, drills or CORE requirements, this is the education that inspires and reaches deep within students to foster real joy in learning.

Colby is a big fan of this special joy.  She would have to be.  With the demands of modern curriculum requirements, Ms. Colby no longer has the classroom time to devote to Shakespeare.  All of the work for the production is done on her own time, but she is quick to say that her enthusiasm for the project has never waned.  And she credits the Lexington parents for helping to keep it going.  “We would never be able to do all of this ourselves for so many years,” she says. Even with her husband’s help, it’s a challenge to manage everything that goes into the production.  “We have one family that has let us use their basement for storage,” Colby says laughing. Indeed the Edelman family on Middleby Road has saved the Bridge School Shakespeare Company.

Because the school does not let them store any of their materials on site, they have relied on the kindness of these neighbors whose children have been Colby thespians over the years.  Andy, the youngest Edelman just performed in Willy Wonka at the middle school and is planning to attend Walnut Hill to pursue his passion for the arts.  Over the years hundreds of parents have sewn costumes, applied makeup, painted sets, gathered props, and gotten their children to rehearsal.  The children never forget their experience. “Once they are part of the Shakespeare Players,”Ms. Colby says proudly, “they come back year after year to support the new kids and see the play.” And of course to see her.

The reward is worth the effort for Ms. Colby.  “I have children who have all different skills and abilities, but they all learn and grow,” she says.  “You can see their improved confidence—they learn to work cooperatively and master a task over time,” she says.  Theater is a lot of work. Children not only memorize their lines but they have to understand the context of what they are saying and refine their delivery. The have to be accountable to the other actors—learn their blocking and their cues, hit their marks and become part of the company.  It takes cooperation, self discipline and teamwork.

Parents are thrilled to see their children performing in public and developing those skills that will be important as they grow. “It’s really such joy and excitement,” Ms. Colby says, “A feeling of accomplishment that they don’t get from a short little paper or a worksheet.  That joy—it’s why I wanted to teach in the first place and it seems to be diminishing every day.  When the curtain goes down and the company takes a bow, Leslie Colby always sheds a tear or two, but only for a moment because next year she will begin anew! [Read more…]

Share this:

Sunday April 27 – Reception celebrating this year’s winners!

Tricorne Hat Reception Notice

Share this:

Here Comes the Old Guard

Old Guard at the White House. Courtesy of the Old Guard.

Old Guard at the White House. Courtesy of the Old Guard.

 

By Digney Fignus

Since I was a kid growing up in Lexington I have always loved Patriot’s Day. It seemed like it was Lexington’s own special holiday, our first official spring celebration heralding the warmer weather to come. Long before it became a state-mandated “Monday” holiday, all the kids in the neighborhood looked forward to April 19th as a day off from school dedicated to parades and old-fashioned fun. It was something that made you proud to be from our little town that usually made the evening news for at least that one day every year. No matter what the weather, Patriot’s Day in Lexington has always been a great time for families to relax and reconnect with their neighbors after the long winter.

This year we’re getting an extra special treat to help Lexington celebrate Patriot’s Day. The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps is coming to town! They will be easy to spot in Monday’s parade with their bright red regimental coats, white wigs, black tricorn hats, and period uniforms dating back to George Washington’s Continental Army. And in a double-dose of good fortune, lucky fans will also get an outdoor concert Saturday, April 19th at 12 noon. This is a must-see event for any fife and drum fanatic. Come early, because there is sure to be a crowd on the Battle Green for this special performance. The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps along with the US Army Drill Team, and the Commander in Chief’s Infantry Guard is a show not to be missed.

Stationed in Fort Meyer, Virginia, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps is unique as the only unit of its kind in the armed forces. Part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, an official representative of the U.S. Army, the Corps averages 500 appearances a year and has performed for millions. They not only appear at all the official White House Arrival Ceremonies for visiting Heads of State, the Corps have been featured performers at every Presidential Inauguration since President Kennedy in 1961. Besides their official functions, the Old Guard has performed at NFL events, NASCAR, the Kentucky Derby, the Indianapolis 500, and the Tournament of Roses Parade — to mention only a few. In addition, they serve as good-will ambassadors and representatives of the United States Army overseas performing at international competitions, known as “tattoos,” everywhere from Australia to Panama.

The Old Guard is at the top rung in the Fife and Drum Corps world. Even though it is an ultra-exclusive group, I was surprised to find that anyone can audition for an open position. There are only 69 members in the Corps. Openings are few, so if you are lucky enough to be asked to Washington to audition for a spot, you’d better be good. The Corps uses 10-hole fifes, handmade rope-tensioned drums, and single-valve bugles which according to their website “bring to life the exciting sounds of the continental army.” Only the best musicians get a chance to audition. Although they are currently full-up, last year there were openings for a bass drum player, a fifer, and a bugler. So keep rehearsing, it’s a great gig if you can get it.

I had a chance to talk with Corps member, Staff Sergeant Heather Tribble, a fife player and eight-year veteran of the Old Guard. She is one of many men and women who join the army specifically to serve in the Old Guard. She reflected, “I was performing in a Fife and Drum Corps at the EPCOT Center in Florida. There were a lot of ex-military in the group, and I found out about the auditions from them.” If you pass the audition, only then do you need to commit to the army. After you go through normal basic training you have a guaranteed spot in the Old Guard. Unlike some jobs in the military that require a lot of moving around, people tend to stay put in the Old Guard. It affords the soldier-musicians and their families a little extra stability, a chance to develop long-term relationships, and an opportunity to put down some roots.

 

 

Old Guard at FDR Memorial. Courtesy of the Old Guard.

Old Guard at FDR Memorial. Courtesy of the Old Guard.

Being a musician myself, the more I talked with Sergeant Tribble the better the Corps sounded. I was tempted to start practicing my own big bass drum to see if maybe I could get an audition for one of those coveted open spots in the band. Unfortunately, I think the geezer-factor might kick in if I started competing with the rest of the mostly 18-year-olds in basic training. I wish I’d found out about this dream job sooner. Imagine, 500 guaranteed shows a year! All that, plus military benefits, and a steady paycheck? Obviously, I made a mistake when I decided to learn to play guitar instead of the fife.

The Fife and Drum Corps is a real family. A bass drummer with the unit, Sergeant Scott Danley sums it up, “The kids don’t just have a mom and dad, they get 60 aunts and uncles too.” Sergeant Danley, an eight-year veteran with the Corps, is a native of Alabama. He joined the Fife and Drum Corps in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Scott had just finished his tour of duty with the Marines. He served from 2001 – 2005 playing the tenor drum in the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps. He reminisces, “I had always thought the Fife and Drum Corps was a re-enactment group. But just before my enlistment was up with the Marines I attended a twilight tattoo on the ellipse by the White House in Washington. I saw those rope drums going to town. I’d never seen that style of drumming before.” Danley was so impressed with the musicianship of the performers that when he learned there was an opening for a bass drummer in the unit, he knew he had found his calling. He consulted with his wife and with her blessing sent a video audition tape to the selection committee, hoping to re-enlist with the Army Old Guard. To his disappointment he didn’t make it the first time.

After his enlistment was up in the Marines, the ex-soldier and his family returned to civilian life back home in Alabama. Things couldn’t have been worse. It was only a few months after Katrina, homeless refugees had flooded the area, and housing was nearly impossible to come by. The family was in a real quandary when Scott’s wife noticed that almost a year after Scott had been turned down, the army was still auditioning for the bass drum position. In Scott’s words, “My wife suggested I try to audition again and I told her ‘they don’t want me’ but she said I should give it another try. This time I got called to Washington to do a live audition.” On his second try he passed with flying colors. He laughs, “It’s funny because the first tape I recorded was in a big hall and the second tape I recorded in my living room!”

Last year, along with many other programs, the Old Guard was a victim of the government sequester. They were originally scheduled to perform during Lexington’s 300th Anniversary celebration. Unfortunately, because of the untimely budget limbo, they were not able to attend. Thankfully, this year they’re back and better than ever, and they’ll bring along some very special reinforcements. The Fife and Drum Corps is a real spectacle, colorful, precise, and extremely well-tuned. The 69 members of the Corps are usually deployed in marching groups of 21 soldier-musicians, a Drum Major, and support staff. This allows the Old Guard to perform at multiple locations and more than one show at a time. Look for the drum major as a quick way to tell the Old Guard from the other ceremonial Fife and Drum Corps marching in the Patriot’s Day Parade. He will be distinguished by his tall black leather hat covered in bear fur (a light-infantry cap), a white leather sash (called a baldric), and a long 18th century infantry officer’s weapon called an espontoon that he carries to issue silent commands to his marching Corps.

Old Guard at Pocono 500. Courtesy of the Old Guard.

Old Guard at Pocono 500. Courtesy of the Old Guard.

The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps perform a diverse repertoire of traditional field music. Drawn mostly from the 18th and 19th century, it includes familiar favorites like “Yankee Doodle,” and Fife and Drum Corps standards like, “Washington’s Artillery March,” the “Downfall of Paris,” and the “Duke of York’s March.” In addition, according to the official website, “performances include a breathtaking drum solo that is a real show of professional dexterity.” With just two opportunities to see them Patriot’s Day weekend, new converts and hard-core fans are sure to be left wanting more.

Along with the Fife and Drum Corps, the Commander in Chief’s Infantry Guard is also coming to Lexington’s Patriot’s Day weekend celebration. They are the infantry version of the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. They dress in traditional Continental Army blue and generally accompany the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps as a support group for parade and pageantry performances. They will be marching in Monday’s parade as well as appearing at the Battle Green on Saturday. Created in 1784, the Infantry Guard is another part of the 3rd Army Infantry Regiment. They hold the distinction of being the oldest active infantry in the United States Army. It only seems fitting that they assemble on our Battle Green on April 19th to honor the hallowed ground where the first shots were fired in the American Revolution.

Besides the Fife and Drum Corps and the Infantry Guard, Saturday’s event on the Battle Green includes a special appearance of the US Army Drill Team. As official good-will ambassadors, the Army Drill Team puts on a spectacular show. They expertly perform choreographed routines with bayonet-tipped 1903 Springfield rifles. Tossing around the heavy rifles with death-defying precision, these highly trained specialists are guaranteed to wow the crowd with their daring and complex maneuvers. Balancing vintage weapons with razor-sharp steel blades is no easy task. Courage, dedication, coordination, and a dead-calm demeanor are all necessary requirements before being admitted to this talented group. It’s a tough competition for a spot in the squad. According to the Drill Team’s Mission Statement, “Soldiers are selected for this elite unit after six months of rigorous and competitive drill practice. Trim military bearing, strength, and dexterity are mandatory prerequisites for qualification to the Drill Team. For those selected for the team, the rigors of training never stop. To execute their complicated routines as close to perfection as possible, the team practices constantly.” The routines are far too dangerous to be done while marching so the Drill Team will only be performing Saturday at the Battle Green and will not march in Monday’s parade. Take my advice and mark your calendars for noon, April 19. You don’t want to miss this show.

The Corps fact sheet proclaims, “The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps is America in retrospect – rekindling the ‘Spirit of ‘76’ in today’s Army.” So don your tricorn hat and take advantage of the opportunity to see this uniquely talented and entertaining group of the Army’s finest on Saturday and Monday during Patriot’s Day weekend.

 

Share this:

Faces of Our Revolutionary Heroes

Header Photo

As we rouse ourselves from the warm comfort of our beds in the pre-dawn darkness of Patriots Day and make our groggy way to the Battle Green we may wonder why we decided to do this, again. But as we approach the Green, the sun rising, the anticipation building, and we merge with so many others who have decided to do this, again, or for the first time we remember why we came. Twenty first century Lexington fades away as we are taken back to a singular moment in time, April 19, 1775, that changed history.

For the members of the Lexington Minutemen Company bringing that moment in time to life is a year round commitment. As the Company marches onto the Green we are not looking at our neighbors and friends, but at the faces of 1775 Lexington. And that transformation comes with a strong commitment.

The re-enactment unfolds as a carefully choreographed scene, but behind it is a dedication to authenticity and to the men who risked everything that we, as observers, may not recognize in the early morning light. Members of the group take the Minute Man Oath to heart, “We trust in God, that should the state of our affairs require it, we shall be ready to sacrifice our estates and everything dear in life, yea, and life itself, in support of the common cause.” The re-enactors who appear on the Green to meet the British regulars each portray an actual member of the Lexington Militia that took that oath. Each member researches his adopted ancestor and it is his responsibility and his honor to make their story part of his own. Through uniform, rank, and manner the Minutemen bring these everyday farmers and citizens of Lexington to life.

The modern company of Minute Men goes back quite a way. According to Captain Commanding Bill Poole the group coalesced in a new way as the bicentennial approached, “Starting in the mid-1970s the commitment of the company to the re-enactment strengthened, resulting in increased research into clothing, equipment, and the events of the day.” And that commitment is obvious as we meet three members of the Lexington Minute Men who each bring a different perspective to the group.

Watch for these members when you rouse yourself this year. You will appreciate their commitment and those of their brothers in the Lexington Minute Men just a little bit more.

 

Jedediah Monroe

Portrayed by Bill Rose

Bill Rose

Bill Rose

A costume is skin deep. A uniform goes all the way through. You could say that is the motto of re-enactor Bill Rose of Bolton who portrays Jedediah Monroe, a farmer from East Lexington.

Rose’s interest goes beyond what happened on one day in April. He has researched how these men and women lived, what they wore and how it might have felt to be a farmer in 1775. He brings all of this to his portrayal and shares what he’s learned with the other members of the Lexington Minute Men. “I really liked the material culture, understanding why a person did what he did; in his life, in his clothing, in his horse or his house. All that sort of thing,” says Rose. He began researching the fashion of the time, yes, fashion. Rose points out that even though these men were mostly farmers they followed the fashions of the times just as we do today. “You look at the newspapers, look at the wills, see what kind of clothing they had and you go, ‘Whoa, this guy was a farmer but somehow he made sure he had leather britches.” And part of their fashion sense came down to practical matters. “The clothing had to be extremely robust. You’re a farmer so you’d be using extremely good cloth. The tightly woven broadcloth would be almost waterproof. Remember, they got rained on just like we do and they didn’t like to get wet either.”

According to Rose the fashion of the time called for tightly fitted jackets. This was a nod to the practical side. High quality broadcloth was extremely expensive. Labor was cheap. Fitted wear called for less fabric and was more affordable.

Rose wanted to take his research on the material world of these men a step further and began creating his own clothes that were more true to the times that those that could be purchased. “If we are going to honor the people that died on that green and then died elsewhere for the last 230 years then we need to look as much like those guys as possible. So, I’m one of the guys that makes everything,” says Rose. He picked up a lot of tailoring skills from other Minute Men and has developed many of his own. Now he shares those skills with his fellow re-enactors and encourages them to make the investment. Rose is convincing, “It isn’t hard to do and the results are worth it. You were a hard charging, robust individual. And you put these clothes on and you invested the time to make them. You really understand what these guys went through.”

Jedediah Monroe, who Rose portrays, proved himself to be a hard charging individual on April 19, 1775. According to Rose, he was a farmer in East Lexington, probably in the mid to lower class of Lexington society. His family had come to the new world from Scotland after defeat at the Battle of Worcester in the 1650s.

Fifty-four year old Jedediah answered the alarm that morning and joined his fellow Minute Men on the Green. He was shot in the arm during the early morning skirmish. Rose tells the rest of the story, “He mustered the courage to soldier on and was killed later in the day at Parker’s Revenge. He’s a pretty cool character to do because he gave everything. He actually had an excuse to walk away but he didn’t. That’s why I take it pretty seriously.”

 

John Smith

Portrayed by Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

Randy Wilson

“I like to learn about history. It’s a good first hand experience and you get right down to it. I think it’s pretty cool.” Eighteen year old John Smith of Lexington may not have recognized the phrasing in 1775, but eighteen year old re-enactor Randy Wilson has the sentiment right. Randy has been involved in reenacting with his entire family since he was just six years old. It’s a way of life for him.

He’s already made his own history by becoming the youngest member of the Lexington Minute Men. Randy was active in his hometown with the Acton Minute Men, and the Lexington group as well. But at sixteen he wasn’t old enough to become a full member, until the Lexington Minute Men dropped the age limit. “I didn’t know the change was happening. I was just waiting for the chance to join. So, when it dropped down that was my opportunity,” says Wilson.

This Patriots Day Wilson will be the same age as his character, John Smith, was on April 19, 1775, something that adds to Wilson’s appreciation of portraying a real character from history. “The personal connection to a person in history has given me the feeling that I am actually re-enacting for something and someone, and it gives me the determination to really put some effort in the acting.”

According to the Lexington Minute Men’s history, John Smith was born to second generation colonists in Cambridge Farms on August 21, 1756. Following the skirmish on the Lexington Green Smith continued with Captain Parker to the afternoon ambush known as Parker’s Revenge. He continued his militia service through five additional postings from aiding the Colonial Army during the siege of Boston to Ticonderoga and back to Cambridge with members of the Lexington Militia. He left the military on April 18, 1780, almost five years to the day after that first skirmish on Lexington Green.

John Smith returned to Lexington and married. In the late 1780s he and his family left Lexington and the Battle Green behind and moved to Randolph, VT where they settled for good.

After this year’s Patriots Day re-enactment Randy will also leave the Green behind as he heads west to the University of Montana where he plans to study Wildlife Biology and Forestry. “When I go off to college in the fall I think that the primary thing that I will take away from re-enacting is the appreciation of where I grew up and the unique place that it holds in relation to the rest of the country,” says Randy. That’s a powerful lesson to take away, one that John Smith probably couldn’t appreciate in the early days of the new Republic.

 

Prince Abattoirs

Portrayed by Charles Price

Charlie Price

Charlie Price

Re-enactor Charles Price and Prince Estabrook both became accidental Minute Men. Neither asked to march onto the Lexington green, centuries apart. “He was a slave, for whatever reason he was out there on the green April 19, 1775 facing the British. It really wasn’t his fight,” explains Charles Price. Price has recreated Estabrook’s role in the morning’s face off for the last thirty-nine years.

Price himself was looking for a lawnmower, not a role in the Battle of Lexington back in 1975. “My lawnmower broke. I went next door to borrow one from my neighbor,” recalls Price. The neighbor may have seen an opportunity; he told Price it was too hot to mow anyway and drew him in with a cool drink and the Red Sox on TV while they waited for the sun to drop low in the sky. “He kept talking Minute Men, Minute Men, Minute Men. ‘Why don’t you just come down for a meeting?’ So I did. And here I am thirty nine years later.”

Prince Estabrook played a unique role among those men on the Green. As a slave he did not have to serve in the militia. I ask Price if Prince Estabrook found himself there because the family sent him in as a surrogate, to protect their own sons. “That’s one of the reasons we think he may have been there. It was the classic example of a no-win situation. If the Minute Men win, he’s still a slave. If they lose, he’s a slave that fired on the King’s troops,” explains Price.

But slavery in Massachusetts in the 1700s was not the same as we know it in the south during the 1800s. There was a way out for Prince Estabrook and as time went on he established himself as a soldier and a free man.

Wounded on April 19 Prince Estabrook recovered and rejoined the fight two months later at Bunker Hill. While still a slave he enlisted as a full time member of the Continental Army in 1780. Over the next three years he served from Dorchester Heights to Fort Ticonderoga. He was discharged from the Massachusetts 3rd Regiment in November 1783 as a free man. In July of the same year Massachusetts had abolished slavery.

Estabrook returned to Lexington and the Estabrook family. Working for the family now as a free man until 1803 when Benjamin Estabrook died and the family members went their separate ways. Prince Estabrook moved to Ashby with one of the sons, Nathan Estabrook, and remained there until his death. He is buried in Ashby.

Here in Lexington you can find a monument to Prince Estabrook just outside the Buckman Tavern. The likeness on the monument is of Charles Price. The two men joined by history and accident.

You can find more information on Prince Estabrook in the award-winning book by Lexington author Alice M. Hinckle, Prince Estabrook, Slave and Soldier.

 

The Lexington Minutemen in the UK. and They’re Brits!

The Lexington Minutemen in the UK courtesy of Pat Patrick

The Lexington Minutemen in the UK courtesy of Pat Patrick

 

Could there be a new revolution a foot? Minutemen taking up arms against Red Coats right on British soil? You might think so when you learn about The Lexington Minutemen in the UK.

The group was formed three years ago to appear at the English Heritage Kelmarsh Festival of History. Kelmarsh is a weekend long multi-period event that features encampments from Roman times all the way up through World War II. The Minutemen looked to educate visitors and themselves about the historical period surrounding the American War of Independence.

From there they have grown and matured. Clive Emerson, the group’s secretary, says they strive to portray not just the civilian militia of 1775, but civilian life as well, “We have a seditious priest who delivers genuine sermons of the period, a freed slave (who is also the company cook), a number of wives, girlfriends and children, a tailor, a doctor, a gunsmith and tavern keepers (of Buckman Tavern).”

Our own Lexington Minute Man Alex Cain has been corresponding with Mr. Emerson offering guidance on clothing and equipment that is helping the UK Minutemen raise their own standards of authenticity. The group’s company tailor has taken much of Alex’s advice to heart and has taught himself the skills necessary to create authentic clothing. As Clive Emerson points out, “He has learned his trade through handling original clothes of the time, then coming home and experimenting. His work is improving all the time.” Emerson laments that the Redcoat captains took notice and that improvement and the tailor has “spent the whole winter making redcoats for the Seventeenth.”

The Seventeenth, along with the Twenty Second and Forty Seventh of Foot are a few of the Redcoat groups against which the Minutemen skirmish at the five or six historical events they now attend throughout the UK each year.

Might we see an invasion of Minutemen from the UK here on Lexington Green in the future? Clive Emerson isn’t counting it out, “We have certainly thought about it, but financial and time constraints rapidly bring us back to earth. We know that it won’t be for a few years yet. It would be great to join forces with our brothers (and sisters) across the pond.”

For more information on The Lexington Minutemen in the UK visit www.lexingtonminutemen.co.uk/index.html.

 

Share this:

Stuck?


Stuck

Local therapist Pandora MacLean-Hoover of the THINK-diff Institute has some thoughts…

By Laurie Atwater

Feeling stuck in life is no fun. It can feel like perpetual failure and there’s nothing like the month of January to bring it all up again! In January we want to start fresh and fix what we perceive is out of whack in our lives. Lose weight. Clean closets. Quit smoking. Get a better job. Mend fences. Improve relationships. Go back to school. All good. But how can you transform good intentions into real change?Thought Equation

How about taking a fresh look at your thinking?

Pandora MacLean-Hoover of the THINK-diff Institute in Lexington says, “Personal Change begins with thought.”

“The science is just exploding around proving that the more you change your thinking and use your thoughts to think differently, you are actually rewiring the synapses and changing your brain chemistry,” MacLean-Hoover says.

The following four exercises may get you on your way to becoming unstuck!

 

Become Curious“Fear keeps us stuck in old thought patterns, holding on to old stuff and doing things the old way,” says MacLean-Hoover.

One of the keys to the THINK-diff approach is to reframe fear. “I invite people to become curious,” MacLean-Hoover says. “It’s much easier to get excited about change when you engage in curiosity rather than fear. Change is often blocked by fear. We owe it to ourselves to understand why we have fear. Where does it originate? How does it get reinforced?”

Excited about change

Along with curiosity MacLean-Hoover asks clients to “take a giant step away from the judgment they have about themselves and others.”  This allows patients to create what she calls a White Board—a blank slate of options.

Instead of approaching change from a “something is wrong with me” model, MacLean-Hoover uses visual exercises to assist in a process of self discovery. She often begins by drawing a simple timeline. On one end is a stick figure representing “me” as a child, on the other the word NOW representing “me” as a adult. She asks clients to look at the timeline and recall experiences that might be significant. The simple visual usually jogs the memory according to MacLean-Hoover. “I call it opening the information highway.”

 

 

Uncover your I StatementsMacLean-Hoover uses four circles to map these important experiences. “The first circle represents the story itself,” she explains. “To the right of it is a circle that represents the emotions around that story: does it make you angry, sad or anxious? Then I ask clients to carefully observe the physical sensations that arise around the emotions. That’s the third circle. Do they tremble, feel cold, hot, sweaty or is their heart beating wildly? The final circle represents the “I statement”—the core belief that is triggered by the memory of that event.”Square

The next time you have a heightened physical response to something or someone, pay attention and see if it brings up any of your own “I statements.” For instance ladies, the next time your husband makes a suggestion about your driving and you feel a familiar constriction in your throat, ask yourself – Does this relate to the statement: “I am not a competent person?”

Then b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Awareness is the first step. Bringing these thoughts forward is lots of work. These beliefs come from the feeling part of your brain so it is important to observe your physical state and your feelings. Being mindful is key.

 

 

Go Shopping for a new Computer“It resonates with people to use the computer analogy and it engages them with some optimism because they have really done this,” MacLean-Hoover says.

We’ve all spent hours researching the perfect computer for our work and personal lives. Is it a MAC or a PC? How much RAM? How big a hard drive and a million other small hardware related choices we have to make before we buy. “But what happens then?” MacLean-Hoover asks. “You have to choose the software that tells the computer what you want it to do.” The software represents “I” statements.Computer

On this computer shopping trip she invites clients to picture a rack of software with names like: I’m a failure, I am stupid, I can’t trust my judgment.

“If we were looking at that software with the knowledge that this is a choice and we have to choose what we want the computer to do on our behalf, would we choose that software?” She suggests that as adults with a choice we would move on to the rack with these titles:  I am successful, I am smart, I trust my judgment.

 

I Statements

 

 

Install New Software“When we are children we don’t have a filter so everything gets in.  Parents, extended family, teachers—all of the ‘big people’ in our lives raise us in their own image into a world as they see it,” McLean-Hoover explains. How have you been brought up to see yourself, the world and the people in it? MacLean-Hoover works with clients to dispel the distorted beliefs about themselves that leave them unable to change.

“People are easily reminiscent about the sense of powerlessness in childhood,” MacLean-Hoover says. “But unlike childhood when you had no voice, adulthood gives you choice.”  Change becomes much more exciting when the idea of choice replaces fear. Getting unstuck can be a thrilling and fulfilling process according to MacLean-Hoover. “You can only control for you. Once you know why you think what you think and do what you do, you may choose whether you still want to think and do things the same way.”

Hero

 

 

PandoraPandora MacLean-Hoover of the THINK-diff Institute at 1666 Mass Ave., Suite F1 in Lexington.

Tel: 888.417.3159

 

Share this:

New Academy Of Creative Arts Opens in Burlington

 

Dr. Joshi with students (l to r) Aryan, Sara, Naveen, Anaya, Tanvi, Shrihan and Arth.

Dr. Joshi with students (l to r) Aryan, Sara, Naveen, Anaya, Tanvi, Shrihan and Arth.

Many Lexington residents may recognize Dr. Java Joshi (and her stunning artwork) from the numerous Lexington arts events that she has participated in over the years from her successful exhibit at the Cary Memorial Library to Lexington Open Studios where she has served on the organizing committee and as an exhibitor.

Three years ago Joshi formed Joshi Creative Arts in Lexington to share her passion for the creative arts with children through teaching art to children from 3 to 18 years of age. Now she is taking her dream to the next level with the launch of the Academy of Creative Arts which will offer classes in art, jewelry design and dance. The inaugural event for this new Academy was held on January 9th in Joshi’s Burlington studio.

“The vision for our Academy is to provide an atmosphere where creativity is encouraged and fostered,” Dr. Joshi says. “We hope that the Academy of Creative Arts will become an institution of choice for any and all kinds of creative and performing arts.”

At the opening event, Dr. Joshi was surrounded by her students and their beautiful artwork. Joined by her husband Hetel, Joshi radiated excitement for this new endeavor.

Born in India, Java earned a Masters in Fine Arts and Ph.D. in Drawing & Painting from India. Java also graduated from the Arts Institute of Atlanta with a degree in Multimedia and Web Design.

IMG_0523 jj2 jj3

Children’s Artwork from the new Academy of Creative Arts in Burlington                             

JJ_4

 

Teaching Staff
Dr. Java Joshi-Art Instruction
Java (center) holds a PhD in Drawing and Painting from India and a Masters in Multimedia & Web Design from the Art Institute of Atlanta.
Irit Kaphzan Hamami-Jewelry Design
Irit (left) came to the U.S. fifteen years ago and taught Jewish Studies, but he passion for jewelry design grew until she decided to pursue it full time eight years ago. Since then she has exhibited her work in Lexington and Concord Open Studios. She hopes to combine her love of teaching and jewelry design in her classes.
Judith Ann Cooper-Observational Painting for Adults
Judith (right) taught in the Gloucester Public Schools for 29 years. She holds a BFA from BU in painting and education. Judith enjoys creating art from many different mediums.
Mona Mitra-Kathak Dance & Bollywood Fusion
(missing from the photo)
Mona is a classically trained dancer, with a “Vishared in Kathak with is one of the traditional Indian dances. She has been teaching Kathak and Bollywood Fusion in Boston since 2010.

logo

Call – 612.888.ARTS (2787) | Email: info@academyofcreativearts.com

Address: 128 Wheeler Road, Burlington MA 01803

www.academyofcreativearts.com

Share this:

Warning: Unknown: open(/home/content/76/3361076/tmp/sess_ol85434ute688kaqo7s8ma13p6, O_RDWR) failed: No such file or directory (2) in Unknown on line 0

Warning: Unknown: Failed to write session data (files). Please verify that the current setting of session.save_path is correct () in Unknown on line 0