In 2004, Vicki and Greg Spofford established a scholarship at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, in honor of Vicki’s parents, Arley and Naomi Lyseng. Both of the Lyseng’s were lifetime music educators, touching the lives of thousands of children. In an effort to continue the legacy, the Spofford family made a donation to establish this annual scholarship.
This year’s recipient is Korrin Gwost, who has taken violin lessons at the Music Center for the past 3 ½ years. Her teacher is Sarah Dahl. Korrin also plays in the St. Francis Preparatory Orchestra.
Korrin is in the fourth grade at Dr. S.G. Knight Elementary School in Randall. Her favorite subjects include music and reading; she also participates in gymnastics and swimming. In her free time, Korrin enjoys ice fishing, sledding, playing violin and making bracelets. In the future Korrin would like to be a violin teacher and waitress, and move to a big house.
Korrin was nominated for this award for her musicality and her wonderful, caring attitude. She is the daughter of Gabrielle and Chris Gwost of Fort Ripley.
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, is proud to announce Valerie Tenold and Chanin Andrés Quillo as the recipients of the 2015 Sister Justina Bieganek Music Scholarships. The scholarship was established in 2004 by family members, friends, and fans of Sister Justina in honor of her 75th Anniversary as a Franciscan Sister. Sister Justina worked at St. Francis Music Center since its start in 1979. She passed away at the age of 100, but her spirit of joy and peace still fill the halls of the Music Center and she is remembered with love and respect by the students, staff and faculty.
Valerie Tenold has studied violin at the Music Center for the past 1½ years and also plays in the St. Francis Preparatory Orchestra. She is in second grade at Mary of Lourdes School where her favorite classes are math and physical education. She also participates in gymnastics, soccer and girl scouts. In her free time she loves to read, ice skate, and play games with family and friends. Her future plans include continuing to play violin.
Valerie is the daughter of Ryan and Trish Tenold of Little Falls. Her violin teacher at St. Francis Music Center is Bobbi French.
Chanin Andrés Quillo is in 6th grade at St. Mary of Mt. Carmel School in Long Prairie. He has played cello for six years and participates in the orchestras at the Music Center. Chanin also enjoys playing soccer and his favorite hobby is collecting marbles. In the future Chanin hopes to be in the snowboarding competition in the Winter Olympics.
Chanin is the son of Lalo and Elizabeth Quillo of Long Prairie. He studies cello at the Music Center with Jenna Miller.
Chanin and Valerie were chosen for this award, which is the highest scholarship honor awarded at the Music Center, based on their many musical achievements, and also for their love of music and for the hours that they dedicate to practicing. They are responsible, generous and truly exceptional young people.
Pine Country Bank representatives Lorna Lange, Vice President of Pine Country Bank and manager of the Rice branch, and Rob Ronning, President of Pine Country Bank, presented a $500 check to Bobbi French, director of the orchestra program at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls. Ronning said, “This donation is part of our philosophy. We give back to the communities where our banks are located. If it weren’t for the people of the communities we serve, Pine Country Bank would not be here.” French echoed her sentiments, “And we, as an orchestra, give back to our community. Having the gift of music, we willingly share.”
(Photo taken by Jeanie Michaels, Community Relations Department, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls.)
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, has three great opportunities for people who love to sing! The St. Francis Community Chorale meets on Thursday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m. starting on January 22. All adults are invited to sing; no auditions are necessary. The group sings a wide variety of music from sacred to Broadway to pop. The Chorale is under the direction of Barb Stumpf with Vicki Spofford as the accompanist.
The Music Center also has a men’s singing group, Brothers in Harmony. Teen and adult men are invited to sing every Monday evening at 7 p.m., starting again on January 19. The group sings a wide variety of music. No auditions are needed, just a love of singing. This group is under the direction of Kathy Pederson.
This year the Music Center has a new group, Kids Sing! Open to children ages 5-12, this group meets on Monday evenings from 6-6:45 p.m. Children are welcome to join at any time. The group is part vocal lesson and part performance with a lot of fun in between.
These Chorale groups are made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. All of these groups are free and open to everyone. To sign up or for more information, please contact St. Francis Music Center at (320)632-0637.
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, recently held their auditions for the 2014-2015 Laura Jane Musser Merit Scholarships. Thirty-nine students were nominated by their teachers to participate in the auditions. Each student performed two contrasting pieces for an independent judge. Students were judged on their ability at their level of study, so students of all ages were able to compete.
Ten exceptional students were awarded a $100 scholarship to be used towards their 2014-15 tuition. These students are: Kayla Bense and Kyle Winge from Long Prairie; Andrew Hintz from Randall; Hannah Miller, Vera Miller, Elijah Rick and Quinn Rick from Browerville; Mason Langner from Royalton; Rachel Leisenheimer and Isaac Olson from Little Falls.
Also awarded were two Franciscan Sister Scholarships to: Anika Rick and Greta Rick from Browerville.
The judges were impressed by all the students that auditioned. The auditions are open to all instruments. This year piano, violin, guitar, cello, flute, and voice students participated.
The Merit Scholarship Program is funded by the Laura Jane Musser Trust for the purpose of rewarding and assisting highly dedicated and talented music students to continue their studies. St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts located in Little Falls. All their programs are open to everyone. For more information, please call (320)632-0637.
The St. Francis Community Chorale will present a Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 14 at 3 p.m. in St. Mary’s Church in Upsala. What a wonderful way to celebrate the Advent season with beautiful and inspiring music!
The Chorale will present Christmas music of various styles. There will be several songs from The Ceremony of Candles by Joseph Martin. As the audience listens to these songs, they will recognize many traditional carols and melodies. There will also be several fun songs including: Baby, It’s Cold Outside; We Need a Little Christmas; Perfect Christmas Night from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” and more! The Community Chorale is directed by Barb Stumpf and accompanied by Vicki Spofford. Also appearing in the concert will be Diana Poehler on flute.
The concert is free and open to the public. The St. Francis Chorale groups are sponsored by a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council through funding from the Minnesota State Legislature. For more information please call St. Francis Music Center at (320)632-0637 or visit their website at www.sfmusiccenter.org.
The St. Francis Community Chorale will present a Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 7 at 7 p.m. in Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls. What a wonderful way to kick off your Advent season with beautiful and inspiring music!
The Chorale will present Christmas music of various styles. There will be several songs from The Ceremony of Candles by Joseph Martin. As the audience listens to these songs they will recognize many traditional carols and melodies. There will also be several fun songs including: Baby, It’s Cold Outside; We Need a Little Christmas; Perfect Christmas Night from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” and more! The Community Chorale is directed by Barb Stumpf and accompanied by Vicki Spofford. Also appearing in the concert will be Elise Spofford on flute and Kendra Sobania on violin.
Also featured at this concert will be Brothers in Harmony, a men’s singing group from St. Francis Music Center. This group is under the direction of Kathy Pederson. The new St. Francis Children’s Chorale will also sing with the Chorale on three songs.
St. Francis Music Center is proud to offer all these singing activities free of charge to anyone in our area who wishes to join in. Singing together creates a joyful community; all the audience members will see the love and passion that all the vocalists have for singing!
The concert is free and open to the public. The St. Francis Chorale groups are sponsored by a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council through funding from the Minnesota State Legislature. For more information please call St. Francis Music Center at (320)632-0637 or visit their website at www.sfmusiccenter.org.
St. Francis Music Center proudly presents the St. Francis Preparatory and Concert Orchestras in a Christmas Concert “Making Merry” on Friday, December 12 at 7 p.m. in Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls.
Come and join the musicians in a festive concert featuring students of all ages, faculty, and friends from the Heartland Symphony as well!
The Preparatory Orchestra will present Christmas Fiddlers on the Housetop (a Christmas favorite, hoe down style); Arctic Circle; Beethoven’s Ode to Joy; Theme from Dvorak’s New World Symphony; and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Also Korrin Gwost and Sarah Leisenheimer will be featured in a duet, Santa Lucia.
The St. Francis Concert Orchestra will present Carol of the Bells; Songs of Pleasure and Joy; Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow (put on your dancing shoes!); Sing We Now of Christmas; Pachelbel’s Christmas; and music from Disney’s popular animation FROZEN. Several percussionists, faculty members, and members of the Heartland Symphony Orchestra will join in the musical fun! Cheyenne Wuebkers, flute student at the Music Center, will be featured in Carol of the Bells.
Directing both groups will be Bobbi French, director of the strings department and instructor at St. Francis Music Center.
The public is invited to attend this free concert and hear wonderful string music in a beautiful setting. There will be baskets for free will donations. The String Orchestras are supported by the Five Wings Arts Council, US Bank, private donations and the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. For more information, please call the Music Center at (320)632-0637 or visit their website at www.sfmusiccenter.org.
Rob Clemons, selected as the URock Against Violence program coordinator, foresees the visionary and personnel resources of St. Francis Music Center and the financial resources of the Catholic Health Initiative (CHI) grant coming together to “make this part of central Minnesota a better, safer, more positive place for teens.”
A ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, the St. Francis Music Center staff received a $91,450 grant to bring together young people with musician mentors who want to make a difference with anti-bullying or other unproductive behavior.
Clemons holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from St. Cloud State University and has been working with youth and families for 10 years. He and his wife have three children who take music lessons at the Music Center. “That’s how I first became acquainted with the great work the staff does. Though I never learned to read music and have never played an instrument, music has become an important part of my family’s life because of St. Francis Music Center.”
The URock Against Violence program has two main goals. The first has to do directly with music; we are here to help kids develop their music skills, and we can offer opportunities for kids to go from little or no musical background to being able to perform in a band, in front of an audience. “For kids who are already talented musicians, we offer the chance to further develop their talent, and help other kids learn and grow as musicians. We have kids who have been studying and practicing music for years. We also have kids who are inexperienced but eagerly learning. This mix can be a successful and gratifying one for everyone involved,” Clemons said.
“Our second goal is to play a role in improving the lives of the kids and families who are in URock Against Violence and in helping kids carry their learning into their schools and communities. There a lots of competing interests to occupy kids’ and families’ time, from school sports to church activities to family activities,” he explained. “URock can offer a great place and a great program for kids (and families) who are passionate about music. We also give kids a place to learn self-discipline and responsibility to themselves and others, and to appreciate their own value and worth. We hope to help kids grow in their competence not only as musicians but as future adults who will one day be making decisions for their families and communities. There are many ways for kids to learn these skills and have these experiences; we have a program that can help them grow through music.”
A team committed to the community and its young people can enhance the quality of life through music. The URock program has been doing that already for a number of years. “The CHI grant will allow us to expand the program and to offer music instruction and band coaching to more kids. In St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls and the surrounding area have a resource that not many small communities have. We can help with instruments, sound equipment, rehearsal space, and instruction from experienced musicians. Pairing the Music Center’s resources with the CHI grant gives us the opportunity to have a greater impact,” Clemons said.
The music coaches are Greg Langlois and Kevin Stueven. Greg initiated the concept of the URock program several years ago and put bands together with kids who were taking music lessons. He teaches guitar, bass guitar, banjo, mandolin, and recording. Kevin, a woodwind specialist, teaches all band instruments, piano, guitar and accordion.
“While Greg and Kevin are experienced musicians and music teachers, their role in the URock program is that of ‘coaches’ for the bands and students,” Clemons explained. “As in sports, the best coaches achieve results by focusing on teamwork, commitment and character. Like any coaches, we need to cooperate closely with parents to make sure that the work we are doing supports parents’ goals for their child and to make sure that their kids’ participation in URock Against Violence is consistent with their family values.”
Clemons’ vision for the program is to create a place where “students can challenge themselves both through music and cooperation with their peers.”
Research shows that young people who receive arts education and training are more successful in school, do better on standardized tests, and are less likely to get in trouble. The URock Against Violence program gives young people who love music a place to belong. It gives purpose, motivation and direction for their talent and energy. The Catholic Health Initiative grant can help more students have this positive experience through music.
“Music is an interactive experience; our enjoyment of music increases with our knowledge, understanding and devotion. As the students in URock Against Violence form bands during the weekend ‘rock camps,’ they also gain critical skills in cooperation and teamwork, and practice these skills with the coaches to get ready to perform. Education and training in the arts hones critical thinking skills. Our system of government was designed for citizens who know how to think critically and creatively. URock Against Violence and St. Francis Music Center is a partner in that development.”
St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts established in 1979. Its mission is to provide high-quality arts education to the rural population of central Minnesota. The Music Center is committed to serving all who wish to learn and strives to create an environment where everyone is welcome and feels valued.
The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls will host a Franciscan Harvest Supper on Saturday, November 8, 4:30-7 p.m., at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls. Chicken, sausage, garden vegetables, coleslaw, bread, homemade bars and beverages will be served. Ticket prices include: Adults--$9; Children 5-12 years--$4; Children under 5 years—Free. Dinner tickets will be available at the door or by calling (320)632-2981. Proceeds from the Franciscan Harvest Supper will benefit St. Francis Health and Recreation Center and St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls.
For more information, contact (320)632-2981 or firstname.lastname@example.org; www.fslf.org.
Last year, on Give to the Max Day, over $21,000 was raised to support the mission and ministries of the Franciscan Sisters. We are grateful beyond words!
We’re participating again this year, using the opportunity to raise funds for our ministries and outreach to youth. You might be surprised by all the ways the Franciscan Sisters serve and minister to young people:
We’ll be promoting Give to the Max Day through our e-newsletter, website and on Facebook, where we’ll profile our work and ministries with youth. With matching funds of $15,000 already committed, we’ve set our 2014 Give to the Max Day goal at $30,000. With your help, we are confident that we can accomplish this goal. You can schedule your donation ahead of time beginning November 1. Please, remember St. Francis Music Center on November 13 and Give to the Max!
To visit St. Francis Music Center’s Give to the Max page, please click here.
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, is proud to announce that Amanda Jansen has joined their faculty. Amanda comes to the Music Center from St. Cloud, where she graduated from St. Cloud State University with a BA degree in music. Her primary instruments are clarinet and cello, although she is also qualified to teach piano, all woodwinds and strings. Amanda also teaches in the St. Cloud area and performs for various theater and musical groups also in that area. Currently, she is available to teach Thursday afternoons and evenings at the Music Center but is eager to add more days.
St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts located on the campus of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. The music school is open to all and offers a wide variety of lessons and programs. Private lessons are available for piano, organ, guitar, bass guitar, percussion, trap set, accordion, all band instruments, violin, viola, cello and voice. All ages and all levels of ability, from the very beginners to advanced students, are welcome.
The Music Center also has two orchestras and three singing groups. Add to that dance classes--and there is really something for everyone!
Lots of excitement is going on at St. Francis Music Center this year! For more information or to sign up for lessons call the Center at (320)632-0637 or visit their web site www.sfmusiccenter.org.
St. Francis Music Center has started a new partnership with the Heartland Symphony Orchestra. We hope this partnership will help provide all string players in our area with more opportunities to perform and to learn from each other.
Our first major collaboration will be on October 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Charles Martin Auditorium at the Little Falls Community High School. This is the opening concert of the Heartland Symphony’s season. Our St. Francis Concert Orchestra will be playing with the Heartland Symphony in the selection, “Scenes from Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky. Bobbi French, string instructor at the Music Center, will also say a few words about our school and our new collaboration.
It has been exciting to have Sergey Bogza and several musicians from the Heartland come and work with our musicians. We hope many of you can attend the concert!
Dance lessons for ages 3 and up will be offered at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, starting on Monday, September 29. Returning for her third year as dance instructor is Trista LaFontaine Rakow.
Trista has danced with the Minnesota Dance Ensemble. Trista has taken dance lessons much of her life, starting at age ten with Kay Marie and Carol's School of Dance. Some of her classes included tap, jazz, ballet/pointe, and lyrical. In her teens she danced on the Sartell Dance Team and participated in plays at the Paramount Theatre taking on various dancing roles. While attending St. Cloud State University she continued to take additional dance classes and found a love for hip hop. In 2009 she enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard as an Officer Candidate, where she received some of the Nation's best leadership training. In 2010 she graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing.
Aside from dancing, Trista enjoys acrylic painting, camping, running, and hiking. Of all these dancing is her favorite. She says, "I love dancing because it's a passion that lets you speak from your heart with no words."
Dance classes will meet on Monday evenings. The curriculum is developmentally appropriate for each age group so the students have fun while developing grace and coordination. There are classes for ages 3 and up. There is also an opportunity for private lessons for more advanced dancers
For more information, please contact St. Francis Music Center at (320)632-0637 or visit their website at www.sfmusiccenter.org. Financial aid is available.
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, offers percussion lessons for all levels of students, from beginners to advanced, and all styles of drums. John Tetrault is available to teach percussion including the trap set on Monday evenings.
John has studied percussion with Bruce Pederson, Gene Koshinski at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and Dr. Terry Vermillion at St. Cloud State University. He currently drums with The Sweet Papa Dave Band, a blues band out of St. Cloud. John has taught percussion privately on and off for about 7 years. John also has years of experience playing with several area bands. He is available to teach on Mondays.
St. Francis Music Center does not require that students take piano lessons prior to percussion lessons. For more information on percussion lessons, please contact the Music Center at (320) 632-0637 or visit their website at www.sfmusiccenter.org. Everyone is welcome at the Music Center and financial aid is available.
St. Francis Music Center has three great opportunities for people who love to sing! The St. Francis Community Chorale meets on Thursday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m. starting on September 18. All adults are invited to sing; no auditions are necessary. The group sings a wide variety of music from sacred to Broadway to pop. The Chorale is under the direction of Barb Stumpf with Vicki Spofford as the accompanist.
The Music Center also has a men’s singing group, Brothers in Harmony. Teen and adult men are invited to sing every Monday evening at 7 p.m. starting on September 8. The group sings a wide variety of music. No auditions are needed, just a love of singing. This group is under the direction of Kathy Pederson.
This year the Music Center has a new group, Kids Sing! Open to children ages 5-12, this group will meet on Monday evenings from 6-6:45 p.m. starting on September 8.
These chorale groups are made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. All of these groups are free and open to everyone. To sign up or for more information, please contact St. Francis Music Center at (320) 632-0637.
St. Francis Music Center is proud to sponsor two opportunities for students and adults from the central Minnesota area to perform in a string orchestra. The Saint Francis Preparatory Orchestra is for young students with one or two years of private lessons who are ready for an ensemble experience. At this level, students learn the basic skills necessary for successful orchestral playing. The focus is on intonation and tone quality, bowing styles and patterns, reading key and time signatures, and counting rhythms. The group will do mostly unison and canon playing.
The Saint Francis Concert Orchestra is for more experienced players who have accomplished the skill set of the preparatory group and are ready for the rich and challenging experience of concert performance. Though still educational in nature, this orchestra will focus on rehearsing and performing standard string repertoire at the intermediate to advanced level. Participants are expected to spend individual practice time on their music between rehearsals and come to rehearsals prepared to turn notes on the page into beautifully expressive music. Both orchestras perform in Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Francis Convent twice a year.
You do not have to be a student at St. Francis Music Center to participate in the orchestras. The orchestras are free, thanks to grants from US Bank and the Minnesota State Arts Board. Bobbi French, faculty member at the Music Center, will direct both orchestras and will place participants in the proper orchestra.
The orchestras will meet on Tuesday evenings starting on September 9. The Preparatory Orchestra meets from 6-6:45 p.m. and the Concert Orchestra will meet from 7-8:30 p.m. For more information or to sign up, please contact St. Francis Music Center at (320)632-0637 or visit the website at www.sfmusiccenter.org. Join in the fun of creating beautiful music in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere!
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, will be offering a free children’s choir/singing class for all youth ages 5-12! A new program this year, Kids Sing! is an opportunity for kids ages 5-12 to sing together and learn about music and proper vocal technique. The goals of this group are introducing children to singing while being respectful of their growing and changing voices, helping them gain confidence, and encouraging a lifelong love of music and singing. Thanks to a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council this class is free!! The group will meet on Mondays from 6-6:45 p.m. starting September 8.
Now is the time to sign up for all fall lessons at St. Francis Music Center! Private lessons are available for piano, organ, guitar, bass guitar, percussion, all band instruments, violin, viola, cello, and voice. Dance and gymnastics are also available! All ages and all levels of ability, from the very beginners to advanced students, are welcome.
St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts located on the campus of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. The music school is open to all and offers a wide variety of lessons and programs. Financial aid is available. For more information or to sign up for lessons please call (320)632-0637 or visit the website at www.sfmusiccenter.org.
By Eric Buening, Correspondent
Morrison County Record
In 2014, the St. Francis Music Center celebrates 35 years of providing Morrison County and communities at large, with the opportunity to explore music and performing arts. When the Music Center opened in 1979, they had only four teachers on staff. Since then they have grown to include 15 music teachers and staff. The Music Center is also a Sally Ordway Irvine Award winning community music school.
“The Music Center is a ministry of the Franciscan Sisters,” said Sister Adella Gross. “We attract more than just people from Little Falls. We have people coming from all over the county and even places like Long Prairie, Rice, Staples and even Onamia.”
The music program has a wide age range of people that take lessons or participate in programs. “Our student body ranges from age 4 to 84,” said Sister Adella Gross.
There is a basic fee structure for adults that want to take music lessons. For children there are scholarships and grants available. “We don’t want to turn anyone away. If there is a need we try to meet it.” said Sister Adella Gross.
The Music Center hosts three different choirs which have been sponsored by a grant by the Five Wings Arts Council. The grant allows people who are interested to participate for free.
The men’s choir is called Brothers in Harmony. It is an assembly of adults and teens that meets every Monday night. The St. Francis Community Chorale is open to all adults who wish to participate. This community choir has two annual concerts. The first is during the Christmas season and again in the spring.
“Kids Sing” is a new choir program available to children from 5 – 12 years old. The program is designed to teach children proper vocal techniques while also teaching them to adapt their singing style to their developing voices.
The Center has two orchestras. The youth strings orchestra gives students with two or more years of individual lessons the opportunity to play in an ensemble. Students learn how to employ intonation, different bowing styles and patterns, as well as reading key, time signatures and counting rhythms.
The St. Francis Concert Orchestra is for adults with enough experience to take on the challenge of playing in an ensemble. Playing in the Orchestra requires the dedication to practice on their time and be prepared for rehearsal.
Both orchestras play twice a year at the St. Francis Sacred Heart Chapel.
The URock program is the brainchild of instructor Greg Langlois.
“I was inspired by the movie School of Rock,” said Langlois. “Just after we put URock together they started something similar in St. Cloud, so I knew we were on the right track.”
The URock program is free to middle and high school students thanks to grants by Five Wings Arts Council, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and Catholic Health Initiative. This allows students to participate for free. As a result in 2014 there are a record 30 students in the class.
The camp is designed to give at-risk teens a place to learn about playing in a rock and roll band. Thanks to a grant by the Catholic Health Initiative the URock program will be available to students year round. “We’re going to have a lounge area where kids can meet after school.” said instructor Tony Armagost. “It looks like rock and roll is here to stay.”
The camp itself is an intensive event covering two weekends in July. It culminates in an outdoor concert performance during the St. Francis Green Fair Folk Festival, held on the first Wednesday in August. “The outreach from talented students this year is amazing!” said Armagost. “We have one student from as far south as St. Michael-Albertville and another from Pequot Lakes.”
The goal of the program is to create a venue where kids are exposed to anti-bullying messages and find proper, healthy ways to deal with youth issues. “The grants let us offer them a place to go and do positive stuff instead of getting in trouble on the street,” said Armagost.
The Music Center also has programs for dance and children’s gymnastics.
The dance program is designed to introduce young students to styles such as ballet, tap, jazz, improvisation and ethnic dance. It is broken up into three different levels based on age and experience. “Most students start at age 4, but some children start as early as 3.” said Music Center Director Robyn Gray.
The gymnastics program is offered for children age 4 and up. Classes are determined by each student’s skill level. Each student is taught the basics of tumbling, low-beam, vault and bar skills. They are also taught basic floor routines timed to music.
After 35 years of growth, the Saint Francis Music Center continues to look to the future.
“Our biggest goal going forward is to become more financially independent so we can continue to grow the program,” said Director Robyn Gray. “We also want to develop programs with the grant for violence prevention.”
St. Francis Music Center has been awarded a $91,450 grant to support URock Against Violence, a new mentorship program at St. Francis Music Center that pairs local youth with caring adult and provides activities focusing on music and the arts, including music lessons.
“We welcome everyone,” said Robyn Gray, director of St. Francis Music Center. “We are looking for a committed group of young people who want to make a difference with anti-bullying or other unproductive behavior. Perhaps it’s positive peer pressure. Perhaps it’s using music to create a community where people support one another and enrich their own lives as they enrich others.”
The grant is provided by the Mission and Ministry Fund of Catholic Health Initiatives, the national health care system that includes a national Catholic health care system in which the Franciscan Sisters participate.
Since it was established in 1996 with guidance from the health system’s founding congregations, the Mission and Ministry Fund has awarded 409 grants totaling more than $50 million to programs across the globe. The fund was established through contributions from Catholic Health Initiatives’ facilities across the nation.
URock Against Violence will serve youth throughout Morrison County and also contribute to Catholic Health Initiatives’ systemwide initiative to prevent negative behavior in every community where the health care system serves. “We’re grateful to CHI for supporting our efforts to serve the young people of Morrison County and are excited to turn our popular URock summer camp into a year-round program,” Gray added.
The summer camp, now in its eighth year, is a chance for youth aged 10+ to fulfill the dream of being in a band. She said, “Participants learn so much more than playing music. They learn to listen to one another, play together, create harmony, build friendships, interact socially, think critically, communicate, gain self-confidence and learn the power of teamwork. They belong.” The program often draws students who do not normally participate in extracurricular activities or band and choir. The highlight of the two weeks is a chance to perform in front of a live audience – over 1,000 last year – at the Green Fair Folk Festival.
For families that cannot afford lessons, funds are available. “We strive to let music be a vehicle for making positive differences in people’s lives – in and out of the classroom.
“Life is full of choices, as adults well know. We want to teach the younger generation that one positive choice is to turn to music when they feel depressed or lonely. Music, song-writing, performing – it can change lives,” Gray emphasized.
Kevin Lofton, chief executive officer of Catholic Health Initiatives, said, “As providers of health and health care, we see the human cost of violence every day as victims come to us for emergency services. Violence prevention is a systemwide, long-term commitment for us. With the help of grants from the Mission and Ministry Fund, our local organizations are doing excellent work. They are moving ‘upstream’ to find the places and situations in which violence can be prevented.”
St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts established in 1979. Its mission is to provide high-quality arts education to the rural population of central Minnesota. The Music Center is committed to serving all who wish to learn and strives to create an environment where everyone is welcome and feels valued. Gray said, “We have witnessed the transformation that studying music and participating in the arts can make in the life of a child or teen, especially one that is struggling to make good, healthy decisions.”
Catholic Health Initiatives, a nonprofit, faith-based health system formed in 1996 through the consolidation of four Catholic health systems, expresses its mission each day by creating and nurturing healthy communities in the hundreds of sites across the nation where it provides care. One of the nation’s largest health systems, Englewood, Colo.-based CHI operates in 18 states and comprises 93 hospitals, including four academic medical centers and teaching hospitals: 24 critical access facilities; community health services organizations; accredited nursing colleges; home-health agencies; and other facilities that span the inpatient and outpatient continuum of care. In fiscal year 2013, CHI provided $762 million in charity care and community benefit, including services for the poor, free clinics, education and research.
For more information on the program, contact Robyn Gray at 320-632-0655 or email@example.com.
Young violin players at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, are preparing to fiddle at this year’s Green Fair Folk Festival on Wednesday, August 6, from 4-8 p.m. outdoors on the west lawn at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls. These young musicians will perform for the public at 5:30 p.m. Additional music to be featured on the stage will be Woodland Strings, The Rick Family, Sestri—a Slavic women’s choir, bands from St. Francis Music Center’s URock Camp, and a few surprises. The Fiddle Festival and URock bands are funded by a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council. The evening is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls.
This summer you rock! If you have always wanted to be in a band, this is your opportunity! St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, is offering URock Summer Camp; it’s not really a camp, it’s a concert in training! Middle and high school students are invited to participate. Guitarists, drummers, bassists, vocals, keyboards, and other musicians who want to form a band are all invited to attend. You don’t need a lot of experience on your instrument, just some of the basics.
URock begins on Friday, July 25, from 5-7 p.m., at St. Francis Music Center. The instructors will get to know the students and their abilities and talk them through what it takes to be in a band. The next morning the group will be divided up into bands and the fun begins! Each band will pick a name and three songs they’d like to play. The rest of the camp is spent learning the music, performance tips, band pictures and getting ready to perform. All music styles are welcome, from rock to country to Christian, and everything in between.
URock will meet July 26, 27, and 25 and August 2 and 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Led by Greg Langlois, the instructors will all be musicians with experience in professional bands. The final concert will be outdoors on August 6 as part of the St. Francis Green Fair Folk Festival.
Thanks to grants from the Five Wings Arts Council, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and Catholic Health Initiatives, URock is free for all participants.
For more information or to sign up, call the Music Center at (320)632-0637 or stop in at 116 8th Avenue SE in Little Falls or visit their website at www.sfmusiccenter.org.
This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.
Morrison County Record
By David Hoadley, Correspondent
The words “Van Halen” and “convent” don’t often appear together, but anyone strolling the halls of the St. Francis Music Center on the second floor of the St. Francis Convent in Little Falls on a recent Friday would have heard the unmistakable sound of Van Halen’s “Eruption.” The song is better known as the guitar solo that leads into the band’s cover of the 1964 Kinks hit “You Really Got Me.”
Following the sound to its source that Friday would have led to a guitarist still several years shy of driving age and the rest of a band of four musicians that, combined, would still be younger than the song they were playing.
Zachary Sobania was the man channeling Eddie Van Halen that day and he and three other local musicians make up the band Power Plant. Besides guitars, Sobania, age 11, plays some keyboards and violin. Cary Armagost, 14, also plays guitar, while 13-year-old Logan Gerads mans the drums and Joseph Blair, age 12, handles the bass guitar. All but Gerads, who is from Rice, are Little Falls residents.
Armagost, Sobania and Blair met three summers ago at U Rock, the music center’s summer camp for middle school and high school musicians. They played in a band that summer, but the drummer was from the Twin Cities.
“So we didn’t really go on after the first year of U Rock,” Aramagost said. “But then we all realized that we were all still here. And Tony (Armagost’s dad), our coach, taught drums here and Logan was one of his students and (Tony) recommended him to our band.” All four remain students at the center, with the three guitarists studying with teacher Greg Langlois.
The band is focused mostly on classic rock music and the decision to add a song to the set list usually follows some individual testing.
“People bring up things they’d like to do,” Armagost said, “then we practice them between each practice and see how good it sounded and if it sounded good we put it to the actual set list that we use for gigs.
“We’re all pretty much fans of classic rock,” he added. “That’s what more than half of our music is.” The music center faculty, which also includes Jordan Welinski, has introduced other genres of music such as soul and the blues, but so far performances have generally centered around bands like Led Zeppelin and Paul McCartney.
“I figure they’ve got plenty of years to go,” Langlois said, “so I’m just slowly introducing them to the cream of the crop. And then it’s whatever else they discover on their own.”
The band’s name has a connection to St. Francis Convent, too. Each summer the campus hosts a Green Fair that highlights the U Rock bands, and Sobania found inspiration in that.
“We thought it’d be a good idea to, since it was Green Fair, use something kind of environmental, so eventually I came up with the name Power Plant,” he said. This year’s U Rock camp begins July 25, and information can be found at www.sfmusiccenter.org.
The four are aware that having access to a music center with lessons in playing rock music is special.
“It’s really exciting,” Sobania commented, “because many people our age don’t get that opportunity.” And they enjoy the atmosphere of the music center and the convent as a whole.
“It’s a place where we can come together,” Armagost said. “People can hear us downstairs playing and sometimes we feel bad for them because sometimes we run songs multiple, multiple, multiple times in a row.”
“Kind of like a home away from home,” Blair said.
“A fun place to come. Good vibes,” Armagost said.
The musicians have taken advantage of the opportunity for inter-generational conversations by meeting with the sisters on occasion.
“We used to go downstairs after practice and eat with them,” Blair said.
“That was always a fun time,” Armagost said, “because they’d say, ‘Are you the Power Plant band? We heard your music upstairs and you guys sound good.’ A lot of good people here.”
Teachers Langlois and Armagost were sure to mention a list of people without whom the band would probably not exist. The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls top the list, which also includes Catholic Health Initiatives, Five Wings Arts Council and the music center staff, especially director Robyn Gray.
Lest anyone fear that the four are being denied their youth, they told a lengthy story involving crushed Pop-Tarts and another about renting paddle boats on Lake George—well, maybe the less said about that the better.
“That stuff is just as important to these guys as playing music,” Tony Armagost noted. “Being kids.”
“We laugh a lot,” Langlois said. “This is a serious thing what we’re doing, but I think it’s important not to take ourselves too serious and have fun doing it.”
“It’s always a good learning experience,” Cary Armagost said of the lesson time. “We have different stuff we do at every lesson, learn songs, learn different blues scales.” And they’ve been introduced to some music they might not otherwise have been exposed to.
“I can now say I like Led Zeppelin,” Aramagost said.
“And who else?” asked Langlois. “Dio,” the three guitarists said in unison.
“I think the coolest part of being a teacher for these guys for so long is just watching them grow,” Langlois said. “Not just these guys or any one in particular, and just being able to share the gift, being able to give what’s been so freely given to me and give it right back. I think it’s the coolest thing in the world to be a teacher and to be a mentor.
“These are talented guys,” he said. “But they’ve had to work at it. It’s not like they just woke up and were good. They’ve had to work and I think that’s what’s important. We have a lot of fun but we have a good work ethic, too, and when we’re one-on-one teaching, we still have fun but there’s times we have to work hard. We just lucked out with a gifted group of kids.”
There are plenty of opportunities to see Power Plant in the area this summer, starting Sunday, June 15, as part of Falls Festival on Foot, sponsored by Healthy Community Collaborative. The band will play under the Falls Cinema marquee. They also will be at the Dam Festival Friday, June 20, at Maple Island Park and will join other U Rock bands as part of the Green Fair again Wednesday, Aug. 6, on the convent campus. A show at the Morrison County Fair is set but not announced yet and there’s talk of playing for a car show in July. Then the summer wraps up as they open, as they did last year, for the Fabulous Armadillos Wednesday, Aug. 27, for Summertime By George in St. Cloud.
The four all have some high school years yet to go, but it’s hard to predict the long-term future.
“I know we’ll all play music forever,” Armagost said. “I don’t know how long this band will last, but I hope it does last because these are some neat guys.”
St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, is proud to sponsor two opportunities for students and adults from the central Minnesota area to perform in a String Orchestra. St. Francis Preparatory Orchestra is for young students with one or two years of private lessons who are ready for an ensemble experience. At this level, students learn the basic skills necessary for successful orchestral playing. The focus is on intonation and tone quality, bowing styles and patterns, reading key and time signatures and counting rhythms. The group will do mostly unison and canon playing.
St. Francis Concert Orchestra is for more experienced players who have accomplished the skill set of the preparatory group and are ready for the rich and challenging experience of concert performance. Though still educational in nature, this orchestra will focus on rehearsing and performing standard string repertoire at the intermediate to advanced level. Participants are expected to spend individual practice time on their music between rehearsals and come to rehearsals prepared to turn notes on the page into beautifully expressive music. Both orchestras perform twice a year in Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls.
Attendees need not be students at St. Francis Music Center to participate in the orchestras. The orchestras are free. Bobbi French, faculty member at the Music Center, will direct both orchestras and will place participants in the proper orchestra. Both orchestras will meet on Tuesday evenings starting on June 17.
For more information or to sign up, please contact St. Francis Music Center at (320) 632-0637 or visit the website at www.sfmusiccenter.org. Join in the fun of creating beautiful music in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere!
Now is the time to sign up for summer lessons at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls! Private lessons are available for piano, organ, guitar, bass guitar, banjo, all band instruments, violin, viola, cello, percussion and voice. All ages and all levels of ability, from the very beginners to advanced students, are welcome.
St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts located on the campus of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. The music school is open to all and offers a wide variety of lessons and programs for all ages. Summer lessons begin on June 2, although new students are welcome at any time.
There will also be gymnastics classes held on Thursday evenings. There will be a parent/child class for parents with 2 and 3 year-old children; a preschool class for 4 and 5-year olds; and a class for ages 6 and up.
Lots of excitement is going on at St. Francis Music Center this summer! For more information, or to sign up for lessons, call the Center at (320)632-0637. Financial aid is available.