Four years ago Thomas Sigel, founder of Ohio Regional Music Arts Culture Outreach (ORMACO) initiated yet one more program to give young people the opportunity to express their feelings through music while at the same time being exposed to a broadened view of the arts.
On December 18, five fifth grade students performed for the student body at Garfield Elementary School in Medina. Using as a guide this year's theme, "Harmony in the Hive," each had composed the lyrics and music for an original song intended to express feelings and hopefully bring all people closer together.
Joshua Fuge started the program by singing his song, "Give Me Peace." The refrain reminded the audience, "Peace - It saves the world, Harmony - It changes life for everyone, Peace - It can shape history... Harmony - and bring joy and make us one."
"Sis This Harmony" sung by Grace Anderson shared her thoughts about friendships: "Grace - brings people together and Harmony - makes it so you get along, Grace - makes friendships amazing and Harmony - makes you laugh while your heart sings a song.
"Friendship" was performed by Matthew Mynhier. His thought-provoking words focused on resolving struggles and differences, and helping one another: Telling the truth -- Making a truce -- Helping a sister or brother -- Let's all pursue... Harmony we choose... Helping one another.
Thamar Bass's song, "Making People Feel Loved," was dedicated to her mother, who has been a constant source of encouragement to her: Writing a song and making music, Showing love so others belong, Making all people feel so loved, This is the message of my song.
"Words of Affirmation" was sung by Katelyn Patterson, who uses words to make harmony: Positive outcomes grow from my actions, My words create harmonious reactions, Whether it's encouraging posters or speech, Harmony is the message I want to teach.
To prepare for this program, the students worked closely for three months with Music Therapist Thomas Lempner, who is associated with the College of Wooster, Cleveland State University, and Notre Dame College. Lempner said harmony is a good thing in life and this program demonstrates some of the different ways voices and instruments can reinforce and promote that concept.
Before being introduced by Garfield Principal Karen Mcginty, who said Garfield focuses on kindness, Sigel said, "I implement the activity, Lempner puts it together; I orchestrate, he conducts." This working arrangement shows positive results and improvement each year.
The five talented students demonstrated poise during their presentations, and all properly bowed to show their appreciation of acceptance by the student body; the audience was fully engaged, listening to the singers, sometimes clapping along or clicking their fingers to the inviting beats of the tunes.
Several special guests who attended the performance were introduced, among them Medina City Mayor Dennis Hanwell, Council members Jessica Hazeltine and Dennie Simpson, Medina City Schools official Jim Shields, Economic Development Director Kimberly Marshall, and staunch long-time ORMACO supporters John and Virginia Jeandrevin.
Since its inception 10 years ago, ORMACO has continued to expand its activities, having done 80 outreach programs in seven counties: Medina, Summit, Stark, Wayne, Lorain, and Guernsey; Guernsey approached Sigel after hearing positive comments about ORMACO's interactions with students. Some districts have also begun offering after school music lessons.
The Harmony in the Hive program was made possible by the generosity of the Willard Stephenson Foundation. In addition to this annual program at Garfield, Claggett Middle School will begin hosting similar programs in 2020 that will be funded by the Medina Schools Foundation and Frank and Becky Shotwell.