On November 20, Ohio Regional Music Arts Cultural Outreach, ORMACO, with a generous grant from the Stephenson Foundation, Rick Stephenson, Foundation Chairman, presented a unique music therapy program at Garfield Elementary School in Medina.

For about two months, Musical Therapist Thomas Lempner (Ekklesia Ensemble) has collaborated with the school’s vocal music teacher, Nicolas Dominguez, on a musical presentation written and performed by nine fourth and fifth grade students identified to be at risk academically. The selection of students was determined by who might benefit the most because of a willingness to work, learn, and strive towards new goals.

The performance, “One Day: A Musical Celebration,” began with the entire student body standing and singing the Garfield Alma Mater. Special guest in the audience was Medina City Mayor Dennis Hanwell, who later spent time talking individually with the young artists.

The four young boys – Aeryan, Frank, DeShaun, and Tyrek – sang “Campfire,” for which they had written the lyrics. The music was composed by Geoffrey Peterson (drums), who along with fellow musicians Lempner (saxophone), Brad Bolton (guitar), and Chris Auerbach-Brown (piano) accompanied the singers’ song that talked about bonding with friends and nature, and having fun on a first-time camping trip.

The five young girls – Zariah (who also did the artwork on the program), Maddisen, Alivia, Jamaya, and Trichelle – next presented a very serious, thought-provoking number, “One Day,” for which they wrote the lyrics. The emotional song was about the ugliness of bullying, but the chorus expressed their hopeful message that even though this time is sad, “one day things would be better.” Dominguez composed the music, and accompanied the girls on the piano.

The underlying theme of the whole concert was, fittingly, a celebration of thanksgiving. Following their presentation, the young artists and several other student body representatives gave “shout-outs” of thanks to students who have recently been of help in significant ways.

The students who were asked to stand and be recognized give of their free time to read with the younger children in the lower grades, be lunchroom helpers, or set commendable examples by obediently following the school rules. These recognized students are eligible for periodic raffle drawings and get to have donuts with Principal Karen McGinty.

When the performance was over, a happy line of smiling young girls danced around the gym. ORMACO Founder Thomas Sigel noted the positive effect the uplifting music was having on the students. He expressed praise for the music therapy program that not only helps some at-risk students, but clearly has a cohesive impact on the entire student body. “There is an educational outreach component in every program that extends to all these students. This is all about life long learning.”

Under the guidance of Lempner and Dominguez, the nine artists participating in the program made a CD of their songs. If anyone is interested in obtaining a copy, please contact Sigel at tsigel@ormaco.org, or 330-722-2541.

Recurring chorus in “Campfire”:

We’re gonna have a campfire

We’re gonna spend lot of time with friends

Gonna spend some time away from home

It will be the best weekend

We’re gonna have a campfire

We’re gonna spend some time outside

Everything we do will be so fun

Don’t even have to try

Recurring chorus in “One Day”:

One day things will be better

Even though this time is sad

Just be strong and think of friends

And all the good you have

You’re smart and funny, generous

Hardworking and you care

Your future looks so wonderful

And you will make it there

One day