Mitchell Richardson, J.P Cetrull, Drew Williams, teaching students a creative approach to learning to play drums
at the Dorothy Knost Music Workshops being held this week at Cornerstone UMC
By Portia Williams
The Dorothy Knost Music Workshops have become a pillar in music education in the local community. This year marks the 42nd year of the musical extravaganza, which offers youth a creative, hands-on experience in the world of music.
The 2015 Dorothy Knost Workshops are being held June 22-26 at their usual location of Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Portsmouth. Becky Climer, one of the directors of the workshops, said they have been going incredibly well this year.
“This has been a fantastic week. Each year I think it gets better,” Climer said. “I am one of the directors, along with Amy Howard, and this is the 42nd year of these workshops. When Dorothy Knost started it in 1974, I’d just finished my first year of teaching, and she (Knost) invited me to be a staff member and I’ve done it ever since.”
She, along with others, stepped up to resume operations of the workshops when Knost could no longer do it.
“When Dorothy became unable to continue directing it, we kind of took over, and helped to continue it since then,” she said. “We have 200 students that are registered this year, and we have about 40 teachers and staff members that are helping to instruct the kids in music.”
The Dorothy Knost Workshop offers 15 different classes, of which each student are required to take two.
“We also have some group instructional periods, two of those where we teach them about a composer, this week our composer was Mozart, and they learned about his life, and his music,” she said. “They are also taking a singing and signing class, where they have learned to use sign language along with, ‘Let There Be Peace On Earth,’ which is a very timely song for our generation and what’s happening here in our world today.”
She said she believes the workshops are very important in the lives of children that participate in them.
“I am a huge proponent of music education, obviously,” she said. “I feel that it is just so critical that our children have musical experiences and learn to love it, and enjoy it, and learn from it. Also, I think that it is so important that they see that it is ageless, that no matter what age we are we can participate in, and enjoy music.”
A recital is held daily during the workshop week to help children learn concert etiquette.
“Each day, at the end of our day we have a recital for the kids so that they learn proper concert etiquette, learn to sit still and listen to the performer and not get up and move around,” she said. “We push that very heavily, so that kids can take back something that will be a life long skill for them.
The daily recitals include performances that are diverse in age and genre. On Monday was former student David Pettit — a classical pianist, former drum major and recent graduate of The Ohio State University.
He said having the Dorothy Knost Music Workshops are an intrinsic part of educating local youth.
“I started going there when I was in the fifth grade or so,” Pettit said. “It is just great to have an organization in our community that is fostering music education and the love of music, because sometimes like other aspects of our society, the arts are being cut, so its great that we have our hometown to supplement the children’s education.”
The final recital on recital will feature Doc Roc and The Remedies.
“On Friday we will have Doc Roc and The Remedies, which is a whole different genre, and I am a member of that group, so I am really excited. It is just another way to show the kids that music is fun. You can have serious music, or you can have popular, fun music that is enjoyable too,” Climer said.
The grand finale for the workshops will be Friday, June 26, at 7 p.m. at the church in which students from the workshop will perform live. Climer said it is delightful seeing the children engage themselves in the workshop during the course of the week makes it worthwhile.
“To see the kids have so much, and are learning to do things. You will see them in the hallways counting, and walking through and pretending like they are playing instruments, it is just great,” she said.”We do this for kids entering grades one through eight, and even this year, we have kids that have been here every single year, so it is worthwhile.”
The Dorothy Knost Music Workshop is a non-profit organization, and operates primarily from donations. For more information regarding the workshops, or to make a donation, call Becky Climer at Cornerstone UMC at 740-353-2548.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.