By Mark Macey
Eastport Art Center’s Paper Orchestra Program came to a close on Saturday, May 1. The program, which began in mid-February, led students through the creation of paper-and-cardboard versions of violins, violas, cellos, and basses in anticipation of playing real instruments at the conclusion of the course. Instructor Alice Schuth also built rhythm and tone-matching skills with the students through games and exercises. 

The instruments created by participants during the recent Paper Orchestra session at Eastport Arts Center waited to be played at the program’s ‘in person’ finale event.

Guest artists dotted the program, giving helpful insights and playing a musical guessing game in which they had to pick from a participant-created list of animals and recognizably recreate them with their instruments. Some notable combinations include a reticent shark in cloudy weather, a worm moving boldly in the snow, and a tired bat in the hail. Violinist Sam Schuth, bassist Nate Martin, violist Ralph Farris, and cellist Dan Alcott all stopped by to join in the fun. 

Alice Schuth and assistant/student Rhiley Beal (top photo) do a ‘juba’ or body dance sequence while others Zoom in. EAC staff members supported the program: Mark Macey (left) paints a handmade cardboard bass; Chris Grannis (right) traces a violin pattern.
Paper Orchestra instructor Alice Schuth plays her violin for participants arriving to the ‘in person’ finale session.

While the majority of the program took place over Zoom, the program’s final event was held in person at the Arts Center. Participants and their families came from as far as Brunswick to join in a day of games, rhythm, dance, and song. The session culminated with students getting their chance to play real instruments and receive one-on-one instruction with guest artists Sam Schuth and Nate Martin over Zoom. Afterward, participants, their families, and program staff shared a delicious meal from the Old School Pizza Bus.

Hazel Svedberg, an orchestra participant from Brunswick, Maine, gets a lesson on bow holding from on-screen guest artists Sam Schuth (left) and Nate Martin (right).

“This program was designed for future players to fully appreciate and understand the design and care of stringed instruments,” noted Schuth. “This group of paper orchestra players fully encompassed what I hoped would take place in this class. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.”

Participant Hazel Svedberg added: “Meeting everyone in person and playing the actual instruments was a lot of fun.” 

Support for this program was provided by the Belvedere Traditional Handcrafts Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. More information about the educational offerings of Eastport Arts Center, where creativity and community meet, may be found at eastportartscenter.org/education.

Participants and their families gather their boomwhackers to play a rhythm game, then dive into a pizza feast brought specially to Eastport from Pembroke’s Old School Pizza Bus, run by Arts Center community members Mack Moody and Yuki Sakai.