Zoom Meeting May 21, 2021
The link for the meeting is below and will also be sent out on Thursday as a reminder.
WHEN DOES THE MEETING START?  Here is the schedule:
  • At 12:00 pm the Zoom room will be available for our "breakout room/virtual tables" to have a conversation with other members.  President Julie will draw us all back into the main meeting room at 12:28 pm
  • At 12:30 pm the meeting will be called to order
  • At approximately 12:55 p.m. we will introduce our speaker
  • Speaker will start at approximately 1:00 p.m.
  • Meeting concludes at 1:30 p.m.
SPEAKERDr. Jonathan D. Smith, Professional Musician
TOPIC:  "What the Pandemic Has Been Like for a Professional Musician"
CHAIR OF THE MONTH:   John Dale Smith 
FOLLOW UP:  Please keep your microphone muted when you are listening.  Be aware of the lighting in your room, a well lit room with natural light if possible.  Please feel free to use Chat throughout the meeting.  If you have any questions for the speakers, ask them through Chat.
Biography for Dr. Jonathan D. Smith
Percussionist Jonathan D. Smith is an active educator, chamber and orchestral musician, and soloist. Since 2015, he has been a member of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, where he serves as Section Percussion, and Jackson Symphony Orchestra, serving as Principal Percussion. Jonathan can also be seen performing with ensembles such as Detroit Symphony, Ann Arbor Symphony, and Lansing Symphony Orchestra. He has also participated in music programs at Interlochen, Music Academy of the West, and Pacific Music Festival taking him from North America to Asia performing a vast variety of music in different halls.
With an immense background in musical theater, Jonathan is currently a percussionist with Disney’s production of Aladdin running on Broadway in New York City’s New Amsterdam Theatre. Some of his past Equity productions on both drum set and percussion include: The All Night Strut, Sisters of Swing, Nunsense, Nunsense II, Nunsense Jamboree, and Nunsensations. Non- Equity: Legally Blonde, Next to Normal, A Little Night Music, Bonnie and Clyde, Godspell, School House Rock, My Favorite Year, Songs for a New World, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Pirates of Penzance, The Robber Bridegroom, Kiss me Kate, Annie Get your Gun, The Pajama Game, Working, and Blues in the Night.
In 2017 Jonathan joined the esteemed faculty at Bowling Green State University as Adjunct Professor of Percussion. Placing an importance in education, he maintains a private studio of over 30 students and has presented masterclasses across North America. His research interests involve the freelancing percussionist with particular emphasis to Broadway’s musical theatre productions and how to best prepare the 21st century percussionist. Jonathan’s teaching philosophy is built upon an all-encompassing percussion skill set, adaptability, and consistency with a focus “Transferable Technique”, a topic that can be utilized on every percussion instrument.
In addition to his performing and teaching career, Jonathan is the Percussion Program Manager at the University of Michigan where he coordinates all percussive requirements for the School of Music Theatre & Dance.
Jonathan Smith was born and raised in Lansing Michigan. Raised by two musical parents, John Dale and Janine Smith, he had immense amount of exposure to the arts at a young age. He attended the University of Michigan (BM 09’) & The Juilliard School (MM 11’) having the privilege to study with Dr. Michael Udow, Joseph Gramley, Jonathan Ovalle (UofM) and Daniel Druckman, Gregory Zuber, and Joseph Pereira (Juilliard). In 2016 Jonathan completed his DMA from the University of Michigan, where he was awarded a full tuition scholarship and served as a Graduate Student Instructor teaching percussion methods and coaching UofM’s famed percussion ensemble.
Jonathan is a proud artist/endorser with Zildjian, Pearl/Adams, Innovative Percussion, and Remo.
When Will We Meet In Person?
Our meeting on Friday, June 11 will be held outside at Rotary Park from 12:30-1:30 pm weather permitting. There will not be a program or lunch since we are all excited to use the time to socialize and catch up with each other in person. Due to speaker commitments and technology needs, the other scheduled meetings for the month of June will be held virtually on Zoom. We are hopeful to be back to meeting in person following the Fourth of July holiday on July 9 dependent on restrictions on meeting capacities. We are looking forward to bringing Club members together again!
Zoom Meeting Link 
Below is the meeting link and dial in phone number for our Friday Rotary Club of Lansing Meetings on Zoom.  You will find the SAME link each week in the Rotogram so you will not have to look for a new weekly link. Thank you!
Topic: Rotary Club of Lansing Meeting
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 899 2218 2374
Passcode: 016004
One tap mobile
+16468769923,,89922182374#,,,,,,0#,,016004# US (New York) 
Time: Noon, Friday, May 21, 2021
Habitat for Humanity Volunteering Opportunity
Habitat for Humanity is looking for six volunteers for a landscaping project at their administration building and ReStore on June 2nd from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  I have two spots filled so need four more.  Contact: 
Thank you!
Rotary District Matching Program
This matching program is to help our members reach their next Paul Harris or your first by matching the money needed to reach that level.  You make a contribution of half the amount needed to reach the next Paul Harris, make sure Cathy has your donation.  A form will be completed so the District will match your contribution with the available points.  The "Earn a Reward" Points Match Challenge will continue until May 31, 2021, or until the pool of donated points is exhausted.
IF you donate via credit card, please email your receipt to Cathy to insure your matching funds.  Also, it must be designated to "Annual Fund" to qualify.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask: or Paul Harris Chair Jenn Dubey, email:
Editarian Report for May 14, 2021
Beautiful May Day with not a cloud in the sky—the weather we have been waiting for all winter and spring!
12:00-12:28 Attendees assigned to chat rooms
12:33 CALL TO ORDER by President Julie Pingston
12:33 INVOCATION: Missy Lillje
Quite literally in the midst of receiving her second vaccination, Missy took a break to offer this week’s invocation called How Blessed We Are.
One of her own many blessings that Missy spoke of was her wonderful experiences learning through musical theater at Haslett High School. Given that today’s speaker is Samara Valla, director of the Haslett High School Select Women’s Ensemble, she felt this invocation especially appropriate.
12:36 PATRIOTIC SONG: “God Bless America” with John Dale playing piano and Samara Valla singing.
For the first time in a long time, today’s patriotic song was delivered live —from the Haslett Auditorium! John Dale and Samara sounded wonderful together!
Nathan Triplett, our district governor, joined us.
Tammy Lemmer—of the Haslett/Okemos Rotary Club and President of the Haslett Public Schools Board also joined our call, to show support for today’s speaker, Samara Valla. Tammy’s children went through the Haslett schools and they loved the music programs there.
12:39 HEALTH OF THE CLUB: Diane Sanborn
Long time Rotarian, Doug Pearson, passed away on May 6th in Grand Rapids. There was a service for him on May 10th at the Peoples Church in East Lansing. This summer, there will also be a Celebration of Life although details are not yet available. The club extends its sympathy to the Pearson family.
12:40 ANNOUNCEMENTS: Julie Pingston
In her update on Rocco’s Taste of Italy event on Tuesday, May 12th, Rebecca Bahar-Cook thanked Rocco Rucinski and his lovely wife, Sheri Jones, for the cooking class they put on for the Rotarians. This very well-attended event raised $830 for the Rotary Foundation. Everybody who attended had nothing but wonderful things to say and a second session is already being planned. John Person made some great wine recommendations and a truly great time was had by all. Plans for a second session will likely include some time to socialize at the end.
President Julie reminded everybody to keep an eye on the city’s summer calendars because so many great things are happening. Everybody should keep an eye out on what all the local agencies are doing.
One of the club’s June meetings will likely be outside at Rotary Park. It will depend on city parameters regarding the pandemic, particularly how many people can gather.
True to form, John Dale Smith’s introduction of today’s guest speaker began with a request that Rich Howard’s image be removed from today’s Zoom call. Everybody had a good laugh over that.
In his remarks, John Dale stated that Samara Valla received her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and Masters in Music Education from Michigan State University. She then started her teaching career in Haslett where she has been for the last 21 years. Given today’s world, it is unusual for anyone to stay in a position for so long and John Dale appreciates the numerous skills Samara has brought to the classroom. They have worked closely together for many years.
Using Haslett as an example, Samara will talk about the numerous changes high school music programs have had to undergo during the pandemic. According to John Dale, as people today graduate with degrees in music education, they can no longer rely on only their skills as musicians. They must also be technologically savvy, as Samara will explain.
Matt Callaghan (Director of Choral Activities in Haslett) was also introduced. Prior to beginning her presentation, Matt was described by Samara as an excellent partner in crime throughout the numerous rounds of troubleshooting required of this very challenging year.
TODAY’S SPEAKER: SAMARA VALLA, Associate Director of Choral Activities, Haslett Public Schools
—Samara described Haslett’s uniqueness as having a small town feel with big school opportunities. Students are encouraged to participate in every kind of activity—music, sports, robotics etc. As such, it is a community that consistently produces well-rounded adults.
—It is unusual to have a music program as large as Haslett’s given the size of the school system. Currently, there are eight school day choirs, three ensembles and three musical productions produced annually. This does not include the numerous band and instrumental activities. Typically, there are 40-80 students in each class. In the women’s ensemble, there are 75 women. One year, there were 115.
—375 students participate in choir in the 8th-12th grades. This is more than a third of the student body.
—There have been three phases to the pandemic for music in Haslett:
a. In Spring 2020, when the students were sent home, it was kind of a shock. While everybody could see something coming, nobody expected it to come so quickly. At this stage, the goal was to continue the music program’s connections to kids, offering support in any way they needed through Zoom and Google Classroom. In this way, Samara was able to hang out with the kids, share videos, and hold conversations about how everybody’s lives were being impacted. Students were experiencing a lot of loss. They needed the connection with the music program, each other and a way to acknowledge how deep their losses were. Some losses related to the spreading virus, others to lost family jobs. On top of that, last year’s play was shut down ten days ahead of the opening curtain, after months of preparation. This was truly heart-breaking.
b. In Summer 2020, Samara and Matt realized that virtual learning was going to be necessary long into the fall semester. This led to a summer of plotting and planning how to adjust. Imagine trying to make music with upwards of 80 students on the other side of the screen, on mute and too often without their video turned on. It was known that too many people on video simultaneously would lead to glitchy Internet. Also, it was known that many students would want to maintain their privacy about how and where they live. These huge technological struggles made it absolutely essential to redesign HOW the students were going to learn.
Eventually, Samara and Matt had to purchase two large screens, to accommodate 40 students on each. Wanting to make sure the education was equitable, they also had to develop lesson plans and assignments that students could engage in and complete, with equitable opportunities for all students to participate regardless of how sophisticated their technology access may or may not be.
Imagine students signing into a choir class but the teachers not being able to hear them. Given the circumstances, what kind of music do you pick to learn and how do you turn this music into some sort of performance? While Zoom is amazing it does not replace what we are used to having in a musical setting. Also, what would work for the emotional well being of the students? How could Matt and Samara balance the course requirements without adding undue stress to the students?
In Fall 2020, they ultimately chose to have the students listen to music in their ears while having them record and submit videos of themselves. A free version of Garage Band allowed them to meld all the voices through labor-intensive editing that they did themselves. Imagine the countless hours this took to record voices, record the accompaniment, provide practice tracks to students, and collect individual recordings. Neither Samara nor Matt had any prior experience with this. And, unlike other school districts that hired an audio engineer, taking on this monumental task themselves gave them both interesting and really helpful insights into what students were learning and doing.
c. As of Spring 2021, the music program had morphed into a hybrid scenario. Upwards of 40 students were participating from home virtually, while 40 were in class in person. Clearly, this set-up created a whole new set of challenges. Providing live and virtual opportunities for all students, depending on how they chose to attend school, is critical. 'Classroom management’ became logistical more than behavioral. For example, how do you instruct a roomful of students while directing attention to students learning online? This led to a number of reevaluations around how to best use the technology at hand and, again, equitable learning was central to every decision.
—This has been the craziest year ever for taking attendance. Seeing names on the Zoom screen has led to Samara’s becoming an accomplished screen shot taker. A technique that has worked to ensure student attendance has involved asking students a different question everyday during class. For example, today’s question asked: “What is your favorite thing to put on toast?” Answers indicate class participation and presence. By the way, who knew that avocado and toast and, peanut butter, honey and toast are so popular? (Clearly, attendance taking is not Samara’s favorite part of the school day during COVID-19.)
—There have been a number of accomplishments this year and Samara is proud that Matt and she have been able to create productive, successful, valuable experiences for their music learners. Never knowing ahead the musical composition of the students who are going to show up on any given day, Samara likened this year’s typical day to a football practice where linemen show up but there are no quarterbacks, or to a restaurant where there are waitresses but no line cooks. There has had to be great resourcefulness in the kinds of music they have picked.
—Regardless of the challenges, the Haslett Choirs have been able to pull off three productions this year: 1) a fully virtual improv program called “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, 2) a middle school virtual program that was a spoof on television programs (for example, Dr. Jill instead of Dr. Phil) and that was compiled by a former student with a video editing degree, and 3) the spring musical, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. Great effort went into all three productions but all gave the students a unique, meaningful, safe experience of which they are truly proud. Charlie Brown gave the students the possibility to work in small groups while the chorus numbers could be choreographed in a way that allowed for masks and social distancing. It turned out to be a typical experience in an atypical setting and everything was choreographed with such precision that it allowed for easy contact tracing
. —So much of Samara’s bag of tricks was taken away from her this year and this led to lots of innovation. It felt good for her to be able to give her students safe but meaningful opportunities in the midst of the pandemic. Best of all, not a single case of COVID-19 or quarantine case resulted from any of these productions. To her this was a real accomplishment.
—Samara then showed a few clips from this year’s performances: a very beautiful chorale piece for which the voices had been spliced together and two performances from You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. These included Snoopy singing (and dancing) Suppertime and twelve or so students performing Book Report.
—Samara Valla thanked everybody for hearing her out today. She knows we’re not out of the woods yet and also knows knows that not all students will recover from the pandemic as quickly as others. For many students, more than a year of private music lessons have been missed and, financially, it will be difficult for some students to pick this up again. Healing and repairing will take some time and scholarships will be necessary to support students’ music interests. Community support will make all the difference as students try to catch up.
—Next year, Samara hopes she will be able to return with her students to perform live and in person at Rotary.
—Excellent closing quote by Samara Valla: At least once in your career it’s good to go through a little high quality chaos.
—In closing, Samara also thanked to John Dale Smith for his tolerance of the Haslett choir directors and his role in the community.
Did virtual learning impact enrollment in theatre?
Samara: Yes, it has affected both enrollment and self-esteem. Many students have been uncomfortable recording and hearing themselves without the support of the group. By no means is this program filled with divas who are happy singing alone. Students are in it for the group experience and it is anticipated that the pandemic is going to impact the numbers moving forward, too, as uncertainty about the future remains.
In lieu of a speaker’s gift we will be making donations in honor of our speakers to a local organization through our Lansing Rotary Foundation which has, over the history of our club, given in excess of $2,000,000 to local organizations and projects.
NEXT WEEK: We will meet May 21 and our guest speaker will be Dr. Jonathan Smith, talking about “What the Pandemic Has Been Like for a Professional Musician”.
ADJOURNMENT: Julie Pingston
President Julie adjourned the meeting at 1:25 p.m.

Stay well, Everyone!!
Pam Miklavcic's email is:
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Rotary Club of Lansing
P. O. Box 13156
Lansing, MI   48901-3156
Meeting Responsibilities
May Birthday Chair
Hall, Carmen
Sanborn, Diane
Reynaert, Michelle
Chair of the Month
Smith, John Dale
Chair of the Day
Smith, John Dale
Millbrook, Courtney