Shrewsbury teacher shares love for music in classrooms and theaters

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By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer

Tracy Martino
Tracy Martino
Photo/Robert Mattson

Region – Tracy Martino, a Northborough native now residing in Worcester, shares her passion with Shrewsbury’s Floral Street School students. First- to fourth-graders learn from their music teacher’s firsthand experience gained by performing at community theaters.

“All of the concepts that I teach in my classroom, I get to put into practice as a performer in theaters,” she noted.

 

Hometown influences

Raised in Northborough, she took classes at Dawn’s School of Dance from age 4 to 18.

At Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS), she sang in the chorus directed by Dr. Robert Eaton before he received his doctorate.

Martino recognizes the dedication of her ARHS band class teacher, Dennis Wrenn.

“He was so passionate about music and theater,” she recalled.

Their paths often crossed after Martino graduated from ARHS in 1989. First in 1997, when she performed in the revue “Stardust” with Wrenn as musical director at Calliope Productions in Boylston.

Wrenn passed away in 2009 while in Greece with the ARHS jazz band.

“Up until the end of his life, he was committed to sharing music with kids,” Martino relayed. “That really stuck with me.”

Martino pursued a bachelor’s degree in music education at Westfield State College. There, she also performed with Westfield Theatre Guild.

While staying with her aunt and uncle during the summer of 1992, she performed in “Fiddler on the Roof” at Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse. At least one VIP saw the show.

“Having Jackie O at a performance was very exciting for me,” Martino shared.

After graduating from Westfield State in 1994, she began a five-year stint at Northborough’s Lincoln Street and Fannie E. Proctor elementary schools.

“Getting a teaching job in my hometown was a dream come true,” she declared. “The commute was terrific!”

 

Spotlighting comradery

Tracy Martino, a board member of Boylston’s Calliope Productions, readies to greet audience members of the community theater’s 2019 production of “All Bark, No Bite.” Photo/Kara Emily Krantz
Tracy Martino, a board member of Boylston’s Calliope Productions, readies to greet audience members of the community theater’s 2019 production of “All Bark, No Bite.”
Photo/Kara Emily Krantz

Martino continues returning to stages where her theatrical treks lead to lifelong friendships.

“We’ll always have that bond of doing shows together,” she said of her fellow thespians.

As the most memorable musical, she cites her 1995 performance at Worcester County Light Opera Club in “Making Scents” by Stephen Murray. The composer-playwright is now her fiancé.

In addition to performing onstage, Martino assumes behind-the-scenes duties as board member of Calliope Productions. Additionally, she has music directed for Calliope’s pre-teen program.

Her longstanding relationship with community theaters spans throughout central Massachusetts and beyond. Among other venues where she has performed are Milford Theatre Guild, Shrewsbury’s Regatta Players, Worcester’s Vanilla Box Productions and Sturbridge’s Stageloft Repertory Theatre.

 

Heartfelt education

In 1999, Martino began teaching at Floral Street School in Shrewsbury. 

“The school has a lot of heart,” she raved. “It’s a really big school with the feel of a small school. Even students who aren’t in my classroom are my kids.”

In 2002, Martino earned a master’s degree in arts education at Fitchburg State College.

Since March 2020, she’s strived to make the best of hybrid, virtual and/or in-person learning. Her biggest challenge is teaching music in classrooms when experts deemed group singing’s risk of spreading airborne droplets.

“We can do rhythm exercises,” Martino explained. “Lots of pencil drumming on desks.”

She appreciates the upsides of Zoom meetings with students.

“They can sing along with me because they’re at home,” she noted. “And they’re not wearing masks, so I can see their little toothless grins.”

Flexibility is the most valuable lesson that Martino wants her students to learn.

“When something goes wrong, we can talk and find a way around it,” she recounted. “We remind each other. When I can’t do something I had planned, they say, ‘Ms. Martino, you have to be flexible!’ That’s when I think I’ve done my job.”

 

 

 

People and Places – Community Advocate