Esha and Nivea Nagella, students at Eight Corners school preparing to sing for Scarborough School’s Porch Fest event, which took place on June 4. Music and band students played their instruments or sung in their front yards for families and neighbors. Catherine Bart/Leader

SCARBOROUGH — Around 6 p.m. on June 4, Eight Corners students Esha and Nivea Nagella were preparing to sing for their parents and neighbors, giggling with excitement and eager to show what they could do.

The sisters were participating in Scarborough’s Porch Fest. From the primary to high school level, students played their own instruments or sang for family and neighbors throughout the town, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on June 4.

Cape Elizabeth gave Scarborough’s music department the idea, said Christopher Fletcher, Wentworth’s music and band teacher.

Esha and Nivea said that their music teacher had told their mother about the project, and the two were happy to participate, having been singing and dancing since they were 5 and 6 years old.

“This was very new for us,” Sandhya Padumjames, the students’ mother, said. “I think it’s great. It is encouraging for budding musicians.”

Wentworth student Isabel Alves, a third grader, played piano and sang, performing “Brave” by Sara Bareilles, a song about standing up for your own beliefs.

“For example, like, when you’re in school and the teacher asks a question, and you have an answer but you’re scared — the song is telling you to be brave and don’t be scared to say what you want to say,” Isabel explained.

She said that she was happy to be showing off her skills.

Her mother, Laurel Alves, said that Isabel had been learning to play piano through YouTube tutorials and can also play ukulele. She’s also involved in Wentworth’s student chorus.

After transitioning into online learning, Isabel said that she’s had a lot more free time to practice.

“I just like performing in front of people,” Isabel said.

Isabel Alves, a third grader at Wentworth School, performed “Brave” by Sara Bareilles during Porch Fest on June 4. She said that she’s had more time to learn piano in the last few months and is involved in chorus at Wentworth School in Scarborough. Courtesy photo of Laurie Alves

Choral teacher Kristin Goodall said that she’s proud of her Wentworth students.

“They demonstrated perseverance during our distance learning and were able to make beautiful music in spite of the circumstances,” she said.

The performances can bring the community together through such isolating times, said Alves, who teaches fifth grade at Wentworth.

“I think it’s a really great way to celebrate the arts and a way to bring the community together,” she said. “One thing I noticed as a challenge for my students is the missed opportunities for connections. I think they miss the social interactions. Teachers have done a good job with Google Hangouts, but it’s not the same. I think that it’s a really great opportunity to bring us together.”

Besides the community involvement, Fletcher said that Porch Fest benefited music students who had to go without a spring band concert this year. They still got the opportunity to play their instruments in front of an audience.

Practicing music has served as a good way to spend the time during these few months of social distancing, he said.

“I think it solves two problems — if you’re bored and there’s nothing to do, and it also helps when times are tough,” he said.

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