The arts make a difference in the lives of young people. Numerous studies show that students who are involved in the arts perform better in school, thrive socially and emotionally and develop lifelong skills like creativity, problem solving and teamwork.
The Findlay community has a long tradition of supporting arts programming for young people. In fact, Hancock County has produced scores of musicians, composers, artists and entertainers, and even some stars like Scott Lavender, orchestra conductor for the legendary Johnny Mathis, and Gavin Creel, a Broadway talent who recently won a Tony Award. Here is an introduction to three talented young adults in Findlay who are making their mark in the arts!
Meet Sophie Wohl,
Sophie was just 6 years old when her mom signed her up for violin lessons. Today, the Findlay High School senior’s talent, hard work and joy for music shines through in every note she plays. Sophie is concertmaster of the Findlay High School Symphony and Chamber Orchestras.
She has received top honors and performed with the best young musicians in the state, participating for three years in the Ohio Music Education Association’s Regional and All-State Orchestras. This spring, she will be a featured soloist playing the first movement of Lalo’s “Symphonie Espagnole” with the high school orchestra. The daughter of Grace and Rob Wohl, Sophie is the second youngest of nine children in her family.
Why are you passionate about playing the violin? It is a beautiful way to express yourself. And playing in an orchestra is fun and social because you become part of an instrumental family.
Why is music important to society? Music is very healing for people, and it allows them to live in the moment and reduce stress. I also believe that music connects us to our better selves. It makes us more thoughtful and kinder people.
What it most challenging about playing the violin? Every instrument has its challenges, and it becomes more difficult as you raise the level of your playing. With the violin, it’s a challenge to play in the upper range, to master the different bowing techniques and to get the fingerings down on tricky and fast passages.
How many hours a day do you practice? About two hours on average.
What is your favorite music to play? I enjoy playing Baroque style music like Bach sonatas and partitas for solo violin. There’s a simplicity to them and yet they are complicated musically. I also enjoy contemporary music because these compositions contain dissonant chords and other things that you don’t get a chance to play in traditional music.
Have you participated in any special activities to further your skills? I take private lessons with Dr. Penny Kruse at Bowling Green State University and I’ve participated in the BGSU String Camp and the Blue Lake and Interlochen Fine Arts Camps.
What other activities do you enjoy? I like to sing and dance, and I’ve participated in the Findlay First Edition (FFE) for the past two years. I also enjoy reading, watching movies, taking walks and spending time with my family.
What does your future hold? I plan to major in music education and/or music performance and I’ve applied to several colleges and conservatories in Ohio.
How Sophie got involved.
Findlay City Schools offers the only string instrument program in Hancock County. The program’s roots date back over 110 years. Students can join orchestra in the 6th grade and participate through 12th grade, learning to play the violin, viola, cello or string bass. The Findlay High School Orchestra is a full symphony orchestra (strings, winds and percussion) with a daily class time and several concert performances annually. The orchestra consistently achieves “superior” and “excellent” ratings at OMEA State Orchestra Competitions. For more information visit orchestra.fcs.org.
Meet C.J. Miller, actor, singer, dancer
C.J. Miller’s first role was in second grade, holding up the star of Bethlehem for his church’s Christmas pageant. He was hooked! Now a freshman at Findlay High School, to date he has participated in 15 Youtheatre, Fort Findlay and Findlay High School productions. He was recently cast to perform in a youth ensemble at Carnegie Hall in New York City with the New York Symphony in the spring. C.J. is the son of Krista and Mark Miller and he has twin sisters, Katy and Emma, 21.
Why are you passionate about the theatre? It feels great and fulfilling to work together to bring something special to the audience. The theatre, and the people in it, are loving and accepting. We all celebrate and lift each other up. It’s also nice to allow the audience to escape to another world for a while and take different journeys.
Why is the theatre important to society? It’s a great example of what can happen when people work together around a common goal doing something they love. For kids like me, it’s a place to feel accepted. Not every boy is an athlete, although I consider dance a sport. For those attending the show, they can forget what is going on in their own lives and get lost in a story.
What has been your favorite show and why? I hate to choose a favorite, but if I have to, I would choose the Youtheatre production of Seussical. I loved that show because the entire cast worked together to create a show that was better than any of us thought it could be. It was also exciting to be at the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts. We are super lucky to have such a cool theatre in Findlay.
What is the most challenging part of preparing for a theatre production? It’s time consuming and as opening night draws close, very stressful. But it’s a fun stress and it revs you up and is really exciting.
What type of training have you participated in to develop your skills? I take dance, voice and acting lessons. I love my teachers. They support and believe in me and that inspires me to keep working. I have also participated in theatre camps and master classes.
What other activities do you enjoy? All my activities revolve around theatre somehow. I was thrilled to make FHS’s Freshmen show choir Voices in Perfection. I couldn’t wait to go to FHS to be involved in their music and theatre programs.
What are your future plans? It’s my goal to go to college and major in musical theatre. My dream school is the University of Michigan, but I’ll be excited wherever I end up because I just want to develop my skills and passion for music theatre. I want to work in the theatre world someday. I have big dreams, but I think it’s important to just be the best I can be during each performance opportunity and let the journey unfold.
How CJ got involved.
Since 1979, the mission of The Arts Partnership has been to provide arts programming that strengthens the community. The organization’s Youtheatre program serves approximately 325 youth in Hancock County each year with programs that inspire and promote an appreciation for the arts. From workshops, to theatre productions, to a summer performing arts camp, Youtheatre helps young people hone skills in acting, dancing, writing, costume design and more. For more information visit artspartnership.com.
Meet Elizabeth Tisdale,
Elizabeth can’t remember a time when she wasn’t drawing, coloring or painting. When she was in first grade, she remembers being motivated by her classmates who were always complimenting her on her artwork. This past summer Elizabeth received a $50 award at Chalk-A-Walk. She also displays her art work at St. Andrew’s Church during Findlay’s spring Art Walk. Elizabeth, a 7th grader at Donnell Middle School, is the daughter of Kris and Shad Tisdale. She has two sisters, Danielle, 17, and Charlotte, 3.
What is your favorite art medium to create with and why?
I don’t have a strong preference for one over the other. I like to try to get better at them all! The ones I like best are charcoal/pencils, the ProCreate App for the Mac and watercolors. Sculpting clay is one medium I don’t enjoy much.
Why are you passionate about creating art? When I create art, I can express my emotions, calm myself down when I am stressed, bring people together, and give myself something fun to do that can stretch my brain and be more and more creative. Art can be many things to me. It is part of my life.
Why are the visual arts important in society? Anyone can be an artist. Art brings people together and is a way for them to interact and express feelings in a way that words can’t. Art brings beauty and diversity to the world.
Have you participated in any special training to further your skills? My training consists of sitting in a comfy chair on the couch with a sketchbook. I am a self-taught artist, so all of my techniques are totally my own.
What is the most difficult art project you’ve worked on? Right now, I am working my way through mastering hands. Hands may not seem like they would be challenging, but it has been difficult to get them to look realistic and natural in positioning.
Who is your favorite artist? Laura Brouwers (@cyarine on Instagram) because her way of drawing is flowing and beautiful, and the women she draws are realistic— not stick thin but curvy and natural.
What other activities do you enjoy? I participate in volleyball and dance. I play volleyball for Donnell Trojans and Black Swamp, and I attend Becky’s School of Dance for jazz and lyrical dance.
How Elizabeth got involved.
Founded in 1947, Findlay Art League is the oldest continuing art organization in the area. The nonprofit has a mission to support, promote and advance the enjoyment and knowledge of the visual arts in the community. The Findlay Art League offers art classes for homeschooled children and junior high and high school students. In addition, the organization just announced that it will be awarding a $1,000 scholarship this spring for a high school senior pursuing a degree in art. For more information visit findlayartleague.org.