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CONSERVATORY NOTES: Sources of inspiration for musicians

Inspiration is all around us – that which is a constant state of wonder and open mindedness – come find out what some of our accomplished piano faculty have been inspired by!

By Margaret Li, Wicked Local

What inspires musicians to do what they do? What gives them inspiration to pursue and share? Inspiration can come from anywhere and appear in any form. It also means different things to different people. Sometimes, the most mundane thing can lead to a burst of creativity, a period of productiveness, a spark to a writer's block, a new way to approach something. It's this unifying notion of inspiration that brings together South Shore Conservatory's piano faculty for a concert of music that moves us, called Inspirations.

For me, one of my earliest memory of inspiration came from a thunderstorm. Thunderstorm? Sure, there is repertoire out there that depicts rain and thunder. Beethoven's Symphony 6 is the first to come to mind. But no, I am speaking about an actual thunderstorm! One that cut our electricity and plunged our house into darkness one day.

This being before the Internet and cell phone days, our regular recreations of drawing and reading were augmented by creating music. What better way to ride out a blackout than creating some music to fill the darkness and silence? Our entire family gathered together: chairs were drawn around the piano, the big red flashlight placed on the piano desk, music books opened. One of our older sisters thought it might be fun to have either my twin sister Edwina, or myself play a piano duet with her. What a revelation! It was then that Edwina and I thought to try playing piano four-hand ourselves, with our older sister acting as teacher. As a youngster terrified of the dark and storms, I found that particular night pass quickly. It was the only enjoyable blackout I can remember. Read more...

Strumming Hingham seniors love learning the ukulele

By Carol Britton Meyer, Wicked Local

A newly offered ukulele class at the Senior Center in partnership with South Shore Conservatory has met with rave reviews. All levels of players from total beginners to the more experienced are welcome to participate in the program, which meets Tuesday afternoons. All you need is a ukulele!

This unique offering -- now in its second session due to its increasing popularity -- is led by Conservatory guitar teacher John McCarthy, who instructs the enthusiastic students in how to strum simple songs together, with opportunities for budding vocalists to sing along with the music. Students also learn about scales, technique, and easy music theory that goes along with playing the ukulele.

"I think it's appealing for students to learn something new in a pressure-less situation. The social aspect of the class is important. Getting together to play is fun," McCarthy said. "Ukulele can become an enjoyable and satisfying hobby. It's not as difficult as some other instruments and is complete sounding and easily transportable." Read more and view photos...

CONSERVATORY NOTES: Students featured at Hingham Public Library

These PreK/K students spend time with their art instructor Karen Hill, examining the work of famous painters, discovering a little bit about their individual styles and techniques, and then carefully creating their own version of the pieces.

Wicked Local
By Elaine Sorrentino,SSC

If you haven't been to the Hingham Public Library's children's room this month, I encourage you to take a trip over. You'll be in for a treat. South Shore Conservatory's arts-integrated PreK/Kindergarten students are exhibiting their original artwork which includes Van Gogh-inspired "Sunflowers" and their interpretations of Edward Hick's "Peaceable Kingdom." The artwork is up through the end of January.

This isn't the ordinary type of artwork you'd put on your refrigerator with a dirty old magnet holding it up. These pieces are more like artwork you'd happily display on your wall. These PreK/K students spend time with their art instructor Karen Hill, examining the work of famous painters, discovering a little bit about their individual styles and techniques, and then carefully creating their own version of the pieces.

The sunflower project focused the children on recognizing shape and color, which are two important elements of the conservatory's visual art curriculum. The peaceable kingdom project had a much larger scope. Karen explains the process she used for this piece. "Children were instructed to imagine two or more animals that wouldn't be friends or live together in 'real' life. They then were asked to add themselves to the piece of artwork and tell a story about 'what is happening in your kingdom' and 'how/why is it now peaceful?' Teachers transcribe the story and secure it to the finished piece." Read more and view photos...

CONSERVATORY NOTES: Feeding your soul in the New Year

This is a story we've all heard before. Make a resolution, break a resolution. But there IS one resolution I made and have not broken. It's my resolution to do something fun that feeds my soul and stimulates my brain.

Wicked Local
By Elaine Sorrentino, Hingham Journal

I own a $400 drying rack. You may think this a bit extravagant until you discover it was not purchased as a clothes rack; it was purchased as an elliptical trainer one January not long ago, so that I might shed the extra pounds that sneak up during the holidays. My New Year's resolution to spend at least 25 minutes on the elliptical lasted an entire two weeks before I discovered that sleeping later than 6 a.m. was preferable to dragging myself out of bed to exercise.

This is a story we've all heard before. Make a resolution, break a resolution. But there IS one resolution I made and have not broken. It's my resolution to do something fun that feeds my soul and stimulates my brain.

In January of 2008 I joined South Shore Conservatory's Woman Song, an a cappella ensemble for women who love to sing. After 90 minutes of harmony and reflection, I leave relaxed and invigorated, feeling loved and lifted up by my fellow singers. This was the best resolution I've ever made. So, while my elliptical sits in the corner virtually unused (save for the times it acts as a clothes rack), I continue to make music with my singing sisters.

My friend Su D'Ambrosio, Director of Programs and Curriculum here at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), has met many adults over the years who share that they regret giving up an instrument they played when they were young, never picking it up again. Others share they are sorry they never tried one when they were young, and fear it's too late. Her response is that it's never too late! Read more...

CONSERVATORY NOTES: Fast tracking your ballet technique

Now, as a ballet teacher at South Shore Conservatory, I encourage my students to attend auditions for summer programs, and champion them through both acceptances and yes, the rejections that come with auditioning.

Wicked Local
By Susie Guthro, Hingham Journal

When the last chord of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker finale sounds and the curtain makes its final close, it signals the start of another wonderful season for the young dancer. Summer intensive audition season is there to pick up where the thrill of performing leaves off for many serious ballet students. Summer intensives can be the highlight of a student's year. Whether it's a two-week or a six-week program that spans nearly the entire summer, an intensive program provides a young dancer with opportunities that enrich, validate, and expose them to the world of pre-professional dance.

My earliest experience of a summer intensive, at the age of 11, opened my eyes to what a summer of ballet could be. With classes ranging from ballet to modern, pointe to character dance, and dance history to workshops on hair and make-up, I felt as though I had won the lottery. I had found my people; other students from all over the country who had the same passion for ballet as me, and new teachers with new corrections and styles from which to learn. That summer I progressed faster with daily ballet classes that didn't have to compete with schoolwork, and gained strength and stamina from multiple classes and hours of dancing everyday. From that summer forward, not one passed without going through audition season again, and attending a new program nearly every summer of my adolescence. Read more...

CONSERVATORY NOTES: Oboe lessons: the reed less taken

Neither of us realized that the oboe is considered a hard instrument to learn. My first teacher suggested I try another woodwind instrument, and I'm pretty sure she thought I was WAY too old to learn oboe.

Wicked Local
By Sally Davenport, Hingham Journal

Unlike most oboists, I didn't take up the oboe until I was about 30, after we had our first child and moved to Hingham. What terrific luck that there was a community music school, the South Shore Conservatory of Music (as it was called in those days) right here in Hingham! I usually say my husband John made me take it up, but in truth, we both loved the sound of the oboe, and we both wanted me to learn an instrument so we could play together. He's a pretty good pianist!

Neither of us realized that the oboe is considered a hard instrument to learn. My first teacher suggested I try another woodwind instrument, and I'm pretty sure she thought I was WAY too old to learn oboe. But I wanted to try, so I rented a student instrument and got started.

Like lots of mothers-to-be, I thought that after quitting full time work I would have time on my hands to start this new endeavor while taking care of a newborn - ha, ha! Still, I managed to practice while our daughter Grace napped for 15 or 20 minutes a day, and, as is usually true with enthusiastic beginners, I started making progress - going from terrible, to not so terrible, to okay and then, maybe - pretty good. Read more...

CONSERVATORY NOTES: Making a difference in a child's life

The ImagineARTS program incorporates all the skills I feel are most valuable to the development of young children, and supports their social, emotional, and academic growth and development.

Wicked Local
By Linda Cashman Hingham Journal

As a teacher for 43 years in grades preschool through six, the last four as a kindergarten teacher at the Barrett Russell School in Brockton, I have utilized many different curriculums and programs within the public education system. Through these years of teaching, I have learned that four and five-year-old children learn best through exploration, movement and tactile experiences. This is why I was so excited to learn that ImagineARTS, South Shore Conservatory's (SSC) arts and literacy program, was coming to the Barrett Russell School. The ImagineARTS program incorporates all the skills I feel are most valuable to the development of young children, and supports their social, emotional, and academic growth and development.

SSC's ImagineARTS became an integral part of the Barrett Russell curriculum three years ago. At that time we were a brand new facility with 13 classrooms of kindergarten children. The first year, ImagineARTS was introduced to only two classrooms, but expanded to include whole school the following year. I fell in love with the program immediately. The songs, stories, movement, and skills they introduce to the children mesh beautifully with everything I expose the children to in my classroom. I like to teach through all modalities, and the ImagineARTS program supports my philosophy and beliefs. Read more...

CONSERVATORY NOTES: The role of music in our memories

Wicked Local
By Michael Busack South Shore Conservatory

Pause. For a moment consider your core memories. There are times, good and bad, that affect the individuals we become. Often the joy or pain of these times are as fresh as when we were living them. Now pause again. Consider the role music has played during your memories. Perhaps you remember the song playing on the radio when you first discovered you were going to be a parent. Maybe it's the song you danced to at your wedding, or the one that makes you weep thinking of a loved ones' funeral. No matter the shape and weight of the memory, chances are you can connect it to a song.

I grew up in a large extended family. My maternal grandparents had 11 children, and a small army of grandchildren. My grandparents' house was full of love, laughter, and people! My grandfather, a man of few words, led a simple life. He believed in working hard, having compassion, valuing generosity, and cherishing family. He led with actions, and his example has been the most meaningful inspiration in my life.

Our large family regularly gathered for big dinners with everyone together around the table, and at counter tops, and anywhere else where you could keep a plate of my Memere's amazing dinner steady. Following the meal my grandfather would quietly head over to his recliner, tired from a long day's work and full from a great meal. Often he would pull a small case from his pocket.

Everyone recognized the cue that Pepere was going to play his harmonica. As a child on his family farm in Canada, he had picked up the harmonica and taught himself to play a million old folk and country western songs by ear. I vividly remember him tapping his feet as he played one of his favorites, Hank Williams' "On the Bayou." Read more...

CONSERVATORY NOTES: Trading in birds for music and the arts

Wicked Local
By Emma Snellings Hingham Journal

A little over one year ago I had no idea that South Shore Conservatory even existed. I had been working as an environmental educator outside of Boston, teaching children about birds of prey. Over time this position had transitioned into a program management role, which made me interested in learning more about non-profit development and fundraising.

After seeing the conservatory's job posting for an institutional advancement associate and doing research on SSC, I could not believe I had never encountered it before! Music was a huge part of my school experience, and the chance to help the conservatory spark a love of music in others seemed like a great opportunity to me. As institutional advancement associate, I could help the development, marketing and performance departments with important projects, such as gift acknowledgement to database management to concert program creation. It's true that birds make beautiful music all their own, but I was excited to explore and enjoy human music at SSC!

Let me tell you that working in an office while listening to three or more consecutive music lessons is certainly a new experience for me. I've been in a noisy office before, but this was a different kind of noise. It was the wonderful sound of joyful, arts-filled learning.

The biggest surprise for me was discovering the wide range of programs and activities at SSC. When I started here, I basically knew SSC offered private lessons, and a couple of other programs. Over the course of my year here, I have developed a more in depth understanding of the breadth of what SSC offers the community, and it is huge! From Music Together for our youngest students, to our arts-integrated preschool, pre-k and kindergarten programs, to hip hop lessons, to Bay Youth Symphony youth orchestra, a Creative Arts Therapies programs, Open Mic nights, summer camps and adult ensembles, one could start out taking lessons as an infant, and stay until, well...forever. Read more...

Community accolades keep coming for Scituate CORSE

Wicked Local
By Ruth Thompson

The Scituate Community of Resources for Special Education, or CORSE, received two awards this fall in recognition of the work the organization does.

At the foundation's 11th annual gala Tracy Johnston, president and co-founder, was honored with the 'Mr. C' Scituate Recreation Spirit Award, which recognizes commitment to volunteer service and youth in the community, specifically for the development and implementation of successful recreational programming for all children, including those with special needs.

"CORSE is privileged to live in a town whose recreation department has embraced our integrated programs that allow access to physical and social recreational activities for children of all abilities," Johnston said. "Jennifer Vitelli and Maura Glancy took this journey with us 10 years ago and this is just as much their award as it is ours, we collaborate truly as a team to provide the high quality and very popular programming such as All Stars Sports, All Stars Summer Camps, Maritime Adventures and Volunteer/Counselor Training."

A few weeks later, CORSE received the honorable Community Partnership Award from South Shore Conservatory for its 10-year collaboration to bring the arts and therapies to children with special needs. CORSE has partnered with South Shore Conservatory to provide music therapy to more than 1,000 students, yoga to more than 250, and has provided band-consulting services to assure an inclusive setting for the award winning Scituate Public Schools middle school band.

"We have worked with South Shore Conservatory for 10 years, and have had the unique opportunity to bring music therapy and yoga into Scituate Public Schools to provide our children with access to therapeutic programming not available at all public schools," Johnston said. "The band consultant that works with the Gates Middle School Band is another example of how true integration is established throughout our district."

At the gala, CORSE presented the Best Buddies staff from the high school and the middle school with the annual Compass Award. Read more...

CONSERVATORY NOTES: Why the arts matter to all

Wicked Local
By Elaine Sorrentino Hingham Journal

For the third consecutive year, South Shore Conservatory (SSC) participated in MASSCreative's Arts Matter Day to publicly express why the arts matter to us. Created as a vehicle for showing our legislators the importance of the arts to all populations, Arts Matter Day allowed us to crow about how the arts make a difference in our personal lives.

SSC was one of 640 participating arts and cultural organizations and individuals. Among the other organizations who joined us in posting photos and videos on social media were the Museum of Fine Arts, Longy School of Music, Artists for Humanity, Arts Boston and BosTix, Oliver Ames High School, the Clark Institute of Art, BU Arts Initiative, Boston Lyric Opera, Institute of Contemporary ARtBoston, and a host of others. Parents, students, faculty and staff members took pen to paper, taking stock of their many reasons for needing the arts in their lives.

SSC moms were perhaps the most passionate about their love for the arts. They see the difference the arts make to their children every day. Music Together moms wrote that the arts matter to them because they shape their children's lives, and instill a sense of wonder in their children. Preschool mom Lara Thompson said "the joy of singing and learning to play music last a lifetime." An active member of SSC's Woman Song ensemble, Lara would know!

Other young moms chose less wordy responses to the question of how music makes them feel. "ALIVE!" and "like dancing" and "like breathing!" were all testaments to the power of the arts in helping us learn, express and be human. Read more...

CONSERVATORY NOTES: Hull student wins 13th annual Russian Music Competition

Wicked Local

Pianist Jennifer Boyd, 17 of Hull, was awarded the grand prize in the Talented Young Musician Association's 13th annual Russian Music Competition held in Boston in early November. As a winner, Boyd will perform Tchaikovsky's "Dumka" at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Sunday, Dec. 11. Boyd, a junior at Notre Dame Academy in Hingham, has studied at South Shore Conservatory since 2010 and is a student of piano instructor Mark Goodman. She has participated in competitions in the past, placing first in the high school division of South Shore Conservatory's 2016 Piano Competition, and being named overall winner of the 2015 Concerto Competition. Boyd was also the recipient of the Hui Min Wang Scholarship award. Boyd is also the accompanist for Community Voices, Too!, South Shore Conservatory's chorus for developmentally delayed adults, and has studied with Xixi Zhou, Regina Yung, and Margaret Li at South Shore Conservatory. Read more...

CONSERVATORY NOTES: A peek into arts-integrated classrooms

Wicked Local
By Su D'Ambrosio South Shore Conservatory

Parent: "What did you do in school today?" Teen: "Nothing." Twelve years ago this conversation might have sounded like this: Parent: "What did you do in school today?" Preschooler: "I played with the blocks, and painted a picture and sang some songs and played dress-up and read some books and played with play dough and went on the playground and had a snack and danced with my friend and saw a butterfly and counted to 100 and learned about the letter C..." Parent: "Did you have fun?" Preschooler: "YES!"

When adults think of preschool they often remember these kinds of fun activities and playtime. You might be surprised to learn that to preschoolers all this fun is hard work. Every experience in a preschool curriculum is designed to foster learning specific skills such as gross motor and fine motor coordination, sequencing tasks, language acquisition, reading, math, science, creativity, imagination and interpersonal skills. Read more...

CONSERVATORY NOTES: Choral singing throughout my life

Wicked Local
By Bill Reardon South Shore Conservatory

I grew up in a large family with a father who loved singing and played piano well. Dad would always accompany the family Christmas carol fests with grandparents and cousins and, of course, we'd rehearse before fest day. But it was washing dishes with siblings (no dishwasher!) that launched my choral singing life; we'd literally cover our ears so that we could carry our own part while other family members sang theirs. From there it was only logical that I took up choral singing with a conductor in Chapel Choir and Glee Club at Thayer Academy.

Once I was accepted at Harvard, I decided my principal extra-curricular activity would be singing four years with the Harvard Glee Club. In 1967, I was fortunate to join the Harvard/Radcliffe eleven-week, eight-country world choral tour with 88 other singers. We performed at Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia and Edinburgh, Scotland Music Festivals. Through that incredible experience I met my wife Kathy and we've been singing together ever since in some chorus wherever we have lived. Read more...

CONSERVATORY NOTES: Embracing arts-integrated programs

Every child is an artist. The need to create and express is inherent in all of us. When this need is nurtured, learning occurs, and wonderful things happen.

Wicked Local
By Rachel Gellis, South Shore Conservatory

Rachel Gellis

It was a crisp day in late autumn last year, as I strolled Bare Cove Park with my pooch in tow; typical after a long day. Instead of walking towards the water, which was our normal route, we decided to pick a new path. On that path we passed a beautiful, large building in a quiet, lovely neighborhood. Out of the windows bellowed the sounds of flutes, pianos, drums, and singing voices. Children were laughing and playing on the playground in the rear of building. Families congregated near an outdoor amphitheater chatting and smiling. What was this magical place? So, like anyone else does in the 21st century, I took out my iPhone and "googled it."

South Shore Conservatory. Interesting. I dove deeper into the website. That is when I saw it. An arts-integrated Preschool/PreK/Kindergarten program! It was as if fate had steered me away from the usual path to put me on this new path (literally and figuratively) where I belonged. I had spent my career previously as a preschool teacher in Braintree, and at that moment was working as a coach and mentor to educators to help enhance their curriculum on the South Shore. I was enrolled in a Master's Program through Lesley University in Education, specifically Integrating Teaching through the Arts. Clearly the conservatory is where I needed to be.

Here I am one year later, director of the arts-integrated Preschool/PreK/Kindergarten program. More than a month into the position, I have a deeper understanding of the many layers that make up the Conservatory. SSC is the "Cheers" of the South Shore; a place where everybody knows your name. As you enter the bright, sunny lobby, you are met with a smile and personal greeting by everyone with whom you cross paths. A place where you immediately feel comfortable, a necessity for learning to occur. Read more...