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CONSERVATORY NOTES: A Toast to Mad Love

Wicked Local

Mad Love logo

When I was seven years old, I used to go with my mom and my sister every Monday night to the Ellison Center in Duxbury where they took guitar lessons from John McCarthy. Most of the time, I sat in the corner, listening as they learned the chords to "Time After Time" and "Don't Stop Believin'," but every once and awhile I would wait outside the room and talk to drum teacher Ed Sorrentino. I was a really shy kid, so when my mom found out that I liked talking to Ed, she signed me up for lessons with him. I've been taking them ever since.

I played percussion in the school band in elementary and middle school, but it wasn't until a friend asked me to be in an SSC rock band in eighth grade that I really became passionate about playing music. I thought it was the coolest feeling when we played our songs on stage for the first time. We had mastered our specific musical parts, but when we put all our instruments together, we made unbelievable music. I was hooked on this music thing! Read more...

 


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Scituate musician awarded Malcolm W. Rowell Scholarship

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Emma Dwyer

"When I first started playing clarinet in fourth grade, I quickly realized that practicing my instrument yielded an improvement in my playing. I was able to experience a sense of achievement, which motivated me to want to improve myself. Essentially, music taught me what it's like to work hard and experience the benefits of it." Emma Dwyer

"Making music and art with other humans creates a phenomenal emotional bond that connects us in a completely unique way, and to be able to experience this every day is a true blessing," is my favorite line from an essay, written by student clarinetist Emma Dwyer about how music affected her life.

I hear different variations of this statement from students and faculty members who feel fortunate to share their talent/passion daily, and witness its effect on others. It's remarkable.

This summer, Emma, a recent Scituate High School graduate, received the Malcolm W. Rowell Scholarship, which is awarded each year to an outstanding Summer Music Festival (SMF) musician who has been an SMF participant for at least two years, and intends to pursue a music degree. This scholarship honors Rowell's deep commitment to music education, and his 23 years as SMF Music Director. Emma, who has been an integral part of SMF for five years, leaves for Ithaca College in the fall to pursue a degree in music education. Read more...

 


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Music Therapy: It works both ways

Wicked Local

While I'm not a music therapist, I think arts therapy has the potential to create a more inclusive and accepting world. As a piano student at South Shore Conservatory in the fall of 2012, I was approached by Emily Browder Melville, Chair of the Voice Department, about a new ensemble. SSC Community Voices, Too! was a chorus recently established at the Hingham campus. She asked me if I might be interested in accompanying the chorus, and I eagerly answered "yes!" When my mother explained to me, a sheltered 12-year-old at the time, that the chorus would consist of teens and adults with developmental delays, I immediately associated the members with the special needs students at my middle school. Most of them were friendly, but some of them acted out when frustrated and that worried me. As the first day of choir practice approached, I worried that I would feel like an outsider. Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Out of this world with Mozart!

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By Nicholas Palmer South Shore Conservatory

I find it an honor and a great pleasure to conduct the EUS Festival Orchestra, one of the finest orchestras anywhere. It's such a great thrill every year when I have the opportunity to conduct the phenomenal Evenings Under the Stars (EUS) Festival Orchestra for our yearly concert at the Jane Carr Amphitheater at South Shore Conservatory (SSC) in Hingham! There is a tremendous synergy in our concerts that comes from an intangible but clear connection between the audience and the performers. Maybe it's the beautiful setting, maybe it's the great acoustics, maybe it's just being out in nature and listening to great music; whatever it is, it brings people back year after year.

As conductor, I like to program a variety of light classical and popular music each year, in the style of an Arthur Fiedler Boston Pops concert. This season it's Von Suppe and Mozart to start, followed by John Williams and friends in the second half. When possible, we have a soloist with a connection to SSC, and this year is no different. Talented clarinetist and SSC faculty member Peter Bianca soloes on Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A Major, which we are presenting in its entirety. Music on the second half includes some of the best known Sci-Fi movie tunes from blockbusters such as Star Wars 7, E.T., Star Trek, and ends with audience favorites 1812 Overture Finale and, of course, The Stars and Stripes Forever. Read more...


 

Karen Ji takes third place in Steinway Competition

South Shore Conservatory (SSC) congratulates HuiMin Wang's student, Karen Ji of Hingham, for placing third in the Steinway Society of Massachusetts Piano Competition on Saturday, June 24. As a winner,Karen received a cash prize and an opportunity to perform in a winner's concert at M. Steinert & Sons Piano Gallery in Boston on Sunday, June 25.

 

 

 

 

 


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Make your Wednesdays a little wackier in July!

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By Beth MacLeod Largent South Shore Conservatory

What makes it easier this year is that all but one of the performers have already performed at Wacky Wednesdays. They love the venue, they love the families, and the families love them.

With a huge tropical blast of hot air, summer has finally arrived here on the South Shore, and I'm excited for what's coming up next month: Wacky Wednesdays! Running this series of four family-focused concerts is one of the most FUN things I do all year here at South Shore Conservatory. From hand-selecting each performer, to marketing them each by their uniqueness, to running the actual concert, the process is filled with giggles and unfettered joy.

In order to ensure everyone has the best experience possible, we start WAAAAAAAAAAAY back in early September, by recalling what received the biggest "wow" the previous summer. I speak to parents of preschool and school-age children, and ask them what they might like to see. What are they looking for in a performance? What do their children enjoy most? Those answers, always fascinating to me, help guide my decision to choose one performer over another. Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Join us for Community MusicFest!

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By Anne Smith South Shore Conservatory

To celebrate adult learning through the arts, SSC invites everyone to Community MusicFest 2017, on Saturday, June 24 from 4-6 pm in our Jane Carr Amphitheater at One Conservatory Drive. A line-up of lively performances includes solo acts by SSC adult students as well as SSC Community Voices Chorus and an adult percussion ensemble.

When was the last time you learned something new – when you opened yourself up to the excitement of being a beginner? One of the perks of adulthood is that we get to do the things at which we excel. As Director of Community Partnerships at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), no one pushes me to conjugate Latin verbs or play basketball anymore. Jump shots are not a part of my job description and so they have fallen away.

Studies show, though, that learning a new skill, especially through music, is beneficial for us as we age. Active participation in the arts improves cognitive function, builds community, and facilitates self-expression. A year ago, I sat down with my SSC colleagues to discuss how we might increase participation in the arts by those aged 18+. The result of that very fruitful brainstorming meeting was a yearlong strategy to welcome grownups into the SSC community through performances, classes and lessons: our Adult Learning initiative. Read more...


Video: the Drumming Circle in Pembroke

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A community of drumming together at the Pembroke senior center.

PEMBROKE - Ed Sorrentino of the South Shore Conservatory of Music in Hingham led his second drumming circle program at the Pembroke Council on Aging Wednesday. It was fun and impressive to see how good he is at bringing out the sense of rhythm in people and how much the seniors enjoyed themselves. There were 11 people at the circle, and Ed brought a variety of drums and hand percussion instruments and led the beat. He was very encouraging; there was no wrong way to play and you couldn't really make a mistake. Drumming Circles are supposed to be full of laughter, creativity and spontaneity and this one was. "We have fun," Stella McCauley, 78, of Pembroke said after the one-hour session. The two programs were made possible by a grant from the state and Old Colony Elder Services. Anna Seery, director of the council on aging, is hoping to find funding to present the program again. View video...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Supporting jazz, rock, pop students

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By Elaine Sorrentino South Shore Conservatory

South Shore Conservatory's JRP Spotlight Festival, on June 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. at One Conservatory Drive, marks the unofficial beginning of SSC's summer concert season and is a really fun take in. Please join us for this free event. A few years ago, the South Shore Conservatory (SSC) Jazz/Rock/Pop (JRP) Department co-chairs found themselves in a quandary when asked why their department, unlike other SSC departments, didn't run an annual department-wide competition. After much thought, they realized that, due to its improvisational nature, they didn't believe jazz, rock and pop music could be measured with the same yardstick used in genres such as classical music. Personal expression in improvisation is so intensely unique, they felt it would be impossible to objectively determine winners and non-winners.

The JRP Department decided, instead, to establish the JRP Spotlight Festival, an annual end-of-year event to celebrate their students' achievements in performance, and provide valuable feedback. Now in its fifth year, this June festival, held in SSC's Jane Carr Amphitheater, offers a public platform for student soloists, duos and rock bands to share their talents with the audience and show their artistic growth. Read more...


South Shore Conservatory Student Pianist Chosen as Finalist in Fidelity Competiton

Mark Goodman and Jenny Boyd

HULL, HINGHAM and DUXBURY, MA Issued May 15, 2017… South Shore Conservatory congratulates SSC pianist Jennifer Boyd of Hull who was chosen as one of 20 statewide finalists in Fidelity's Young Artists Competition. As a finalist, Jennifer auditioned at Symphony Hall in April, which, according to Jennifer, was a dream come true. "I was really excited to play in the hall," she explains. "I played on the nicest pianos I've ever played on. It sounded like glass."

A student of SSC piano instructor Mark Goodman, Jennifer was chosen to compete after the Fidelity judges heard her audition tape of Ravel's Piano Concerto #1, which she had posted on YouTube. Winners of the competition are invited to perform with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in June. Jennifer, who started playing piano in the third grade, has competed and taken home first place awards in many SSC competitions before, including placing first in Concerto Competition and Piano Solo Competition. Outside of SSC, she took grand prize in the Talented Young Musician Association's 13th Annual Russian Music Competition. This Fidelity Competition, for high school musicians throughout the state, is the most prestigious competition she has entered yet. "I did not expect to become a finalist," says Jennifer, who said she was so thoroughly prepared for her Symphony Hall performance that she was not nervous when it came time to play. "It was just me and the music."

In addition to being the accompanist for SSC Community Voices, Too!, South Shore Conservatory's chorus for developmentally delayed adults, Jennifer, a junior at Notre Dame Academy in Hingham, plays piano in an SSC trio that has won awards in SSC's Concerto Competition. In addition, she loves to write poetry. Jennifer says she was grateful to her instructor for having been so incredibly supportive throughout the lengthy process, helping her record, preparing her concerto piece, and accompanying her to the competition. Although Goodman was not allowed to sit in on her audition, he could listen to her performance outside the hall. When she finished her piece, Goodman assured her, "Great job. It sounded beautiful." Twenty-four hours after she played, she learned that she was not chosen to perform with the BSO. "That's okay," she said, "I did not expect to win." She was just delighted to have the opportunity to perform in the hall she has pictured in a poster on her wall. "That image is how I kick start my day."


CONSERVATORY NOTES: World-class piano camp this summer

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By Jonathan Roberts South Shore Conservatory

The camp faculty includes some of SSC's own incredible piano department faculty members, plus five world-class pianist/educators from around the country. Together, they will undoubtedly provide an unforgettable week for the camp students. As much as I love the piano, I know it can be a very lonely instrument. Young pianists don't often have the social opportunities and camaraderie that string, voice, and wind students have with orchestra, chorus, and band class. It is with this in mind, I am so excited to direct South Shore Conservatory's first-ever summer piano camp. The SSC Hingham campus is a wonderful outdoor setting for summer programs, and with many pianos in the building, along with a piano in the outdoor amphitheater in the summer, this is the perfect location for a world-class piano camp.

SSC Piano Camp is open to students of all levels (even very beginning), from ages 5-18. Classes include many diverse age-appropriate activities such as keyboard/rhythm games, masterclasses, piano ensemble (duets and six-hand piano), improvisation, technology, music theory, and more. Each day ends with a fun, casual student recital in the amphitheater, where the students can show off what they have learned. The camp faculty includes some of SSC's own incredible piano department faculty members, plus five world-class pianist/educators from around the country. Together, they will undoubtedly provide an unforgettable week for the camp students. Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Building a foundation through music

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By Jana Kahn South Shore Conservatory

Music is powerful. It connects us with others, touches our hearts, makes us move and dance, and make us feel happy or sad. Music can remind us of old times, lift our spirits and give us hope. I've never met a person who doesn't love it! Children who grow up hearing music, singing songs and moving to the beat create musical memories that last a lifetime. It gives me great pleasure to bring music to families and small children every day. I believe that singing and dancing can be as natural as walking and talking for all of us. Knowing I am encouraging children and grownups to have confidence in their own musicality is both rewarding and empowering.

I am proud to have given my own children a strong foundation of music through participation in early childhood music programs. Their desire to play an instrument, dance and sing is organic. It has been an amazing journey watching them grow musically. One leans toward alternative music, the other likes more current stuff, and they both enjoy reggae – who knew?

I thought involvement in music for my children was going to entail years of nagging them to practice an instrument, but because they made a meaningful connection to music early, on they are pulled to immerse themselves in the arts. Who knew one would become serious about Irish step dancing and the other would be drawn to the piano? We never know what the future holds musically for our children; all we can do is expose them to it and allow them to find their own path.

As a Music Together teacher at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), I feel that exposure to music is important for young children for a number of different reasons. Not only can it help with learning in general, but I've seen how it also builds confidence in kids. Participation in musical programs can be a great place to meet to friends. Elementary school children are still expected to sing and perform in school concerts – in fifth and sixth grade it is mandatory to participate in chorus or learn to play an instrument. Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Student says goodbye after 11 years

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By Dalton Letorney South Shore Conservatory

More than 11 years ago, I arrived at South Shore Conservatory (SSC) to take Suzuki piano lessons to help with my childhood anxiety. My grandmother had discovered research about anxiety-relieving effects in making and listening to music, and she wished such relief for me, so she suggested that I pursue piano lessons. Since I first set foot on campus, SSC has become my second home.

I recall the thrill of playing a complete song that first day, one of the huge benefits of the Suzuki method, a process in which one learns music by ear. I stayed with my first teacher until he retired, and was concerned about changing teachers until I met piano instructor Eric Lane who truly changed my life. He encouraged me to listen to styles of music other than classical, such as pop and rock. He also gave me lessons in music theory, taught me songwriting, chords and their variations, lyric-writing, and a whole lot of improvisation, and his incredible teaching inspired me to arrange and compose my own music. Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Time to explore our summer programs

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By Lorna Jane Norris South Shore Conservatory

Our beautiful campuses have a vibrant energy during the summer months, and are jam packed with professional performances and a different arts camp every week. I grew up in small rural village, in the west of England, called Cheddar. Yes, where the cheese is from! It was as idyllic as it sounds. I longed for the six weeks of summer holidays, when the daily structure and pressure of the school year gave way to long sunny days in the beautiful British countryside. During the school year my days were packed with homework, play rehearsals, choir rehearsals, piano, voice and flute lessons. There was never enough time for me to learn that Debussy prelude my father loved, or sing the Vaughan Williams song my grandmother requested every time I saw her. Summer was my opportunity to explore. It allowed more time to practice without the pressure of other commitments, and as a consequence, my playing always moved to the next level. Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Honoring our graduating seniors

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By Sarah Troxler South Shore Conservatory

The Graduating Seniors Recital is an opportunity to recognize our students for their accomplishments as musicians, their hard work and creativity, and to celebrate their journey. In the spring, we are used to seeing signs peppering the lawns of proud families: "Home of a 2017 Grad!" This sight comes hand in hand with the flourish of spring. Warm, sunny weather, budding flowers dotting the fields, and the excitement that comes with the newness of the season and the close of the school year. For high school seniors, this feeling is amplified tenfold. They are preparing to usher in a new era of life, armed with all they have experienced and learned in their first 18 years.

At South Shore Conservatory (SSC), our high school seniors are very dear to us. Many of them have been in our community for eight, nine, ten years or more -- much longer than I myself have been on faculty. They have literally grown up in our community, many of them studying with the same teacher for that period of time. They have taken advantage of the wide range of offerings we have -- from private instrument lessons, to group classes and ensembles, summer programs, performance opportunities. Even seniors who have joined SSC in more recent years have done so because they have taken an extra step to reach beyond themselves and try something new, hone a skill, or become immersed in artistic endeavors. Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Balancing the scales with music and school

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By Eve Montague South Shore Conservatory

We invite music students and their parents/caregivers to join us on Saturday, April 29 for a conversation and Q & A with Liz about "making it" in music school and balancing performance with life. It's been over 35 years and I still remember both the joy and uncertainty I felt when I decided to go to music school. The journey was interesting and full of questions, discovery, and more than my share of worry. To this day, I'm not sure if I chose music or music chose me, but I do know I have had a great career as a music therapist.

The music career path, however, is tricky. Competition, capped admissions, choosing correctly for self, and being realistic about costs and programming all add up to anxiety and questions. We all know the way to get to Carnegie Hall is to practice, practice, practice, BUT, does that mean we give up everything else? Everyday I hear about the pressures of balancing practice and performance with the rest of high school life. I see the worry in parents' eyes as they talk about their child "getting in" to the preferred school, and I hear the anxiety in student voices and instruments.

At South Shore Conservatory (SSC), the Creative Arts Therapies (CAT) department is committed to wellness. We know that engagement in structured community-based arts programs has the power to increase feelings of well being. Why then, are so many of our students anxious even though they are engaged in arts programs? The competitive nature of getting in to the right school, understanding the dynamics of the ensembles, and needing to get everything "perfect" contributes to the music student's stress. Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Making case for importance of the arts in Massachusetts

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By Michael Busack Hingham Journal

Because we see the crucial need for and the incredible impact of the arts every day, talking to our legislators is something we in the arts are familiar with doing. For many American arts organizations, 2017 is a time of some trepidation and uncertainty. The new administration looks to cut federal arts and culture funding, which supports hundreds of causes across the country.

On March 28, more than 600 Massachusetts arts administrators, students, educators and patrons joined together for MASSCreative's Arts Matter Advocacy Day to support and build awareness for the need for state funding for the arts. The group gathered at Emerson College's Paramount Theater to share storytelling and advocacy skills before marching through the Boston Common to the State House to meet with legislators to advocate for arts issues and funding. Standing in a theater full of people was simultaneously emotional and empowering. A bit like a family reunion, we were side-by-side with many familiar faces who have been touched by the arts. A lot of us have dedicated our lives and careers to arts organizations and causes. We filled the room with raucous oratory, moving performance, a lot of hugs, and a few tears. Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Power of yoga for those with disabilities

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By Gita Brown South Shore Conservatory

I silently cheer as my high-school student raises his knee towards his chest into his favorite yoga pose. As I tell him to draw his hand towards his knee, he strongly exhales as a bead of sweat pops out on his forehead. Like any high school athlete, Declan goes after his practice with enthusiasm and grit. Unlike many high school athletes, Declan is an individual with Cerebral Palsy, which affects body movement, muscle control and coordination. Declan spends his school day in a wheelchair, but when it's time for yoga he gets out of his chair and stretches on the mat. He gives me a huge grin once his hand touches his knee. I help stabilize his leg, and as a full minute passes, he works to bring both hands together, resulting in another triumphant grin as his brown eyes sparkle.

What most of us take for granted, reaching with our hands or lifting a leg, represents an extraordinary volume of work for Declan. Working patiently together, we sometimes take a full five minutes to follow all the steps to get into a yoga pose. He's been my Yoga for the Special Child student for the past year, during which time he's developed a strong link between his body and mind, improved his breathing patterns, built strength and mental focus. His mother Kerri reports that Declan "gets so excited for his yoga classes. I love how it teaches him body awareness from the inside out so he can feel confident." Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Great reason to get up early this summer

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By Eric Laprade South Shore Conservatory

Some of my closest friends and most important mentors are from Summer Music Festival; I consider them family. Each year, SMF challenges me to be a better musician, a better teacher, and a better human being. There is nothing better.

Sixteen years ago, my high school music teacher told me I had to wake up at 5:30 a..m every day for two weeks in the summer and drive more than an hour to attend South Shore Conservatory's Summer Music Festival (SMF). At the time I didn't even know where Hingham was! Sixteen years later, not only have I been a student at the festival, but also the SMF tuba instructor, chamber music coach, conductor, and I now serve as SMF Music Director.

Over these 16 years, I've lived in three different states, taught for five years in the Randolph Public Schools, earned two college degrees, and am about to finish a third. The one consistent part of every summer, and the thing I look forward to every summer, is Summer Music Festival. In retrospect, I'm glad I listened to Mr. Watson. Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Range of summer programs offered

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Each summer our buildings and amphitheater are filled with music from student groups including our Flute Symphony musicians, Summer Music Festival wind and jazz ensembles, American Music Camp for Strings fiddlers and string players, Summer Vocal Institute school aged vocalists, young Curtain Going Up camp thespians, Jazz/Rock/Pop Camp rock bands jamming away on the amphitheater stage.

By Su D'Ambrosio

As I shovel the foot of snow out of my driveway, it is hard to believe summer is just around the corner. Despite the snow, I have been enjoying the extra early evening daylight, and am starting to make plans for spring cleanup projects around my yard and house. My dog Bernie is eager for me to pull the deck chairs out of my shed and set-up my hummingbird feeder so he can nap all day in the sun. Clearly it's time to start thinking about how to keep kids occupied during summer vacation.

When I was growing up in a suburb of Boston, my friends and I were left to our own devices to find things to do in the summer. We were told to play outside and not come back until dinner. We played kickball games in the street and spent hours on the playground, but my favorite activities were those that involved singing, dancing, acting and visual art. We would put on shows for each other, blast the radio or 8-track tape player, dance and sing along, and make colorful papier-mâché piñatas full of candy to smash open. I remember setting up chairs and making tickets for our moms and dads to see our latest production. It was a lot like The Little Rascals, complete with homemade costumes and sets. Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Life lessons for teens through rock band

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If you ever get the chance to observe an ensemble rehearsal, look in and you will see the most amazing thing: teens working together toward the common goal of making something beautiful happen. When I talk to my friends about qualities they would like to see in their teens, I often hear things such as "responsible," "confident," "strong work ethic," "joyful," and, of course, "communicative." While I'm not sure there are too many activities that can inspire a teen to become chatty with their parents, music and the arts can strengthen all of the others and more.

If you ever get the chance to observe an ensemble rehearsal, look in and you will see the most amazing thing: teens working together toward the common goal of making something beautiful happen. Well, at first it might seem like cacophony, but over time the sounds do come together to blend in harmony. Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: American Music Camp for strings offered

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By Amanda Roberts South Shore Conservatory

It is hard to explain the unique American Music Camp experience in words, so we are offering a FREE preview of the camp to anyone looking to try it out! The AMC Preview event is Saturday, March 11 from 3-6 p.m. in Hingham. As each year seems to fly by faster than the last, I always look forward to the warm months of summer, when we get to enjoy all of the outdoor events that take place in the Jane Carr Amphitheater at South Shore Conservatory. Cold winter months, however, signify impending summer fun, as summer planning is in full swing this time of year. For me, this means planning the next American Music Camp (AMC) for Strings! AMC for Strings began at the conservatory in the summer of 2015 when I had the vision of bringing a diverse string camp to South Shore Conservatory. The goal was to provide students with fun classes and creative opportunities that would boost their playing skills, introduce them to new musical styles, improvisational skills, various techniques for their instruments, all of which help them enjoy creating and sharing music with each other. The 2015 inaugural camp was such a great success that the faculty and majority of student campers returned for our 2016 camp. Read more...


CONSERVATORY NOTES: Help on path to pursuing your dreams

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On that drive home I realized that the conservatory provides loads of opportunities for arts enthusiasts of all ages to follow their passion. Our goal is to fuel that passion with opportunities to experiment in the arts and test the waters. I took my mother to see "La La Land" at the theater the other day, and although I didn't know much about the premise of the movie beforehand, I knew it had a song and dance component my mother would adore, and Emma Stone whose acting I adore. We were not disappointed. From the beginning traffic jam number, where everyone leaps from their car for dance gymnastics, through the final, more subdued jazz piano performance, it was pure entertainment. For those of you who have not seen it, "La La Land" is about going after your passion and your dreams, the road you take to get there, and what you might need to sacrifice along the way. Read more...


Weymouth musician wins Talented Young Musician competition

Wicked Local, Weymouth

South Shore Conservatory piano student Julia Blackwood, of Weymouth, was recently awarded grand prize in her age division of the Talented Young Musician Association's 13th annual Russian Music Competition held in Boston. After being raised her first 11 years in Japan, Julia moved to the United States in 2012. She began studying piano at age 4, and has continued her studies with SSC piano instructor HuiMin Wang since 2015. Julia is a sophomore at Weymouth High School, enjoys participating and being an audience member to a variety of the arts, including visual arts and classical ballet. As a winner, Julia performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City in December. For information about SSC competitions and programs: sscmusic.org. Read more...


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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...