World-Class Piano Camp comes to SSC

SSC Piano campBy Jonathan Roberts 

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 (SSC) 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.

Lauren Whittaker, one of our SSC Suzuki piano teachers and a Piano FUNdamentals instructor, has done amazing work with the youngest students of our department, both in her teaching and building community among the students. I am thrilled that Lauren will be a member of our camp faculty.

Co-chair of SSC’s Jazz/Rock/Pop department, Ed Broms has one of the largest and most diverse piano studios at the Conservatory, and I am very excited that he will be teaching at our first piano camp. Ed will be sharing his talents through improvisation, songwriting, ear training, and more over the course of the camp week.

Julie Knerr is co-author of the new, incredibly popular Piano Safari piano method. Her extensive work in the development of musicianship and proper piano technique in young piano students has had a major impact on a generation of piano teachers.

A leader in music learning theory, Marilyn Lowe is the creator of the Music Moves for Piano series, which helps the youngest piano students learn music in the same manner they learn language.

Irina Gorin is one of the most established pedagogues for children in the United States and beyond. In addition, Irina contributes to the enrichment of piano teachers, regularly conducting workshops and masterclasses. In fact, she will be conducting a teacher workshop at SSC the weekend following piano camp! Irina is the creator of the “Tales of a Musical Journey” series, which is the culmination of her vast education and teaching experience.

Mario Ajero is professor of piano at Stephen F. Austin State University, and is internationally recognized as an authority in music technology in piano pedagogy and music education. Dr. Ajero has a YouTube channel with over 16,000 followers and hosts “The Piano Podcast with Mario Ajero.”

World-class pianist Zsolt Bognár has traveled as recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. In addition, he is the host of the growing online film series, “Living the Classical Life,” highlighting the world, work and process of today’s most famous performers and musical personalities.

I have always believed that to provide an extraordinary educational experience in music, one must find the most extraordinary musicians and educators. I am confident and excited that the first SSC Piano Camp will be just that – a world-class, fun-filled experience for the South Shore and beyond.

SSC Piano Camp runs August 14-18 at South Shore Conservatory, One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  Students may register online at, or at 781-749-7565, ext. 10.

Jonathan Roberts is the chair of South Shore Conservatory’s piano department.

Meet Irina Gorin from SSC Piano Camp

Irina Gorin Headshot 4We are delighted to introduce you to one of our new SSC Piano Camp faculty members Irina Gorin.  How lucky are we to have her here this summer?

Irina, born in Kiev, Ukraine, studied at Kiev Music College and Kharkov Conservatory. She holds Masters Degrees in Piano Performance, Piano Pedagogy, Chamber Ensemble, and Accompaniment.

Over the last 30 years, Mrs. Gorin has established a reputation as one of the most prominent pedagogues for children in the United States and beyond.  Gorin Piano Studio’s graduates continue their musical education in Universities and Conservatories throughout the United States, pursuing diplomas in Performance, Pedagogy, and Music Education.  She also contributes to the enrichment of piano teachers by regularly conducting workshops and master classes. Mrs. Gorin is often sought after as a judge for local and national piano competitions.

In order to showcase the talent of young pianists, she founded and served as President of the Carmel Klavier International Piano Competition, which has welcomed competitors from all over the world since 2014.

“Tales of a Musical Journey” is the culmination of her vast education and teaching experience.  The series uniquely blends Russian and American teaching methods to prepare beginning piano students for a classical repertoire.  Translated into seven languages with more coming, thousands of copies of this publication have been sold in more than 50 countries.

SSC Piano Camp runs August 14-18 at South Shore Conservatory’s Hingham campus. learn more about the other SSC Piano Camp faculty members at visit


Making our case for the importance of the arts in Massachusetts

Arts Advocacy DayBy Michael Busack
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.

Looking around the Paramount, I was struck by the reality that the arts contribution to our communities is enormous. In a community with a vibrant arts scene, citizens have an accessible way to communicate with one another, across barriers of culture, race, class, and education level. It’s both how we process the complex world around us, and how we project our emotions and ideals to the larger society. The arts reflect societal trends and shapes them.

When you live in a community, such as ours, where the arts are valued, your students have access to stronger and balanced educations. Underserved populations in these areas have greater opportunities for positive and uplifting experiences and social connections. And even more important to those focused in the bottom line, the arts have a very significant economic impact on our communities.

According to the Arts and Economic Prosperity IV research report (widely considered the most comprehensive study on the American nonprofit arts and culture industry) America’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $135.2 billion in economic activity every year.  The breakdown is $61.1 billion in spending by organizations, and $74.1 billion in event-related spending by audiences. In addition, the industry supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue. In my book, that’s a substantial impact on our economy!

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. At South Shore Conservatory we see the impact in the student with cerebral palsy who now has channels to communicate better with his family and world around him because of his music therapy. We see it in the student who receives full financial aid to provide access to an arts education that will allow her to attend the college of her dreams and become a future leader in our society. And we see it when we gather together, republicans and democrats, black and white, young and old, gay and straight, to share in the joy of a concert. For that short moment the barriers that divide us are down and we are far more similar than different.

We hope that those who recognize the importance of the arts in our everyday lives, help keep this conversation going.  In my view, music and the arts are not a want to have, but a need to have. To learn more about how you can help ensure the arts stay in Massachusetts, visit

Michael Busack is South Shore Conservatory’s Senior Director of External Affairs.

Honoring our Graduating Seniors

South Shore Conservency Gala, January 28, 2017.

By Sarah Troxler
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.

Max Nakashima, a Cohasset senior who has been taking lessons at the Conservatory for nine years, studies percussion with Ed Sorrentino.  Max told me, “Without a doubt my time with the Conservatory has shaped my character and helped me grow not only as a musician but as a person. I know my life would not be the same if it were not for the Conservatory.”

On May 5, we celebrate our SSC seniors with an annual Graduating Seniors Recital.  Every year, seniors gather and are recognized for their time here, and present a special performance of their choice.  This year, 15 seniors will perform for their families, friends, SSC faculty and staff members who have had the privilege of watching these students grow up.  My role at SSC gives me a unique interaction with students, allowing me to work with those who study a variety of instruments and styles, as I serve as piano accompanist, and organize many student performances and events.  This senior recital is particularly special, because it is the last significant event many of them will take part in at SSC.  I know many of them personally because of their years of participation in all that SSC has to offer.
“SSC has shown me how to use music to discover who I am, express myself, inspire others, and celebrate life,” says Dalton Letorney who has been part of SSC’s community for eleven years, and studies voice with Lorna Jane Norris.  “No matter my future, music will guide me, ground me, and serve as the perfect medium with which I can share stories, emotions, and love with every listener.”

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.  These students are singers, pianists, cellists, guitarists, drummers.  But they are also artists, caretakers, political enthusiasts, actors, writers, activists, leaders, and so much more.  We would like to take credit and say we helped make them who they are, but the larger reality is that these students have made the community at South Shore Conservatory who we are.

Join us Friday, May 5, 7 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham to celebrate these talented seniors in performance.  The concert is free and open to the public. In addition to Dalton and Max, students performing include Nick Alessi, Katherine Bynarowicz, Sarah Calame, Maeve Chapman, Francesca Corrado, Brigie Driscoll, Julianna Fenton, Will Figler, Noah Goodman, Christian Koomey, Jewel McCauliffe, Sebastian Ramirez, and Kate Sullivan.

Meet Disco Deer


One of the perks of working at South Shore Conservatory is seeing the variety of art exhibits that come and go throughout the year.  This new exhibit includes tile work by local artist Stephen Jiranek, who happens to be part of the SSC family already.  Disco Deer (above) is one of his many creations, and it has people smiling on their way up to his full exhibit on the second floor of the Hingham campus.  This gallery is called the Robert & Dorothy Palmer Gallery.

On the first floor we have the mixed media art of Shannon McDonald.  Her cut up portraits are spellbinding.

Check us out at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Saturday, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm and during scheduled concerts. There is no admission charge.

Balancing Your Scales: Your Music and School

Liz Baileyby Eve Montague
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 wellbeing.  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.

Many of SSC’s dedicated faculty members have expressed concern about their students, and have asked for support for them and their families.  Our CAT department supports the concept that wellness is a lifelong process of becoming aware and making choices toward a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Given the importance of wellness to SSC, how fortunate are we to find that music counselor Liz Bailey resides in our own backyard?  Liz is a musician, former counselor with Berklee School of Music, and a licensed mental health counselor, with her own private practice right here in Hingham.  She has the experience to help music students manage their stress, find balance, and problem-solve.  Her wealth of experience also includes helping students navigate the stressors regarding getting into music schools, and helping parents understand more fully all the process requires of their children.

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.  Start, or continue your wellness journey by looking at strategies to keep stress and anxiety manageable as you navigate the world of music schools.

Balancing Your Scales: Your Music and School (and maybe you’re preparing for college!) with counselor Liz Bailey is Saturday, April 29, from 2:00-3:30 pm at South Shore Conservatory, One Conservatory Drive, Hingham.  There is no cost for this event; however, we ask attendees to RSVP to Eve Montague, Director, Creative Arts Therapies, at or 781-934-2731, x20 by April 27 to reserve your spot.

To learn more about SSC’s Creative Arts Therapies department, visit

Eve Montague, MT-BC, is South Shore Conservatory’s Director of Creative Arts Therapies. 


Sunday, April 23 features sweet music and savory fare

Chris rathbun
Attention jazz lovers!
You are invited to join South Shore Conservatory’s SSC Jazz Quartet on Sunday, April 23, at 11 am, for a feast for the senses, featuring relaxed melodies and light tones of cool jazz, and a fabulous array of savory and sweet brunch items from Ellen Mackenzie Catering. The buffet includes peach French toast, broccoli/cheese/sausage/pepper quiche, hash brown casserole, and classic crispy bacon.

Families and friends are invited to sit together and chat during the buffet brunch, or simply use the moment to appreciate live music.

The SSC Jazz Quartet is comprised of Elan Mehler on piano, Chris Rathbun on bass, Trevor Kellum on saxophone, and Ed Sorrentino on drums.

South Shore Conservatory is located at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.

For tickets, contact Beth MacLeod Largent at or at
781-749-7565, ext.20.

One great reason to get up early in the summer

SMF 2016 clarinets

By Eric Laprade
Sixteen years ago, my high school music teacher told me I had to wake up at 5:30 am 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.

Summer Music Festival changed my life.  This statement isn’t cliché, it is a fact.  It inspired me to pursue a career in music.  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.

For me, there are three things that truly define the Summer Music Festival experience. First and foremost, the people.  Collaborative music-making is a human art.  What makes the experience so special is the opportunity to create art, in the moment, with other people who share the same passion and excitement for music-making.  What we create is greater than any one of us individually. Each year, SMF attracts approximately 100 students from over 35 different Southeastern-Massachusetts schools.  These students exude talent, tenacity, dedication, and enthusiasm.  What they accomplish during the festival is nothing short of incredible. Along the same lines, SMF maintains a faculty of 14 world-class musician-educators; many are alumni of the festival.  They are first-rate artists and master educators and empower students to reach goals beyond what they perceive as attainable.  The SMF family, for over 40 summers, has created a culture of musical excellence and a legacy of music making of the highest caliber

Second, is that how and why we make music at Summer Musical Festival is unique.  “Every child is an artist.”  At Summer Music Festival, every student is a creative artist.   In an education system dominated by standardized testing and a right vs. wrong mentality, the SMF environment empowers students to think and act creatively, to ask questions, to take risks, and to be themselves.

Finally, the environment defines the SMF experience.  South Shore Conservatory’s Hingham campus is truly the Tanglewood of the east.  Every summer, I get just as excited as I drive up the driveway.  The facilities at the SSC Hingham campus, with its outdoor state-of-the-art amphitheater, are second to none. The opportunity to create music in such a beautiful environment, surrounded by nature, is transformative to our music-making.

Summer Music Festival 2017 runs July 6-21, 2017.  We have programs for woodwind, brass, and percussion students in elementary school through college.  The festival features concert band, jazz ensemble, chamber music and opportunities.  Interested students should visit or for more information.


Life Lessons for Teens through Rock Band

Rock Band 2016
By Su D’Ambrosio
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.  You can even see the elusive skill of communication developing, especially if you have the opportunity to sit in on a small group rehearsal like a quartet or even a rock band.  In those rehearsals you see students using eye contact and body language to let each other know when to start or when a solo is about to wrap up.  Sometimes, during a performance, players can get a piece that has gone astray back on track without anyone in the audience knowing, simply by using physical cues.

When it comes to rock bands in particular, this type of collaboration might come as a surprise. Stereotypically, a “rock star” can appear conceited and self-absorbed.  There can be a bit of a cutthroat dynamic in the entertainment world, with one group trying to out-perform another.  At South Shore Conservatory (SSC) we work hard with students to make sure this is not the case for them.

Two of my favorite teen events are Open Mic Night and Middle School Monster Jam.  At these events I see student musicians cheering each other on, encouraging each other as they perform and take risks on the stage.  Each band and performer has something special to offer in this community of like-minded teens.  It is a fun and safe environment for making music and making new friends.  I also enjoy seeing our resident rock bands, such as Toast, No Bueno and Lights in the Basement, develop a following and becoming leaders in this community.  At the last event I attended, I saw students take the stage with their peers, work together to produce a fantastic product, then become part of the audience to support the next group of performers.  There was a true sense of community for these students.  Parents were there as well, participating in the moment and sharing their pride in and love for their kids.

Many of these students started out with programs such as April Vacation Rock Camp happening at our Duxbury campus next month, or Jazz/Rock/Pop Summer Camp in Hingham this August.  These kinds of programs bring students together from many towns across the south shore and help them connect with other teens interested in exploring rock and pop music.  Faculty member Erik Caldarone coordinates these camps and makes sure that everyone has a great time and opportunities to grow as a musician and young person.

To learn more about April Vacation Rock Camp and other music opportunities for teens, visit or visit South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Su D’Ambrosio is Director of Programs and Curriculum for South Shore Conservatory.  She lives in Plymouth with her daughters Maria and Rosa and her dog Bernie who jams with his doggie friends in his band: The Rolling Bones.

Take a free coffee break with the Stardust Trio tomorrow

amanda and jonathan roberts
Looking for a relaxing break from your normal humdrum Tuesday morning?

Join South Shore Conservatory for an hour of music by the Stardust Duo. This classically-trained husband/wife team, Jonathan and Amanda Roberts, presents virtuoso classical works, often influenced by popular styles, such as jazz, pop, and fiddling. At this interactive concert experience, audiences will hear anything from George Gershwin or Astor Piazzolla, to standards from the Great American Songbook.

This piano and violin concert is offered free-of-charge, thanks to series sponsor The Village at Duxbury.  After the performance audience members can stay, meet the performers and enjoy complimentary coffee, tea and breakfast treats.

The concert is Tuesday, March 28, 11 am at 64 St. George Street in Duxbury.  To guarantee yourself a spot, call Anne Smith at 781-934-2731, ext. 21.  Enjoy the concert!