Creating a safe environment for vocal exploration

YouthChorus_FallConcert_0039By Peter Mundt
I believe I was in late elementary school when I discovered The Beatles among my parents record collection. It was life-changing.  This music was drastically different from the type of music I was hearing in school, and I just couldn’t get enough of it.  Before long I found myself wanting to do more than just listen to the music.  I wanted to play it.  So, I picked up my mother’s guitar and never looked back.

My teenage years were spent playing in garage bands and going out to hear live original music performed by other groups in the Binghamton/Ithaca area, which had a vibrant local music scene, of which I was happy to be a part.  Unfortunately, at the same time, music I was learning in school seemed boring and disconnected from the joy I was experiencing with making music.  I hoped to change this someday.

With this history, how ironic is it that I ended up becoming an elementary school general music/chorus teacher in a public school system? Now teaching in the Scituate school system, I have experienced great success in engaging my students. No boring music for my students! I attribute much of my success as an educator to the effort I make to not repeat the way music was presented to me in school.

My teaching philosophy is that there is a fun way to teach just about anything!  Kids deserve to be taught real music – from folk, jazz, rock, blues and classical repertoire.  I find that many of the songs and chorale arrangements written for young people are so uninspiring that they turn kids off.  This is why I dedicate so much time listening to music and arranging it myself.  I want all my students in Scituate and in South Shore Conservatory’s SSC Youth Chorus, which I conduct, to love what they’re singing. This year, the chorus sang familiar tunes such as ‘Viva La Vida,’ ‘Joy to the World,’ ‘Summer Breeze,’ ‘Happy,’ Walking in the Air,’ and ‘Don’t Stop Believin,’’ and they loved it.

In addition to fun music, I also enjoy providing my students with musical challenges.  I’m happiest when my students are excited about what they are working on, even to the point where they may feel a bit nervous.  Often their voice trembles as they step out of their comfort zone for the first time, but I can feel their excitement and know we’re in new, fertile territory.  It may be when students lock into a new harmony or sing a solo.  They experience an indescribable joy from this new awareness, which requires persistence, risk, and prior failed attempts.  It changes everybody forever!

Chorus can do this, and it’s the main reason I teach. In South Shore Conservatory Youth Chorus (SSCYC), students throughout the South Shore have the opportunity to thrive in a safe environment with other students who love to sing.  They learn the fundamentals of proper vocal production and singing in harmony.   They are encouraged to try out solo opportunities and special performance collaborations with other SSC departments (such as singing with the SSC Youth Orchestra).  It is my hope that students feel safe enough to step outside their comfort zone and come away loving to sing even more than they thought imaginable!

South Shore Conservatory invites singers in grades three through six, who are interested in learning more about SSC Youth Chorus, to participate in the chorus’s first rehearsal, an open rehearsal/pizza party on Monday, September 10, from 5 to 6 pm at SSC’s Duxbury campus at 64 St. George Street in Duxbury. To learn more about SSC Youth Chorus, visit

SSC Youth Chorus conductor Peter Mundt has been with South Shore Conservatory since 2017.


Last week’s JRP Camp was an enormous success!

Last week SSC hosted our annual Jazz/Rock/Pop Summer Camp! From August 6 to August 10, students developed critical musical skills through daily solo and ensemble coachings. In addition to learning about music technology, students also practiced songwriting and improvisation! The End of the Week Concert wrapped up the camp on August 10! The showcase featured an All Camp Band, rock bands and ensembles, solos and small groups, and breakout session demos. We can’t wait for next year’s JRP Camp!

Rosemary Hoitt: Rowell Scholarship Recipient

Rosemary HoittBy Elaine Sorrentino

“I was asked by an English teacher this year, ‘What is the most beautiful thing you know?’ My response: ‘The moment while performing when it all ties together. The moment you get goosebumps up and down your whole body, and nothing can break the beauty and power of the moment,'” wrote South Shore Conservatory Summer Music Festival (SMF) euphonium player Rosemary Hoitt in a recent essay.

Rosemary’s beautiful words were shared by Summer Music Festival Director Eric Laprade at last week’s final performance, immediately before awarding her the Malcolm W. Rowell Scholarship.  The scholarship, awarded annually to an outstanding SMF musician who has been with the program for at least two years, and intends to pursue a music degree, honors Rowell’s deep commitment to music education, and his 23 years as SMF Music Director.

Recently graduated from Norwell High School, Rosemary, a SMF participant for the past four summers, heads to Ithaca College this fall to pursue her dream of becoming a music educator. “As a music educator, I would not only strive to create these moments, but to mold students into strong individuals with strong mindsets, perseverance, and confidence. These qualities have been instilled in me by my most influential music teachers – notably the wonderful staff at Summer Music Festival – and I want to be able to pass on these lessons that are not only applicable in music but in life as well,” she says.

Eric Laprade said this about Rosemary, “It has been a privilege to work with Rosemary over the past four years, and watch her grow into the wonderful musician and human being she is today. We know she will have a positive impact on the Ithaca College community when she begins her studies this fall, and can’t wait to see all of the great things she does.”

Rosemary told me that SMF has influenced her life dramatically by introducing her to a setting and a culture where expectations were very high for all students, inspiring her to raise her own playing standards. It brought her together with ‘forever teachers and mentors,’ such as Laprade, SMF Jazz Ensemble Conductor Aaron Bush, and SMF Tuba Instructor Chip Halt.  The program has also brought her together with some of her closest friends from all over the area; friends she cherishes deeply.

I also discovered that music is not the only thing that inspires Rosemary. Her proudest non-musical moment was during Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild’s festival competition preliminary round last year, at the Duxbury Performing Arts Center, when she performed a “giant monologue” from SubUrbia.  Rosemary had never performed it in front of an audience before, and didn’t know what to expect. The crowd went wild after her monologue, which filled her with great joy.

Having been involved in a number of ensembles and festival, she has a hard time deciding what her favorite musical experience has been. “It comes down to either the final performance of Crown Imperial during my Italy tour with NEC’s Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble this past February, or this past week when Mr. Rowell paid me a complement on a solo I had in a piece at SMF. Playing in a beautiful concert hall overseas was an amazing experience, but what was even more impactful was that a man with such a passion and influence for music came to me directly to pay a complement and to give advice.”

Learn more about SSC programs, including Summer Music Festival at, call 781-749-7565, ext. 10, or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Elaine Sorrentino is South Shore Conservatory’s Communications Director.

Dancing for Change

Kaityn Mazzilli - adaptive dance

By Kaitlyn Mazzilli
My childhood bedroom did not have beautiful hardwood floors or a ballet barré. It was a small, carpeted room that transformed the day my older sister hung her mirror in our shared closet. All I needed to do was open the closet door and voilà, I had my very own dance studio. It was magic. I must have listened to Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror a million times while twirling around my bedroom, and I will never forget his message, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.” I could feel a change in myself each time I danced, and decided I was going to embody this message in my life. I was determined to manifest joy through dance, and invite others to change in the world along with me.

My family could not afford dance lessons in my early years, but when my sister was the stage manager at Weymouth High School, she brought me along to drama rehearsals. I fell in love with the world of performing arts, and started singing and dancing in summer musical reviews. I met dancer Jeanne Cheverie Norton who invited me to come dance with her at Center Stage Dance Studio.  She even created a payment plan so my family could afford it.

My first dance class took place at age 12.  I was beyond excited! I could not wait to start training to make my dance dreams a reality. At my first class however, I realized that many of the other students had been taking lessons since they were three years old, and I had a LOT of catching up to do. I worked hard to become a skillful dancing artist, but always felt sad when I saw dancers upset and discouraged when they made mistakes.  My heart broke when I witnessed individuals excluded from dance teams. At this point in my life, I decided I wanted to become a dance/movement therapist to ensure I had the skills necessary to bring the joy of dancing to ALL people, regardless of their age or ability, including those with limited financial resources.

Extensive training is required to become a dance/movement therapist, but I welcomed the challenge. I earned bachelor’s degrees in Theater & Dance and Psychology at Trinity College in 2011, and a master’s degree in dance/movement therapy and mental health counseling at Lesley University in 2014. After more than 3,000 hours in clinical training, I am now a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Registered Dance/Movement Therapist.

I joined South Shore Conservatory’s faculty in 2017 to develop an Adaptive Dance Program in the Creative Arts Therapies Department. After completing the Boston Ballet Adaptive Dance Teacher Training, I felt inspired to bring Adaptive Dance to the South Shore community. Adaptive Dance invites children and teens with and without special needs to dance together in an inclusive, welcoming setting. Students can express themselves freely, dancing to beloved popular music with a range of fun props including rainbow parachutes, ribbons, and scarves. In addition to providing physical exercise and creative expression, Adaptive Dance encourages social skills such as teamwork, friendship, and supports self-esteem. Classes are adapted to meet the individual needs of each student including those with physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down syndrome.

The fall session of Adaptive Dance starts the week of September 10. To learn more about Adaptive Dance visit or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Kaitlyn Mazzilli is a Registered Dance/Movement Therapist, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and South Shore Conservatory’s Adaptive Dance and Drama Teacher.

Debbie and Friends rock Wacky Wednesday!

Yesterday morning Debbie and Friends performed at our third Wacky Wednesday! Youngsters listened attentively to dynamic story-song fusions of favorite fables like Jack and the Beanstalk and The Three Little Pigs. They danced and sang along to the band’s original songs in addition to their fun-filled renditions of If You’re Happy and You Know It, Flying Purple People Eater, and Hokey Pokey!

Don’t miss our last Wacky Wednesday performance on August 1! SSC’s ImagineArts Band will take the stage! During the school year, members of our ImagineARTS Band share their favorite stories and songs with Kindergarteners in Brockton through ImagineARTS, an arts integrated literacy program. SSC invites you to join the ImagineARTS Band in moving, grooving, and crooning along to tunes like See How I’m Jumping, She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain, and Funga Alafia. This concert, great for ages 3-7 years, will conclude with a special presentation of the popular children’s story Pete the Cat and the New Guy.

For more information on our Wacky Wednesday concerts visit our website.

James Montgomery takes the stage

James montgomery

By Michael Busack

Summer is officially in full swing. We’ve just (barely) survived our first heat wave, all the fireworks have fizzled out, and our pools are open for business 24/7.

At South Shore Conservatory (SSC), this time of year is a flurry of world-class performances at locations across the South Shore. I was astounded to realize that this summer, SSC is presenting a whopping 108 performances from Memorial Day through Labor Day, including Evenings Under the Stars (EUS), Wacky Wednesdays, and student camp performances at the Jane Carr Amphitheater at our Hingham campus. This opportunity to participate in so much music and joy is exactly what drew me to SSC two years ago!

In July, I spend each Saturday night at the Jane Carr Amphitheater, enjoying a refreshing beverage and Evenings Under the Stars, our series of eclectic, world-class concerts in a picturesque venue, under the bright summer stars.  I really love this year’s lineup of EUS performances, but the one I’m most personally excited for is our final concert – James Montgomery Blues Band.  This was my suggestion.

Montgomery, a Boston blues legend, has been a fixture on the New England music scene since his rise in the 1970s. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to see Montgomery perform a few different times at venues across the state, and his talent never disappoints. Audience members are always in for a fantastic show.

I first saw Mr. Montgomery when I was a young journalist covering the Boston Music Awards in the fall of 2005. He and his blues band was performing with another music legend, Weepin’ Willie Robinson, who tragically died two years later in a fire. The event included a group of notable performances, among them local legends the Dropkick Murphys, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. However, it was James Montgomery’s command of the crowd with his knockout harmonica playing that really caught my attention. Montgomery had boundless energy, crisscrossing the stage, and interacting with what felt like every audience member.

As SSC Director of Performance Beth MacLeod Largent and I discussed the EUS summer 2018 lineup, and how we hoped it would be a nice mix of up-and-coming artists and regional heavyweights, as well as a journey through musical genres, James Montgomery immediately came to mind. With nearly 50 years on the scene, six albums, and thousands of sold-out shows, Montgomery has set the standard for Boston blues. Beth agreed he’d be a stellar addition to a robust season.

I’m excited to experience Montgomery and his band’s incredible talent again in such a meaningful venue. I feel the same tingles I did almost 15 years ago as a 21-year-old kid.  I’ve put my tickets in my pocket and my lawn chair in my trunk, and hope you do the same.   You’ll be glad you did!

South Shore Conservatory’s Evenings Under the Stars concert series presents James Montgomery Blues Band on Saturday, July 28, 7 pm in the Jane Carr Amphitheater at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  The concert is sponsored by Dorothy Palmer.  Sip!@Summer Spotlight receptions provide entertainment and creative light bites, as well as beverages from Barrelhouse Z prior to the performance. For tickets to the concert and the reception, and for more information, visit

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

Day 1 of our Music Educator Retreat!

DSC_0604Today we hosted day one of our third annual Music Educator Retreat, a conducting symposium for music educators. In attendance were college students aspiring to be educators, music teachers of all levels, and even retired teachers! Educators engaged in insightful conversations about music, music education, and the essence of their craft! Eric M. Laprade, conductor of the Festival Wind Ensemble at our concurring Summer Music Festival, gave a presentation on expressive movement for educators. Pictured to the right is Malcolm W. Rowell, Jr., who was a featured speaker at the event! Another of today’s highlights was a conducting feedback and critique session.  Stay tuned for day two!

Karen K & the Jitterbugs kick off Wacky Wednesdays with a dynamic, fun-filled performance!

On Wednesday, July 11, we kicked off our Wacky Wednesday concert series with a crowd favorite – Karen K & the Jitterbugs! While the audience members were barely as tall as the stage, that didn’t stop them from grooving to fun songs such as “Pancakes for Dinner” and “Fire Truck”! The concert was complete with bubble-blowing and food trucks – Mom on the Go, Sadie Mae’s Cupcake Cafe, and Zack’s Ice Cream Truck all served delicious treats!

For more information on our Wacky Wednesday summer concerts, please visit


DMF launches this Friday, July 13!


Sugar Ray and the Bluetones kick off DMF on Friday, July 13.

We are so excited that the 13th season of SSC’s Duxbury Music Festival (DMF) starts this Friday, July 13, with a Blues Concert featuring Sugar Ray and the Bluetones.   Our own Anthony Geraci plays piano with this award-winning blues band. This year’s highlights include the Festival Overture Concert and Reception (July 15), with a special performance of  A Soldier’s Tale, an All-Bernstein Concert (July 19) celebrating the centenary of the composer’s birth, Beatles on the Green (July 20) and Family Fest (July 21), a wonderful family day that gives the youngest music fans the opportunity to experience and interact with the music! The DMF Winners Concert and Farewell Reception (July 27) is a wonderful evening celebrating the next generation of great musicians, our talented DMF students!

For more information and a full performance schedule, please visit

Light on the metal, heavy on the horn

Heavy Metal Horns imageBy John Vanderpool
I began playing the alto saxophone in fourth grade. Seems all my friends at the time wanted to play musical instruments and be in the school band.  I wanted to join them. Alto sax was my choice because we conveniently had one at home that my mother had played in high school.  I tried lots of other instruments through my years in school bands, but always seemed to gravitate back to the woodwinds, including tenor and baritone sax, flute, and even oboe! I always liked the role these instruments played in many different styles of music.

I started playing with the “heavy metal horns” in the late 1980’s, when Henley Douglas (tenor & baritone sax) started recruiting a horn section for the Big Blues Meanies, a band that was making a name for itself in the Boston rock scene. We kept recruiting horn players with the idea that we’d always have a “section” of at least two horns on any gig. This was back when bands could, and did, play almost every night of the week!

We eventually had six horns (two trumpets, three saxophones, and one trombone) and everybody would show up for each gig! This is the section that Dan Zanes of the Del Fuegos heard one night at Bunratty’s in Boston, and asked us to record with the Del Fuegos for their RCA release “Smokin’ in the Fields.” The first live show we played with them, Dan introduced us as “The Big Brass Ones” (we weren’t yet called Heavy Metal Horns). Well, after that show we were all hanging out at a local bar in New Hampshire, when a guy comes in with a big group of people, notices us and says “Hey, I saw you guys earlier tonight, you were great! You’re “The Big Brass Balls”!! Henley turns to me and says, “We need a different name!” That night we came up with the name Heavy Metal Horns.

We also decide that night that our newly formed band would always have horns up front as the main focal point. The idea was to play any style of music we liked as long as it featured horns. We recruited some of our favorite musicians and songwriters from some of the best Bands in Boston for our first HMH recording. Over the next few years we were awarded “Best New Band” by Boston Magazine in 1990, received Boston Music Awards 1991 for “Outstanding Club Band,” and “Best Funk Band” in 1992. Also in ’92, we received Boston Phoenix/WFNX Best Music Poll award for Best Local R&B/Soul/Blues Act.

The summer of 1991, the horn section was asked again to play with another local act making it big – Extreme. We toured Europe, Japan, US, and Canada as part of their 92/93 Stop the World Tour.  It was an amazing experience.  Highlights included two sold out nights at both Wembley Arena in London, and the Budokan in Tokyo. As a result of our exposure with Extreme, we started touring nationally with our own band, crisscrossing the US and Canada multiple times throughout the 90’s.

Our gigging has slowed down substantially in the past few years, but it’s been a blast doing shows. Many of us are off doing our own thing.  Me? I’m busy teaching and working at South Shore Conservatory.  Two years ago we celebrated our 25th anniversary at Johnny D’s in Somerville to a full house

If you like horn bands that rock, and also delve into blues, jazz, reggae and soul, you’ll have a hard time keeping yourself your seat. I guarantee you’ll be tempted to get up and dance!

South Shore Conservatory’s Evenings Under the Stars concert series presents Heavy Metal Horns in the Jane Carr Amphitheater at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  For more information and tickets, visit or call 781-749-7565, x22.

John Vanderpool, is a member of South Shore Conservatory’s Jazz/Rock/Pop department.  He has been with South Shore Conservatory since 1999.