By Elaine Sorrentino
Each summer, South Shore Conservatory’s Summer Music Festival (SMF) awards the Malcolm W. Rowell, Jr. Scholarship to one outstanding musician who has participated in the wind ensemble program for at least two years, exhibits dedication, musical talent and leadership, and intends to pursue a music education degree. Applicants for the award must also write an essay about how music affected their lives, and this year’s recipient, trumpet player Sydney Alfano of Pembroke, wrote eloquently about resilience and the importance of being an inspiring educator.
“Since quarantine began, it has become very clear to me that every place is only as great as the people in it. Every band, classroom, political movement, hospital, country, etc. is defined by the people in it. My college experience was defined by my infectiously positive and motivated peers and teachers. My experiences during the pandemic have been defined by the adaptability of my teachers, colleagues and family. While the world is full of uncertainty and tragedy, there is an unexpected element of excitement as we explore and master new technology and create unique experiences for each other. This excitement has reminded me that people create the environment, not the other way around,” wrote Sydney, a second-year music major and dean’s list student at Ithaca College in New York.
SMF Music Director Eric Laprade explained that Sydney was chosen as this year’s recipient because she embodies the true spirit of the Malcolm W. Rowell, Jr. Scholarship. “She is an immensely talented musician, a dedicated and thoughtful educator, and empathetic, articulate, and reflective human being. It has been wonderful to witness her growth and development during her five years as a student at Summer Music Festival. The future of music education is bright with people like Sydney entering our profession.”
In speaking of career aspirations, Sydney has extremely high expectation of herself. “I aspire to be a bold and enthusiastic educator. I will be comfortable taking risks. I will be open and honest in all of our discussions. I will listen to my students and never be afraid to apologize. I will always seek out opportunities to learn from books, teachers, colleagues, and my students. I will be respectful and compassionate at all times. I aspire to be all these things and more. How can I expect this from my students if I do not display it myself? Since my classroom will be defined by the people in it, I must personally embody everything I want it to be. This tenet will lead me through the rest of my time at Ithaca College. As I learn to be a music educator, I will strive to be a music educator from whom I’d love to learn.”
Sydney said that participating in Summer Music Festival over the past five years has always the best part of her summer. She feels it’s incredible how much growth can happen in just a couple of weeks, and noted that the amazing faculty always inspired her as a student, and continue to inspire her as she looks toward becoming an educator herself.
The Malcolm W. Rowell Scholarship recognizes past-SMF Music Director Malcolm W. Rowell’s 23 year tenure at SSC and his tremendous contributions to music and education.
Learn more at sscmusic.org.