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Things for which we are grateful at SSC

DSC_0001We consider ourselves blessed here at South Shore Conservatory. We witness the transformative power of the arts in action every day. We watch very timid three-year-olds come out of their cocoon the moment the music starts, and dance as though no one’s watching. We see the faces of older adults with severe cognitive challenges, beam with recognition at the first note played a Conservatory Concert Series performance. We see Down syndrome children gain confidence and strength through sessions of yoga therapy. For these special moments, we are grateful.

I asked my fellow colleagues what they were most grateful for this Thanksgiving. I received a variety of responses; from the chance to share their passion for the arts with a larger community, to family and friends. I too am grateful for all of these. My mother, well into her 80’s, is still vibrant and active, and has been blessed with good health. I am thankful for a job that feeds my creative self…as well as pays the bills. And I am thankful to be surrounded by family throughout the entire year.

SSC President Kathy Czerny said, “I am grateful for the 137 faculty, staff and trustees that I get to work side by side with who inspire me with their art, skill, passion and commitment and who make my life rich indeed!” Our Director of Creative Arts Therapies Eve Montague said she is grateful to witness the strength and resilience of people who are faced with incredible challenges in their lives. Through the power of music, she has the privilege of learning from them and seeing how music truly makes a difference in their lives.

Summer Music Festival Director Eric Laprade is grateful for the opportunity to create beautiful music with talented and dedicated students of Summer Music Festival, and to collaborate with and learn from the inspiring faculty at SSC. Publicity consultant Michelle McGrath is grateful for her career in the arts, and for the incredible people she enjoys working with every day.

Nicole Bellows, who just recently joined our institutional advancement team says, “I am grateful for the powerful way that music and arts can transform lives.” Director of Programs and Curriculum Su D’Ambrosio is thankful to work in an arts-filled environment with so many talented, creative people. JRP Department Co-Chair Ed Broms is thankful for the wonderful gifts of music and humanity shown by his colleagues and students at SSC.

Early Childhood Program Coordinator Jana Kahn is grateful for family. “I am grateful for being the mom of two wonderful daughters – such a blessing to love them and hug them each day.” Graphic designer Paul Hoffman said he is grateful for his family, friends and health – and for all the people that enrich his life. Voice Department Chair Emily Browder Melville is thankful for good health, for having a beautiful place to work, and for her many loved ones, especially her “sweet, hilarious, snuggly daughter.”

Jeff Largent, Director of Tech Services, says, “I’m grateful for my life, my wife and my family and to have music as the central part of both my livelihood and my spiritual center,” while his wife Director of Performance Beth MacLeod Largent said, “I’m so very grateful to be living a life full of music and love and that the two are so intertwined. As a young musician I never could have dreamed of being able to use my gift the way I do.”

Our South Shore Conservatory family hopes you and your family have an abundance of things for which to be thankful, and wishes you a very happy holiday season!

The Power of Pop

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submitted by Director of Programs and Curriculum Su D’Ambrosio

When I was eight years old my music teacher offered me the chance to play an instrument. My choices were the violin or the clarinet. I didn’t know much about the clarinet, but I did know that violins played “yucky classical music” so I chose the clarinet, hoping to be able to play songs from the radio. Little did I know it would take a long time to be able to play anything that resembled a song and, ultimately, the joke was on me, that I would become a classically-trained clarinetist who loves classical music.

By middle school I had learned enough about rhythm and notes to be able to play the familiar pop music I was hearing on the radio. Unfortunately the clarinet was not always a good match for these tunes and they sounded a bit weird when I played them on my own. This was a little discouraging, as pop music was the music my friends loved and was fun to listen to. It was also frowned upon by my teachers who thought pop music had little integrity. I didn’t think much of it at the time, and I was fortunate that my etudes and classical pieces motivated me to practice, but I know that many students stopped playing because they didn’t think the music in their lesson books was “fun.”

My experience was over 40 years ago and it’s interesting to see that things have not changed. Students in school instrumental music programs still learn from basic lesson books that help them to understand music and develop strong technique, and students still wish they could play rock and pop music. While it is true that this music is not the best vehicle for establishing music fundamental, it can be a strong motivator in the right dose.

With this in mind, South Shore Conservatory (SSC) started Middle School Monster Jam. These jam session bring students together to learn and perform a pop or rock song in one night. All instruments and voices are welcome, even clarinets! In past years they’ve played Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally, Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours, Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe and Phillip Phillips’ Home. The piece they play is chosen and arranged for the group by an SSC faculty member, and coaches for each instrument family help students learn their part. When it all comes together, the full arrangement sounds a lot like the song they know, and students feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment, while having tons of fun playing a song they like. Parents are amazed when they hear the final performance and appreciate the sense of joy they see on their children’s faces as they make music that they love.

South Shore Conservatory’s next Middle School Monster Jam is December 4 at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham. The group will be playing Renegades by X Ambassadors. For more information, contact Jazz/Rock/Pop Department Co-Chair Ed Sorrentino, at 781-749-7565, ext. 21, visit http://www.sscmusic.org, or follow South Shore Conservatory on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/South-Shore-Conservatory-109478026115/.

Su D’Ambrosio  lives in Plymouth with her daughters Maria and Rosa and her dog Bernie, who is too busy playing fetch with his drumsticks to join Monster Jam.

Why the Arts Matter to Our SSC Family

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Certain schoolwide activities inspire participation from the entire South Shore Conservatory (SSC) family; from students of all ages, and parents, to faculty members and administrators. Arts Matter Day is one of those fun events.

Created as a day to show our legislators the importance of the arts to all populations, MASSCreative launched Arts Matter Day in 2014. The show of support from arts organizations throughout the state was astounding, with each organization revealing its uniqueness through posting videos and photos on social media throughout the day. It was so popular that MASSCreative repeated the awareness-building activity again this year on October 23. Our SSC community wholly embraced the chance to express themselves.

SSC’s youngest group, our Music Together® students, posed with their classes as their moms explained why the arts matter to them. These moms wrote moving reasons such as, “it brings people together,” “it reaches people with diverse learning styles,” “it makes dinner time easier,” “I see the joy in my children,” “music makes us happy,” and, my personal favorite from a mother with a sleeping child, “they help me put her to sleep.”

Our kindergarten students, proudly displaying their beautiful and unique sunflower artwork, said that the arts matter to them because they “get to use their imaginations,” while our Primo Voice class singers, ages 7-9, shared that “singing is exciting!”

At our Duxbury campus, our dancers expressed their love for both the arts and their teacher. Their signs said the arts matter because, “we love to dance” and “I like learning ballet and it’s FUN and Miss Susie is really nice and makes the class more fun!” Needless to say, when Miss Susie (Guthro) saw the sign, she was moved to take a picture and share it on her personal Facebook page.

SSC preteens and teenagers were eager to share their feelings about the arts as well. The honors brass ensemble, posing with their coach Rob Reustle, wrote that “it helps us make friends.” Pharrell Williams fans will relate to the percussion ensemble’s statement that the arts matter to them because “it makes us feel like a room without a roof.” Gita Brown’s clarinet students shared that the arts matter to them because “they let my personality shine through,” and “I love playing with friends.”

For groups, such as Su D’Ambrosio’s young Drum & Sing students and Eve Montague’s developmentally delayed adult students who sing with our SSC Community Voices chorus, we asked them how music made them feel. We received joyful responses, such as “Good!,” “Happy and Great,” “I like to sing,” and music makes me feel “like dancing!”

One adult student shared that “it allows me to commune with the souls who composed the music. It’s a form of creative expression,” while another student said “they lift my spirit and stimulate my mind.”

Our volunteer coordinator, Julie Collinge shared, “Arts matter because they make us look outside ourselves, be more than we ever dreamed we could be and at the same time wrap us in a warm safe cocoon that will always welcome us back no matter what. Without the Arts the world would be duller, drabber and far far less than it is now. With more emphasis on Arts the sky’s the limit (or maybe there is no limit) for all mankind.”

Our faculty and staff members shared the following observations: “they let me be myself,” “it’s my passion,” “they speak to my soul and let my soul connect to others,” “I get to wear a tiara to work!,” “my soul needs to sing,” “it’s a form of self-expression,” “the arts are universal,” and “the ‘earth’ without ART is just ‘eh’.’’

We invite you to let us know why the arts matter to you by posting it on our South Shore Conservatory Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/South-Shore-Conservatory-109478026115/.

No Stopping No Bueno Rock Band

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Sincerest congratulations to South Shore Conservatory (SSC) rock band No Bueno, for their recent success as runners up in the International Boston Blues Competition on Sunday, October 25, and for rocking the house at the House of Blues in Boston the following Friday, October 30!

What’s most incredible about No Bueno is that their band members’ ages range from ten to twelve years old. Drummer Cam Igo of Marshfield, guitarist/vocalist Jack Warren of Duxbury, and bass guitarist Charlie McCullough of Hingham are in elementary and middle school, and they’re playing clubs at which most twenty-something musicians dream of performing. Last spring they played at the Middle East Café in Cambridge and the New World Tavern in Plymouth.

Formed two years ago as part of SSC’s rock band program, started by former jazz/rock/pop faculty member Cliff Williams, No Bueno decided to stay together after their coach Cliff moved out of state. They are now coached weekly by SSC guitar instructor Erik Caldarone. Clearly they made the right decision. Their hard work, mixed with their natural talent and nurturing guidance of SSC faculty has proved a potent mix for producing great music, much deserving of acknowledgment and wide recognition.

Rock Band is just one of many Jazz/Rock/Pop opportunities which include Open Mic, Middle School Monster Jam (next one is December 4), Jazz Lab, Rock/Pop Vocal Tech, Adult Jazz Ensembles, private lessons in contemporary styles, and an annual JRP Spotlight Festival. With over 250 students, the JRP Department has become one of the largest departments at SSC.

So, kudos to this amazing young trio who has been bringing the rock to Greater Boston clubs. We wish them luck and look forward to many more stellar performances. As if they didn’t already have their act together, they’ve got their own Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/No-Bueno-1443670239268693/?fref=ts, where their fans can find out more about their upcoming performances!

Relax and try out our new rockers

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One of these comfy rocking chairs has YOUR name on it.

Thanks to a generous $140K matching grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF), administered through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) and MassDevelopment, and generosity three anonymous donors, we were able to restore the porch on the Victorian section of our Hingham campus, and add a few inviting rockers.  Over the past couple of weeks we’ve spied a few parents and grandparents taking advantage of the chairs and the mild weather, while waiting for their children to finish their lessons.  They looked very comfortable indeed.  Confidentially speaking, I think they were disappointed to give up the chair when the lesson was over.

So, come on over and give our new chairs a spin!

Explore playful and meaningful learning through the arts

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By Elaine Sorrentino
As a teacher and a parent, I know how important it is for your child’s well being to choose an appropriate preschool or kindergarten setting. Many factors go into choosing the right school; such as teaching style, location, affordability or peers. Some parents choose a preschool to meet a specific need in their child, such as overcoming shyness or feeding their affinity for the arts. Perhaps they recognize that their child needs nurturing, and have very explicit goals in mind when choosing this first “school” experience. Whatever the reason, it’s an individual and personal choice.

While no two preschools are alike, some have similar philosophies. Years ago when I was searching for the perfect preschool experience for my son, the most important component to me was that he needed to have fun while learning. I wanted it to be arts-based, playful and meaningful. I wanted his first experience to be so amazing that it would make my child a lifelong lover of learning, and it did. This “playful” attitude toward learning continued throughout his education, igniting his natural curiosity and creativity, and helping him find a satisfying career as an interactive website and software designer. Score!

We asked some of our South Shore Conservatory Preschool, Pre-K and Kindergarten parents to share their experience with our art-based programs which emphasis play. Here are two of the answers we received:

“The nurturing atmosphere is exactly what I wanted for my kids. I also love how the children learn to be independent– I had no idea my kids could clean up so well until I saw them do it at school! The teachers manage the classroom in a way that it never feels chaotic or controlling, just peaceful and fun. The music is such a plus to the education here. Without even knowing they are doing anything but playing, students are given a foundation in music,” said one mother whose children attended both preschool and kindergarten,

Another parent shared, “I am thrilled that my son was able to participate in the Conservatory’s kindergarten program. He was very well-prepared academically and socially for the subsequent challenges of the public school system. At the same time, he gained an appreciation for creativity and individual thought that would not have been possible in another setting. The arts-based curriculum exposed him to music, movement and visual arts in such a way that it laid the foundation for his creative and multifaceted worldview. He has carried this with him and I will hope it continues.”

To learn more about SSC’s arts-integrated Preschool, PreK and Kindergarten programs, please join us at our Tuesday, November 10 open house from 6-7:30 pm. For parents interested in enrolling their child for the 2016/17 school year are invited to meet the teachers and arts specialists that make this type of learning so effective and meaningful. For more information, visit http://www.sscmusic.org or call 781.749.7565, ext. 36.

Dynamic Duos Light Up the Stage

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by pianist Jonathan Roberts
The piano can be a very lonely instrument…at least in the beginning. We pianists do not have orchestra or band with other students when we are first learning as children, and it takes years of practice before we can even begin to think about performing with another musician! The existence of music for two pianos almost laughs at this piano stereotype, which is just one of many reasons why I am incredibly excited about Dynamics Duos, South Shore Conservatory’s (SSC) two-piano concerts on November 8 in Duxbury and November 15 in Hingham.

I was introduced to two-piano music when, as a master’s degree student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, I had to pick an elective in the fall of my second year. I noticed this very cool sounding class entitled “Piano Duets and Piano Duos,” so I registered immediately. The class was taught by an intense, yet hilarious (not to mention rather politically incorrect) Yugoslavian pianist, Olga Radosavljevich. We learned so much about the wealth of two-piano repertoire that I just fell in love with the concept itself. In this class, I met an excellent Russian pianist, also working on her master’s, who became my piano duo partner for the remainder of my time in Cleveland. In fact, our performance of Darius Milhaud’s “Scaramouche” on my final degree recital is still on YouTube (just Google “Jonathan Roberts Scaramouche”). I have such fond memories of our rehearsals and performances together, that I have explored every opportunity to pursue two-piano music ever since.

When I was hired by SSC two years ago, I was immediately impressed by its diverse piano faculty, and Dynamic Duos was the first idea that came to mind for a great Conservatory Concert Series (CCS) concert. However, the logistics for a two-piano recital can be very challenging. Where will we get the second piano? How will we afford a piano move or rental? What if there is not enough of an audience to make all of the moving/renting worth the trouble? Thanks to the generous sponsorship offered by Boston Private, who provided partial support for CCS, none of these issues pose a problem. I could not be more excited!

Our diverse program of two-piano music from the twentieth century includes four duos, featuring eight SSC piano faculty members. I asked everyone to choose duo music they were passionate about and interested in performing. The results have created a wonderful, natural crescendo of sorts for the program. Dynamic Duos opens with piano department chair Mark Goodman and Paul Hoffman performing William Bolcom’s Serpent’s Kiss Rag for two pianos, and continues with sisters Margaret and Edwina Li performing Francis Poulenc’s Elégie for two pianos. The second half of the program ventures into the heavy Romantic with excerpts from Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, performed by Eugene Kaminski and Xixi Zhou, and concludes with Ravel’s La Valse by HuiMin Wang and myself. I am particularly excited about the Ravel, as I attempted to learn this work with two other pianists over the years, but, due to various circumstances, always without the satisfaction of a live performance.

To experience a concert featuring this wealth of two-piano repertoire, performed by so many wonderful personalities all right here in town, is an extraordinarily rare opportunity not to be missed! We on SSC’s piano faculty look forward to sharing our passion with you, both as unique individuals and as dynamic (*wink*) duos.

South Shore Conservatory’s Conservatory Concert Series present Dynamic Duos on Sunday, November 8, 4 pm at 64 St. George Street in Duxbury, and on November 15, 4 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham. For more information, visit sscmusic.org.

Searching for the Right Fit for My Child

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Special from SSC Parent/Teacher Emily Stearns

Like many first time mothers, I was nervous about the idea of leaving my precious little one at school for her very first time. I hemmed and hawed at all of the preschool options, and didn’t really notice much of a difference between any of them. I visited a few and thought they seemed nice, but it wasn’t until I stepped into South Shore Conservatory that I finally found a place I was truly excited about. From the moment I walked into the front door of the Conservatory I knew that here was where I wanted my child’s first school experience to be. I felt so welcomed by the teachers, administrators, and especially the director, now teacher, Carol Scheig. I knew that my daughter would be not only in capable hands, but loving arms, full of hugs.

It was the overwhelming feeling of genuine care that made me choose SSC. I strongly believe that “genuine” care stems from the fact that SSC is an arts-based program, and artists love that which is unique. The perspective of the teachers was not simply to teach my daughter Grace how to be a good student and teach her ABC’s, but rather to appreciate Grace as an individual and build upon the canvas she already had begun to paint. Grace was a shy student who initially looked to the children around her for affirmation and acceptance. She wasn’t sure who she was. The teachers took the time to guide her towards her inner self. She learned that she is a beautiful painter, she loves the drums, and although there is no lack of dramatics at home, she would rather be in the background than on stage. These experiences helped her to define herself. She gained an identity that was all her own, which in turn gave her a quiet confidence.

Throughout the three years Grace spent at SSC, there was not one day where she hesitated to walk into her classroom. The room was so welcoming it felt like walking into a family friend’s living room instead of an institution of learning. I felt so comfortable visiting the class that I offered to read a few times. The teachers’ responses were so open and amicable that I ended up reading several times throughout the years. I loved that they truly welcomed me into the classroom and wanted me to witness the incredible learning that was going on… so much so that they now can’t get rid of me! I loved the learning environment of SSC so much that I became certified to teach here.

Looking back on Grace’s years in SSC’s Preschool/PreK/Kindergarten program, one of my favorite activities is the amazing art show the Pre-K/Kindergarten puts on in the spring. I cannot tell you how many people are astounded by the fact that our four and five-year-olds are doing their own renditions of Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Warhol, Matisse, Kandinsky, Klee, O’Keeffe! It is heart stopping to see the pride and satisfaction the kids experience seeing the cumulative results of their hard work. This depth of learning translates to all aspects of a child’s experience at SSC, and is evidenced through arts-integrated activities, which incorporate music, movement and drama throughout the year. SSC is special; it is as simple as that.

Parents interesting in learning more about SSC’s arts-integrated Preschool/PreK/Kindergarten programs are invited to attend an open house on Tuesday, November 10, from 6-7:30 pm. South Shore Conservatory is located at One Conservatory Drive, Hingham. For more information, call 781-749-7565, ext. 36 or contact Susan Lodzsun at s.lodzsun@sscmusic.org.