Jeannine Brayman: SSC’s Volunteer of the Year

Volunteer of the Year 2015

from Beth MacLeod Largent, SSC Director of Performance
There is magic everywhere this month. No matter where you look there are glowing lights, scrumptious treats and children’s faces alight with joy. It’s a time of gratefulness, friendship, love and awe. But, as we adults know, behind every festive occasion, every holiday light, every amazing event, there are those hard-working, under-the-radar helpers who give and give and give to make the wonder happen. Without these “elves,” the sparkle is just a bit…um…duller.

Here at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), I’m blessed to work with a special branch of the elf family all year long: our volunteer corps. As a non-profit institution we live and thrive under the fine care of our own personal elves, those hard working, cheerful, ever-smiling folks who love to give and give and give. Just the other day, when we presented our Holiday Music from the Movies concert, more than 200 people showed up for a concert in a hall that holds 120 audience members. Our volunteers got to work scouring the building for every extra chair, bench, or piano stool, and magically transformed our lobby into a huge overflow concert hall. Simply said, they saved the day!

We find that every year there’s one cheerful elf we just have to acknowledge with a special volunteering award. This year, Jeannine Brayman was honored at our Annual Meeting as SSC’s Volunteer of the Year. This former middle school principal, currently an adult student at SSC, embodies the spirit of joyful giving. In the past couple of years she has donated intricate handmade music-themed quilts for our Chase Away the Winter Blues fundraiser, collected tickets and greeted young guests at our Wacky Wednesday summer concerts, and poured hundreds of servings of chocolate milk into wee Dixie cups for our youngest audience members. In the summer, after a long morning of volunteering at the family concerts, she gladly rushes off to prepare meals for over 50 hungry students and faculty members at SSC’s Duxbury Music Festival. Clearly this goes above and beyond anything we would ever expect from a volunteer, but Jeannine selflessly volunteers to take on the challenge. She sees a need, she tries to fill it. This beloved elf knows the meaning and the joy of giving! Always smiling, always cheerful and always asking to do more, Jeannine exudes the spirit and essence of the giving season all the year around, and we love her for it.

If you have an elf spirit and long to do for others while making new friends and enjoying yourself, feel free to contact me at SSC any point throughout the year. Who knows? Perhaps you will be our newest head elf and Volunteer of the Year 2016. Until then, raise a glass and toast all the elves whose generosity knows no bounds, and in particular to our finest elf of the year, our friend Jeannine Brayman!

To learn more about South Shore Conservatory’s volunteer opportunities, visit or call Beth MacLeod Largent at 781.749.7565, ext. 20.

Creating a relaxed atmosphere during the holidays

meg durkin

from SSC yoga specialist Meg Durkin MS, E-RYT, RCYT
During this holiday time families usually spend more time together with some vacation time and visiting with extended families. These times are usually filled with sweets and gifts but they can also be filled with unrealistic expectations and stressful situations. Mindful activities can reduce the feeling of being “stressed out.” Mindful activities can create a more creative, relaxed, centered, and fun atmosphere during this holiday time.

Here are five mindful activities to include during the holidays.

1. Mindful Eating: There is always more food around the holidays. Family meals create an opportunity for connection, fun and laughter. A fun mindful eating activity could be to put a blindfold on and taste several different small dishes of food and guess what you are eating.

2. Family Yoga: Find out if there is a yoga class at your local yoga studio that is for families. If this is not possible than look for a video to purchase or buy a kids yoga card deck and explore these cards together. Lisa Flynn’s book Yoga for Children also has a fun Family Bonding Sequence (p. 294).

3. Mindful Coloring: As a family get out the coloring books. Use fun drawing instruments like crayons, magic markets, colored pencils, and finger crayons to all color at the kitchen table. Coloring can be very soothing and creative. I like coloring books of mandalas like Peace Mandala by Monique Mandali

4. Be Mindful in Nature: The holidays provide a great time to go for a family walk in nature. Maybe this is a walk on the beach, in the woods or on snowshoes. While outside you could go on a scavenger hunt for things like pinecones, bark, moss, and leaves. You could turn on your listening ears and ask everyone on the walk what they are hearing in nature.

5. Mood Music: Depending on the mood that your family is having, you could play some tunes. Put on some pop music for a family dance party. Kidz Bop music is always a hit with elementary children. Or maybe play some jazz for Sunday morning brunch for some quieter mood music. Holiday music can also be fun to get into a festive mood.

What do you give the person who has everything?

Adult Keyboard Class - Copy

Su D’Ambrosio, SSC Director of Programs and Curriculum
Happy Holidays!! ‘Tis the season of gift giving and resolving to improve our lives in the coming year. Stores are crowded in December, while gyms are packed in January. By February most of the material things are forgotten, and the unrealistic promises we made to ourselves have been broken. So, how can break the cycle? Skip the holidays altogether? No, the people in our lives deserve a token of our love during the holiday season. Most of us are blessed with all we truly need, and more “things” than we know what to do with, so figuring out what to get for these loved ones can be tricky. As we think about the New Year and what might help us to grow and enrich our lives, there is a solution that comes to mind. The gift of the arts!

There are many ways to share the arts with others and enrich our own lives through the arts. Now that my girls are older, their Christmas lists have evolved, and they are asking for things such as theater tickets and classes. These types of gifts give them something they can keep forever: memories of time spent together and new skills they can use to be creative throughout their lives. My mom, who is 82, enjoys line dancing and jazz, so a dance class or evening out at a concert will mean a lot more to her than another sweater or knick-knack. As for me, I am far more likely to stick with piano lessons or a drama improvisation class than a gym. Engaging my brain in ways that are interesting and exciting not only keeps my brain active and alert, but motivates me to exercise and take care of my whole self.

One resolution I am making this year is to develop compelling adult programs at South Shore Conservatory. This will ensure that we continue providing access to exceptional arts experiences that foster creativity, artistic growth, and well-being for individuals of all ages and abilities.

In addition to our ongoing private music lessons, we offer chamber music, rock and jazz ensembles, group programs for adult beginners on violin, piano and guitar, Woman Song, Community Voices, Golden Voices and Teen/Adult Beginner Ballet class. We are also launching some exciting new adult programs in 2016. Tuesday Night Records, for example, starts on Tuesday, January 12. This is a casual gathering for adults interested in the stories behind the jazz. Refreshments are provided!

Bluegrass musicians are invited to join instructor Steven Latanision on Tuesday nights, starting February 2, for Bluegrass Jam, a fun weekly adult jam session. Adults looking to explore drama improvisation will find a home with Kristina Smarz in Improv 101, an introduction to improvisational techniques and skills starting February 6.

South Shore Conservatory gift certificates provide a convenient way to give these classes to someone you love. Certificates, available in any amount you choose, may be used to pay for all SSC programs,
events and performances. For more information, please visit or call 781.749.7565, ext. 10. You can also find us on Facebook.

A delightful problem to have

Holiday Music from the Movies overflow 2015

Our Holiday Music from the Movies concert in Hingham on Sunday attracted over 200 people, far more than our Cox Hall, which holds 120 or so, could accommodate.  So, we needed to be creative.

We scouted out every chair, bench, piano stool we could find, and set them up in our lobby, in front of the open doors to the hall, so that overflow audience members could enjoy the festive free concert.  You can see from the picture above, that our lobby became a second concert hall.

With this in mind, we encourage anyone coming to see our SSC Community Voices concert in Duxbury on Wednesday, December 16, 7 pm, or our SSC Community Voices, Too! concert in Hingham on Wednesday, December 16 at 7:30 pm, to arrive early and guarantee yourself a space.  This joyful concert is free and the public is welcome to join in the sing-along portion of the evening.

Holiday Music from the Movies

Sarah Troxler

from pianist Sarah Troxler
December in New England brings with it feelings of happy nostalgia. We haven’t yet reached the endless months of snow farms and mass transit cancellations, so we go through the busy holiday season recognizing the familial bliss that comes with it all (and living for those precious days off at the end of the month). So, while there may not be visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads, we do experience the loveliness of soft white snow, peppermint lattes, candlelight in every window, seasonal music, and of course, favorite holiday movies.

Who can forget the classic “Home Alone” face of Macaulay Culkin, or the 24-hour marathon of “A Christmas Story,” as we experience Ralphie’s toils for his Red Ryder B.B. gun – over and over and over? In more recent years, Will Ferrell’s childlike wonder in the movie “Elf” has stolen our hearts; while watching a train, filled with excited (and one hesitant) Polar Express riders, weave its way to the North Pole, often marks the beginning of the holiday movie viewing for many families. These joyful and fun-filled holiday stories carry on a tradition begun in the days of Bing Crosby’s romantic crooning, aided at various times by the comedians and dancers Danny Kaye and Fred Astaire.

On Sunday, December 13, South Shore Conservatory (SSC) opens its doors and invites audience members of all ages to join us for a family concert of music from holiday movies. If you are not there already, this performance is guaranteed to put everyone in the holiday spirit. Voice faculty members Holly Marshall and Mark Leuning combine efforts with me on piano, and string faculty members Amanda Roberts, Katherine Roussopoulos, Cassie Sulbarán and Sassan Haghighi, to take you on a journey through your favorite holiday stories as told through music.

From traditional arrangements we all know and love, to original takes on favored tunes, the program includes music from movies such as “White Christmas,” “Home Alone,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “The Polar Express,” and more. This free concert, which lasts about an hour, includes a chance for the audience to join in the singing, creating the perfect opportunity for some extra holiday cheer during this busy season. Stick around after the performance for holiday refreshments and an opportunity to mingle with the performers.

We hope to see you and your family at this special celebration of the season!

South Shore Conservatory presents Holiday Music from the Movies on Sunday, December 13, 4 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham. This festive concert is the third in a series of six monthly Conservatory Concert Series performances that run through April. Thanks to the generosity of donors such as Boston Private, admission to the concert is free. For more information, visit or visit us on Facebook.

Preschool cooking tips


We realize that Thanksgiving is over, but we just HAD to share a few of our preschoolers’ instructions for cooking a turkey.  After all, there are other turkey-worthy holidays coming up and you may want to try out some of these priceless tips.

  1. Take a little bit of salt and shake it.  Mix it with those little red dots.  Cook for 20 seconds in the oven.  Wait for it to ding like this, “DING!”
  2.  Put it in the oven until it is this big (arms spread wide).  Then eat it with something to drink, like orange juice
  3. Put tacos in it and meat stew.  Add turkey and ham and roast beef.  Just cook it from an oven
  4. Get a turkey in the bathroom.  Cook it in the oven and then take it out.
  5. You just need to buy it and put ingredients in it, like basil.  Stir it around and put it in the oven for 1 hour.
  6. Cook your turkey with the white things in it…bones!  Put skin on it and chicken.  When it comes out, you eat it.
  7. Cook the turkey with leaves, okay?  Put sauce in, pizza sauce, okay?
  8. Dad always puts salt on it and then he adds pie crust, put no pie.  Add a piece of pepper and maybe a spoonful of meat.  Put it in the oven for 20 minutes.

So, there you have it folks, some helpful hints for preparing the perfect turkey, straight from South Shore Conservatory’s 3-Day preschool class!

BTW – students who move on to SSC’s PreK are introduced to the culinary arts, so we may want to ask these students for additional tips next year.

Find out more about SSC’s arts-integrated preschool/prek/k online at