Wacky Wednesdays start this week!

Band shot karen and  jitterbugs

Woo hoo! Wacky Wednesdays family concerts start this Wednesday, June 29, 10 am in the Jane Carr Amphitheater in Hingham!  It’s a rain or shine event, as the amphitheater’s roof provides protection from both the rain and the sun.

Karen K and the Jitterbugs bring their engaging, theatrical show to our stage.  The show takes place in Karen’s Bug Out – the imaginary fort in her backyard where she makes music and goes on adventures with her friends, the Jitterbugs: Bumble (the bee who doesn’t like to sting); Stinky (loves playing outside, refuses baths), Hop (working on his self control), and Slug Bug (needs a LOT of naps). Their performances are packed with humor and catchy, well-crafted tunes to which parents and kids can’t help but sing and dance along.

Tickets at http://sscmusic.org/wacky_wednesdays.html.  The Jane Carr Amphitheater is located at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  See you there!

Kindergarten Cut-off Conundrum

great picture of Jill 2015

By Jill Martin
When I began school in the Duxbury Public School System, the state mandate was that all children must be five by December 31 in order to start kindergarten. My brother and I, both with December birthdays, started kindergarten at age four. This was before early childhood programs flourished on the South Shore, and children had multiple opportunities to socialize, play and, if curiosity permitted, absorb various art and academic pre-kindergarten skills.

Since then, the state has changed the cut-off date for kindergarten to August 31.   We now see children, age birth to six years old, enrolling in numerous music, art, science, language and gross-motor play classes. In many cases these enrichment classes are added to their two, three, four, and five day a week preschool programs.  Exposure to these early childhood programs results in early acquisition of preschool skills and heightened cognition for many children before they reach kindergarten.  So, what happens when a particular child has danced through the preschool progression of classes, has mastered some pre-k skills, is socially comfortable around peers and adults, but does not make the public school cut-off date for kindergarten?  Another year of preschool or pre-k is what many parents are faced with, trying to supplement their readiness and curiosity with more enrichment opportunities, play-dates, and at-home activities.

At South Shore Conservatory (SSC), we are happy to address this very issue by opening our specialized arts-integrated kindergarten program to children who miss the cut-off, yet are turning five before December 31, and whose parents are searching to give them more than just another year of preschool or half-day pre-k. Starting fall of 2016 we are offering a multi-age setting for those students who show a readiness for a full-day, five-day a week transitional kindergarten program.

As lead kindergarten teacher at SSC for 12 years, I have welcomed students who were developmentally beyond a half-day pre-k program but had September or October birthdays and could not proceed to public kindergarten. It was amazing to see how well these four-year-olds harmonized with the five- and six-year-old kindergartners. Their birthdate may not have complied with public kindergarten, but developmentally they tap danced through all the music, art, drama, percussion and reading specialist’s classes, sometimes outshining much older children. I even had one of my September birthday students clinch the lead role in our end of the year play!

Our arts-integrated kindergarten curriculum is constructed to meet each child at their developmental readiness, regardless of age, and guide them through an engaging, hands-on thematic journey that inspires and develops the whole child. We foster a love of learning and self-esteem because every child is allowed to share their gift or talent, and feel validated and successful in this cooperative, multi-age setting. Whether they are four, five, or turning six, we have tailored our curriculum to meet every level for every learner!

If you know your child is ready for kindergarten, but has a late summer or fall birthday, please feel free to stop in for a visit and see this engaging, magical classroom come to life for all learners!!  To learn more about SSC’s art-integrated multi-age kindergarten program, we encourage you to attend our Take a Peek Open House on June 23, at 9:30 am or 1 pm.  Please call Meredith Stypinski at 781-749-7565, ext. 10 to reserve your spot.

Jill Martin M.A.Ed., has been with South Shore Conservatory since 2004.

Celebrating 20 years of performance

Nicholas Palmer -87

By Beth MacLeod Largent
I love anniversaries.  Who doesn’t?  I’m sentimental, and my heart tells me to mark all of life’s large (and even, not so large) occasions with a celebration. We work so hard that we should savor the fruits of our hard work, revel in our success and have FUN.  Here at South Shore Conservatory (SSC) we are celebrating a large anniversary this summer – our beloved concert series Evenings Under the Stars (EUS) turns 20.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been asked “What makes EUS so special? Why is this anniversary such a big deal?” The answer is endurance.  Much has changed over the last 20 years.  Our iPhones, iPads, technology in general, create space for us to enjoy more, right?  Or have they simply added more to our plate?  The experts say we are more connected than ever, but are we really?  Are we spending quality, focused time with the people we love, enjoying the same shared experience?  Or are we in the same room with our attentions in very different places?  While technology is a wonderful thing, it often pulls us out of the moment and keeps us from noticing what’s around us.

Live music, though, is dynamic.  It’s meant to be shared, side by side, while you’re on your feet, dancing and swaying along.  Live music puts you back in the moment.  Evenings Under the Stars performances have been doing this for 20 wonderful years.  It has endured.

Now, about this anniversary – 20 years is a loooooong time to do anything. To still be viable after so many years, you have to have been adaptable. You have to listen to your audience and hear what they want. You have to be a destination, a safe place, an oasis away from the everyday. You have to be something people think about during the short, cold days of winter, when the thought of warm sun on your face and music floating through the open air motivates you to move forward and shovel the driveway one more time. You have to be a place where friends meet, families gather, traditions are born and sustained.

Sound familiar? This could be your back yard – or ours, here in the Jane Carr Amphitheater. Evenings Under the Stars has become a summer tradition for hundreds of people because it answers the longing we all have to slow down and enjoy the moment. It’s an opportunity to share incredible music with friends over a glass of wine. A chance to watch the sunset, to close your eyes while unforgettable music showers over you, soothing and inspiring you.

So take out your party hat and join us this summer. Give your family and friends the gift of time together and time to be inspired. You will laugh. You will wonder. You will eat cake.  You will be reminded that there is something greater than you, smarter than your iPhone, and completely within reach in your neighborhood. You will see people you only see in the school drop off line – say hello. Share a bottle of harpoon, let the kids play on the grounds, eat hot dogs from concessions, and enjoy the pull of outdoor music.  You you’ll feel refreshed, renewed and reminded of the sweetest things in life.  It’s all here… in your backyard!

South Shore Conservatory’s Evenings Under the Stars Saturday night concert series starts on July 9 with Hingham’s Nicholas Palmer conducting the EUS Festival Orchestra in Let the Celebration Begin!  Other performances include A Celtic Sojourn with WGBH’s Brian O’Donovan on July 16, The Big Swing: Music of the Swing Era on July 23, and A Grand Night for Singing: The music of Rodgers and Hammerstein on July 30.  SSC is located at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.

For more information, visit www.sscmusic.org, find us on Facebook, or call 781-749-7565, ext. 22.

Beth MacLeod Largent is South Shore Conservatory’s Director of Performance.

Reaching all learning styles through the arts

Drum & Sing.JPG

By Su D’Ambrosio
Picture this: It’s 1:00 am on Christmas morning, my living room floor is covered with a million plastic pieces that, supposedly, if connected in the right order will result in the Little People’s Village, complete with moving parts and music. What was Santa thinking?? Now, to be fair, there were directions included…somewhere…but I can do this without directions, right? Who has the patience to sit and read directions, sort out all the parts, and proceed in a concrete, sequential assembly process? Actually, to “concrete-sequential” learners, this would make perfect sense.  They would have that toy assembled in seconds. Too bad all my “concrete-sequential” friends were asleep that Christmas morning!

The term “concrete-sequential” comes from The Mind Styles Model developed by Anthony Gregorc, PhD. His model outlines four basic learning styles: concrete-sequential, concrete-random, abstract-sequential and abstract-random. According to this model, learners in each style approach learning in very different ways and have particular preferences and dislikes. Without going into detail, suffice it to say that directions are great for a concrete-sequential learner but useless for an abstract-sequential learner.  The flipside of this is that a box full of parts with no directions would be no problem for our AS learner and a nightmare for the CS learner.

This model is one of many, including Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, that outline all the ways we learn and understand the world differently. If we all know we are different, why are schools structured to teach to all students as if they are the same? For the most part, typical schools cater to concrete-sequential learners and the others have to conform, or worse, fail. Why don’t we apply what we know about people when it comes to education?

I think one reason is simply tradition; the act of putting together a successful lesson plan requires concrete sequential thinking, which often carries over in a concrete sequential teaching style. Skilled teachers can make this model work for most students. When dealing with a school system that has hundreds of teachers and thousands of students, it is easiest to settle on a common system versus create an individual learning plan for each student. Grouping students according to their learning style, and assigning a teacher who understands that particular style would be difficult and expensive. Factoring in curve balls such as special needs adds another layer of complexity.

At South Shore Conservatory’s arts-integrated Preschool/PreK/Kindergarten, we use the arts to meet this challenge. All learning styles, intelligences and personality types are reached through the arts. Music is based on patterns and reaches students aurally; movement connects with kinesthetic learners, drama leads us to the abstract, but has sequential elements when we learn a play; visual art is tactile and visual.

If I type the word “butterfly”, you might immediately think of a picture of a butterfly. If I tell you about the life-cycle of a butterfly you might remember the details later. However, if I show you pictures while I talk, you store that information in two places and are more likely to remember. If I play some music to prompt you to become a caterpillar egg, hatch, crawl around like a caterpillar, spin a chrysalis, emerge as a butterfly and fly away you will always remember the life-cycle process. If you draw butterflies, and write a story about the adventures of a butterfly, you move into the realm of imagination and inference that leads to higher thinking. This arts-integrated approach works for all learning styles and results in a classroom of students who learn deeply and love school.

To learn more about SSC’s arts-integrated Preschool/PreK/Kindergarten programs, visit www.sscmusic.org/preschool_kindergarten.html.

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’s learning style is “Scratch and Sniff.”


WGBH’s A Celtic Sojourn joins in EUS’s 20th anniversary celebration

St Patrick's Day Celtic Sojourn 2016

2015 World Irish Dancing Champions The Miller Family will appear with A Celtic Sojourn on SSC’s Evenings Under the Stars on July 16

As SSC’s Evenings Under the Stars (EUS) celebrates its 20th anniversary season, WGBH’s A Celtic Sojourn celebrates the roots and branches of Celtic music at EUS on July 16, with 2015 World Irish Dancing Championship winners The Miller Family, guitarist Robbie O’Connell with fiddler Rose Clancy, Cat in the Moon, flutist/vocalist Nuala Kennedy with guitarist John Doyle, and Piper Joey Abarta.

Join us in the Jane Carr Amphitheater, One Conservatory Drive, Hingham, for an evening of incredible Celtic entertainment!

Tickets at www.sscmusic.org or 781-749-7565, ext. 22.