We’re proud of our dancers

ballet-2-split-cropNot only does South Shore Conservatory offer the best in music education, we also offer a high quality dance education.  Under the direction of Dance Department Chair Susie Guthro, an American Ballet Theatre certified instructor, SSC was recently selected as a host for Burklyn Ballet’s summer intensive program auditions, drawing dancers from all around the South Shore.


This week we congratulate this proud Ballet 2 student who is the latest SSC dancer to conquer the split.

More information about our dance program: http://sscmusic.org/dance_movement.html

Boston: A love story

eve-and-bostonBy Lauren Pimpare
Five and a half years ago I was your typical city girl, living with my husband and our beautiful 18-month-old daughter in our condo in the North End of Boston.  Working, walking everywhere, eating out, living the good life, with the world at my steps. I was the quintessential “urban-mom.”  I was also pregnant with our second child.  Life could not have been more perfect.  And then my water broke an hour after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup.  I was 32 weeks pregnant.  While the city outside celebrated, we rushed to the hospital where I would spent the next two weeks on hospital bed rest.  Two weeks later our son Boston was born.

The first EEG showed no communication between the left and right hemispheres with limited brain activity.  The MRI showed global damage.  Days later, the second EEG showed some communication between the hemispheres, but still limited activity.  But my baby was awake and breathing on his own.

After a week the doctors sat us down in a large room filled with neonatologists, my OBGYN, neurologists, chiefs, chairs, residents, fellows, NICU nurses… a whole team.  The team said, “Your son’s EEG showed some development since the initial tests.  However, it was not reflective of normal growth.” They were clearly concernedWords flew around the room.  “Confined to a wheelchair, deaf, blind, unable to speak, unable to walk, fed through a tube, vegetable, completely dependent on us” was what we heard.

We made a promise that day to do everything within our power to help Boston reach his full potential.  And we have.  This includes packing our family up and moving to Cohasset, largely for the schools, and their willingness to work with the families of children with special needs. Since birth, Boston has been diagnosed with the following: failure to thrive, cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia, a seizure disorder, a vestibular disorder, and legal blindness.  In five and half years we can count on our hands the number of times he has slept through the night.  He can’t sit, walk, talk, he can barely hold his head up, he wears glasses, he has no control of his arms, legs, or hands – no manual grasp, he can’t sip a straw, or blow a bubble.  And he is the light of our lives.

We tried using traditional therapies to help him with everyday skills, but it was not until we found South Shore Conservatory and Music Therapist Eve Montague that, for the first time, I watched Boston truly enjoy an experience.  In his music therapy sessions with Eve, chair of SSC’s Creative Arts Therapies department, he can be himself and smile, bang a drum, vocalize – or just listen to her play the guitar.  Where he had little movement at first, after three and a half years with Eve he can now bang the drums while she sings, and often reaches for her guitar strings and tries to strum along.  He looks forward to his session every week and is sometimes moving with such excitement that he is difficult to hold!!!  I am so thankful for these sessions.  There are times when he hits a drum or strums the guitar in perfect time with a song she is singing. Experiencing this with him is profound. It assures me that he fully understands everything that is going on and, in that moment, he is interacting with his environment appropriately. For us, there is nothing in the world like it.

South Shore Conservatory’s Chase Away the Winter Blues gala, on January 28 at the River Club in Scituate, helps raise funds for SSC’s Creative Arts Therapies department, as well as for SSC Community Partnerships programs, including ImagineARTS, which provides a free arts and literacy program for kindergarten students in Brockton, and financial scholarships for deserving students.  Tickets to the event have sold out, but donations are still gratefully accepted.  To find out more, please contact Liz Graham at l.graham@sscmusic.org or 781/749-7565, ext. 14.

Janet Haney: SSC Volunteer of the Year





Janet Haney (left), poses with SSC Senior Development Director Amy Schomp and former Blues chair Rennan Bayturk

By Amy Schomp
Some people go over and above what’s expected when they agree to undertake a project.  When this happens, I feel it’s really important to thank them in a meaningful way.  That’s why this year at South Shore Conservatory’s Annual Meeting of the Overseers, we were honored to recognize and thank Janet Haney of Hingham as our 2016 Volunteer of the Year.  Janet and her husband Bill have been involved with SSC since 2010.

I nominated Janet this year because she is not only an active SSC overseer, but most notably she has been the Chase Away the Winter Blues chair for the past five years.  This is a huge undertaking!  Under the strong leadership of this dedicated, hardworking woman, the Blues event has become one of the best and most successful fundraisers on the South Shore.

Years before she took over as Blues chair, Janet served as Blues Décor chair, transforming SSC’s Hingham campus into the Blues theme of the year.  Through those years she made us into Paris, New Orleans, and a special Black and White themed venue.  No task was too large for Janet, so when asked to chair the entire Blues event, she didn’t hesitate to say yes.  I’m amazed at all she’s accomplished in her time as Blues chair.  For the past five years she has overseen the Blues event sub-committees, and managing the silent auction, raffle, and scholarship board, that displays our financial progress throughout the event.

When complimented on the success of the fundraising event in the past, this warm, gentle woman, in her self-deprecating and modest way, says, “It’s a team effort.” She is the quiet, effective and elegant leader behind the Blues success. We could not do it without her. Right up until the last minute Janet is working hard to ensure the evening’s success.  Each year, shortly before the event begins, I would find her in her beautiful dress, wearing her Uggs slippers, running around finalizing the smallest details making sure everything is perfect!

Over and above the Blues event, she has kindly hosted events and performances at her home and is always eager to volunteer and participate whenever asked and needed. SSC is a family affair for the Haneys.  Janet’s husband Bill serves on the SSC Board of Trustees.  And Janet’s children, Claire and Emma have taken violin lessons at SSC.  Along with their older brother Luke, they also have volunteered for Chase Away the Winter Blues, as part of the SSC teen crew, helping with everything from greeting guests, to serving dinner and selling raffle tickets.

This year, our unflappable Volunteer of the Year is once again taking the lead for the Chase Away the Winter Blues gala chair.  We thank her for all she has done and continues to do for us!


Oboe lessons: the reed less taken

ssc-overseers-john-and-sally-davenport-with-trustee-gerald-jones-all-of-hingham-2-003By Sally Davenport
Unlike most oboists, I didn’t take up the oboe until I was about 30, after we had our first child and moved to Hingham.  What terrific luck that there was a community music school, the South Shore Conservatory of Music (as it was called in those days) right here in Hingham!  I usually say my husband John made me take it up, but in truth, we both loved the sound of the oboe, and we both wanted me to learn an instrument so we could play together.  He’s a pretty good pianist!

Neither of us realized that the oboe is considered a hard instrument to learn. My first teacher suggested I try another woodwind instrument, and I’m pretty sure she thought I was WAY too old to learn oboe.  But I wanted to try, so I rented a student instrument and got started.

Like lots of mothers-to-be, I thought that after quitting full time work I would have time on my hands to start this new endeavor while taking care of a newborn – ha, ha!  Still, I managed to practice while our daughter Grace napped for 15 or 20 minutes a day, and, as is usually true with enthusiastic beginners, I started making progress—going from terrible, to not so terrible, to okay and then, maybe—pretty good.

After our second baby, I continued to practice while Grace, who was then two and a half, went to South Shore Conservatory’s delightful arts-integrated preschool, and newborn Luke napped. I also kept taking lessons (a KEY component of progressing) at SSC.

During this period of raising our children and settling into Hingham, our entire family was active at SSC.  Our son Luke also went to the SSC preschool; Grace took Saturday acting classes and Suzuki viola lessons; and John took piano lessons, joined the Board of Trustees and later became President of the Board.  Over time, Luke took piano and clarinet lessons and I auditioned and attended Summer Wind Ensemble, which, in those days was a five-week summer program.  I admit I was a little old to do it, but figured I was musically at the stage a junior in high school would be.  My, that was hard work, but fun… especially trying to fit in with a bunch of enjoyable and interesting teenagers.

Since SWE those many years ago, I earned a diploma in oboe performance from the Longy School in Cambridge, and started teaching at SSC.  Over the years I’ve also played with the Quincy Symphony, the Plymouth Philharmonic, the former Hingham Civic Orchestra, the Broad Cove Chorale and the Unicorn Singers (with whom I also sing), Quincy Choral Society, and at Company Theatre and Linden Ponds.  I have also participated in a number of other exciting freelance ventures.  So, it’s been, and still is, a fun ride.

And yes, John and I do still play together, quite a lot actually.  That’s the most fun thing!  After 27 years of teaching, this fall I “retired” from SSC, but still feel very much part of the community. I still volunteer my time, serve as an overseer, and perform with John in “grownup” recitals.  It’s a great place.  You should check it out.

To learn more about South Shore Conservatory’s performing arts programs for students of all ages, visit sscmusic.org, find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook, or call
781-749-7565, ext. 10.

South Shore Conservatory thanks Sally Davenport for her 27 years of service, and looks forward to seeing her at future SSC events and concerts.

Trading in birds for music and the arts

emma-with-ravenBy Emma Snellings
A little over one year ago I had no idea that South Shore Conservatory (SSC) even existed. I had been working as an environmental educator outside of Boston, teaching children about birds of prey.  Over time this position had transitioned into a program management role, which made me interested in learning more about non-profit development and fundraising.

After seeing SSC’s job posting for an institutional advancement associate and doing research on SSC, I could not believe I had never encountered it before!  Music was a huge part of my school experience, and the chance to help SSC spark a love of music in others seemed like a great opportunity to me.  As institutional advancement associate, I could help the development, marketing and performance departments with important projects, such as gift acknowledgement to database management to concert program creation.  It’s true that birds make beautiful music all their own, but I was excited to explore and enjoy human music at SSC!

Let me tell you that working in an office while listening to three or more consecutive music lessons is certainly a new experience for me. I’ve been in a noisy office before, but this was a different kind of noise.  It was the wonderful sound of joyful, arts-filled learning. The biggest surprise for me was discovering the wide range of programs and activities at SSC. When I started here, I basically knew SSC offered private lessons, and a couple of other programs. Over the course of my year here, I have developed a more in depth understanding of the breadth of what SSC offers the community, and it is huge!  From Music Together for our youngest students, to our arts-integrated preschool, pre-k and kindergarten programs, to hip hop lessons, to Bay Youth Symphony youth orchestra, a Creative Arts Therapies programs, Open Mic nights, summer camps and adult ensembles, one could start out taking lessons as an infant, and stay until, well…forever.

I have always loved attending concerts and musicals, so imagine my delight at having access to such a wide variety of performances right at my fingertips!  From Performathon at Barnes & Noble, to A Celtic Sojourn out in the amphitheater this past summer, I have enjoyed many performances throughout my first year at SSC. I play the trumpet, and in high school and college also played the tuba and baritone horn. Although I don’t perform with an ensemble right now, I still enjoy playing, and I certainly enjoy being in a music-filled environment.

 I really appreciated witnessing the students’ transformations in our summer programs here. As I drove up the driveway every morning, I heard ensembles rehearsing throughout campus. I listened to Summer Vocal Institute (SVI) and Summer Music Festival (SMF) students, and realized the moment they came together as an ensemble, finding their voice. It was a real treat to attend the final performances and hear their polished pieces.

If I were an arts education teacher, I would love to teach Music Together. Every time I walk by the classroom it just looks like a lot of fun! I also love the idea of introducing music to children early in their lives, to help spark a lifelong love of music and learning.  It’s important work. 

Come check out SSC, as I did, and see what might be here for you. It is easy to hear the word ‘Conservatory’ and assume it is extremely talented people taking piano and violin lessons (my initial assumption).  As a community school for the arts, it is so much more!


Making a difference in a child’s life


By Linda Cashman
As a teacher for 43 years in grades preschool through six, the last four as a kindergarten teacher at the Barrett Russell School in Brockton, I have utilized many different curriculums and programs within the public education system.  Through these years of teaching, I have learned that four and five-year-old children learn best through exploration, movement and tactile experiences.

This is why I was so excited to learn that ImagineARTS, South Shore Conservatory’s (SSC) arts and literacy program, was coming to the Barrett Russell School.  The ImagineARTS program incorporates all the skills I feel are most valuable to the development of young children, and supports their social, emotional, and academic growth and development.

SSC’s ImagineARTS became an integral part of the Barrett Russell curriculum three years ago.  At that time we were a brand new facility with 13 classrooms of kindergarten children.  The first year, ImagineARTS was introduced to only two classrooms, but expanded to include whole school the following year.  I fell in love with the program immediately.  The songs, stories, movement, and skills they introduce to the children mesh beautifully with everything I expose the children to in my classroom.  I like to teach through all modalities, and the ImagineARTS program supports my philosophy and beliefs.

The program has evolved over the years to focus not only on the musical aspects but also the skills needed for literacy for the four to five-year-old age group.  In order for kindergarten children to take ownership of material, it must be visual as well as auditory and tactile.  The ImagineARTS program incorporates all three within their program.  Specialists incorporate the songs and stories to align with the kindergarten curriculum, thus offering the children another opportunity to learn skills in a different and meaningful way, which supports all levels and abilities within the Barrett Russell School.

For example, my student Jason entered kindergarten having very little exposure to learning.  He did not attend preschool, so this was his first experience with group interaction and skills needed for reading.  At first he was very timid and hesitant to try new things.  He was not a risk taker.   Jason spent most of his time watching and observing before venturing out to participate.  When he started with the ImagineARTS program, he sat and watched nervously. He would not participate in the activities.  Three months into the program now, he has learned that ImagineARTS class is a safe place to try new things. He raises his hand to answer questions and participates joyfully when new songs and activities are introduced.  He is now a happy and active participant in the program.

ImagineARTS has become a crucial component to the success of the Barrett Russell School. The partnership with SSC has brought wonderful and talented musicians into our school and has expanded the learning and engagement for all students.  Family nights have offered another opportunity for families to come together and enjoy an evening of song and dance for all. The Barrett Russell School looks at the whole child and their development. SSC’s ImagineARTS has fostered that belief and has formed a strong partnership within the school.   We cannot imagine our program without it.

SSC’s ImagineARTS Arts-Integrated Literacy residency program is provided free-of-charge to 28 teachers and over 600 kindergarten students in the Brockton public schools.  It will take center stage this year at South Shore Conservatory’s annual benefit gala, Chase Away the Winter Blues, on January 28 at the River Club in Scituate. The annual Blues gala features creative black tie dress, seated dinner, live auction, dancing to the music of R&B band, In the House. Proceeds from the evening supports programming critical to SSCs mission including ImagineARTS, creative arts therapies, and academic scholarship.

For more information or to purchase tickets to Chase Away the Winter Blues, please visit sscmusic.org/winter_blues.html.

Use the summer to fast track your ballet technique

By Susie Guthro

When the last chord of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker finale sounds and the curtain makes its final close, it signals the start of another wonderful season for the young dancer.  Summer intensive audition season is there to pick up where the thrill of performing leaves off for many serious ballet students. Summer intensives can be the highlight of a student’s year. Whether it’s a two-week or a six-week program that spans nearly the entire summer, an intensive program provides a young dancer with opportunities that enrich, validate, and expose them to the world of pre-professional dance.

My earliest experience of a summer intensive, at the age of 11, opened my eyes to what a summer of ballet could be. With classes ranging from ballet to modern, pointe to character dance, and dance history to workshops on hair and make-up, I felt as though I had won the lottery. I had found my people; other students from all over the country who had the same passion for ballet as me, and new teachers with new corrections and styles from which to learn. That summer I progressed faster with daily ballet classes that didn’t have to compete with schoolwork, and gained strength and stamina from multiple classes and hours of dancing everyday. From that summer forward, not one passed without going through audition season again, and attending a new program nearly every summer of my adolescence.

Now, as a ballet teacher at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), I encourage my students to attend auditions for summer programs, and champion them through both acceptances and yes, the rejections that come with auditioning. There is something incredibly exciting about sending a student off for a summer of dance.  Maybe it’s because I know how important those summers were for me, or maybe it’s because I want them to have an opportunity to measure their ability in a national arena. All I know is that a summer intensive can provide a young dancer with that taste of what it means to dance all day; learning from other teachers, and growing not only as a strong dancer, but a strong young adult.

This year I am pleased to announce that South Shore Conservatory was chosen as one of the national audition locations for Burklyn Ballet Theatre’s 2017 Summer Intensive. It is quite an honor. Housed at Johnson State College in the White Mountains of Vermont, Burklyn offers a comprehensive program designed to provide dancers ages 10-25 with a professional company experience of performing each week, in addition to a core of curriculum classes.

Over the years, several of our SSC students have had the opportunity to attend Burklyn with great success, and it is a program I always encourage my students to audition for and attend.  I hope many area dancers will take advantage of joining us at SSC on January 15 for a master class and audition with Arthur Leeth of Burklyn Ballet, and who knows, maybe secure their spot for a summer filled with ballet!

Burklyn Ballet Theatre’s auditions, for ages ten and up, take place at South Shore Conservatory,  64 St. George Street, Duxbury on Sunday, January 15, 2017, from 12-2 pm. Registration begins at 11:30 am.

For more information on Burklyn Ballet Theatre’s summer program, visit http://burklynballet.com.  For more information on South Shore Conservatory’s Dance Department, visit www.sscmusic.org.

Susie Guthro is Chair of South Shore Conservatory’s Dance Department. She is an American Ballet Theatre (ABT®) Certified Teacher.