Balancing Your Scales: Your Music and School

Liz Baileyby Eve Montague
It’s been over 35 years and I still remember both the joy and uncertainty I felt when I decided to go to music school.  The journey was interesting and full of questions, discovery, and more than my share of worry.  To this day, I’m not sure if I chose music or music chose me, but I do know I have had a great career as a music therapist.

The music career path, however, is tricky.  Competition, capped admissions, choosing correctly for self, and being realistic about costs and programming all add up to anxiety and questions.   We all know the way to get to Carnegie Hall is to practice, practice, practice, BUT, does that mean we give up everything else?  Everyday I hear about the pressures of balancing practice and performance with the rest of high school life.  I see the worry in parents’ eyes as they talk about their child “getting in” to the preferred school, and I hear the anxiety in student voices and instruments.

At South Shore Conservatory (SSC), the Creative Arts Therapies (CAT) department is committed to wellness.  We know that engagement in structured community-based arts programs has the power to increase feelings of wellbeing.  Why then, are so many of our students anxious even though they are engaged in arts programs?  The competitive nature of getting in to the right school, understanding the dynamics of the ensembles, and needing to get everything “perfect” contributes to the music student’s stress.

Many of SSC’s dedicated faculty members have expressed concern about their students, and have asked for support for them and their families.  Our CAT department supports the concept that wellness is a lifelong process of becoming aware and making choices toward a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Given the importance of wellness to SSC, how fortunate are we to find that music counselor Liz Bailey resides in our own backyard?  Liz is a musician, former counselor with Berklee School of Music, and a licensed mental health counselor, with her own private practice right here in Hingham.  She has the experience to help music students manage their stress, find balance, and problem-solve.  Her wealth of experience also includes helping students navigate the stressors regarding getting into music schools, and helping parents understand more fully all the process requires of their children.

We invite music students and their parents/caregivers to join us on Saturday, April 29 for a conversation and Q & A with Liz about “making it” in music school and balancing performance with life.  Start, or continue your wellness journey by looking at strategies to keep stress and anxiety manageable as you navigate the world of music schools.

Balancing Your Scales: Your Music and School (and maybe you’re preparing for college!) with counselor Liz Bailey is Saturday, April 29, from 2:00-3:30 pm at South Shore Conservatory, One Conservatory Drive, Hingham.  There is no cost for this event; however, we ask attendees to RSVP to Eve Montague, Director, Creative Arts Therapies, at e.montague@sscmusic.org or 781-934-2731, x20 by April 27 to reserve your spot.

To learn more about SSC’s Creative Arts Therapies department, visit http://sscmusic.org/creative_arts_therapies.html.

Eve Montague, MT-BC, is South Shore Conservatory’s Director of Creative Arts Therapies. 

 

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Sunday, April 23 features sweet music and savory fare

Chris rathbun
Attention jazz lovers!
You are invited to join South Shore Conservatory’s SSC Jazz Quartet on Sunday, April 23, at 11 am, for a feast for the senses, featuring relaxed melodies and light tones of cool jazz, and a fabulous array of savory and sweet brunch items from Ellen Mackenzie Catering. The buffet includes peach French toast, broccoli/cheese/sausage/pepper quiche, hash brown casserole, and classic crispy bacon.

Families and friends are invited to sit together and chat during the buffet brunch, or simply use the moment to appreciate live music.

The SSC Jazz Quartet is comprised of Elan Mehler on piano, Chris Rathbun on bass, Trevor Kellum on saxophone, and Ed Sorrentino on drums.

South Shore Conservatory is located at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.

For tickets, contact Beth MacLeod Largent at b.macleodlargent@sscmusic.org or at
781-749-7565, ext.20.

One great reason to get up early in the summer

SMF 2016 clarinets

By Eric Laprade
Sixteen years ago, my high school music teacher told me I had to wake up at 5:30 am every day for two weeks in the summer and drive more than an hour to attend South Shore Conservatory’s Summer Music Festival (SMF)At the time I didn’t even know where Hingham was!  Sixteen years later, not only have I been a student at the festival, but also the SMF tuba instructor, chamber music coach, conductor, and I now serve as SMF Music Director.  Over these 16 years, I’ve lived in three different states, taught for five years in the Randolph Public Schools, earned two college degrees, and am about to finish a third. The one consistent part of every summer, and the thing I look forward to every summer, is Summer Music Festival. In retrospect, I’m glad I listened to Mr. Watson.

Summer Music Festival changed my life.  This statement isn’t cliché, it is a fact.  It inspired me to pursue a career in music.  Some of my closest friends and most important mentors are from Summer Music Festival; I consider them family. Each year, SMF challenges me to be a better musician, a better teacher, and a better human being.  There is nothing better.

For me, there are three things that truly define the Summer Music Festival experience. First and foremost, the people.  Collaborative music-making is a human art.  What makes the experience so special is the opportunity to create art, in the moment, with other people who share the same passion and excitement for music-making.  What we create is greater than any one of us individually. Each year, SMF attracts approximately 100 students from over 35 different Southeastern-Massachusetts schools.  These students exude talent, tenacity, dedication, and enthusiasm.  What they accomplish during the festival is nothing short of incredible. Along the same lines, SMF maintains a faculty of 14 world-class musician-educators; many are alumni of the festival.  They are first-rate artists and master educators and empower students to reach goals beyond what they perceive as attainable.  The SMF family, for over 40 summers, has created a culture of musical excellence and a legacy of music making of the highest caliber

Second, is that how and why we make music at Summer Musical Festival is unique.  “Every child is an artist.”  At Summer Music Festival, every student is a creative artist.   In an education system dominated by standardized testing and a right vs. wrong mentality, the SMF environment empowers students to think and act creatively, to ask questions, to take risks, and to be themselves.

Finally, the environment defines the SMF experience.  South Shore Conservatory’s Hingham campus is truly the Tanglewood of the east.  Every summer, I get just as excited as I drive up the driveway.  The facilities at the SSC Hingham campus, with its outdoor state-of-the-art amphitheater, are second to none. The opportunity to create music in such a beautiful environment, surrounded by nature, is transformative to our music-making.

Summer Music Festival 2017 runs July 6-21, 2017.  We have programs for woodwind, brass, and percussion students in elementary school through college.  The festival features concert band, jazz ensemble, chamber music and opportunities.  Interested students should visit www.sscmusic.org/smf or www.facebook.com/sscsmf for more information.

 

Life Lessons for Teens through Rock Band

Rock Band 2016
By Su D’Ambrosio
When I talk to my friends about qualities they would like to see in their teens, I often hear things such as “responsible,” “confident,” “strong work ethic,” “joyful,” and, of course, “communicative.” While I’m not sure there are too many activities that can inspire a teen to become chatty with their parents, music and the arts can strengthen all of the others and more.

If you ever get the chance to observe an ensemble rehearsal, look in and you will see the most amazing thing: teens working together toward the common goal of making something beautiful happen.  Well, at first it might seem like cacophony, but over time the sounds do come together to blend in harmony.  You can even see the elusive skill of communication developing, especially if you have the opportunity to sit in on a small group rehearsal like a quartet or even a rock band.  In those rehearsals you see students using eye contact and body language to let each other know when to start or when a solo is about to wrap up.  Sometimes, during a performance, players can get a piece that has gone astray back on track without anyone in the audience knowing, simply by using physical cues.

When it comes to rock bands in particular, this type of collaboration might come as a surprise. Stereotypically, a “rock star” can appear conceited and self-absorbed.  There can be a bit of a cutthroat dynamic in the entertainment world, with one group trying to out-perform another.  At South Shore Conservatory (SSC) we work hard with students to make sure this is not the case for them.

Two of my favorite teen events are Open Mic Night and Middle School Monster Jam.  At these events I see student musicians cheering each other on, encouraging each other as they perform and take risks on the stage.  Each band and performer has something special to offer in this community of like-minded teens.  It is a fun and safe environment for making music and making new friends.  I also enjoy seeing our resident rock bands, such as Toast, No Bueno and Lights in the Basement, develop a following and becoming leaders in this community.  At the last event I attended, I saw students take the stage with their peers, work together to produce a fantastic product, then become part of the audience to support the next group of performers.  There was a true sense of community for these students.  Parents were there as well, participating in the moment and sharing their pride in and love for their kids.

Many of these students started out with programs such as April Vacation Rock Camp happening at our Duxbury campus next month, or Jazz/Rock/Pop Summer Camp in Hingham this August.  These kinds of programs bring students together from many towns across the south shore and help them connect with other teens interested in exploring rock and pop music.  Faculty member Erik Caldarone coordinates these camps and makes sure that everyone has a great time and opportunities to grow as a musician and young person.

To learn more about April Vacation Rock Camp and other music opportunities for teens, visit www.sscmusic.org or visit South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

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 jams with his doggie friends in his band: The Rolling Bones.