Special yoga for special kids

Sonia and James YFSC 2017
By Gita Brown
Raising a child is one of the most challenging jobs in the world, but when your child has special needs the job gets more complicated. James is a four-year-old with curly blond hair and a devastatingly adorable smile. He idolizes his older cousin, delights in swimming, and has a surprising affinity for old school Frank Sinatra. James also has cerebral palsy; and while his reading and math comprehension tests at age level, he is dependent on the adults in his life for all daily living activities. He is still learning how to walk and talk, eats through a combination of feeding tube and mouth, and has a constant rotation of therapy, doctor’s visits and specialized schooling.

His mom, Annie, describes herself as, “more than mom; I’m his medical advocate, therapy and doctor scheduler, counselor, medical assistant for his feeding tube and medications, special needs advocate.” But Annie, herself a teacher, was determined to “find ways to help him grow. I knew that he’d never be able to play team soccer, but I was determined to find him an extracurricular activity. That’s when our Fragile Footprints nurse told us about Yoga for the Special Child.” Fragile Footprints Pediatric Palliative Care, part of Cranberry Hospice, provides service to medically fragile children and their families. Their generous financial support gives James weekly yoga classes.

I first met Annie and James on a raw October afternoon. As rain pelted the windows, Annie settled a few feet away so James could still see her as we began our first yoga class. Besides falling in love with his infectious giggle, I quickly saw that James loves learning. We start each yoga class with a chant, and Annie said, “I was blown away at how quickly he started to chant ‘Om’ with you. For a child that doesn’t speak yet, this is huge.” I moved onto teaching James the building blocks of yoga positions.  Because of his cerebral palsy, it takes more time and steps to build into yoga positions, but with patience James is learning to improve his mind and body connection, build strength and endurance. Annie says, “Yoga has helped strengthen him to hold his body upright; which means that auditory and visually he has much more confidence and can participate in life. I’ve noticed this past year we went to events and instead of crying due to overwhelm and fatigue, he smiled and held his head up. Yoga gives him comfort and confidence in his body, so that he can step outwards from that comfort and into the world.”

Last August, James put his skills on display when Sonia Sumar, founder of Yoga for the Special Child®, came to visit South Shore Conservatory. James attended the Yoga for the Special Child Basic Training Program as a demonstration student. With mom and me looking on, Sonia and James demonstrated a full yoga class to a packed house of program attendees. They fell in love with James’ smile, and were thrilled to observe the practice they had studied come to life.

The training is open to everyone, from pure beginners to yoga teachers, nurses, occupational therapists, parents, caregivers, or anyone interested in teaching yoga to kids with special needs. This August 19-24, Sonia Sumar and I are leading a Yoga for the Special Child Basic 1 Program at South Shore Conservatory’s Duxbury campus. Of course, James and his mom will be there to share their practice and demonstrate the power of yoga to change lives, one breath at a time. We’d love to have you join us.

For more information contact Gita Brown at g.brown@sscmusic.org or call 781-749-7565, x49.

Summer Music Festival: tapping unlimited potential

Laprade 2016

When I arrived at the Eastman School of Music as an undergraduate student, the word Meliora was printed on almost everything associated with the University—buildings, bumper stickers, and tuition bills. I didn’t know what the word meant or even how to pronounce it. I soon learned that Meliora is the University of Rochester’s motto, meaning always striving to be better. Meliora is less a word than it is a mindset, a work ethic, a way of life, a culture, and a challenge.

At Summer Music Festival (SMF), South Shore Conservatory’s wind, brass and percussion camp, the concept of always striving to be better defines our educational philosophy for the program. We strive to instill in our students a growth mindset, one in which our potential is unlimited. We challenge each student to be a better musician every time they pick up their instrument. To leave each day of Summer Music Festival a better artist and human being than when they arrived in the morning. Our goal is to develop a mindset that impacts students far beyond the 12 days of Summer Music Festival. As a faculty, we are always so inspired by the growth, transformation, and tenacity of the students that attend Summer Music Festival.

The concept of Meliora applies to more than just our teaching at Summer Music Festival. In fact, it applies to every single component of SMF. We are always thinking about how we can improve the quality of SMF and the educational experience for students. In recent years, as we approach the 50th anniversary of SMF in 2020, we have reflected on the rich history of SMF and what the future of the festival might hold.

SMF  2018 brings quite a few new initiatives and programs. I am particularly excited about our brand new SMF Teaching Academy. The Academy is a hybrid mentorship-internship program for collegiate music education majors. The program will enable a small group of college students to integrate with our immensely talented faculty and develop their musicianship and teaching skills. Speaking of talented faculty, we are very excited to welcome Zach Stern as our new saxophone faculty member. Zach is an international performing artist, committed educator, University of Michigan alum, member of the highly acclaimed Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet, and a dear friend. I am eager for our students to work with him. Along with new programs and new faculty, comes a new source of financial aid for our students. The All-Star Band Scholarship Fund has been created to support our youngest students at SMF, some as young as elementary school. This fund is designed to increase access for student musicians from underserved and economically disadvantaged situations.

Learn about all Summer Music Festival has to offer at http://sscmusic.org/smf/.

Eric Laprade is Summer Music Festival’s Music Director.  He is also currently Visiting Director of Wind Ensembles at The University of Utah.


Is ‘learn to sing’ on your bucket list? We can help.

DianneLegro1We are excited to offer the second session of American Songbook, an 8-week class taught by Broadway veteran Dianne Legro, starting Thursday, March 29 (date changed due to the weather), from 6-7:30 pm at SSC’s Hingham campus.  This group vocal class, for adults and young adults, is a great way to get your feet wet vocally, in the company of others who may be new to singing, or at least new to singing outside of the shower.

Here’s what adult students from our first session last fall had to say:

“Any opportunity to try something new is always fun,” said adult student Julie Collinge.  “Getting used to singing in front of a group of people and having someone tell you, ‘try this’ is a challenge.”

But Julie enjoyed being part of a group because they could share with one another the progress they were each making.  She also enjoyed trying out some of the tips the others were receiving.  “I get to sing the funny songs.  I figure, as long as people are laughing at the words, they’re not listening to all the wrong notes!  I had a wonderful time in the class and learned so much.”

Retired dentist Bob DiMaggio took the class to check “learning to sing” off his bucket list. “I don’t read music, but I can carry a tune,” said Bob, who learned Gershwin’s Our Love is Here to Stay.  “The class is very enjoyable.  The most important thing about Dianne is she is an excellent teacher, she knows how to reach people and really helps them! I will take this class again!”

To register or learn more about American Songbook, visit http://sscmusic.org/class_american-songbook.html or call 781-749-7565, x10.

Going Rogue: SSC’s Voice Department flips – March 11, 18

Going Rogue Promo Pic

Ready to hear your favorite songs like you never have heard them before? Join us for this delightful twist on singing at CCS’s next free concert Going Rogue:  SSC’s Voice Department flips on March 11 in Hingham, and March 18 in Duxbury, both at 4 pm. Hear a baritone sing I Feel Pretty, from West Side Story along with other hilarious flips from The Magic Flute, Hamilton and others.

Click on the picture for a sneak peek at this rehearsal for Gee, Officer Krupke.

Admission to the concert is free, but reservations are strongly suggested and can be made by clicking here: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3233766 or by contacting Beth at b.macleodlargent@sscmusic.org.

Going Rogue at South Shore Conservatory

Emily and MeredithBy Elaine Sorrentino
We all have expectations. When you request chocolate coconut almond ice cream (my favorite), you expect to get chocolate coconut almond ice cream.  And when you hear the name Placido Domingo, often called the “King of Opera,” you expect to hear his powerful dramatic tenor voice singing the part of Otello, for which he is best known.  Placido Domingo equals opera, right? Well, maybe not.  In the 80’s he surprised us all, and recorded Perhaps Love, a pop song (what?) with John Denver.  The unusual collaboration was so unexpected, and the result so beautiful, that Perhaps Love was an instant hit, selling over four million records. Uh oh, I may have just derailed my own thought train here…

…and more recently Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, with his powerful, operatic voice, sang a duet of Perfect with Ed Sheeran in a touching, elegant orchestral version of Sheeran’s song.  It’s like musical candy. If you have not heard it, I highly recommend Googling it and having a listen.  I guarantee you’ll listen to it more than once.  Again, a completely unexpected vocal experiment with unforgettable results.

With this in mind, South Shore Conservatory put together a concert of unexpected vocal surprises, called Going Rogue: South Shore Conservatory’s Voice Department flips.  Believe me, there are flips!  These vocalists will wander far outside their comfort zone, dipping their vocal toes into an unfamiliar pool, and audiences will hear some surprisingly sensational results.

For example, remember fun Gee Officer Krupke from West Side Story (WSS)?  Don’t expect it to be sung by Jets or Sharks gang members.  It will sung by a wild gang of females.  After Going Rogue, you will never think of the Natalie Wood WSS character singing I Feel Pretty again.  You’ll think of baritone Devon Russo belting it out.  This is sure to be a show stopper.

If you liked Mike D’Abo’s version of Herod’s Song from Jesus Christ Superstar, you may find yourself enjoying the Eve Montague version even more!  These Rogue performers seek to entertain and amuse.  Perhaps in the process, they’ll discover their own mixed genre versatility.

Arrive with an open heart and mind, and come prepared to be entertained, because I believe you will be pleasantly surprised at the touching and hilarious gift these talented vocalists bestow on the audience.

South Shore Conservatory’s Going Rogue:  South Shore Conservatory’s Voice Department flips, the final concert in SSC’s Conservatory Concert Series 2017/2018 season, is Sunday, March 11, 4 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  The program is repeated Sunday, March 18, 4 pm at the Conservatory’s Duxbury campus.  SSC faculty members performing include Emily Browder Melville, Holly Jennings, Beth MacLeod Largent, Devon Russo, Eve Montague and Meredith Borden. Admission to the concert is free and open to the public.

To learn more about South Shore Conservatory performances and events, visit sscmusic.org or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Elaine Sorrentino is the Communications Director at South Shore Conservatory.