10,000 books: an incredible milestone!

IA 10000th book (2)

Children in Dawn Miller’s kindergarten class, at the Manthala George School  in Brockton, pose with their books after their 45-minute class with SSC Arts Specialist, Holly Jennings.

We are so excited to be celebrating six years of partnership with the Brockton Public Schools by handing out our 10,000th children’s book to kindergarteners through our ImagineARTS program!

Developed in partnership with Brockton teachers, ImagineARTS, SSC’s arts-integrated literacy program, is our flagship community partnership program, serving over 4,000 preschool and kindergarten children since 2012.   Every week, SSC arts specialists provide arts-integrated literacy instruction using music, drama, dance and stories to promote important pre-reading skills. Classes are story-based: lessons focus on a picture book through which specific letters, vocabulary words, and literacy concepts are explored.

To help bridge the gap between school and home, SSC annually provides each kindergartener at its five partner schools (Arnone, Angelo, Baker, George, and Gilmore) four books from its core curriculum.  This week, 720 students received their own copy of Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema.  During their ImagineARTS class, children learned the African folk tune Funga Alafia in English and Swahili, acted out action words in the story by floating like feathers and flying like eagles, and sang the rhyming song. Parents receive a newsletter outlining these activities and offering suggestions for things to try at home.

Dawn Miller, an ImagineARTS Partner Teacher at the George School says, “My students (and their parents) are so very thrilled to get the great books from ImagineARTS!  The students love that they know the story from their class with Miss Holly and they are so proud to show off their knowledge to their parents.  The books are an important part of our curriculum.  The stories are familiar and easy to build units around.  Some rhyme, some have great characters, some are just fun to read.  The students respond very well to them.”

ImagineARTS is provided free of charge to our partner schools through the generosity of local friends, business sponsors and the MA Cultural Council.   For more information, contact Anne Smith, SSC Director of Community Engagement , a.smith@sscmusic.org

Time to apply for Jodka rock scholarship

ToastBy Elaine Sorrentino
One of the most exciting bands at South Shore Conservatory today is called Toast.  SSC’s only auditioned rock band, Toast is underwritten by the Dave Jodka Scholarship for Future Rockers, funded by proceeds from the Mad Love Music Festival.  High school students accepted into this rock band commit to more than one year of weekly ensemble coaching, and learn about everything from recording sessions, songwriting and composition practice, to creation and distribution of merchandise, to booking venues and gigs. And, of course, they are always one of the featured bands at Mad Love. The members of Toast, both past and present, are driven and passionate about learning about all elements of being a professional musician.

During the time these musicians are with Toast, they will have an abundance of performance opportunities.  Among the venues at which they have performed are The New World Tavern in Plymouth, Heritage Days in Scituate, and the Middle East in Cambridge.  The level at which these musicians play is advanced because of the coaching they receive from SSC’s performing educators.  It’s a great opportunity!

High school musicians interested in auditioning for the Dave Jodka Scholarship for Future Rockers and joining Toast should complete the form at https://sscmusic.org/named-scholarships/#jodka, and return it to SSC with a guardian’s signature.  Students should also submit a two-minute performance video playing their instrument(s) and/or singing to e.caldarone@sscmusic.org.  All application materials are due by June 18, 2018.

Elaine Sorrentino is South Shore Conservatory’s Communications Director.

Partnering with The Hangout at Union Point

Union Point Hang Out logo CMYK-01 (002)
We are giddy with excitement about our new partnership with ‘The Hangout’ at Union Point in Weymouth!

Starting Memorial Day weekend, SSC will provide a summer of performances and music activities at this new a pop-up retail village located outside of the property’s historic hangar. The first performance/activity, on Saturday,
May 26 at 11:30 am, is a family singalong with our own “Miss Su” (D’Ambrosio) and Music Together teacher Jana Kahn.  At 3:30, SSC student blues/funk band Something Good, takes the stage.

Other performances include father/daughter string duo Headin’ Home playing Irish traditional and New England folk music on fiddle and guitar on Sunday, May 27, acoustic guitarist Peter Mundt on Friday, June 1, Musical Storytime on Saturday, June 2, and Bengisu Onal and the Bengisu Band presenting Music of the 80’s and 90’s dance party! and Showstoppers! Music from Broadway and Beyond with Donald Zook, flute and Sarah Troxler, piano on Sunday, June 10.

“We are excited to partner with Union Point as they launch their newest community gathering site,” says SSC President Kathy Czerny. “Our incredible faculty and talented students are looking forward to livening up the weekends throughout the summer at ‘The Hangout’”

“The Hangout,” located at 209 Houghton Road, South Weymouth, features retailers operating out of retrofitted storage containers, outdoor gathering spaces, art installations, food trucks, fitness, music, lawn games, daily programming and more.

More at https://sscmusic.org/the-hang-out/.

Relief for memory patient caregivers

Memory Cafe possible 2018By Laura Hay
I am fortunate to still have my active and vibrant mother with me, enjoying all the richness that life has to offer.  But as I look around at my friends, I am noticing more and more of them are dealing with a new stage in their lives – parenting their parents.  The Alzheimer’s Association cites an alarming statistic that there is a new Alzheimer’s diagnosis every 65 seconds. The reality is that we will all be touched by this disease, whether it is caring for a parent, a partner, a friend, or being the one needing care.

It’s daunting to know that in 2018, there will be 130,000 people living with Alzheimer’s in Massachusetts alone. That number is expected to grow by more than 15% in 2025.  It is estimated that family members and other unpaid care partners provide more than 384 million hours in care, placing them under incredibly high levels of stress.

One friend shared that, “as a caregiver for a parent, I find it comforting to talk with others who have parents with the same memory issues.  It’s indescribably disheartening to see your once-vibrant parent become a shell of their former self.  Learning how others have dealt, or are still dealing with memory issues, provides advice and coping skills for communicating and providing joyful interaction. It also reinforces that, while it feel isolating, I’m not alone.”

Utilizing the incredible team of South Shore Conservatory (SSC) music therapists, the SSC Memory Café serves two important constituents: the Alzheimer’s patient and the care partner.  The programming is designed to provide patient and care partner with social engagement, space for expression, and connections. The need for opportunities like this continues to grow.

When Joan Middleton and I began conversations about the launch of the SSC Memory Café at our Hingham campus, she told me that one of her main goals was to create an opportunity she wished she had while caring for her late husband, Mike.  Joan, like so many other care partners, wanted Mike to remain at home for as long as possible, but that meant finding activities that would be suitable to his changing needs.

SSC Memory Cafés provide activities for the patient, but also support for the care partner.  It is a time when couples can reconnect by sharing in activities they both enjoy.  But it is also a safe space where care partners can connect with one another, providing the information and understanding that can only come from someone who “gets it.”  The program is also designed to help bring in special guests to address the needs of the care partner, ranging from help with insurance, understanding next steps, and managing self-care.

I am grateful for the support of Joan Middleton and her family for making the Hingham SSC Memory Café a reality and removing any financial barriers to participation.  I am equally thrilled that the Harry C. and Mary Elizabeth Grafton Memorial Fund has underwritten a new Memory Café at SSC’s Ellison Center for the Arts in Duxbury.

The SSC Memory Café in Hingham meets the third Thursday of each month, from 12:30 – 2:30 pm.  The SSC Memory Café in Duxbury meets the first Tuesday of each month from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm.  Participants are encouraged attend both of these free cafés each month.

To register for these free cafes, please contact Eve Montague, Director of CAT, at
781-934-2731, x20, or e.montague@sscmusic.org.

Laura Hay is South Shore Conservatory’s Director of Major Gifts.


An Evening of Latin Jazz

Carlos SulburanBy Ed Sorrentino
Have you ever found yourself with headphones on, listening to music, and all of a sudden your feet start involuntarily tapping?  Most times you’re probably not even aware you’re doing it, but folks around you see your feet moving and wonder what catchy tune you’re listening to that inspired your feet to keep the beat.  Often times when we listen to music with a strong beat and multiple percussion instruments, our bodies respond in a percussive way, such as tapping your toes or your fingers.  It’s universal. Clearly, Gloria Estaphan’s not the only one who loves to hear percussion!

As a percussionist, I find this listener engagement very exciting.  It delights me to see my audience engage in such an organic way.  One of the most rhythmic music I enjoy playing is Latin jazz.  This music usually features at least two percussionists who play an assortment of Latin percussion instruments, such as congas, bongos, shakers, or claves.  Playing Latin jazz is challenging, yet rewarding, and requires knowledge of multiple and specific music styles.

With this type of jazz, the musicians play traditional jazz songs, but add Latin rhythms to them.  Familiar artists who are considered masters of Latin jazz include Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, Dizzy Gillespie, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz and Elaine Elias to name a few. Some of the rhythms are traditional and some are contemporary, but all add a certain flair to the music.  Most Latin rhythms, such as bossa nova, songo, samba, bolero and merengue, are widely recognized as styles of dance.  These types of songs put a smile on your face and pull you on your feet to dance.

It’s this type of fun, instrument-rich music that South Shore Conservatory’s Jazz/Rock/Pop (JRP) department presents at An Evening of Latin Jazz on May 11.  This concert is part of the 2017/2018 season of SSC’s Jazz/Rock/Pop Series.  Audiences will hear SSC faculty members Carlos Sulbarán on bass, Jimmy Craven on keyboard, Emily Browder Melville on vocals, Trevor Kellum on sax, and Jesse Stiglich on drums.  We’ve also invited special guest Latin percussionist Anita Quinto of Venezuela to join in the fun. Anita is an amazing percussionist.  In fact, when she was attending Berklee College of Music, she was the first recipient of the Tito Puente Percussion Achievement Award.

This diversely talented ensemble will bring a very strong energy to An Evening of Latin Jazz, and will feature an unforgettable night of body moving, toe tapping, innovatively improvised music.  Audiences will leave purely energized.

In partnership with the Hingham Historical Society, South Shore Conservatory’s Jazz/Rock/Pop Series presents An Evening of Latin Jazz on Friday, May 11, 6:30 pm, at the Hingham Heritage Museum at Old Derby, 34 Main Street, Hingham.  Tickets may be purchased at https://sscmusic.org/jrpseries/.

For more information about SSC programs and performances, visit sscmusic.org or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Percussionist Ed Sorrentino is the co-chair of SSC’s Jazz/Rock/Pop Department.

We are so excited about our new COO!

Jim Keenan Headshot
We are delighted to introduce Jim Keenan as our new Chief Operating Officer.  South Shore Conservatory has experienced exceptional growth in recent years, and we were seeking new energy to help shepherd us into the next chapter of SSC’s journey.

Jim is the perfect candidate for this job, bringing with him a broad range of experience in music education and arts administration.  As Vice President of Music School Operations for The Real School of Music, a multi-site contemporary music education company based in Burlington, he experienced success in enrollment, retention, and maintaining quality of the core programs (lessons and ensembles), marketing, operations, and staff/faculty relations.  Exactly what SSC was looking for!

While his Real School accomplishments are extraordinary, what Jim is most proud of is that he was founding director of the Yamaha Corporate Music School in Lexington, MA.  This is school is Yamaha’s first and only company-owned education center in the US, and serves as the showcase center to promote and popularize Yamaha’s education programs throughout the country. His position with Yamaha allowed him to build something from scratch, something he finds exciting. Under his direction, the school grew from a start-up to 850 students, and was enthusiastically received.

Jim has a music education degree and fully understands the challenges his faculty members face.  He will be a great advocate for them and for programs. Fresh out of Ithaca College, he toured for four years as a double bass player with the United States Air Force Band of Liberty.

Music is important to everyone in Jim’s family.  His wife Tristie is director of the elementary band program in Wayland Public Schools.  Their two children are strongly encouraged to be active music makers. One child plays trumpet and the other child plays horn.

Jim starts with SSC on Monday, May 7.  His office is located in Hingham.  Once he’s here, he may be contacted at j.keenan@sscmusic.org.


Celebrating our seniors in recital: May 4

2018 Rising Stars with Karen JIBy Karen Ji
Over the past nine years or so, South Shore Conservatory (SSC) has become a second home to me. The countless experiences and opportunities I have been offered over the years has really shaped me into who I am today. I never would have imagined that music would be such a huge part of my life, and I owe a lot of that to SSC.

It all started when I met my current teacher, Huimin Wang, at age nine. Transitioning from an in-home studio to a music conservatory, I was extremely reluctant and intimidated by SSC’s new environment, and Huimin’s demanding yet supportive style of teaching. In the end, this was probably the best choice I ever made. Not only did SSC expand my musical skill and involvement, but I also gained a lifelong mentor and friend.

In the early stages of my learning at SSC, I wasn’t as seriously involved as I am today. It wasn’t until I participated in my first Concerto Competition, that I found myself actively wanting to succeed. I did receive third place, but hearing the first place winners perform motivated me further to pursue my goal. Between then and now, I have competed in at least one competition a year at the Conservatory, and have also competed in outside competitions, such as the Steinway Society of Massachusetts Piano Competition and the New Jersey Talented Young Musicians Association Russian Music Competition. I’ve received multiple first prize and overall awards at the Conservatory, plus various awards from other competitions.

Through SSC, I also found my passion for performing. With access to so many amazing halls and facilities, I gained an abundance of performing experience at a young age. Playing in monthly student recitals allowed me to experience playing my pieces for an audience; while participating in workshops and Accelerando master classes provided additional performance training outside of my private lessons. On top of that, I was granted extremely valuable performance opportunities, such as when I was invited to play Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin with the Evenings Under the Stars Festival Orchestra in the Jane Carr Amphitheater.  In addition, I was able to perform three different concertos on three separate occasions with the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra as a result of winning the overall prize of SSC’s Concerto Competition. These (usually) once-in-a-lifetime opportunities truly enhanced my musical experience and creativity. Undergoing this sort of performing under stress helped me immensely in surviving the grueling college audition process.

After eleven years of hard work and musical training, I have decided to continue studying music in college. I hope to double major in music and mathematics so that I can pursue my academic interests while continuously finding more passion for music.

As I ease into my freshman year at Case Western Reserve University as a music and mathematics major, it will be difficult to say goodbye to the people at SSC who I consider family. I will truly miss the friendly environment that surrounds each and every student, and I hope I will be able to study at a music school just as special as SSC. Even though I will be many miles away, I will always have SSC on my mind, knowing that I will always stay in touch with its warm and loving community.

Celebrate Karen and all of South Shore Conservatory’s 12th grade students, at SSC’s Graduating Seniors Recital on Friday, May 4, 7 pm, at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham. This heartwarming concert, showcasing singers, pianists, bassoonists, etc., from Duxbury through Hingham and Braintree, is free and open to the public.

SSC pianist Karen Ji is a Hingham resident.