Helping out a deserving piano student

Do you know a hard-working piano student, 14 years or younger, who would be interested in fast tracking his/her studies for free at South Shore Conservatory?  If so, let him/her know we are currently accepting student applications for our The Foundation for Creative Achievement Piano Scholarship which provides full-tuition assistance to one student who enrolls in private piano lessons. The scholarship covers 60-minute weekly private lessons for the two semesters of the academic year, plus eight weeks of study during the summer.

Awards are decided on the basis of need, talent and commitment.  The deadline for applying is January 15. Interested pianists should complete the tuition assistance application and indicate they are applying for The Foundation for Creative Achievement Piano Scholarship. Applications must include 2017 tax returns. Applicants will be invited to SSC for an interview and audition if necessary.

Visit for more details.


Feeling the love for our piano teacher

Desmond and Julia Herzfelder
by Julia and Desmond Herzfelder

Julia:  I’ll never forget my first day of piano lessons with HuiMin Wang at South Shore Conservatory.  She came highly recommended by my cousin who had already taken lessons with her, so I was excited to start.  HuiMin arrived at the lesson with a pair of special nail clippers for me, and she worked very hard to break me of my gymnastics posture, which was terrible for playing piano.  My brother Desmond was terrified for his first lesson with her because he heard how much of a change HuiMin’s style was from his previous, less-demanding piano teachers. Over many years studying with her, we found her an extraordinary mentor, a champion, a close friend and an advisor; and in her honor, our family chose to name SSC’s concerto competition the HuiMin Wang Youth Concerto Competition.

Desmond: In describing HuiMin as a teacher, intense is the word that comes to mind.  She cared more than almost any teacher I’d had in my life, which is probably the most important thing. She cared about us being great musicians – pushing us to be the best.  At every lesson she brought out a short colored pencil (heavily used and never longer than a few inches), and marked up the sheet music with notes and accents and fingering and emotions, and by the time a competition came around, my music looked like a drawing with all different colors. She taught us the mechanics of playing piano, how to move our bodies and arms and hands with fingers curved, for me not to use the side of my thumb, but use the pad.  Then she taught us how to combine those mechanics with feeling the music.

HuiMin also taught us how to make our dreams a reality. We learned that through effort and time, we could take something we couldn’t understand, and master it. For example, she would have us break our piece into groups of measures, starting with the right (easier) hand, move to the left, then combine them, slowly piecing together the parts of the song – double, triple practicing the hard parts. For every mistake, immediately practice that one measure correctly 20 times. She also taught us how to perform. Weekly workshops and monthly recitals were the reason I don’t have stage fright. She was the type of teacher that, even when I was tired and didn’t want to practice, I practiced for. I didn’t want to disappoint her. Even at a young age I could feel how much she cared, and I wanted to honor that.

Julia: For many years HuiMin prepared us for concerto and piano solo competitions by pushing us to do our best, ramping up practices to peak just at the right time, and getting ourselves mentally ready to perform in front of people and be judged. She made us feel confident we could succeed even when we doubted ourselves. I think that the amount that HuiMin believed in us made us believe in ourselves. I remember her hugging us after we competed, regardless of how we played, always. She cared so much and believed in us so much. She made us who we are.

Desmond: We felt it was important to name the competition after HuiMin because she is what all teachers should be (in any walk of life) and represents the benefits that music lessons have on students.  Music is still very important to our family, even though we’ve moved away from the South Shore. It is a way to communicate feelings and emotions, and has brought us together, especially me and Julia bonding over piano, and me and my Dad practicing at home all of those years, and now my Mom is learning how to sing with my Dad.  As a family, we enjoy playing piano, but we love HuiMin.

South Shore Conservatory’s next HuiMin Wang Youth Concerto Competition takes place January 18, and is open to all SSC music students.  More information at

Desmond Herzfelder is a senior at Noble & Greenough, and Julia is a sophomore at Harvard. Together, they studied with HuiMin Wang for 14 years.  The Herzfelders now live in Westwood.

Brighten up your holiday season with music!

South Shore Conservatory, September 7, 2017.
by Emily Browder Melville

Holidays are a busy time of year, with events, gifts, meals . . .it’s enough to turn busy elves into weary Scrooges.  Our recipe for a season that truly fills hearts and spirits with holiday magic?  Music, of course!  There is a bounty of beloved songs that surface in our minds (and on the airwaves!) when the weather gets cold.  From the sublime to the ridiculous, we all have favorite tunes that make the holiday season a pleasure instead of a hore.


What are some of your favorites?  What do you whistle when you’re wrapping a package or finding the recipe for Aunt Wendy’s Brownie Pie?  Upbeat childhood songs such as “Jingle Bells” or “Frosty the Snowman?”  Songs from movies, such as White Christmas or Charlie Brown Christmas?  Traditional carols such as “Deck the Halls” or “Good King Wenceslas?”  Holiday songs are like gifts: some are weighty, warm, and traditional, like a comfortable wool sweater; others are light and playful, impulse stocking stuffers that Santa just couldn’t resist.

My favorite holiday songs come with memories: images from my own life.  A most stirring favorite is “Silent Night,” which we sang each Christmas Eve, holding candles around the perimeter of the church in the solemn, expectant dusk.  As a school kid, I loved singing “Here in My House,” about how candles are lit in many houses throughout the neighborhood for Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanzaa in this “season of cheer.”  I love “The Twelve Days of Christmas”- legend has that my mid-Western grandmother had the entire tight-lipped Durgin Park staff standing and singing it with her with arm motions.  As my preschool daughter and I snuggle up with a beautifully illustrated Twelve Days of Christmas book that features the partridge, the doves, the leaping lords (and so on), I sense her making her own special memories.

At South Shore Conservatory (SSC), students are eager to learn their favorite holiday songs, and share them in the campus lobbies.  You can hear everything from a high-school guitarist playing “Feliz Navidad,” to a first-grade pianist playing “Jingle Bells,” to “O Holy Night” from a middle-school sweet soprano.  Our Golden Voices senior ensemble is preparing fresh three-part arrangements of hymns such as “Veni, Veni Emmanuel” and novelty pieces such “Christmas in Three Minutes” which cleverly strings together over 20 carols into one delightful holiday romp.  Our SSC Community Voices Too! chorus for adults with developmental disabilities is hard at work on a gorgeous blending pairing of “Carol of the Bells” and “Silver Bells,” and the celebratory “Jingle Bell Rock,” which they will present in concert on December 12, at 7:30 pm.

The SSC faculty is also in the holiday spirit, presenting Holiday Favorites on Sunday, December 9.  Come, catch your breath from your holiday preparations, and hear my wonderful colleagues Holly Ann Jennings (soprano), Donald Zook (flute), Sarah Troxler (piano), and Jesse Stiglich (percussion) offer music that sets an important holiday tone for them.  For my pieces, I’ve chosen calming, beautiful tunes that downshift from busy-working-mom life, to help create the peaceful holiday I wish for my family, friends, and community.  I won’t tell you exactly what the songs are, though.  Holidays need an element of surprise, right?  (Hint: see some of the movie music mentioned above.) Please join us, and may your season be bright, intentional, and full of your favorite music.

South Shore Conservatory’s Conservatory Concert Series presents Holiday Favorites on Sunday, December 9, 4 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  Tickets are $5 per person and may be purchased at  Students are admitted free.

Emily Browder Melville is Voice Department Chair at South Shore Conservatory.