SSC Preschool named family favorite!

2019 Family Favorites
We are excited to be notified that SSC’s arts-integrated Preschool was voted a 2019 Boston Parents Paper family favorite among independent preschools and large preschools (more than 31 children)!

Congratulations to Preschool Director Rachel White, teachers Carol Forbes Scheig, Karen Hill and Sue Norris, and all the arts and literacy specialists who contribute to the success of the program.  It’s clear that someone is noticing your good work.  Had there been a PreK and Kindergarten category to vote on, we are certain our Afternoon PreK and Full-Day PreK/Kindergarten would have taken top prize for those categories as well! Excellent work done by Ms. Heidi, Ms. Martin, and Mrs. C as well!

Bravo to our youngest string students!

2019 Strings Competition Division 1.jpgCongratulation to our youngest string students who participated in our annual String Competition!  Shown here:

  • Front Row, Left to Right: Elsie Weymouth, Alex Yi, Olivia Reinig, Hannah Reinig, Lily Effinger
  • Back Row, Left to Right: Lilly Weymouth, Stella O’Connor, Georgina Leland, Julia Effinger

Accessing memory through music

Marcia and Abbot - Restaurant

Marcia and Abbot enjoy time out at restaurants

By Marcia Vose
When my mother was in her mid-seventies, she developed signs of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and from there, declined steadily over the next 12 years until her death at age 86. I served as her caretaker for a short while, but then she progressed into assisted living, and finally to a dedicated Alzheimer’s facility in Wellesley.

Ironically, I noticed signs of memory problems and confusion in my husband about ten years ago. He had suffered a fractured skull from a boating accident while in his mid-twenties, and consulted a neurologist, who diagnosed mild cognitive impairment stemming from this accident. The neurologist had no idea of the future, except to say that, with this diagnosis, Abbot would be highly susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. Three years ago he underwent brain surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and while we noticed improvement in his symptoms, it lasted only a few months. Finally, two years ago, the doctor diagnosed early AD.

Oddly, I was relieved to finally have his condition diagnosed, and if there is good in everything, the experience with my mother gave me an idea what the future might hold for my husband. Because his symptoms are caused by both conditions, however, his progression is difficult to predict. Currently, he has lost his short-term memory, and gets confused easily, particularly when he is away from his usual routine. But he has retained his sense of humor and is verbal, so we still have a lot of fun together and hope to remain in our home for as long as possible.

Abbot is very social and he loves to go out to lunch, but it is still difficult to find enough things to do at his level. He often spends hours in front of television. His balance is so precarious that he has had to stop balance classes at the Duxbury Senior Center, but he is still able to attend some of the programs there.

I first heard about the SSC Memory Café when I was volunteering at South Shore Conservatory (SSC). I was intrigued by the idea of a program for both caregivers and their loved ones with memory afflictions.  The “café” concept became immediately apparent, as we were welcomed with coffee, tea and breakfast treats. This seemed to put everyone at ease, and those who were able to, talked informally until the program started.  We then began with creative crafts and made a flowerpot to take home. The second half involved a music activity with Eve Montague, Director of Creative Art Therapies, who led us with her acoustic guitar. She is incredibly gifted in engaging those with disabilities, handing out instruments to everyone, playing easy songs and singing.

Recently, Eve passed out bells and chimes, each representing a single note, and taught us about the pentatonic scale. She had us playing songs using these instruments, with fun and laughter ensuing. Eve asked one participant, who is not very verbal, to lead the musicians in making up a song, and he muttered, “I need an example.” Eve suggested he try to lead the group in playing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and to her astonishment, he tapped the appropriate players in sounding the correct notes. How he did this so perfectly is astounding!

Both my husband and I enjoy seeing others in the same situation, and have even formed a little group with those who come regularly. There is relief in forming a bond with others whose experience in the regular social world often leads to feelings of isolation and uselessness. We usually go out to lunch after the café, both of us in high spirits. That joy is priceless!

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 monthly cafés, offered free of charge through the generous support of The Middleton Family Foundation and the Harry C. and Mary Elizabeth Grafton Memorial Fund.



Discovering the Dancer in All of Us

Full Ballet

By Su D’Ambrosio
Even before a child can walk, they can dance. It is truly remarkable to watch a very young baby immediately notice and move to music in their environment.  I even remember my daughters responding to music in utero, with very clear preferences!  As when our children show interest in any of the arts, we delight in watching them participate freely as babies and toddlers, and wait to decide when it is time for formal instruction.  When you find a teacher who understands how to create an environment that fosters skill development, while honoring the child’s creative, joyful spirit, this becomes a catalyst for increased engagement and understanding. 

South Shore Conservatory (SSC) dance faculty members Adrienne Zopatti and Kaitlyn Mazzilli bring their deep experience as preschool educators into their ballet and hip hop classes, for a perfect combination of fun and learning. I love walking into one of their classes, and seeing elements of focused skill-building, side by side with free, improvised activity. Whether it’s ballet or hip hop, all dancers are given the opportunity to learn a skill and play around with it to truly understand how to master it in their bodies, connect it to other moves, and make it their own.  Sometimes, in other venues, this crucial step is skipped.  Often students learn and master a move or a skill, are instructed how to apply it to one, specific choreographed routine, and then move on to something else.  They learn “a dance” but not necessarily “how to be a dancer.”

Thinking back to that dancing baby reminds me that we are all dancers, and the trick to nurturing our basic instinct is to stay connected to that essential, hard-wired artist inside. This is true for music as well. Dancing isn’t a “use it or lose it” skill.  We are born with it and it never goes away. People who say “I can’t dance” or “I can’t sing” have adopted a mindset over time spent away from dancing or singing. Or, even worse, they might have experienced negative comments or feedback convincing them, “you can’t… you’re awful…” causing them to stop trying. Many of us, myself included, are very judgmental creatures, constantly comparing ourselves to others, deciding that we are “bad” at dancing because we see others who are better.  Unlike our dancing baby self, we become uncomfortable dancing or singing, especially in public! But, given the opportunity to move or sing in the privacy of our own homes, I have no doubt we would rediscover our innate connection to the arts.

If you need a reminder of the innate joy of movement, you are invited to attend our end of year Dance Department Spring Concert on May 18 at 2 pm at Pembroke High School. All students from our Hingham and Duxbury campuses, from ballet to hip hop, will share organized, choreographed pieces as the joyful, confident, creative dancers they are, ready to apply skills learned on their own terms every day.  The cost of admission is $12/adults; children 18 and under are free.

Learn more about South Shore Conservatory’s dance department at, call 781-934-2731, x11, or find South Shore Conservatory Dance Department on Facebook.

Su D’Ambrosio is Director of Education at South Shore Conservatory.  She lives in Plymouth with her daughters Maria and Rosa, and her dog Bernie, who stays in touch with his artistic inner puppy as he dances the Bernie Hop all around the house!


SSC Community Voices celebrates 10 years

SSC CV Too! maybe hero imageBy Eve Montague
Prior to my work here at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), I had the privilege of working with children and young adults in a specialized school setting.  These students lived with neuromuscular and progressive diseases, and music was their great equalizer.  They had opportunities to sing in chorus and school musicals; however, once they turned 22, very little arts opportunity existed in their community.

It is very difficult for people who learn differently to fully integrate into traditional choruses.  Most community choruses and church choirs are not able to provide the support and accommodation non-traditional learners may require to fully participate. Ten years ago, in my new role at South Shore Conservatory, I offered a choral singing opportunity for individuals who may learn differently, trialing it for just six weeks.  Twelve singers came that early June evening, and at the end of the summer we presented a concert that was met with great enthusiasm.

In the fall of 2009, SSC Community Voices chorus began a full year of rehearsals at our Duxbury campus, and had grown to about 18 singers.  We saw our audience base increase, and we welcomed other singers who were looking for a new opportunity to give back to their community into our group of joyful vocalists.   Spring of 2010 saw us singing at the Massachusetts State House at the invitation of our State House representatives.  Since that time, we have sung at numerous events in our communities, including, a Statewide Arc of Massachusetts event, art show openings, community arts festivals, and we sang the national anthem at the opening of 2016 Special Olympics, Massachusetts.  We continue to hold annual winter and spring concerts to standing-room-only audiences.  The enthusiasm of these singers is infectious!

Today, we are delighted have 80 singers participating in two choruses.  We are most grateful to the Cordelia Family Foundation for underwriting our SSC Community Voices program, which includes a sister chorus, SSC Community Voices Too!, at our Hingham campus.  This generous gift allows SSC to offer this special chorus for a nominal amount per semester, removing the financial barrier of entry and making it accessible for all.

SSC Community Voices is a powerful example of what can happen when access and opportunity are created.  So many of our singers require significant support in their lives, both at home and at work, and they are most often on the receiving end of services.  When they sing in our chorus, they are in a position of ‘giving’ to their family, friends, and community.  Their gift of song and the confidence of performing with and for others carry benefits across their lives.  Increased self-esteem, sharing, friendships, an outlet for relaxation and leisure, and increased health benefits are only some of the things our singers gain when part of SSC Community Voices.

A sense of belonging, an opportunity to meet new people and develop new friendships, and a chance to participate in a traditional community opportunity is very real when one sings in a chorus.  Our audience often comments on the “joyfulness” of our singers and the energy of our concerts.  Our singers cannot wait to sing for you!!

Join us Sunday, May 19, 1 pm at Laura’s Center for the Arts at the South Shore YMCA, 97 Mill Street in Hanover, as the combined Hingham and Duxbury SSC Community Voices singers celebrate their 10th anniversary in song.  This spring concert is free and open to the public.  For more information on SSC Community Voices or SSC’s Creative Arts Therapies programs, contact Eve Montague, Director of Creative Arts Therapies at
781-934-2731 ext. 20, email, or visit

Introducing our Summer Music Festival (SMF) Teaching Academy Fellows

2019 SMF Teaching Fellows cropped
It is with great pride and excitement that we introduce the 2019 SMF Teaching Academy Fellows. After a highly selective application process that yielded a talented, diverse pool of candidates, we selected four fellows for the 2019 Academy. The fellows come from some of the top institutions for music education in the country, including Eastman School of Music, Ithaca College, University of Utah, and University of Delaware. We limited the number of fellows to four this year, allowing for an even more intense, focused, and personalized experience. Thank you to Eric Laprade, Ed Sorrentino, Matt Harden, and Aaron Bush for undertaking the reviewing and selection process.

We are excited to welcome and work with Livio, Raymond, Stephen, and Emily this summer!

SSC and South Shore YMCA Announce New Partnership

South Shore Y Logo

South Shore Conservatory (SSC) and South Shore YMCA (SSYMCA) and announce a new collaboration between the organizations to begin this September at Laura’s Center for the Arts at the Emilson YMCA campus in Hanover. The new collaboration brings SSC’s 50 years of excellence in arts education to Laura’s Center for the Arts through private and group lessons, performances, and community events.

“We are thrilled to bring our two strong community organizations together to broaden access to the arts for more people on the South Shore,” said Paul Gorman, President and CEO of South Shore YMCA. “We look forward to seeing the growth of music and arts programs available to our shared community thanks to this exciting collaboration.”

“At SSC we are always looking for new ways to fulfill our mission of ‘making music, changing lives’ especially through strong relationships,” said Kathy O. Czerny, SSC President and CEO. “The collaboration of SSC with the Y allows us to engage many new friends and share the joy of making music and engaging in the arts.”

The new collaboration, which officially begins September 1, 2019, allows SSC to offer classes and ensembles, performances, and community programs year-round to the South Shore from the state-of-the-art, multi-use space at Laura’s Center for the Arts.  South Shore YMCA will offer summer ArtsCamp at Laura Center for the Arts, and South Shore YMCA members will enjoy access to the space as well as discounts to special programs and performances.

“When two successful organizations such as the South Shore Conservatory and the South Shore YMCA link to entertain our community, we know that wonderful experiences are in the offing. Spirit-moving music and comfortable and pleasant surroundings will lead to memorable performances.” said Herb Emilson, whose generosity and vision created Laura’s Center for the Arts as a place for children of all ages to express their cultural and creative side.

Best wishes to our graduating seniors!

graduating-seniors-2019-e1557434071700.jpgCongratulations to all the graduating seniors who performed in our annual Graduating Seniors Recital.  We will miss you all next year, and wish you the best as you continue on your educational journey.  We also hope that music will always play a major role in your lives.

South Shore Conservatory proudly presents our graduating seniors: front row L-R: Elisabeth Heissner, Lydia Gross, Marty Toenneissen, Julia Blackwood, Hailey Champagne, Jadé Porciatti, and back row L-R: Nathaniel Webber, Delia Delorie, Claire Haney, Larry Ogola, David Havens, Nathan Arnold, Ryan Delano, Anders Johnson, Olivia Tocchio, Clara Kingsbury, Justy Carney, Amelia Yarasitis


SSC students out in the community

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Flutist Elisabeth Heissner performs with pianist Sarah Troxler at Grove Manor in Braintree

On Saturday, South Shore Conservatory’s Student Leadership Team, led by Student Engagement Coordinator Sarah Troxler, hosted its first “Outreach Day,” which meant student musicians performed two recitals at two separate senior living locations simultaneously.  We are very proud of our students for sharing their time and talent during their free time!




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Rahul Prasad at Grove Manor


One group visited Grove Manor Estates (senior residential/assisted living) in Braintree, while the other group visited Newfield House Convalescent Home in Plymouth.




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Renee Han at Grove Manor in Braintree


SSC students at each location presented a one-hour performance, followed by a reception.   Students served the residents and  talked with people in the audience.




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Tetor Nghiem at Grove Manor



We also gifted them with spring artwork made by many of our youngest SSC students.




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Pianist Grace Ji performs at Grove Manor


Both senior housing facilities have expressed their desire to have us back in the future, which we look forward to programming in the fall.