Excited about our new partnership with Laura’s Center for the Arts!


We are excited to launch a new partnership with South Shore YMCA at Laura’s Center for the Arts in Hanover this fall.  Providing classes, performances, and creative arts therapies programs at the LCA, conveniently located at 97 Mill Street in Hanover – right off the highway, we’ll be able to serve more South Shore residents than ever before!

Here’s what’s in store for this first year:

Learn more about our partnership offerings at https://sscmusic.org/lca/.


SSC Dance: a perfect blend of discipline and joy

by Liz Graham
My daughter, Mirabella (8), begins her third year of dance at South Shore Conservatory (SSC) this coming fall. Mira had taken ballet with another well-known ballet school when she was a toddler, and when we settled in Hingham, she decided she’d like to join a ballet program again. At the time, I was working for SSC, and learned that ballet would be offered that school year at the Hingham campus, in addition to its long-running program in Duxbury. It was a no brainer; I signed her right up!

Since she started the program, Mira has been a student of Ms. Adrienne, a favorite teacher of anyone who has been a part of the SSC community. During her first year, Mira loved to watch a hip-hop class for younger children that took place before her ballet class. She begged me to ask SSC’s wonderful Dance Department Chair, Susie Guthro, if they would consider adding a hip-hop class for her age group the following school year. To Mira’s (and my) surprise, SSC made it happen! We quickly shared this exciting news with several of Mira’s friends who were in her ballet class, and they joined as well. The class, taught by the fabulous Kaitlyn Mazzilli, who is a licensed dance therapist, was a huge success from the perspective of both parents and kids alike. The hip-hop dancers even got to perform a piece in the SSC Dance Department Spring Recital!

The Spring Recital is a wonderful experience for these young dancers. Believe it or not, it’s virtually stress free! They work hard all year, and this is their opportunity to perform in front of family and friends. The faculty manages to keep the recital to an hour, which I greatly appreciate as a parent of a younger child. Students are dressed simply – in their ballet leotards, tights, skirts and slippers. There are three rehearsals beforehand, not at all overwhelming for Mira. It is fun for the students to interact with other SSC students from different towns, as the Duxbury and Hingham campuses come together for this event.

We love so many aspects of SSC’s dance program, but the one thing I always share with other parents and their children, is that SSC has figured out the perfect blend of discipline and joy. The teachers are true professionals, teaching these young dancers the proper French words for ballet steps. They are expected to wear the appropriate attire for their class level. They work hard during class and have the opportunity to perform what they’ve learned in front of an audience. However, SSC faculty also incorporates an element of fun that isn’t always apparent in other programs. These kids come out of their classes laughing and smiling. To me, that says it all! Mira and I are grateful to have discovered this wonderful dance program right in our community.

South Shore Conservatory’s dance classes start the week of September 9.  Learn more about dance department offerings at https://sscmusic.org/dance/, or find South Shore Conservatory Dance Department on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sscdancedept/.

Liz Graham, former SSC Special Events and Corporate Relations Liaison, is a Hingham resident.



A creative way to give

bill and EW secBy Laura Hay

Who would have thought, during the spring of 1978, when Emmett Eldred and Bill Wheeler opened their first Eldred Wheeler store, on Main Street of Osterville, that their passion for furniture design would result in a booming a world-renowned business?

I recently saw their glorious authentically-designed and handcrafted furniture, replicating 18th Century America Country high-style, and completely understand why people purchase multiple pieces.  This is the type of distinguished furniture you want to pass down from generation to generation.

It did not take long before they opened a second store on Main Street in Hingham, with additional stores opened in Wellesley as well as Connecticut, Arizona, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Texas.  The pieces remain highly sought-after and collected.  All this stemmed from a little creative passion.

South Shore Conservatory (SSC) knows a lot about passion!  More than 40 years after starting Eldred Wheeler (EW), Bill Wheeler has donated one of his personal EW pieces, a tiger maple bonnet top secretary created especially for him, to support South Shore Conservatory’s passion for providing access to education in the arts for all. According to Bill, when he and Emmet began to expand Eldred Wheeler, they brought in many young people, who grew and developed in the art of furniture making.  As he learned more about SSC and the programs that serve the entire South Shore, Bill said, “I loved learning about how the students develop under the guidance of the exceptional faculty and develop their skills, beyond just their musicianship, to become global citizens of our community.”

After Bill, a Duxbury resident, attended SSC’s Duxbury Music Festival, he asked to learn more about SSC and the role it plays in the lives of many throughout the year, not just in the summer.  He learned about how our Tuition Assistance provides support for those who might not otherwise be able to afford lessons, how our ImagineARTS program provides an arts-based literacy curriculum for kindergarten students in Brockton, and how SSC offers extraordinary free and low-cost performances in Hingham, Duxbury, and throughout the South Shore.  In short, Bill learned there is so much more going on than he could have imagined.

As SSC prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, Bill wanted to be sure to be part of the lasting legacy of the organization.  Initially, he had planned to leave this piece to SSC through the Encore Society as part of his estate plans.  Last summer, however, he decided that he wanted to find a new way to ensure his donation would have the biggest impact on the needs of the largest community arts-school in Massachusetts.

This spring, Bill introduced SSC to Peter Smith of The Plymouth Exchange and Paul Dobson of The Sandwich Antiques Center.  Peter and Paul, co-hosts of WATD 95.9’s number one hit show, The Antiques Airshow, joined Bill in creating a path for donors to support SSC in new ways.  These new friendships resulted in the establishment of SSC’s “Special Gifts Program,” an exciting new opportunity for individuals to donate items of value, to be appraised and sold by, with proceeds supporting the programs of South Shore Conservatory.  Through their extensive networks, Peter and Paul will provide a resource for those friends of SSC who wish to find new ways for Making Music Changing Lives.

Learn more about creative ways to give to SSC, visit https://sscmusic.org/give/.

Laura Hay is South Shore Conservatory’s Director, Capital Campaign and Major Gifts.

Connection and understanding through the arts

Kid's drama class.JPG

By Su D’Ambrosio

As a person who grew up in an Italian immigrant family in “The Lake” section of Newton, an area populated almost entirely with Italian immigrants, the words “send her back” makes me think of my childhood. They remind me of a time when I was immersed in a community of people searching for a new life in a foreign land, encountering obstacles at every turn. It makes me wonder why some communities are able to accept and adapt to their new foreign neighbors, while others aren’t. Focusing on the things that make us the same versus those that make us different is one way people find connection. The arts, for example, offer common ground and personal connection.

Every nationality has its own representative elements of music, dance, drama and visual art. This fact alone provides something in common to appreciate. The arts can also serve as a means of communication, with music often called a “universal language.” No matter your native tongue, we can all hear a song or melody and understand it as music. Sinichi Suzuki developed a method for teaching very young children to play violin.  He called it the Mother Tongue Method, in part to emphasize the connection between music and language. When I saw my first opera, La Traviata, I couldn’t understand any of the words, but the sound of the music and the dramatic action of the performers translated for me. Many people have seen The Nutcracker ballet, which tells a beautiful, magical story with no words at all.  This is one reason why it is so important for our young people to learn how to be expressive in the arts.

Many important outcomes result from learning in the arts. Perhaps the most important is self-discovery and finding your own voice to express thoughts, feelings and ideas in a way that others can understand and appreciate. While people tend to filter out insults and shouts of anger, they might pause to listen to a protest song or look at a painting or a statue. There are countless examples of plays, movies and TV shows about difficult subjects that encourage us to think. Creating art is an act of sharing and giving of yourself, which is a quality we wish to cultivate in our children. When we are consumers of art, we are in a position to pay attention to what someone else is trying to say and we develop empathy. And the arts are often designed to bring people together as a community to create and appreciate in a way that helps us see our similarities versus our differences.

At South Shore Conservatory, we offer inspiration and connection through music, dance and drama for people of all ages and abilities.  Our fall session starts the week of September 9. Take a ukulele class, sing in a non-traditional chorus, or find the perfect music, dance or drama class for your child by visiting sscmusic.org or calling 781-749-7565 x10.  You can also find South Shore Conservatory 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 sings at the moon and dances around the living room, proving that all creatures can connect through the arts.

Come see our student camp performances this week!

Our students have been working hard at our summer camps! Come support them at the following end-of-camp performances this week:

  • Summer Vocal Institute Canto Solo Performances: Thursday, August 8, 6 pm, One Conservatory Drive, Hingham, MA 02043
  • Summer Vocal Institute Full Camp Performance: Friday, August 9, 3 pm, One Conservatory Drive, Hingham, MA 02043
  • Let’s Put On a Show Performance: Friday, August 9, 1 pm, 64 St. George Street, Duxbury, MA 02331

Teens performing a musical dance number.

Children performing in a play.

Rusty Skippers perform at South Shore Conservatory: August 10


Join SSC adult flute student Chris Oddleifson and the Rusty Skippers and they present a free concert in South Shore Conservatory’s Jane C. Carr Amphitheater, at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham, on Saturday, August 10 at 4 pm.

The Rusty Skipper Band (RSB) is an adult community band comprised of about 40 musicians from throughout the South Shore of Boston.  The band focuses on the joy of making music and  sharing it.  Steve Biagini, former band director at Cohasset’s Deer Hill School, has led the band since 1996.parade-pics-1_orig

Rusty Skipper musicians range in age from college to their 80’s. It is a diverse group;   -lawyers, a retired postal clerk, one minister, current and retired teachers, a bank president, several doctors and hospital administrators, homemakers, an antique dealer, coaches, scout leaders, volunteers and more.

The Skippers feel that the Carr Amphitheater makes the band sound its very best, so come and hear this very special band in this very special performance venue!

More about RSB at http://www.rustyskipperband.com/.


A case of flute envy!


Throughout the year, South Shore Conservatory invites students to come and try out an instrument before signing up for lessons or classes

By Su D’Ambrosio
When I was first learning the clarinet, I had a bit of instrument envy. I looked at the saxophone and bassoon with hundreds of keys, and wished I could play a more challenging instrument. I watched my pianist friends manage all the keys of the piano and play complicated classical pieces from memory, while my drum set friends played four different parts, one with each hand and foot, and was amazed at what they could do. And I was jealous of my brass playing friends who could take their instruments out and play without fussing over reeds.

But, most of all, I wanted to play the flute. Flute had elements of all the things I wished for. It was small and easy to transport, there were no reeds to worry about, and it was fairly complex, with many keys and odd fingerings. Plus, it seemed all the girls who played the flute were attractive and caught the attention of all the cute brass, saxophone and drum players.  Finally, in college, I received my golden opportunity.

To earn my music education credentials, I had to learn how to play all the instruments – brass, strings, percussion and woodwinds. I even learned a little piano! However, I was most excited to learn the flute. I took my student flute out of the case, put it together, learned how to hold it properly, and began to blow. Anticipating beautiful, light, flute tones, I was quite dismayed when nothing came out.  Nothing.  Just air. I blew harder. More air. I adjusted the head joint. Nothing. I was devastated. How could this be? I had no trouble with any of the other instruments.

After trying my best, I went to my first lesson and, with the guidance of a seasoned educator, learned what I was doing wrong, and in no time started playing beautiful music. This experience taught me one of the most important lessons I could learn as a budding music educator: what it feels like to want to play an instrument that may not be a natural fit. I found myself in the shoes of my future students who might struggle with some challenges before putting it all together to succeed.

At South Shore Conservatory (SSC) parents ask me which instrument is the best to start on all the time. My answer is always that it depends on many factors. First, it’s important the student enjoys the sound of the instrument, which will foster practicing. And second, it’s equally important to make sure the instrument is a good physical fit. For example, a small student will have a difficult time holding and managing a large instrument.

With many instruments, it is tough to know how easy or challenging it might be until you try it. To help students figure this out we are offering Instrument Exploration opportunities throughout the year. These sessions give students and parents a chance to try a variety of instruments, hear what they sound like, and learn about all the factors to consider before making a choice. This sets the student up for maximum success.

Learn more about South Shore Conservatory’s Instrument Exploration schedule at sscmusic.org, call 781-749-7565 x10, or find South Shore Conservatory 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 was very sad to learn that violin would not be a good fit for a dog.