Singing with Parkinson’s

Group Of Seniors Singing In Choir TogetherBy Eve Montague
MSM, MT-BC,
Director of Creative Arts Therapies
Since arriving at South Shore Conservatory as a music therapist in 2008, I have been focused on bringing the therapeutic benefits of music to varied populations, especially those who, because of health or physical challenges, may have taken music participation off their list of possible activities.  Over the past 10 years, we have brought the joy of music to individuals with autism, developmental delays, Alzheimer’s disease, and memory loss.  Starting January 16, 2019, we can add one more population to the list:  folks living with Parkinson’s disease.

Singing with Parkinson’s, a new chorus designed for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease and their care partners, is directed by board certified music therapists highly skilled in adaptation and accommodation.  The structure of music and its ability to re-circuit in our brains when areas shut down, provides opportunity for individuals living with Parkinson’s to address multiple symptoms in a fun and social way. A partnership between SSC and the South Shore YMCA, the chorus is supported by a grant from the American Parkinson Disease Association, MA Chapter.

The first session of Singing with Parkinson’s starts Wednesday, January 16, from
1 – 2:30 pm at  Laura’s Center for the Arts, South Shore YMCA, 97 Mill Street, Hanover.

To register or for more information, please contact Eve at e.montague@sscmusic.org or 781-934-2731 x20. No prior experience is necessary to participate in this free chorus.

 

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Rocking Out at Monster Jam

nathan tesler performing croppedBy Nathan Tesler
Since early elementary school, I have been involved with the South Shore Conservatory piano and JRP departments. From personal experience, I know that many music students, especially piano students, often are isolated with their playing, with little opportunities to play with others. Playing with other musicians is instrumental to any musician’s growth. As a piano student at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), I luckily had the opportunity to participate in several groups and events that allowed me to play with others. One of these events was Middle School Monster Jam. For music students with little experience playing with others, this is one of the best events you can participate in, and also a whole lot of fun.

At Monster Jam, a large group of middle school student musicians, who have never played together before, comes together to learn a popular song (for example “Let it Be” by The Beatles or “Ride” by Twenty Øne Piløts) in one night, then performs it for an audience at the end of the night. When you arrive at Monster Jam, the air is filled with creativity and possibility. Students are quickly separated into groups, based on their instrument, in which they are coached to play the music they perform later that night. Some of us already know the song, others have just scanned the music before arriving, and some are hearing the song for the first time. After we learn the parts in groups, we all join together to practice the song right before we do a performance. It is amazing how quickly we go from being strangers, or maybe just knowing one another a little, to collaborating so well on stage. In other words, music really brings people together.

After scrambling to get the song good enough to perform, we watch our parents start to shuffle back in to the performance hall to watch the final performance. Through the intro of the song we are all nervous, but once the singers jump in with the chorus, we begin to feel more comfortable. We loosen up our playing and start to improvise. The performance always ends up sounding great, and we are sad for it to end. After saying goodbye to the new musicians we’ve met, we head home and put the next Monster Jam on our calendars.

I personally enjoy Monster Jam so much because it is an easy and low key opportunity to play with other musicians.  It also helps me in acquiring skills you can only get from playing in groups, including playing from chord charts, playing in rock and pop contexts, and onstage communication. After a taste of playing with others, I was eager to seek new playing opportunities with groups. I now play in a band at South Shore Conservatory called Low Tide. In addition, the last two summers I participated in Summer Music Festival on clarinet and piano in Summer Wind Ensemble and Lab Jazz ensemble, respectively. I now also participate in a jazz ensemble at New England Conservatory. Perhaps best of all, I often get together with friends to just jam.

Middle School Monster Jam is one of the best South Shore Conservatory events for middle school students. You are not taking full advantage of the Conservatory if you don’t go to this event. Monster Jam is a great time, and a great place to get started down the path of playing popular music and playing in groups. I hope to see you there!

SSC’s next Middle School Monster Jam is Friday, January 11, from 7-9 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham. The song the group will be playing is “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons.  You don’t need to be an SSC student to participate.  Pre-registration is required.  More at https://sscmusic.org/monster-jam/.

Nathan Tesler is an eighth grader at Hingham Middle School. He is a member of Low Tide, a rock band coached through South Shore Conservatory. You can find them online at @the_low_tide_band_official (Instagram) and Low Tide Band (You Tube).

How I’ll be chasing away my winter blues

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By Brooke Valentine

I’ve been involved with South Shore Conservatory (SSC) since my son Vance started in Music Together® a couple of years ago, and I’m looking forward to attending SSC Chase Away the Winter Blues gala on Saturday, January 26.  Winter months in New England can be long and harsh, and I see this as the perfect opportunity to get dressed up and enjoy a night out with friends while listening to great music and supporting a wonderful cause.

I joined South Shore Conservatory’s Board of Trustees this past September, and was asked to help run the Blues gala. With both my son and daughter Carter currently enrolled in SSC’s arts-integrated Preschool/PreK/Kindergarten program, I believe strongly in arts education, finding this thoughtful and intentional method of teaching an effective way for my children to remember what they learn. I was eager to help provide access to music and arts education for more children.

Chase Away the Winter Blues, SSC’s annual fundraiser supports the important work the Conservatory does at their campuses and out in the community.  This event is a wonderful, festive evening of music, dancing and celebration. All proceeds benefit tuition assistance, Community Partnerships and Creative Arts Therapies programs.  We hope, throughout the evening, attendees will develop a better understanding of the fantastic programs SSC offers, and the valuable impact the programs have on our communities.  Last year we raised over $325,000. We’re hoping to beat that this year.

Of course, it would not be a Conservatory event if it were not bursting with fantastic music.  The evening starts with a cocktail reception and our incredible SSC Quartet, which includes Jeff Williams on keys, Peter Mundt on bass, Ted Sajdyk on drums, and Trevor Kellum on sax.  Next, there is a seated dinner program full of exceptional music along with a live auction.

For those can’t make it to the full evening, there is an After Party starting at 9 pm. (This is a great option for parents who may want to put young children to bed before heading out!)  It is guaranteed to be a fun night filled with music, delicious food, desirable silent auction items, and dancing.  We are thrilled to have an After Party Piano Bar with Jeff Williams on piano, Emily Browder-Melville on vocals, along with Peter Mundt on guitar and vocals.  Past attendees will be delighted to discover that East Coast Soul is back for our Dance Party!

Guests have the opportunity to participate in both the live and silent auctions.  I’m excited about all the fabulous auction items.  The live auction includes Boston Red Sox Ticket package, a South African safari, and a private dinner party catered by Paul Wahlberg. There are many more, though. In addition, this year we have a silent auction with exciting, unique items and experiences, such as a Private Wine Tasting, Interior Design Consultation, personal one-on-one activities with SSC Preschool/K teachers (ex: bowling, movies, etc.), one week of SSC Arts Camp, and an at-home Music Together class with friends.  This is going to be such fun!

South Shore Conservatory’s annual Chase Away the Winter Blues gala is Saturday, January 26 at 6 pm at the Boston Marriott Quincy, 1000 Marriot Drive, Quincy.  Gala tickets include cocktail hour, dinner, dessert bar, live music, live and silent auctions and the After Party. The After Party starts at 9 pm.  For those who would like to make it a night away, SSC has reserved a block of rooms at a discounted rate.

More information about Blues at https://sscmusic.org/blues/, or by contacting Donna Ryan at d.ryan@sscmusic.org or 781-421-6162, ext. 207.  Don’t be left out in the cold!!

Helping out a deserving piano student

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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 sscmusic.org/tuition-assistance-form 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 https://sscmusic.org/concerto-competition/.

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 sscmusic.org.  Students are admitted free.

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

 

Learning music the way we learn language

George Little 2013
By George Little
When I was still in high school and starting to teach guitar lessons, I was contacted by a mother of a three-year-old boy. She had seen my flier at the grocery store and her son, as she explained, absolutely loved the guitar. They had bought him a miniature electric guitar and she was interested in lessons. I thought, “Why not?” and we made an appointment to meet.

Immediately, it was clear I had no idea what I was doing. This enthusiastic young child barely knew his letters. Forget about assigning finger numbers to the left hand, or asking him to memorize a chord using a chart. Communicating in my accustomed information-dense approach was clearly not going to work. He couldn’t hold his guitar straight, so my attempts at correcting even the most basic guitar position were an utter failure. After thirty minutes of trying different approaches, I reported to his mother that I did not think it would work out. They should think about lessons when they were a bit older. Maybe seven or eight. Maybe older than that.

In graduate school I discovered Suzuki, a teaching philosophy that fell right in line with a number of ideas I had been considering since reading Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy by Robert Jourdain.  He breaks down exactly how the brain receives, processes, and creates music. One idea struck out at me: The brain processes music like a language; it processes in the same regions of the brain as language; it even discerns inflection, character, and rhythm in much the same way it does with language.

It turns out, Shinichi Suzuki had made a similar observation about 75 years earlier. Although not nearly as scientific, he observed that if we taught music like a language, we could achieve more consistent results and typically to a higher degree than with a traditional approach alone.

One component to making learning music parallel language, in this “mother tongue” method, was starting young.  To make this work, many elements come together. For example, using miniaturized instruments that are still of decent quality is important. Appropriate size and quality facilitate making a great sound and not hinder it. Also, with young children we motivate students by making the experience fun. Lessons are paired with group classes where kids interact and play musical games with their peers using the very skills they are developing in the private lesson.

A parent must attend private lessons and follow up (a.k.a. practice) at home with instructions given by the teacher. The parent’s role is crucial, largely because a very young student cannot be relied upon to accurately retain the details of the lesson. If you have ever asked your three-year-old what they did at school, you know what I mean.  The parent or “home teacher” ensures success in the process. Without parental involvement and support, only a small percent of very young students succeed at music lessons.

The environment we create for a toddler’s first efforts at speaking is one of approval and encouragement. We almost never try to fix a two-year old who pronounces “penny” as “penniny,” or who doesn’t enunciate b’s from d’s. We model for the child and move on. This positive-feedback-based approach taps into a child’s inborn desire to imitate and seek approval and affection. Certainly we cannot hand a child a cello and simply cheer him/her on, expecting great success. We need to provide instruction, depersonalize mistakes, and emphasize successes using specific positive praise; include external motivators such as games and rewards. Creating a positive, nurturing and enthusiastic environment is perhaps the most significant element to developing the child’s love of learning and playing.

Learn more about South Shore Conservatory’s Suzuki Instruction at https://sscmusic.org/suzuki/ or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Guitarist George Little is the Suzuki Department Chair at South Shore Conservatory.

Music IS Medicine

Robert Bekkers

Guitarist Robert Bekkers


By Beth MacLeod Largent

As much as I love the fall season, it is a bittersweet time, as it brings with it the anniversary of my husband Med’s death. This year marks 11 years since his passing from cancer.  In the seven years before he died, we spent hours and hours in waiting rooms – first at Brigham and Women’s in Boston, then at Dana Farber Cancer Center (DFCC) in Boston, and finally at Jordan Hospital in Plymouth.  I went with Med to every single appointment, and, hands down, the waiting times that felt most comfortable were the ones at DFCC, when musicians were playing in the lobby.  Often there was a pianist who greeted us with soothing music, which felt normal to us, because Med and I were so involved in music and the arts.

The waiting rooms at DFCC were quite large, which meant that you saw people at many different stages of the disease. In the beginning this was disconcerting, but then we became friendly with some of the patients we would see week after week. The times when music was playing in the lobby, everyone smiled as they entered the space. Sometimes, people would just sit, close their eyes, and listen while they waited for their ride.  It was a moment of calm in an otherwise turbulent time.

Fast forward 11 years to the fall of 2018.  Executive Director of the Dana Farber Cancer Center in Weymouth, Jennifer Croes, reaches out to South Shore Conservatory, asking us to provide music for the center’s patients, caretakers and staff member. Concerned with burnout with her dedicated staff members who deal with seriously ill patients every day, Jennifer wished to bring them the healing powers of music.  She felt SSC had the quality of performer that would be perfect for the cancer center.

With the memory of Med’s medical journey still fresh in my mind, and having experienced inner peace through music, I was thrilled that SSC with DFCC connected to create a three-month trial performance series called Music is Medicine.  The first Friday in October, we presented our inaugural concert in the lobby of Dana Farber, and the patients were incredibly grateful.  Cellist Benjamin Swartz greeted them with beautiful Bach cello suites; soothing, calming music, and was rewarded with wide and genuine smiles.  One of the patients stopped and closed her eyes, soaking in the music.  When Ben stopped playing, she cooed, “It’s like hearing the angels…but I’m still here!”

Moving our performances from the concert hall to remote locations, such as medical facilities, means we are able to reach more people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to feel its healing power. This brings me great delight.  Last month, I was blessed to witness pure joy on the faces of people actively fighting a battle most of us can only imagine.  That glimpse was enough to let me know that my own experience was universal. I’m fortunate to work at SSC, where we can provide such comfort.

I’m not the only SSC faculty performer who feels this way.  When I emailed others about this performance opportunity, within a matter of hours I had a waiting list of performers eager to participate. We ALL need to feel that we can help in some small way to ease pain in others.

In November, South Shore Conservatory’s Music is Medicine series features pianist Sarah Troxler with flutist Donald Zook performing a variety of tunes that range from the playful (think variations on Old MacDonald Had a Farm) to the familiar (think Moon River), and on December 7 features holiday classics with Robert Bekkers on classical guitar and Donald Zook on flute.

Learn more about South Shore Conservatory performances at sscmusic.org.

Beth MacLeod Largent is South Shore Conservatory’s Director of Performance and a member of the voice department.

Take a peek for yourself

Banner - preschool 6By Elaine Sorrentino
The most satisfying hours of my workweek are spent in South Shore Conservatory’s (SSC) afternoon PreK program, where I am permitted to teach literacy, culinary arts and a slew of other subjects in an inspiring manner that is meaningful and ripe for learning.  I am grateful for this arts-based approach which affords me complete artistic freedom in how I present my lessons.

For example, in honor of Halloween week, I was excited to introduce my four and five year olds to Ed Emberley’s If You’re a Monster and You Know It book.  Using the familiar tune, we learned how to snort and growl, smack our claws, stamp our paws, twitch our tails, wiggle our warts, and give a roar.  Fun, yes, but it’s also a lesson about following directions and waiting your turn; plus it allowed them to be a little raucous during Halloween week, and to take the air out of any monster’s tires.  We finished off with a Halloween age-appropriate Mad Lib – give me a type of scary costume, a color, a type of food – you get the idea.  This allowed them to use their imagination to create a very silly story.

South Shore Conservatory’s playful, arts-based curriculum for Preschool, PreK and Kindergarten is a natural and inspiring way for children to explore all the world has to offer. Dramatic play, movement, culinary arts and visual arts, as well as music are all important components of this unique program. Through the rhythm of a drum, children learn math fundamentals and the cadence of reading.  Through the Cha-Cha Slide song, children giggle through discovering right from left, forward from backward, and counting.  Through a humorous, over-the-top manners play, teachers demonstrate what “naughty” behavior at the table looks like.  This dramatization leaves our children with their mouths open in disbelief.  It is a lesson they cannot unlearn.

When you visit our school, you will be delighted by the amount of laughter you hear within our learning environment.  Even in our kindergarten class, you’ll see involved, engaged, inquisitive children at work, happy to be collaborating with peers on hands-on activities. In an effort to make all learning count, this arts-integrated approach celebrates the creativity within each student.  With this program, we’re not focused on creating future musicians, so much as creating future critical thinkers with curious minds.

I invite you to attend one of our Take a Peek tour sessions and see for yourself what arts-integrated learning is all about. It’s a whole-child, whole-body learning approach that appeals to the creativity inside all of us. It sets our children up for success and helps foster a lifelong love of learning.
SSC’s Take a Peek interactive, child-friendly Preschool/PreK/Kindergarten tour is the first Friday of each month.  The tour sessions give you a first-hand experience of our arts-integrated approach to learning and are about one hour long. To reserve your spot, contact Preschool/PreK/Kindergarten Director Rachel White at 781-749-7565, ext. 36 or email her at r.white@sscmusic.org.

Learn more about SSC programs at sscmusic.org, or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.  South Shore Conservatory is located at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.

Elaine Sorrentino is South Shore Conservatory’s Communications Director, and a specialist in SSC’s afternoon PreK program.

 

New faculty members shine at SSC Debuts

Laura Swartz headshotBy Laura Swartz
Mozart’s Le nozze di figaro was the first opera I had the privilege of seeing.  Just a teenager, I found the experience overwhelming, with so many different actions taking place on stage, and the music seeming to soar over everything – it nearly ripped the emotions out of me. Even though I already loved to sing, that powerful opera experience made me hungry to learn how to create such incredible drama with the voice, while simultaneously telling a story that connected with the audience.

Immediately following my first opera experience, I asked my parents for vocal lessons. I dreamed that one day I could sing like the people on stage, and stir others’ emotions, much like my own during that first opera experience. I was fortunate enough to take vocal lessons throughout high school, a time during which my love of music grew, and lead me to pursue music as my career.  I continued my studies through both undergraduate and graduate degrees, and now sing as a professional.

In voice lessons, I expected to improve my singing.  But what I actually learned was so much more! I learned that singing and performing was more than just about vocal technique. It was about exploring the emotional depth within each piece, and connecting to the lives of the poets who wrote the text, the composers, and the artists who originally performed those pieces. I learned that in order for music to be performed with richest intent, there must be personal connections between the music and its performer. Once I discovered the importance of those personal connections, I began looking for music to sing in a new light. Each time I uncover these hidden gems, I learn more about what it means to be an artist as well as a human being.

As I looked for an appropriate ending piece to my master’s recital at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, I was drawn to Benjamin Britten’s Cabaret Songs. Though these songs are beautiful, what I love about them is that they portray a wide range of emotions within each piece. Within the set, each of the four songs depicts a woman in different aspects of her relationship; for example, the third song, titled Johnny, depicts the woman’s enthusiasm for romance while the man, “Johnny”, is simply not interested. This well–set story challenges the singer to express complex emotions through portraying each character through the perspective of the woman, and doing so in a way that moves the audience to care about the woman and her unreciprocated affection.

This song captures so many elements of the human condition – love, humor, rejection, and sadness – and show cases the intense drama and storytelling that first drew me to music so many years ago. I am delighted to share Johnny from Britten’s Cabaret Songs at SSC Debuts, South Shore Conservatory’s concert introducing new faculty members. I hope you’ll join me.

SSC’s Conservatory Concert Series presents SSC Debuts on Sunday, November 11, 4 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  Tickets are $5 per person. Students are admitted free. Audience members are invited to stay after the performance for a reception, and to meet the performers.  For tickets or more information, visit sscmusic.org/ccs or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Soprano Laura Swartz joined South Shore Conservatory’s faculty this fall.