Learn about the future of music on JRP Day: April 8


Join our Jazz/Rock/Pop Department (JRP) for its second JRP Day, which focuses on the future of music.  Free and open to all musicians, the event kicks off with a rhythm event jam, followed by a workshop/performance on World Music and Collective Improvisation with bassist/composer Mike Rivard.

Informative breakout sessions include: Singer/Songwriting with award-winning indie singer-songwriter Hannah Christianson; Recording, Session Work and Touring with producer/engineer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Jon Chi; Pop Vocal Styles and techniques with SSC voice faculty member Meredith Borden; and a new music technology petting zoo with Berklee professor Loudon Stearns.

The event concludes with an all-participant jam.

For more information about this event, contact JRP co-chair Ed Broms at e.broms@sscmusic.org or 781-749-7565, ext. 45.

Books + Music + Fun = Performathon 2017


By Beth MacLeod Largent
Here at South Shore Conservatory we are diligently working on our annual Performathon: 27 hours of incredible performances, spread out over four days, guaranteed to make you smile from start to finish!  As Director of Performance, I absolutely love seeing all levels of performers, from tiny Suzuki violin players, through adult chamber musicians. However, when I think about Performathon 2017, it’s not just the performing that makes me happy.  It’s the raising money for scholarships for deserving students, a noble venture and part of our daily work at SSC that makes me happy.  But additionally, there’s something even MORE that touches close to my heart.

Growing up, the Duxbury Free Library was one of my favorite places to visit. Every week my mother would take me and my brothers to borrow as many library books as we could hold.  We carted those books everywhere: to the beach, to our grandparents, in the car –and home. Reading and books continue to be an important component of my personal life. Being in the middle of a big, beautiful book store is a large part of why I adore Performathon, SSC’s annual performance marathon so very much! We bring our students to Barnes & Noble at the Derby Street Shoppes in Hingham, and for four days, my love of music and my love of books are combined. Our students, beginners through adults, raise pledges to help with scholarship – something so important for access at SSC. It’s thrilling to see the excitement on our younger students faces as they hand in their pledge envelopes, knowing they are helping others. At Performathon, they are able to put all their hard work to use.

In between checking in students and listening to heartwarming performances, I allow myself the luxury of wandering the down aisles in the store. I hold the books, I smell them, I feel the lovely fabrics and paper – it’s sublime. Also, I BUY!! I feel good doing this because a portion of my purchase comes back to SSC for scholarship support, so its guilt free. I’ve purchased holiday gifts, birthday gifts, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day gifts.  And, of course, gifts for me. In true non-profit spirit, my 13-year-old son also volunteers his time checking in performers…and he’s a VERY good shopper! Every day of Performathon we leave Barnes & Noble with something new, and every day I come home feeling energized and happy.

I invite you to join us for Performathon Thursday, March 30 from 5-9 pm, Friday, March 31 from 4-9 pm, Saturday, April 1 from 9 am – 6 pm, and Sunday, April 2 from 12- 5 pm at Barnes & Noble, 96 Derby Street in Hingham! Come visit, have a cup of coffee and listen to some inspiring music. I promise you that your heart will sing right along with the music.  And who knows? You might just find a treasure you just have to bring home. Mention South Shore Conservatory at checkout and a percentage of your sale comes to SSC. There’s nothing like the feel of a book combined with sweet music, and knowing you’re raising money for deserving students. I can’t think of anything better. I hope to see you there!

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

SSC’s New Handy, Healthy Snack Machine

KarmaBox vending machine.jpg

By Sharon Bohan
You might think it an easy task, but choosing the right vending machine for South Shore Conservatory (SSC) was definitely not a walk in the park.  And, having it installed was even harder! Let me start from the beginning though, so you can get the full picture.

We’ve had a vending machine in the reception area of our Hingham campus for longer than I have been employed here. The popular machine was used by everyone: staff, faculty and students alike. It was particularly popular during the summer months, as summer programs and concerts drew larger numbers of people into the building.  Keeping it well stocked was a large part of my weekly workload, and involved going to BJ’s Wholesale Club to buy snacks and drinks, and then filling the machine. It was extremely time consuming.

I tried to buy snacks and drinks that were healthy and peanut-free, but finding healthy items in BJ’s that would fit nicely into the slots in our machine became more and more impossible. Over time, the drink section stopped keeping drinks cold, and the machine’s limited change-making function made extra work for those of us at the front desk.  I was constantly clearing out the bills and coins, then refilling the coins. It gradually got to the point where this was becoming the focus of my life!

In September 2015, we reached the end of an era. I simply had to stop refilling the machine so I could concentrate on other areas of my job.  The machine lay empty for the next few months. During this time, I heard comments such as “oh, it’s still empty,” and “looks like it’s all sold out again.” It was time to look for a replacement.

We had a few important criteria to consider: snacks and drinks had to be in the one machine (as we have only one available space); the machine had to be small enough to fit into the space; snacks and drinks had to be healthy (and peanut-free); refilling the machine had to be the responsibility of the vendor; and the service would need to be free, as SSC is a non-profit and could not afford to pay monthly fees.

Finding a supplier who could meet all of these requirements took longer than anticipated. I contacted four local healthy snack vendors. None of them were able to fulfill all our criteria.

I had just about given up hope when I received an email from KarmaBox, a Californian-based company with local franchisees. I checked their website and saw that they met all our criteria. I met with their local representative, Nancy McAloon, and discovered KarmaBox was a perfect match for SSC! They could provide us with the vending machine of our dreams. We had a few problems actually getting the machine installed (broken pallet jack, snowstorms), but on February 15 our machine was fully operational. And we love it!

The computerized machine lets Nancy know an item is running low, so she can immediately restock it, and the machine accepts credit cards as well as bills and coins. Nancy has already made a new friend – one of our young students, who was mesmerized with our KarmaBox.  Stocking the machine, she answered his many questions concerning healthy snacks, but didn’t quite know how to reply to his statement, “using your credit card is not good for your bank account!”   I’m not sure how I’d reply either, but I do know that having a grumbly belly is not good for a productive afternoon.  I’ll use my credit card!

Sharon Bohan is South Shore Conservatory’s Hingham Campus Manager.

Creative Sources of Inspiration

edwina-and-margaret-liBy Margaret Li
What inspires musicians to do what they do?  What gives them inspiration to pursue and share?  Inspiration can come from anywhere and appear in any form. It also means different things to different people.  Sometimes, the most mundane thing can lead to a burst of creativity, a period of productiveness, a spark to a writer’s block, a new way to approach something.  It’s this unifying notion of inspiration that brings together SSC’s piano faculty for a concert of music that moves us, called Inspirations.

For me, one of my earliest memory of inspiration came from a thunderstorm.  Thunderstorm?  Sure, there is repertoire out there that depicts rain and thunder. Beethoven’s Symphony 6 is the first to come to mind.  But no, I am speaking about an actual thunderstorm!  One that cut our electricity and plunged our house into darkness one day.

This being before the Internet and cell phone days, our regular recreations of drawing and reading were augmented by creating music.  What better way to ride out a blackout than creating some music to fill the darkness and silence?  Our entire family gathered together: chairs were drawn around the piano, the big red flashlight placed on the piano desk, music books opened.  One of our older sisters thought it might be fun to have either my twin sister Edwina, or myself play a piano duet with her.  What a revelation!  It was then that Edwina and I thought to try playing piano four-hand ourselves, with our older sister acting as teacher.  As a youngster terrified of the dark and storms, I found that particular night pass quickly. It was the only enjoyable blackout I can remember.

Learning to play the piano can be a solitary endeavor.  The instrument demands patience, perseverance, motivation and self-discipline.  So it was in that moment that all those factors came into play, and it felt all at once effortless.  After that, our teacher could barely keep up with our insatiable requests for more duets.  It is luck that I was born with my musical partner, and we could discover the repertoire together as we continued our studies.

As to the source for an inspiration for Inspirations, my sister and I have chosen to perform two movements from Eric Ewazen’s A Suite from the Cloud Forest.  Ewazen was a wonderful inspiration in our early years; one could not have had a more dynamic, charismatic, upbeat theory and ear training teacher than he.  A nine o’clock theory class on Saturday mornings was something to look forward to, even if class was relocated behind the elevators due to construction and we got lost finding the room!  An accomplished composer who has written a wealth of music that is constantly being performed around the world, he has opened a whole new door of discovery by instilling the thorough study of music.  Recently, we came across a single copy of his Suite and thought, “what could be a more fitting venue than Inspirations to share music of his in the form we love best to play?”

Inspiration is all around us – that which is a constant state of wonder and open mindedness – come find out what some of our accomplished piano faculty have been inspired by!   South Shore Conservatory’s Conservatory Concert Series presents Inspirations on Sunday, March 12 at 4 pm at 64 St. George Street in Duxbury, and Sunday, March 19,
4 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  Admission is free. Audience members are encouraged to reserve their seat by leaving their name and number of guest attending on SSC’s box office at 781-749-7565, ext. 22 or by visiting www.sscmusic.org/concert-series.html.

Pianist Margaret Li has been with South Shore Conservatory since 2000 and is co-chair of SSC’s Faculty Council.  

Join us for American Music Camp for Strings!

By Amanda Smith Roberts
As each year seems to fly by faster than the last, I always look forward to the warm months of summer, when we get to enjoy all of the outdoor events that take place in the Jane Carr Amphitheater at South Shore Conservatory (SSC).  Cold winter months, however, signify impending summer fun, as summer planning is in full swing this time of year.  For me, this means planning the next American Music Camp (AMC) for Strings!  AMC for Strings began at SSC in the summer of 2015 when I had the vision of bringing a diverse string camp to South Shore Conservatory. The goal was to provide students with fun classes and creative opportunities that would boost their playing skills, introduce them to new musical styles, improvisational skills, various techniques for their instruments, all of which help them enjoy creating and sharing music with each other.  The 2015 inaugural camp was such a great success that the faculty and majority of student campers returned for our 2016 camp.

The wide range of camp classes allows students to explore new areas of string playing. To ensure students are placed in classes geared to their interests, playing level, and age group, each camper is asked to fill out a questionnaire where they can both choose classes they are most interested in joining, and tell me a little bit about themselves.  A top favorite class has been Old Time Radio Show, reminiscent of Prairie Home Companion, where students learn to write a script and run a variety show that hosts the daily student recitals.  Faculty interviews, student-told jokes, and a game show were a few of the many fun components of this class. Another big hit was Movie Music and Arranging, where students create their own renditions of their favorite film scores.  SSC’s rock-star, guitarist Erik Calderone joined the AMC faculty last summer, and formed the “Noodle Band,” a large student rock band that wrote some rockin’ songs – specifically about pasta. We had so much fun!

It is hard to explain the unique AMC experience in words, so we are offering a FREE preview of the camp to anyone looking to try it out! The AMC Preview event is Saturday, March 11 from 3-6 pm in Hingham.  Students are encouraged to bring their instruments and join us for FREE fiddle workshops provided by the amazing AMC faculty! This event is open to students ages 3-18 of all levels, experience, and stringed instruments (violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, mandolin).  Classes include: Irish and American Styles, Rock’n’Roll, Irish Foot Percussion, Improvisation, Jamming, and more! We will also hold a raffle to give students a chance to win a mandolin and other prizes!

AMC for Strings gives students a taste for what is possible on their instruments, and helps them find their individual musical voices. This five-day summer camp provides opportunities for all string students, ages 3-18, regardless of their experience or musical background. Each day includes an all-camp jam session and student performances in the amphitheater, where kids can showcase anything from solo works to original band projects formed with friends at the camp. One would have to fly all over the nation to accumulate such an expansive variety of experiences that they will gather in five days. I could not be more excited to continue offering something so unique and wonderful for anyone looking for an amazing musical experience!

South Shore Conservatory’s American Music Camp for Strings runs from June 25-30 at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  For more information about the camp or the preview event, visit www.sscmusic.org, find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook, or call 781-749-7565, ext. 10.

Amanda Roberts is the chair of South Shore Conservatory’s string department.

In Matters of Love

allison-lynchBy Allyson Lynch
In just a few days, the diversely-talented voice faculty of South Shore Conservatory (SSC) takes the stage for a Valentine-themed concert called In Matters of Love. I am very excited to be singing in this performance because I am the newest addition to SSC’s voice faculty. This is the first time I will have the opportunity to perform alongside my new colleagues.

In July 2016 I began teaching voice at SSC. I started teaching just a few private students, then added Summer Vocal Institute teaching, and this fall took on some group voice classes. It’s hard to believe that since this summer I have taught close to 40 voice students!  What an honor it’s been to join this amazing faculty, because I was once a student at South Shore Conservatory myself. This is the place I studied and learned so much about music and my voice, and where I continued to develop my love for singing as a teenager. It has been incredible to work alongside this faculty, whom I have always looked up to.  It feels as though I have come full circle.

When asked what kind of music I love, the answer was simple. I have loved musical theater my entire life. The upbeat dance numbers, the emotionally-charged ballads, and the beautiful love duets engage the listener in such a true and meaningful way. Some of my favorite composers in this genre include classics such as Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bock and Harnick, and Sondheim as well as more contemporary writers such as Alan Menken, Jason Robert Brown and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In my last year as an SSC student, I started singing classical music, and went on to study it in college at The Hartt School. I quickly developed a love for opera, which is really the original, more dramatic version of musical theater! Some of my favorite classical composers to listen to (and to sing) are Puccini, Faure, and Richard Strauss.

In matters of love within my own life, music has always played an important role. I am a newlywed and met my husband David when we were both freshmen at Hartt. He was a fellow voice performance major and an immensely talented tenor. Needless to say, I heard him sing and was hooked from the start! We love singing together – at our church job, along to the radio, in recitals. Any opportunity to sing with each other, we will take it. We got married this past October, and music played very prominent role in our beautiful outdoor ceremony. We had friends sing us down the aisle, along with an incredible acoustic guitar player, and we quoted from love songs that have special meaning to us.

The text of the song I am singing for In Matters of Love was actually read during our wedding ceremony.  It’s one of my favorite poems by E.E. Cummings called I Carry Your Heart.  The beautiful melody was written by John Duke, and the song is very special.  Music is and always will be a huge part of our life as a couple.  I hope you’ll come and hear this heartfelt tribute to all things love-related.

South Shore Conservatory’s Conservatory Concert Series (CCS) presents In Matters of Love on Sunday, February 11, 4 pm at SSC’s Duxbury campus at 64 St. George Street.  Admission to the concert is free, and audience members are invited to join the performers for a reception following the performance.  For more information, visit sscmusic.org.

Feeding your soul in the New Year


South Shore Conservatory offers an adult ukulele class this spring.

By Elaine Sorrentino
I own a $400 drying rack.  You may think this a bit extravagant until you discover it was not purchased as a clothes rack; it was purchased as an elliptical trainer one January not long ago, so that I might shed the extra pounds that sneak up during the holidays.  My New Year’s resolution to spend at least 25 minutes on the elliptical lasted an entire two weeks before I discovered that sleeping later than 6:00 am was preferable to dragging myself out of bed to exercise.

This is a story we’ve all heard before.  Make a resolution, break a resolution.   But there IS one resolution I made and have not broken.  It’s my resolution to do something fun that feeds my soul and stimulates my brain.

In January of 2008 I joined South Shore Conservatory’s Woman Song, an cappella ensemble for women who love to sing.  After 90 minutes of harmony and reflection, I leave relaxed and invigorated, feeling loved and lifted up by my fellow singers. This was the best resolution I’ve ever made.  So, while my elliptical sits in the corner virtually unused (save for the times it acts as a clothes rack), I continue to make music with my singing sisters.

My friend Su D’Ambrosio, Director of Programs and Curriculum here at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), has met many adults over the years who share that they regret giving up an instrument they played when they were young, never picking it up again.  Others share they are sorry they never tried one when they were young, and fear it’s too late. Her response is that it’s never too late! What a great resolution! Coming back to an instrument or learning one for the first time as an adult has many benefits including strengthening brain function, enjoying a sense of accomplishment, meeting new people with a common interest and simply experiencing the joy that only the creative arts can bring.

When you look around the room at one of SSC’s adult group classes, you see a combination of focused concentration, and smiles and laughter. These adult students are having fun, chuckling through the mistakes and celebrating the successes!  In addition to having introductory classes in violin, guitar and piano, we are starting an adult ukulele class this spring. Ukulele is inexpensive, portable and not too complicated to learn, so you tend to see progress fairly quickly.  The ukulele is light and easy to hold, and even our oldest students are able to manage. Ukulele also lends itself to singing along which adds an element of fun and festivity to the class.  We ran a ukulele class at the Hingham Senior Center in the fall and it was a huge hit.

Happy New Year to all, and if your resolution is to do something nice for yourself in the New Year, check out our arts-based programs at www.sscmusic.org or call 781-749-7565, ext. 10 for more information.  SSC’s next semester starts the week of January 30.

Elaine Sorrentino is South Shore Conservatory’s Communications Director.

We’re proud of our dancers

ballet-2-split-cropNot only does South Shore Conservatory offer the best in music education, we also offer a high quality dance education.  Under the direction of Dance Department Chair Susie Guthro, an American Ballet Theatre certified instructor, SSC was recently selected as a host for Burklyn Ballet’s summer intensive program auditions, drawing dancers from all around the South Shore.


This week we congratulate this proud Ballet 2 student who is the latest SSC dancer to conquer the split.

More information about our dance program: http://sscmusic.org/dance_movement.html

Boston: A love story

eve-and-bostonBy Lauren Pimpare
Five and a half years ago I was your typical city girl, living with my husband and our beautiful 18-month-old daughter in our condo in the North End of Boston.  Working, walking everywhere, eating out, living the good life, with the world at my steps. I was the quintessential “urban-mom.”  I was also pregnant with our second child.  Life could not have been more perfect.  And then my water broke an hour after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup.  I was 32 weeks pregnant.  While the city outside celebrated, we rushed to the hospital where I would spent the next two weeks on hospital bed rest.  Two weeks later our son Boston was born.

The first EEG showed no communication between the left and right hemispheres with limited brain activity.  The MRI showed global damage.  Days later, the second EEG showed some communication between the hemispheres, but still limited activity.  But my baby was awake and breathing on his own.

After a week the doctors sat us down in a large room filled with neonatologists, my OBGYN, neurologists, chiefs, chairs, residents, fellows, NICU nurses… a whole team.  The team said, “Your son’s EEG showed some development since the initial tests.  However, it was not reflective of normal growth.” They were clearly concernedWords flew around the room.  “Confined to a wheelchair, deaf, blind, unable to speak, unable to walk, fed through a tube, vegetable, completely dependent on us” was what we heard.

We made a promise that day to do everything within our power to help Boston reach his full potential.  And we have.  This includes packing our family up and moving to Cohasset, largely for the schools, and their willingness to work with the families of children with special needs. Since birth, Boston has been diagnosed with the following: failure to thrive, cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia, a seizure disorder, a vestibular disorder, and legal blindness.  In five and half years we can count on our hands the number of times he has slept through the night.  He can’t sit, walk, talk, he can barely hold his head up, he wears glasses, he has no control of his arms, legs, or hands – no manual grasp, he can’t sip a straw, or blow a bubble.  And he is the light of our lives.

We tried using traditional therapies to help him with everyday skills, but it was not until we found South Shore Conservatory and Music Therapist Eve Montague that, for the first time, I watched Boston truly enjoy an experience.  In his music therapy sessions with Eve, chair of SSC’s Creative Arts Therapies department, he can be himself and smile, bang a drum, vocalize – or just listen to her play the guitar.  Where he had little movement at first, after three and a half years with Eve he can now bang the drums while she sings, and often reaches for her guitar strings and tries to strum along.  He looks forward to his session every week and is sometimes moving with such excitement that he is difficult to hold!!!  I am so thankful for these sessions.  There are times when he hits a drum or strums the guitar in perfect time with a song she is singing. Experiencing this with him is profound. It assures me that he fully understands everything that is going on and, in that moment, he is interacting with his environment appropriately. For us, there is nothing in the world like it.

South Shore Conservatory’s Chase Away the Winter Blues gala, on January 28 at the River Club in Scituate, helps raise funds for SSC’s Creative Arts Therapies department, as well as for SSC Community Partnerships programs, including ImagineARTS, which provides a free arts and literacy program for kindergarten students in Brockton, and financial scholarships for deserving students.  Tickets to the event have sold out, but donations are still gratefully accepted.  To find out more, please contact Liz Graham at l.graham@sscmusic.org or 781/749-7565, ext. 14.