Category Archives: Teaching

SMFConnect – Virtual Summer Festival

In light of the ongoing pandemic, South Shore Conservatory is now offering a virtual summer festival, SMFConnect. Designed for students in grades 5 through college, the structure and schedule of the program is flexible, allowing students to pursue different interests and levels of time commitment. I will be offering group lessons (grades 5-6), private lessons (grades 7 and up), horn masterclasses, and audition workshop. Hope to see you there!SMFCONNECT 2020-blue-gold-page-001

Andromeda Quintet Brass Week

Now that summer weather is here, I’m pleased to announce Andromeda Quintet Brass Week – a brass chamber music program my colleagues and I are running in Wellesley from July 23rd through 27th.

The program is designed for students ages 13-19, and is open to individuals or pre-formed groups. Participants will explore the brass chamber and ensemble repertoire, while learning how to rehearse efficiently, and listen critically. Performance skills will be strengthened through daily masterclasses, followed by a formal recital at the end of the program. For a detailed schedule, and to register, visit: andromedaquintet.com

Andromeda Quintet Brass Week

Summer Wind & Brass Exploration

It’s hard to believe with a chill still in the air,  but summer is right around the corner… This June, WCMS is offering a week-long afternoon camp for students who want to join the band next fall! Designed for those entering grades 4 through 7, students will learn the basics about each instrument family, and find the woodwind or brass instrument that’s right for them. Instruments are provided, and financial aid is available. You can register here, or contact me if you have any questions.Woodwind and Brass Festival flier 2018

Set for success

pexels-photo-207658

As we settle into fall, and lessons have begun, this is a good time to review the tools that music students need for home practice. Many teachers (myself included) will place bulk orders for their students, so parents can simply buy directly from teachers. This can allow teachers to pass on bulk discounts to families, and ensure that everyone has the correct supplies. Nonetheless, it can be helpful to have an overview and explanation of what your student needs.

1. An instrument

This one is obvious, but it’s worth mentioning that there are a few different ways to acquire one. Many beginning students opt to rent an instrument for the first couple of years, or if they’re lucky, their school will have an instrument for them to borrow or rent. While renting is a convenient and low-commitment solution, it can become quite expensive over time. Once students have played for a couple of years, then I encourage families to consider purchasing an instrument. Beware the ISOs (Instrument-Shaped-Objects) that are often found on eBay, Craigslist, etc. – please consult your private teacher before taking the plunge! Most of us are more than happy to offer advice, try out instruments, etc. Also, before buying an instrument, it’s worth asking relatives and friends if they have anything kicking around in storage. Again, check with your teacher before going ahead with it, but you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

2. An appropriate chair

Students of all ages and instruments benefit from a chair that facilitates good posture, while being relatively comfortable. This is particularly important for horn, since the bell may need to rest on the chair (for small beginning students), or the leg. The ideal chair allows the student to sit with their feet touching the ground, with their knees and hips level (or hips slightly higher than knees) – definitely nothing with wheels, or arms. Piano benches are great if you already have one, but any lightly padded chair of the right height will do.

3. A music stand

Stands are important because they allow the student to maintain good posture while reading the music. Affordable folding stands can be found on Amazon, or better yet at your local music store – ask your teacher for their favorite place to shop. Alternatively, if you have a piano or keyboard at home, the student can practice in front of the piano – it’s not a great option for some instruments, but it works well for horn.

4. Instrument maintenance supplies

For brass players this includes valve oil, slide grease, mouthpiece brush, and a snake. Many rental instruments come with some of these supplies, so check before buying anything to see what you need. Again, a teacher will be happy to recommend their favorite brands, and teach the student how to maintain their instrument.

5. A metronome and tuner

A metronome and tuner are essential to refining musicianship – I use mine daily! There are two basic options available: a stand-alone tuner/metronome, or an app. Each has pros and cons – a stand-alone device is a little more expensive, but it’s easy to use, hard to break, and distraction free! The Korg TM50 is a good basic one. Apps are cheaper, but in order to use one you need to have access to a phone or tablet, as well as plenty of discipline to avoid getting side-traced. I like Tonal Energy Tuner, but there are others as well.

6. A notebook and pencil

These two simple items will take you far in your musical career. Many teachers require their students to have a notebook, which usually contains notes from the week’s lesson, and a practice log for students. Just like in any other subject, a music lessons notebook allows student and teacher to communicate smoothly, and stay organized. A pencil is essential, particularly for ensemble playing. Musicians are expected to mark their parts with any instructions from the conductor, as well as correct mistakes in their private practice.

With these items in hand, and good attitude, students will be well on their way to a great year. Happy practicing!

Calling all wind instrument explorers…

Woodwind and Brass flier

Sign your child up to join me, and many other wonderful faculty at Winchester Community Music School for five afternoons of musical fun!

Designed for students entering grades 4 through 7 next fall, this program is a great opportunity to try a variety of woodwind and brass instruments, letting your child find the one that suits them best. It’s an excellent introduction for those who want to join band next fall! Instruments are provided, and financial aid is available. You can register here, or contact me if you have any questions.

Audition season is here!

Shoot

As the days get longer, and (hypothetically) warmer, opportunities for musical growth have also arrived. If you and/or your child are looking for an extra-curricular ensemble for next fall, now is the time to sign up. Here is a list of opportunities available in the Greater Boston area:

Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (formerly known as GBYSO)

BYSO has four large ensembles to choose from for middle and high school students: 3 orchestras (Boston Youth Symphony, Repertory Orchestra, and Junior Repertory Orchestra), and a preparatory wind/brass group. Rehearsals take place on Sundays at the Boston University West campus College of Fine Arts.

Registration begins in mid-March, with auditions taking place during the last two weeks in May. The requirements are:

  • Two contrasting pieces or movements
  • Scales from memory. See page 6 of this year’s audition brochure for details.
  • Selected orchestral excerpts, available shortly here.
  • Sight reading

Chamber music is also available either separately, or in addition to large ensembles.

New England Conservatory Preparatory School

NEC Prep has eight large ensembles for students in grade 7 and up: 4 orchestras (Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, Youth Symphony Orchestra, Youth Repertory Orchestra, and Junior Repertory Orchestra), 3 wind ensembles (Senior Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble, Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble Concert Band, and Junior Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble), and a Youth Brass Ensemble. Rehearsals generally take place on Saturday, and are held in the downtown area between Symphony Hall and NEC.

Registration begins in March, with auditions taking place in mid-May (except for Brass Ensemble, which auditions in September). The requirements are:

  • Two contrasting pieces or movements: grades 6-10 at the Junior District Level, grades 10-12 at All-State Level
  • Scales – requirements differ depending on the ensemble being auditioned for
  • Excerpts – only for the senior orchestras (YPO and YS)
  • Sight-reading

Note that auditions for the different types of ensembles are scheduled separately. Chamber music is also available either separately, or in addition to large ensembles.

Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra

BPYO is for students ages 12 to 21 (with an emphasis on high school and above for the winds and brass). It is a tuition-free ensemble, with rehearsals on Saturdays in the downtown area near Symphony Hall and NEC.

Registration begins in March, with auditions taking place in mid-May (except for Brass Ensemble, which auditions in September). The requirements are:

  • Two contrasting pieces or movements of the highest level that showcase musical and technical abilities
  • Excerpts
  • Auditions also include an informal interview

The Rivers School Conservatory

Rivers has two ensembles for high school students: the Rivers Youth Orchestra, and the Rivers Youth Wind Ensemble. Orchestra rehearsals are Fridays from 4-5:30pm, and Wind Ensemble rehearsals are Mondays from 7-9pm, both at The Rivers School in Weston.

Auditions take place from mid-May to mid-June. The requirements are:

  • Two contrasting pieces or movements of a larger work at the Senior District Level
  • Full range chromatic scale and 2 octave major scales up to 4 sharps and 4 flats
  • Sight-reading

Tufts University Community Music Program

The Tufts Youth Philharmonic is a relatively new ensemble, open to students aged 13 and up. Rehearsals are Fridays from 4-6:30pm at the Granoff Music Center on Tufts’ Medford/Somerville campus.

Auditions are held in mid-May, but are also accepted via YouTube link or DVD. The requirements are:

  • Two contrasting solo pieces of your choice that demonstrate musical and technical ability
  • 2 octave scales, up to four sharps and four flats

Powers Music School

Powers is home to the Massachusetts Youth Symphony Project, a chamber orchestra for students aged 12-18. Rehearsals are on Saturdays from 3-5pm at the music school in Belmont.

Auditions are held in late May. The requirements are:

  • 2 octave major scale through 4 sharps and 4 flats
  • 3 octave minor scale of your choice
  • 2 contrasting pieces or movements
  • Sight-reading

Winchester Community Music School

WCMS offers an excellent chamber music program for students of all ages. Rehearsal dates and times are arranged according to the schedules of participants and coaches, and are held at the music school.

Placement auditions are generally held in the spring and fall. The requirements are:

  • Two contrasting works (or one larger work with contrasting sections
  • Sight reading

Save