Bike Parking Area at Residence Hall to Close Temporarily

NEC Construction News - Thu, 2015-04-23 12:03

Dear NEC Faculty, Staff, and Students,

On May 19, 2015, the bicycle parking area located in the Residence Hall Courtyard will be closed until August 21, 2015 due to work associated with construction of the Student Life and Performance Center.

All bikes must be removed by May 19, 2015.

Unfortunately, if any bikes are not removed, Building Operations will dispose of them.

For those who need to park bikes, an additional rack has been installed to the left of the Jordan Hall entrance. There will also be access to the bike racks located near the St. Botolph Building entrance when construction of the handicapped ramp is completed in the next few weeks.

As a reminder, the City of Boston does not allow any bikes to be locked to wrought iron fencing located along Huntington Ave. and Gainsborough St. (To comply with that regulation, NEC is forced to remove such bikes and fine the owners $25.)

As always, if you have questions, contact Mike Ryan ( 617-585-1187), Karen Kidd ( 617-585-1181) or Ellen Pfeifer ( 617-585-1143).

Getting to know faculty member, Randy Wong, bassist, music-in-education

Preparatory School - Thu, 2015-04-23 09:24

What advice would you offer to young performers?

Build your fundamental skills to virtuosic degrees. Don’t just listen to music, but transcribe what you hear. Start a journal of interesting orchestration techniques… then transcribe them. Study solfege like it’s your first language. Learn a favorite piece by transposing it to a different key. But above all, never give up and don’t put yourself down. Music can be a lifelong passion, and you don’t have to “get it” right away… You have your whole life to improve.

Apart from music, what other activities do you find enriching in your life?

Community service and volunteerism. There are many non-profits out there who rely on volunteers to carry out their basic services. However, there’s usually a shortage of people who actually reach out and offer to help, particularly with basic or menial tasks. (Everyone wants to do the “important stuff”). I like to be one of the people that helps at the most basic levels.

Who has been your biggest source of inspiration throughout your education/career?

Musically: My peers, particularly at NEC. There’s a tremendous source of creativity and life here. From students to faculty, it’s incredible how much dedication there is collectively to our craft. Many people that I perform professionally with now, I originally met in high school and college. It’s very inspiring to be able to learn, perform, and grow together.

Non-Musically: My parents, grandparents, and wife are super sources of inspiration. Both of my grandfathers worked continually into late stages of their life (mid 80s and early 90s). My parents never let me give up my dreams of success. And my wife is a very dedicated violinist herself.

If you could choose one career outside of music, what would it be?

I’ve always been curious about dance. I never took any Western dance classes (only Hawaiian hula, which is a requirement when you grow up in Hawaii), but I’ve always been fascinated by movement and choreography. There’s so much music inherent in dance, and vice-versa, so it would probably be a good fit for my interests and personality.

What is your favorite genre of literature?  What’s the most memorable thing you’ve read in the past year?

I haven’t gotten into any fiction in a very long time. The last books I read were “How the States Got Their Shape,” which is mostly American history, and then a mathematics book, “The Joy of X.” That said, I’m trying to get into Ernest Hemingway, and am starting with his short stories.

What have you been listening to most recently?

Classical: the new “Balance Problems” album from yMusic; Pierre Fournier’s Bach cello suites; music of composer Michael-Thomas Foumai; Joe Foley’s album “Nightsongs” with Bonnie Anderson.

Non-Classical: Music recently released by my NEC peers.
“Shaken by a Low Sound” album by Crooked Still; “Lock My Heart” album by Heather Masse and Dick Hyman; “Nuestro Tango” by Natalie Fernandez; “Secret Love” album by Sara Leib; and “Ugandan Suite” by Felipe Salles; “Center Song” album by Steve Treseler; “Cockpit” album by Bootyjuice.

Do you have any pets at home?  If so, where is your favorite place to take them for a walk?

I have two “budgie” birds. They don’t walk much, but they’re also not so great at flying, so basically they glide around my music room.

Touring Boston's El Sistema-inspired programs

Exploring El Sistema - Thu, 2015-04-16 10:26
The first stop on my Boston Sistema tour was Sistema Somerville. I was very excited to visit because the director, Diane Cline, had volunteered at MYCincinnati during our first year, right before she moved to Boston. The first thing that jumped out at me was the hard work of her... Sistema Fellows Program

New Boston – Chapter 2

Penguin - Tue, 2015-04-14 00:56
by NATALIE ALPER-LEROUX Third-year BM Viola     The following is the second chapter of a serialized story. Check out Chapter 1 here! Chapter 2: South Station Halfway through the ride to South Station, Caela suddenly stopped crying. It wasn’t the stares of the passengers around her, first sympathetic and pitying, then impatient and condescending, as the minutes […]

International Recipes

Penguin - Tue, 2015-04-14 00:55
In honor of our NEC’s We Are The World event, we’re serving up some internationally flavored recipes for you this month. Both Elizabeth and Frankie incorporate some of their family history into each recipe. Remember also that on April 21st, you’ll have a chance to share a recipe of your own from your heritage at […]

A New Commission

Penguin - Tue, 2015-04-14 00:53
by MARIEL AUSTIN Second-year MM Jazz Comp.     Mariel was recently awarded as one of three winners of the New York Youth Symphony’s ‘First Music Commissions’ program. Her work will be performed by the NYYS Jazz Band a Jazz at Lincoln Center on Monday, March 14, 2016. Below, Mariel tells us a bit about what […]

Maya Jacobs

Penguin - Tue, 2015-04-14 00:52
by ANDREW NISSEN Second-year GD Trombone     1. How long have you been working with the SAC? This is my 4th year as the Coordinator of the Student Activities Center. I was working in the SAC prior to that as an Activities Assistant and Graduate Assistant. 2. What brought you to working there? When […]

Singing In Tongues

Penguin - Tue, 2015-04-14 00:51
by ELIZABETH WENDT Third-year BM Voice     One of the biggest perks of being a classical singer is getting to study and sing in a wide array of languages. The three main foreign languages that singers experience are French, German, and Italian, but there are so many more to explore like Russian and – my […]

Boxing In The Concert Hall

Penguin - Tue, 2015-04-14 00:50
by ALEX STENING First-year MM French Horn     On May 2nd 2015, Floyd Mayweather Jr, will fight Manny Pacquiao in what will be the highest grossing boxing fight in history. Floyd “Money” Mayweather is an undefeated five-division world champion American boxer who is the world’s highest paid athlete. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is an eight-division world champion […]

Taking Care

Penguin - Tue, 2015-04-14 00:48
by SARAH ATWOOD First-year MM Violin     ’Tis the season for auditions and recitals. Spring is a very busy time of year playing-wise, and practicing seems to reach an all-time high. There’s pressure to prepare and memorize lots of pieces, for recitals and promotionals alike. Worries about the outcome of school auditions, summer auditions, and job […]

The Power Of Positive Thinking

Penguin - Tue, 2015-04-14 00:44
by FRANKIE YU Second-year MM Trombone     I read once that whenever you are super stressed out or overwhelmed, or you feel like everything in life is just so wrong, you should smile. Smile, and you will feel better. Honestly, I thought it was kind of dumb, but I’ll try anything once. You know that feeling […]

Construction of 241 St. Botolph Ramp Begins this Week

NEC Construction News - Mon, 2015-04-13 11:50

April 13, 2015

Dear NEC Faculty, Staff, and Students,

Just a reminder and a few new details:

As you recall, work begins this Friday, April 17th, on construction of a new handicapped ramp at the entrance to the 241 St. Botolph Building.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The main entrance to 241 will be shut down as of midnight, Thursday, 4/16.
  • The temporary entrance will be through the parking lot door.  The door will be unlocked and un-alarmed from 7am to 11pm.
  • A security guard will be stationed inside the door and there will be card readers available…all students, faculty and staff will be required to swipe I.D.s at the inside location.
  • A temporary walkway will marked through the lot.  Pedestrians, please use the designated walkway for your safety.
  • Parkers in the 241 parking lot: please use caution in driving through the lot, and in particular pulling into and backing out of parking spaces.

As always, if you have questions, contact Mike Ryan (617-585-1187), Karen Kidd   (617-585-1181) or Ellen Pfeifer (617-585-1143).

Ran Blake and Film Noir

Huffington College - Thu, 2015-04-09 11:53
An extraordinary improvising musician who styles himself a "noir pianist," Ran celebrates his 80th birthday on August 20 this year. He can look back, and indeed forward, at a life spent entirely in music as a performer and as an educator. Tony Woodcock

Innovation Grants awarded to Sistema Fellows

Exploring El Sistema - Tue, 2015-04-07 15:07
During the first year of the Sistema Fellowship Resource Center, I am pleased to announce that the following Innovation Grants (matching funds for projects that advance personal knowledge while also building capacity in the field) have been awarded to alumni of the Sistema Fellows Program: Clara Yang ‘14: Support for... Sistema Fellows Program

A few thoughts on Education - April, 6, 2015

Jose-Luis Estrada - Mon, 2015-04-06 20:41

A few days ago, I visited with students and parents at a local Tulsa Elementary school to speak about music education and our Sistema Tulsa project. I enjoy these opportunities because I can connect and learn from them. I always feel that effective education should be a "from the ground up" or grassroots process if you will—where parents, teachers, and students must all "play" in concert to make it work.

As I shared a dinner in the school cafeteria, I met a mother and daughter who told me that they really enjoyed their school. As the conversation unfolded, I learned that the daughter, a third grader, had a few pieces of constructive criticism to share. She said, I make the Principal’s Honor Roll every time, yet I don’t feel like receive the recognition I deserve.” She believes that the school pays too much attention to behavior management and to her it seemed that doing well in that area carried more weight as far as rewards were concerned. I wonder if the school, or any school for that matter, has a process in place to hear the feelings, attitudes, or aspirations of their students. I know this would not be an easy task given the extraordinary demands teacher face on daily basis, but I learned that even taking a few minutes to hear a concern over a quick dinner can make a big difference to make a student feel included.

This exercise of inclusion can be productive on many levels. First of all, because it recognizes someone’s viewpoint and this can be important in the educational process. When Howard Gardner was in here in Tulsa to lecture on his ideas as part of the Brock International Prize in Education, he explained the concept of “individuation.” He shared that teachers must be conscious of each student’s intellectual profile (I would also add an emotional profile as rendered by the contextual circumstances of their own life). Interestingly enough, individuation is not a new practice. It happens often in the context of personal instruction or tutoring which for the most part only the more economically affluent students can partake in. In urban school districts where poverty might be an issue, all who participate in education cannot shy away from the potential of being as present as we can be in the life of each student. This of course is a parent’s responsibility first but needs to also be balanced among different supporting pillars.

I remember my first piano teacher used to say that it took the participation of the student, the teacher, and the family to reach success. I know that educational leaders often try their best to plan activities where the three can meet and share. The parent teacher conference or the “Rise and Shine” general assembly come to mind. Lately, I witnessed another type of bonding experience—the Music Festival. Around thirteen Elementary schools in Tulsa met to make music together through "Orff" ensembles and choral groups. About 200 students shared the stage with several teachers taking turns at leading the music. The general atmosphere at these events is always one of pride and celebration. It always impresses me to see so many cameras and flashes shining around, as if this were a Garth Brooks concert. But the whole point of the experience goes much farther than the waves that a musical tune can produce or the images that can be captured on a cell phone. This is about the experience of being in the presence of a much more hopeful future. As students sang (and they sang with gusto) you could sense that they felt that they were part of something important. How many times have students left a testing room feeling elated or proud about themselves?

Back to Gardner and his talk, in addition to individuation there was also “pluralization” in learning. This idea has everything to do with finding ways to teach a specific idea from multiple perspectives. There is research to prove that the arts can teach us much more than playing a note in tune or drawing a line with finesse. In fact, there are several experiments around the country having to do with what experts call “expeditionary learning” where mathematics or language can be taught from a musical perspective. I have not fully participated in this but I presume that this would work given I can still remember all 50 states and all the Books of the Bible (since they were taught to me in the form of a song).

Beyond the academic realm, I do think that there are things that only the arts can teach us. The great American jazzman Wynton Marsalis speaks eloquently on this subject. He uses music and swing as a metaphor for inclusion. “Music necessitates listening to and working with others in fulfillment of the requirements of ensemble performance,” he says, “The art of swing is the art of balance, of constant assertion and compromise.” I like the word compromise because it implies trust. And perhaps this is just what we need more of today. We need to find ways to listen better to each other, to recognize that viewpoints which might be foreign to us still matter, and to celebrate our diversity in the broadest sense of the word. I remember the student at the local Elementary school and ponder that this is perhaps why it is so important that we can listen to the most vulnerable of voices because they can teach us how we should lead and how the music should sound.

-Jose Luis


Exploring El Sistema - Fri, 2015-04-03 16:14
What do you think of when you hear the word “chapters”? Some people might imagine parts of a book, or parts of a life. Maybe you think of different groups that are part of a larger whole, like a chapter of a fraternity or other professional organization. These are just... Sistema Fellows Program

Get to know NEC Prep Faculty, Barbara Winchester, voice

Preparatory School - Fri, 2015-04-03 15:48

What advice would you offer to young performers?

Learn how to practice–I hear so many young performers playing a phrase wrongly and who keep practicing over and over that bad habit, take a difficult passage very slowly
and starting with the end of a piece instead of always the beginning.

Apart from music, what other activities do you find enriching in your life?

My husband and I have taken tango lessons for years and are planning a trip to Argentina. I enjoy interior design, art, especially African American artists, Mexican artists like Tamayo, Rivera and Siequieros, and I like reading, especially biographies.

How would you describe the tone of your instrument/voice?

I don’t go for a single tone for all pieces, I like a variety of colors. My sound is rich and unforced.

Who has been your biggest source of inspiration throughout your education/career?

My teachers, my father, for his work ethic and my husband, who is a composer.

If you could choose one career outside of music, what would it be?

A doctor, specifically a pediatrician.

What is your favorite genre of literature?  What’s the most memorable thing you’ve read in the past year?

I love poetry.  After all, it’s my business! I think that students should memorize poems.  When I was in a bilingual (French) school, I could recite many by heart.

I loved “The Giver” and I am constantly reading.

What have you been listening to most recently?

Old tapes and Diana Krall.

MYCincinnati's Ambassador Ensemble

Exploring El Sistema - Wed, 2015-04-01 23:03
The Ambassador Ensemble is a sextet of young Price Hill musicians led by MYCincinnati (founded by Laura Jekel, Sistema Fellow '11) Assistant Director and Cincinnati Art Ambassador Fellow Eddy Kwon. Throughout the school year, this group has been engaging in weekly critical discussions around identity, social justice, power, and the... Sistema Fellows Program

Side-by-Side concert report

Exploring El Sistema - Wed, 2015-04-01 22:58
On Friday, March 20, I traveled to Boston to observe the Longy Sistema Side-by-Side concert and to speak with teachers and program directors who were involved in the collaboration. My biggest takeaway was how great the orchestra sounded. Comprised of students from several Sistema-inspired programs in the Boston area, the... Sistema Fellows Program