Core Strategy: Expanded Curriculum
In order to maximize the unique resources available to Prep/CE through our relationship with the College, our offerings will expand to reflect the College’s evolving curriculum, and provide new opportunities for studying crossover genres.
- Growing emphasis on Voice/Opera, with the addition of musical theatre studies. This will present opportunities to add other types of ensembles, classes, and summer studies that address the current needs and interests of our singers, both young and adult.
- Entrepreneurship opportunities for Prep/CE students to engage with their communities in both musical and non-musical ways. Opportunities to participate in service projects, short-term internships, and other community initiatives will be integrated into current programs, and will also offer points of collaboration with partner organizations such as From the Top, Boston Children’s Chorus, the Boston Ballet School, A Far Cry, and Project STEP. Participants will experience first-hand the potential of the arts as an agent of social change, and learn valuable administrative/organizational skills in the process.
- Introduction of Contemporary Improvisation (CI) into Prep and CE. NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation program is one of the most unique and highly regarded programs of its kind in the country. The curriculum emphasizes the development of a personal improvisatory voice through the integration of various musical styles, blurring the lines between genres, and focusing instead on individual music making. Encouraging our students to embrace the fluidity that can exist between musical genres will provide the tools that they will need as relevant, informed 21st-century musicians, and reinforce the idea that every musical form holds artistry and high-quality music making as its highest standard.
- Creating more instrument-specific ensembles in winds/brass in Prep. Wind and brass players typically start studying their instruments at an older age than string players and pianists, and have a less well-defined educational path to follow. This later start results in unique educational needs for students, and challenges for the faculty/staff to form well-balanced youth ensembles. Creating instrument-specific curricula for wind/brass players will provide them with valuable education opportunities, a chance to focus on the unique challenges of their instruments, additional incentive to enroll in Prep programs, and a pathway to our large ensembles.
Young players tend to seek as much playing experience as possible. Since orchestral repertoire involves less continuous playing for wind/brass players, students often pursue opportunities to join wind ensembles and bands. This is certainly a valued aspect of our curriculum; MYWE and Jr. MYWE (Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensembles) are among our most highly regarded programs. However, orchestral repertoire utilizes different and complex skills, so placing wind/brass players in Prep orchestras requires a great deal of attention. Boston is home to a wealth of youth orchestras, including Prep ensembles and those of the BYSO (Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras). Finding enough wind/brass players to participate is a challenge for all of them. Enriching our wind/brass curriculum with instrument-specific programs will help support our recruiting efforts.
- Satellite locations. The prospect of programming off-site Prep activities on a weekly basis is subject to several determining factors. One of the major strengths of our program is the fact that students can enjoy a multitude of experiences in a single day. For example, a “typical” student might move from their private lesson to theory class to chamber music rehearsal and end the day with large ensemble. Scheduling that student for an activity far off-campus would disrupt the flow of their day to the point where they might be forced to withdraw from one or more of their classes.
We are exploring the idea of expanding more “stand-alone” programs to off-campus locations for Prep; however, we need to ensure that those students feel integrated into the Prep School, and will receive enough exposure to its programs that they will also eventually engage in numerous activities, thereby taking full advantage of all that Prep has to offer.
CE offers more opportunities for off-site programming, in partnership with community colleges, art centers, and other cultural/educational facilities. By embedding our programs in suburban communities, we can simultaneously reach new market audiences and relieve space pressure on the NEC campus; also, not having to commute into the city and pay expensive parking fees will remove a substantial barrier that exists in our current model. The areas that can be most immediately realized are private lessons, chamber music (without piano, if necessary), and courses that serve the music enthusiast, all of which are offerings that are not necessarily dependent on conservatory facilities.