As a rising NEC senior, Bryce Leafman '16 B.M. (percussion) spends many of his waking (and sleeping) hours like so many percussion students—practicing orchestral excerpts, studying for classes, preparing for lessons with Daniel Bauch of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and playing in NEC ensembles big and small.
What may be less visible is the rich fabric of Bryce’s life beyond NEC’s walls, particularly the focus and commitment he has made to musically enriching the lives of youth and adults living in the Boston community. For the past three years, Bryce has been a teaching fellow in NEC’s Community Performances and Partnerships (CPP) Program, teaching youth at Boston Latin Academy, Orchard Gardens K–8 Charter School, and Margarita Muniz Academy, all Boston Public Schools. “Bryce brings a very specialized skill to further the education of our percussion students. His expertise alone has engaged the kids and motivated them to pay attention to the finer points of playing percussion,” says Avi Mehta, a music teacher at Margarita Muniz Academy.
Through CPP, Bryce has also led an annual creative percussion ensemble of adults with developmental disabilities at Vinfen, a community-based service organization, from 2013 to the present. The “Vinfen Cool Cats Percussion Ensemble” works with Bryce over several weeks to develop a repertoire of original pieces, which are showcased in a culminating performance.
Based on this experience, Bryce was hired to work for the Boston Ballet Adaptive Dance program, where he performs in weekly dance classes for children with special needs, and collaborates with teachers to create curriculum and programming.
Says Tanya Maggi, NEC’s Director of Community Performances and Partnerships, “Bryce walked into our offices as a first-year student with the pedagogical skill set and professionalism of a much more experienced educator. He immediately impressed us with his innate ability to work with people of all ages, and his passion for jumping into any pursuit that would be of benefit to the community.”
Back on NEC’s campus, Bryce’s friendly presence is seemingly everywhere—in NEC’s cafeteria, Bistro 33, as a former cashier and now a manager of production record data; at NEC’s Admissions Office, giving weekly tours to prospective students and families; as a performer in NEC’s Entrepreneurial Musicianship “UnConservatory” concerts; at NEC College and Preparatory School auditions, making nervous candidates feel at home; as a percussion coach/instructor for NEC Prep’s Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble; and at student recitals and other NEC community events, always an enthusiastic supporter of his peers. Wherever he goes—as a student, performer, educator, or community member—Bryce has a special talent for forging strong connections between people.