The Atrium M+MI Program Choral Project (Winter Solstice Assembly 2009)

A further exploration of the efficacies of the MIENC’s ‘Music Plus Music Integration’ (M+MI) initiatives in laboratory school settings. This video highlights the work of the Atrium School (Watertown, MA) and its M+MI Choral Program, led by music director (and former MIE@NEC Guided Intern) Michael Glicksman, who is now in his second year of teaching at the Atrium School.

The Enterprise of Music and Learning

From the Journal for Music-in-Education:

This first section of the Journal for Music-in-Education tells the stories of several musical artists at different points in their careers: a promising young composer, a celebrated concert pianist, an extensively recorded improvisation artist, and a recent conservatory graduate embarking on a career in world music.

These portraits are not intended to foreground the impressive trajectory of their musical accomplishments, but rather to draw out a clearer understanding of how a life in music can be defined by the deep yearning to learn, teach, serve, and connect with others. These portraits show—in the words of the artists themselves and in commentary from their mentors and peers—that musical endeavors take on greater depth through a broad range of social encounters, role modeling, reflective thinking, and community involvement, all of which are becoming better understood as essential to the successful education of the performing artist in society today.

Thus, the enterprise of learning music for the highly trained artist, as represented in these chapters, takes on a particular significance as a “transformative”model for public school education. Time-lapse documentation of Julia Carey’s childhood notations presents an intriguing mosaic of how children’s understanding of music evolves over time. Yet her simultaneously expanding interests in academic excellence and role modeling through community engagement provide the larger picture of a musician preparing herself for rich and mutually satisfying connections to people and thus for meaningful contributions to society itself. Lorin Hollander’s precocious sense of music’s interdisciplinary association with physics,literature,and psychology and his depiction of personal transformation through mentorship can help educators appreciate the potential contributions of musical understanding to young children’s cognitive, aesthetic, and social-emotional wellness and to the solution of systemic social problems, such as the disillusionment ofour youth,cultural intolerance, or violence in our schools and among nations.

The divergent roles musicians play in society is also emphasized in the reflections by Michael Cain and Randy Wong. Both provide extensive detail of their experiences sidestepping their early classical training and choosing to “take delight”in exploring other forms of musical genre and culture. Here again, the evolving models of musicians and music in education are seen from the perspective of how engagement in ensemble improvisation and world music outside the conventions of classical traditions can support our youth, who yearn to connect contemporary modes and media of self-expression to our changing society,as Mr.Cainputs it,“around the world and around the block.”

Links to MIE Alumni Teaching Blogs and Online Portfolios

We’d like to draw some attention to the links listed in the side panel on the right of this page. We have listed links to other Internet resources for those interested in the emergent field of music-in-education; in particular, portfolios and teaching blogs that our MIE alums started while they were students and have continued in their professional careers. We regularly hear from our alums that reflective writing, collecting documentation, and keeping portfolios of their work is extremely helpful as they apply for jobs in education. Many alums, in fact, bring their portfolios to job interviews to help showcase their work and rationale towards music-in-education. We will be sharing links to the work of our alumni, and also are more than willing to help current students publish their work on our website.

Links to MIE Alumni Teaching Blogs:

  • Violinist Helen Liu (MM’03 GD’04)’s Teaching Blog
  • Bassist and MIE Program Coordinator Randy Wong (BM’03)’s MIE Guided Internship in Dalian, China
  • Links to MIE Alumni Sample Portfolios:

  • Composer Christopher Jette (MM ’05)’s Guided Internship Portfolio
  • Christopher Jette’s Cumulative (Exit) Portfolio
  • Randy Wong’s Solfege TA portfolio
  • –Randy Wong,
    MIE Program Coordinator

    Former MIE Student Returns from U.S. State Department Tour as American Musical Envoy

    Drummer and percussionist Richie Barshay graduated from NEC in 2005. Originally from West Hartford, Connecticut, Barshay has spent the last few years touring and performing with jazz icon Herbie Hancock’s project, “Gershwin’s World,” and as the newest member of Hancock’s quartet. Barshay just returned from a U.S. State Department tour of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

    What was your impetus for getting involved with MIE?

    I taught private lessons [while] in high school, but I basically had aspirations like a lot of musicians to do some teaching at some point. My freshman year [at NEC], I was just interested in learning more than I already knew and getting some ideas. I took one MIE class each semester, with Larry Scripp and Warren Senders. Those classes were really mind-opening, and I’m still in good touch with Warren.

    Tell us about what the outreach portion of the trip looked like, and how your MIE studies contributed to your experiences abroad.

    The toughest part was that there was a big variation of the kids we were performing for. At the American School (Dhaka, Bangladesh), we worked with students from 3rd grade up through 9th grade. The students had only a little exposure to the type of music we were playing, but they had pretty much no knowledge of clave rhythms of Afro-Cuban/Afro-Caribbean music. We’ve been playing together for close to 10 years, and we’ve done a fair number of workshops at schools, so we know from experience how important it is to stay open to playing things by ear. I’d say that we improvise as much while playing as we do when teaching different concepts.

    My [MIE] classes with Warren (Senders) are what have influenced me the most as a teacher, especially as far as the mental aspects of my teaching are concerned. Warren teaches that being open-ended with lesson plans can help to deal with expectations within a classroom; for example, thinking of (and treating) an hour-long lesson as if it were a free improvisation.

    We did a workshop at Brac University in Bangladesh in which we asked students to come up and play some of the rhythm instruments we were talking about. But instead a university student came up with his rock guitar and said he wanted to play “Hotel California,” so we ended up using some of our Afro-Caribbean rhythms in an improvised version of that song.

    What specific aspect(s) of the MIE program have most informed who you are as an Artist-Teacher-Scholar?

    Again, my work with Warren Senders and Jerry Leake have proven the most influential. In Warren’s “Cross Cultural” [MIE 351] class, I learned about the difference in the vibe between attending an Indian classical concert vs. hearing someone play at the Regattabar. [In an Indian setting], musicians take 15 minutes to tune their instruments, all the while sitting on the floor with no shoes. Warren showed us how different but how still valid other cultures and their musical techniques are. In other words, you and your students can use these different techniques to do something, but aim towards the same kind of expression. I learned from Warren and Jerry that, through aural training and oral tradition, there is no ‘right vs. wrong’ way of doing things. And naturally, when we were in India we would compare roles of instruments in the Latin jazz context to those in an Indian classical context.

    What place do you think the MIE program has in the culture of NEC, and in the larger community of training future professional musicians?

    I did both the MIE program and Tonja Maggi’s Performance Outreach program at NEC. Tonja Maggi was incredibly helpful as well, and doing her program helped to build on what I had already learned in my MIE classes.

    MIE is really about knowing how and when to be asking questions. It really helps performers to develop a personality–ways of speaking and communicating [to audiences] that are really accessible. The program helps you get to a point where you don’t have to think about talking to a specific audience, you just speak and act like who you are..

    Interview by Randy Wong.

    Schweitzer Fellow Reflects on MIE Program Experience

    Mezzo-soprano Monica Soto-Gil, recipient of a Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, is a senior at NEC and is highly active in the MIE Concentration program; in fact, she designed her Schweitzer outreach project so that it could be integrated with the MIE Concentration. Monica’s Schweitzer project involved teaching preschool music classes for a year at the Hattie B. Cooper Community Center in Roxbury, MA. As music teacher, Monica introduced basic musical concepts, different genres of music, and various instruments to youth from just under three to age six. We caught up with Monica and asked her to reflect on her joint Schweitzer-MIE experience.

    What aspect(s) of the MIE Concentration Program have most informed your work at the Hattie B. Cooper Community Center during your Schweitzer Fellowship?

    The open relationships with MIE teachers and students have been very helpful. The MIE department is an environment where there is a lot of room for sharing and discussion. The community is very supportive, and I can always rely on teachers such as Paul Burdick to bounce ideas off of. It has given me the liberty to really establish my goals and objectives and get the most out of my project.

    How has your work as a Schweitzer Fellow informed who you are as an artist, and as an MIE student?

    The Artist-Teacher-Scholar model has been a great source of inspiration. The idea that the three concepts are inextricably linked has helped me in all three areas, especially while working in a school in the community. I am able to use the knowledge I have gained in the field in class and can bring more to discussions. . As an artist, I feel more focused. I have a better understanding of why I pursued this field–of how I can help the community through my art and how the community can help me become a better artist as well. It has been a humbling experience.

    To what extent do you see your involvement in the MIE program as central to your work as an artist?

    If nothing else, being in the MIE department shows that one more person is interested not only in practicing and winning a job, but in education,, in fortifying the relationships between places like conservatories and their communities. Sharing music with a wide variety of people makes me a better artist; when I hear music through varied ears, I can understand it better, gain different perspectives on it. Showing that this is an essential part of being a performing musician is important to me as an artist, central to my work. Music, especially classical music, is not reaching a very large part of our community. Very often I hear complaints that it is dying.. Education is one of the most effective ways of bringing music to our communities, showing kids how music is accessible and fun. Without us sharing our enthusiasm, they have no reason to see the versatility of music and its place in their lives. They can’t miss what they don’t know is there. I think the MIE department is supportive of that.

    What are your future plans in music and education?

    After graduation in May, I plan to continue teaching voice and choir at Zumix, an arts organization in East Boston, and will get a teaching certification before going to graduate school for a Masters in Performance. I hope to one day be a part of an opera outreach program.

    Interview by MIE Advisor Randy Wong