On Friday, March 16th, Towson University is proud to present Keyboard Day from 8:30am – 5:00pm
The day will include events such as:
• A Piano Masterclass with Eva Mengelkoch, Christopher Dillon, and Yoon-Wha Roh
• Organ and harpsichord workshops with Profs. Marc Bellassai
• Introduction to extended piano techniques
and much more.
National Philharmonic welcomes more than 10,000 second graders to the Music Center at Strathmore during the annual Strathmore Student Concerts from now through Thursday, Nov. 16. The purpose of the program is to expose every Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) 2nd grader to a live performance of classical music.
The students learn about classical music and prepare for the concert hall experience during the month of October.
For many young people in Montgomery County, the National Philharmonic is their first exposure to classical music. The orchestra was a founding partner in the annual Strathmore Student Concerts, a hallmark education initiative that welcomes every Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) 2nd grader to the Music Center concert hall for a live performance. The National Philharmonic, Strathmore, and Montgomery County Public Schools are shaking up the annual concerts with a new conductor, new repertoire, and new vision to better serve students.
National Philharmonic Associate Conductor Victoria Gau is now at the helm. She worked closely with key partners and educators to create an experience that aligns with evolving MCPS curricular goals. Gau wanted students to leave the concerts with a better understanding of how they process music and how it can elicit specific emotional responses. The lively new format explores rhythm, dynamics, tempo, and musical texture—foundational elements of the concert experience that can make a piece feel happy or sad, serious or lighthearted, contemplative or full of unbridled excitement.
To reinforce these touchpoints, Gau selected music that bridges the classical canon and new works, demonstrating that classical music is evolving. Works by Beethoven and Brahms are paired with compositions by American composers Leonard Bernstein and Jennifer Higdon, and music by Mexican composer Arturo Marquez. Gau was also conscious to include gender and ethnic diversity to reflect demographics in the County and show that anyone can enjoy and be a part of classical music.
The concert also includes a new commission from Bethesda-based composer Charlie Barnett, Second Grade Second Line, a short participatory work that introduces different sections of the orchestra—woodwinds, brass, percussion, strings, and keyboard.
Students are engaged through call and response, clapping, and percussive music-making from the audience—National Philharmonic musicians even get in on the fun from stage.
Gau has maintained a relationship with National Philharmonic since 2005 and joined National Philharmonic’s conducting staff in 2010. Gau is in demand nationally as a youth orchestra festival conductor. She is also Artistic Director and Conductor of the Takoma Ensemble and Capital City Symphony, where she has written and performed annual family concerts for 20 seasons.
The 2nd grader student concerts represent a $185,000 investment in public education, with sponsorship provided by The Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, GEICO, and Jordan Kitt’s Music.
The benefits of music on individuals with autism are widely known. Improved focus, advances in speech and language, and better motor skills. But sometimes it’s about the growth that you can’t quantify in numbers.
On a Tuesday night in a sleepy plaza in Penfield, the Music Education Center is buzzing. Kids are in the waiting room, parents are catching up and students are practicing anything from trombone to piano.
Noah Svokos is a curly haired 13 year old who has been taking piano lessons for 5 years at the center.
The facility is open to anyone but they have a focus on adaptive music lessons, for individuals with disabilities.
Noah’s dad Tony Svokos brought him to class, and said over the years he’s seen his sons confidence grow, his memory get sharper, and he can remember notes and song titles and adapt these skills to his day to day life. Tony says places like this center are essential.
“Like it or not, there is a bit of a stigma still when it comes to special needs kids, kids who have autism. Thankfully, the awareness is growing and there are a lot more programs now. Even at his school he’s got integrated classrooms.”
A lot of Noah’s classmates have grown up around kids with autism Tony says, so they don’t treat them any differently.
“But there are a lot of other places out there who have no contact with kids like this. And it can be nerve wracking sending your kid to a place like that where you’re not sure if they’re going to be accepted, you’re not sure if their insecurities are going to get really, really magnified by negative experiences.”
The music education center started in 2004, co-owner Sarah Jamison tells me. As a graduate of the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, she never really pictured her career going down this path, but the students kept her coming back.
“It really brings a lot of light into their lives. There’s a lot of other things they might be struggling with in school or at home and music ends up being something that they’re really good at and that they can be proud of and show off to their friends and family. And that’s probably the best thing about our job is just seeing that.”
Jordan Kitt’s Music was proud to take part in the 2017 NAMM Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In, which was a great success!
The week started with more than 50 NAMM members attending the Day of Service at Jefferson Middle School Academy.
On Tuesday, ninety-eight delegates prepared for their efforts on Capitol Hill by participating in advocacy training at the Newseum and a lunchtime keynote by David Brooks, New York Times columnist and Turnaround Arts artist.
The next day, the Country Music Association, VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and three-time World Series winner, Bernie Williams joined NAMM members for a day of advocacy. Over 170 meetings took place with Members of Congress or their staff to advocate for music education.
(pictured from left to right: former U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley, Jordan Kitt’s Music CEO Chris Syllaba, and former New York Yankee Bernie Williams)
Jordan Kitts Music was once again proud to take advantage of this opportunity to work with NAMM to create a larger and more vibrant presence for music education in schools throughout the country.