YMS Boston Starts Student Ambassador Program

Yamaha Music School of Boston Starts Student Ambassador Program

Students Perform First Outreach Concert & Bring Holiday Cheer

In fall 2011, Yamaha Music School of Boston kicked-off a new Student Ambassador Program.  The program provides school-sponsored opportunities for Yamaha Music Education System students to perform solo and/or group repertoire in a variety of environments, from in-school to community events.  

A total of 18 students formed the inaugural student ambassador program.  Nominated by the school faculty, the students came from Junior Special Advanced Course (JSAC) and Junior Advanced Course (JAC) classes. 

The primary goals include student development and the promotion of music education.  Under student development, the aim is to: 

  • build student confidence and success through public performance

  • develop a sense of community engagement where students begin to understand that they can contribute to their community through music making.  By sharing the fruits of their hard work and dedication, music can be a way to uplift, inspire, and bring joy to others

The music education goals include:

  • promote and popularize the value of music education, including the Yamaha method

  • be a source of encouragement, support, and inspiration for younger musicians and families

The YMS Boston Student Ambassador’s held their first community-based event on Saturday,Ayako Hattori December 10, 2011 at Youville Place, an assisted living facility for seniors in Lexington, MA.  Students performed original compositions or solo works from the standard repertoire.   The recital concluded with a holiday sing-along with the students and residents. 

The event was a tremendous hit with students, parents, and residents.  George Kalarickal, father of Yamaha students Matthew and Joseph, commented, “Both of our sons were excited about performing at a different and new venue, and immensely enjoyed sharing the Holiday music with the residents.  The residents were clearly happy to see and listen to the young performers and the children responded with a joyful and energetic performance.”   

Yamaha parent Michelle Ciccolo said, "Both my son Foster and my niece Grace performed and it was clear that the kids felt very proud to participate. The seniors were attentive and enthusiastic, so much so that the kids lingered afterword performing solo pieces and chatting with the seniors. Their grandfather Ray Ciccolo, also from Lexington, came along to hear the kids and mingle with the residents. It felt like a warm family affair enjoyed by all.”

describe the imageFuture performances are planned for local assisted living facilities, senior and youth centers, and in-school visits to JMC and YMC classes. 

Tags: Junior Special Advanced Course, piano lessons, Student ambassadors, music lessons lexington, Junior Advanced Course, lexington, music lessons, music lessons for children, Youville Place, Yamaha Music School Boston

Teacher Spotlight: Emily Murphy

Interview with Boston Yamaha Teacher Emily Murphy

Yamaha Music School Winter 2011 Newsletter

Emily Murphy photo resized 600When she was in 10th grade, Emily Murphy’s great aunt Bumpy gave the Murphy family a very special gift: a grand piano.  “That’s when I fell in love with the subtleties of classical music,” Emily says.  “I loved playing piano more than I ever had before.”  The youngest of five children, Emily was no stranger to music growing up.  Her parents managed a concert series at Merrimac College, and she had plenty of exposure to world class musicians, including internationally-renowned pianist Van Cliburn. Sometimes, the musicians even came to her house for receptions!  “The cultural part of my life was very present,” she says, “I grew up understanding that music was important.”  

Looking back, Emily realizes how starting music education as early as ages three or four is a huge benefit of the Yamaha curriculum.  “Seeing the students play in ensembles and develop their ears at a young age makes me wish I had started earlier, too,” she says.  “I had private piano lessons, but I missed out on making music in a group.”   

Now, she has a degree in collaborative piano and mostly plays in ensembles herself.  She believes that everyone—kids and adults alike—can benefit from working together to make music.  “In Keyboard Encounters (Yamaha’s keyboard class for adults), I really enjoy seeing these adult classes that have been together for a few years.  They grow together as musicians, grow close to each other as people, and bring their friendship into the ensemble.”   

As a Yamaha teacher, Emily also recognizes the advantages of the comprehensive music education program that Yamaha offers.  Unlike traditional private piano lessons, students of Yamaha group classes can begin creating their own music as early as Junior Music Course 2.  Emily’s adult students also get to be creative.  “The advanced Keyboard Encounters class has been exploring jazz elements of improvisation and chord structure.  They create accompaniment for melody lines similar to what the students do in JXC classes,” she says.     

Ever since she started piano lessons at age seven, Emily loved music and never had to be Emily in Classasked to practice.  She wanted to keep learning one song after the other, and got a sense of accomplishment when she finished a book.  “In other words,” Emily says, laughing, “I was a dork.”  

Her hard work paid off when, in high school, Emily had the opportunity to take private lessons from Marjorie Janove, the pianist for the Utah Symphony.  Marjorie had huge hair and an even bigger personality.  Her teaching style was loud and boisterous, and she was a key influence in Emily’s musical upbringing.  “Marjorie taught me that music was more than notes and rhythm.  From her, I learned that it was about putting yourself into it.”  In addition to piano, Marjorie was passionate about baking.  During Emily’s lessons, her teacher would run into the kitchen, then yell out “F sharp!” as she took an apple pie out of the oven.     

As a teacher for Keyboard Encounters as well as the Yamaha Music Education System, Emily hopes to bring that same kind of inspiration to her own students.  “I love it when I’m able to connect with a student on the level that they learn best,” she says, “whether that’s helping a younger student overcome physical limitations through strengthening their fingers, or watching an adult student finally ‘get’ something after they’ve been working at it for a while.”  

In particular, she recalls an adult student whose goal was to play piano for his mother.  Despite his parents’ wishes, he didn’t think music was important as a child.  As an adult, he always loved music but wasn’t sure if it was something he could participate in.  After learning to play in Keyboard Encounters, he called his mother and played for her over the phone.  “I felt like a kid again,” he says, “I could just tell my mom was proud of me.”    Emily is pleased that she can contribute to the musical experiences of adults and children alike, as well as play the piano for different events and when her family gets together.  One of her brothers still plays now, so he and Emily play duets whenever they have a chance.    In her time outside of YMS, Emily especially enjoys spending time with her family and sharing her love of music with them.

Emily Murphy in Performance

Tags: adult music study, emily murphy, Adult Keyboard Class, activities for adults, keyboard encounters, piano class for adults

Enthusiastic Yamaha Parents and Friends Join Adult Music Classes

Yamaha Schoool Offers Music Courses for Adult Beginners in Keyboard, Singing, and Guitar

For the past few years, Yamaha Music School has offered group keyboard classes for adults.  This fall, however, things took a special turn when the school offered free introductory keyboard, guitar, and singing classes to parents of current Yamaha students.

“I enjoy my child’s Yamaha classes so much, I decided to give it a try myself,” one parent says. 

The classes give parents a chance to learn music for the first time, or re-visit a favorite instrument, in a fun, supportive group setting.  The groups of five to eight students learn a variety of musical styles, from pop and jazz to classical.  Keyboard Encounters teacher Yuki Shibata has a jazz background, and her laid-back teaching style make the class accessible and interesting for students from many different backgrounds. 

Convenient and wallet-friendly, the classedescribe the images are offered in the evening during after-work hours, and there’s no need for anyone to bring an instrument with them on the commute.  For the Popular Music Course, all students use brand new Yamaha electric guitars provided by the school.  Students in Keyboard Encounters can borrow a portable keyboard for at-home practice. 

Emily Murphy, who has been teaching Keyboard Encounters for nearly three years, loves the curiosity and dedication that adult students bring to the classroom.  “It’s fun to see the palpable interest these students have,” she says, “Keyboard Encounters classes give adults the opportunity to do something that they’ve always wanted to do.”

To learn more about our adult programs and new classes beginning in the spring, please speak with the front desk. 

guitar class

Three Yamaha Families Win Keyboard Raffle

This fall semester, we had our first raffle for Yamaha families to win keyboards.  Three lucky families got to take home Yamaha keyboards, along with keyboard stands and benches!  The students and parents are:  

Parent: Wenping Jin   Student: Misgena Ghebrelul – Junior Music Course 1 on Saturdays at 1:00, taught by Ms. Lucy Chen
Parent: Michael Ghebrelul    
  • Student: Hallie Lai – Junior Music Course 1 on Saturdays at 2:30,taught by Ms. Sarah Lee Corrigan    Parent: Yi Tuo


Newsletter Naming Contest

New School Newsletter Name:  Key Notes

A special thanks to all the parents and students who entered our newsletter naming contest!  We appreciate your ideas.  After looking through several submissions, we chose the name Keynotes because of its clever double (maybe triple?) meaning.  “I thought of it because the newsletter gives us info about different issues at the school, like a keynote address, and a keynote is also the first note of a musical scale,” says the winner of the newsletter naming contest, Ms. Joy Murphy. 

Joy has two students enrolled at Yamaha: Jennifer Murphy, a graduate of the Young Musicians Course, takes private lessons with Ayako Hattori, and Melissa Murphy, who is in the Junior Special Advanced Course and also takes private lessons with Ayako Hattori.  In October 2010, Jennifer had the honor of playing her original composition at the National Junior Original Concert in Cary Hall, and Melissa had the opportunity to play in the ensemble for the piece. 

The Murphy’s live in Woburn, MA, and won a Yamaha dock for their iPod or iPhone.  Congratulations, Joy!Yamaha ipod dock resized 600

Tags: Junior Special Advanced Course, holiday gifts, young musicians course, Yamaha Music School Boston

Why I Chose the Yamaha School

Why I Chose the Yamaha School

By Yamaha Parent Jeanne Hayes

Mitch and I considered at-home piano lessons and other music schools closer to our house, but chose Yamaha because of their “whole child” approach to music education.  In short, we were impressed: the program included ear training, solfege singing, and rhythm training through movement, in addition to piano instruction. We loved how the group setting and parent participation were integral to the early curriculum. But what we found most compelling was the focus on process over product.  When I was a child, I was taught “when you see this, you do that.” But for young, preliterate children, the idea of “If you can sing it, you can play it” made a lot more sense to us.

In the last four years, we’ve had so many wonderful experiences at Yamaha. My husband and I valued sharing those first years at the keyboard with our kids. It was a great opportunity to spend time together, see the program working, and get to know the teachers. Between the two boys, we’ve had five Yamaha teachers, all of whom have been so great. The all-school concerts and private lesson recitals are special too; both experiences have taught the kids a lot about supporting one another as musicians. This year, both boys have enjoyed the ensemble playing in their classes, and are really engaged in writing their own music. It ties together what they have been learning through the curriculum with their individual creative interests, and cultivates a dynamic that makes them excited about what they’re learning. To me, that’s the best.  Hayes Family

When we first started at Yamaha, we didn’t have too much trouble with practicing and music homework. A regular practice at the same time every day worked well for us.  But as the boys have advanced, we’ve had to adjust. Like most families juggling busy schedules, our biggest challenge now is finding time — duration and time of day — that allows both boys to get their practice in. What works better for us now is a flexible schedule, practicing some days in the morning before school, some days after school and sometimes a bit of both. Letting them be more responsible for running their own practice has helped too. My musical background is limited, so we sometimes rely on emailing with the teachers during the week with questions, which is yet another compliment to our Yamaha teachers who happily support the boys outside of class in any way they can.

One day, about a year after we had started at YMS, we were driving somewhere and it was raining. Ethan said to me, “Mommy, listen to the windshield wipers.” I listened, and then replied, “What about the windshield wipers?” And he said, “They’re singing ‘do-so, do-so, do-so’… Can you hear it?” Sometime later, Elliot reported a big truck engine was humming “meeeeee…” That they were hearing music in the sounds of everyday things was a lovely surprise, and they continue to surprise me with what they are able to hear with their musical ears. They are so happy to share their music. Whether at family events, school, church, or even scouts, they always love to play. I think the Yamaha program imparts a feeling of fun and delight into music education, and the children then pass that along when making music. That’s really the core of it for us: the love of music, the skills to appreciate and make music, and the pleasure of sharing music throughout their lives.

Jeanne Hayes is the proud mother of Ethan and Elliot Hayes, who have been studying at YMS Boston since September 2007. Ethan, a recent Young Musicians Course (YMC) graduate, joined the first class of Junior Advanced Course students with Rebecca Helm this year. Elliot graduated from the Junior Musicians Course (JMC), and in 2009, became a member of the first Junior Special Advanced Course with Aaron Jackson, and this year with Ayako Hattori. Ayako also teaches private lessons to both boys.

How to Encourage Independence in Young Musicians

YMES Harmony

Spring 2011

How to Encourage Independence

By Kathy Anzis, Director of Teacher Training

Sometimes it is easier to spoon-feed. Sometimes it is easier to give the answer. Sometimes it is easier to lecture. But is this best for our students? Of course not. It takes effort to transition from the nurturing mode in MW and JMC where you provide all the information. But as children mature during JMC, we can begin to encourage our students' independence. Once they taste success, they will gain more enthusiasm and develop the independent will to discover; there will be less conflict and over-coaching from their parent; and you will have a class that cannot be stopped!

So how can we make this happen? The first step is to make independent action positive — something that children will want to do. Here are some phrases to get started:

  • Now, can you play __________ without your parent’s help? Let’s try and see. If we can do it, our parents will clap for us.
  • Let's see if you can press the clarinet button all by yourself!
  • I bet you can sing this solfege melody all by yourselves without me singing! Let's give it a try. If you do your best, you can be proud.
  • Let's have an experiment. Parents sit back and relax. Boys and girls, let's show moms and dads how you can listen and play back without your parents saying anything!... You did it! Parents, let's clap for them.
  • Wow - you figured that out all by yourself!
  • That time, you played so well together and your parents didn't even have to help you!
  • You will be so grown up when you can...

In a subtle way, these phrases also communicate to parents that it is best for their child if they don't over-coach but, instead, encourage independence.

Children who are in JXC or YMC will gain even more independence if encouraged. Their musical vocabulary and life experience is much greater in every way, so you can stretch them further by challenging them to work independently, as well as develop responsibility. Here are some phrases you can use:

  • I will only say it one time so listen carefully.
  • If you didn't hear what I said, ask a friend.
  • Who will be the first to have all their books ready?
  • Jason and Bob, please work together on this section.
  • Let's have Lisa be the pointer and Susan be the player.
  • I'll give you one minute to look at the score, then each of you can tell your friends one thing that you noticed.

The home assignment is also a good place to encourage independence. Give an "Extra Challenge" for some pieces. Check in class to see who took the challenge. Spin off of that to stimulate others to try new things on their own.

While we want to always introduce a piece in class before assigning it in JMC, in JXC and YMC independent discovery can be encouraged before you present a piece for the first time.

Here is a sample home assignment for a repertoire piece that you intend to introduce the following week:

While you watch the score, listen to your CD. How many things can you discover? How about...

  • Key
  • Time Signature
  • Instruments
  • Articulation
  • Dynamics
  • Can you sing any of the notes?

As children become more independent and make discoveries on their own, they are anxious to come to class to share what they have learned with their teacher and classmates. Encouraging this will help transform your lessons from being teacher-centered to music-centered.

Tags: Yamaha Music School of Boston, piano lessons, rebecca helm, encouraging independence in young musicians

Yamaha Students Win Top Prizes at MMTA Festival

Foster Jackson and Samuel Seo Impress Judges with Performances

Two students at Yamaha Music School of Boston were thrilled when they learned the results of the Massachusetts Music Teachers Association festival, which took place at Indian Hill Music School in Littleton, MA in late February.  Foster Jackson and Samuel Seo both took home top prizes from the competition when results were posted last month.  This is an exciting first for YMS Boston and the students.
Foster Jackson
Foster Jackson, son of Philip Jackson and Michelle Ciccolo, played Arabesque Op. 100, No. 2 (Burgmuller) and won first place in the Piano BB category for ages 7 - 10.  Foster has been studying at Yamaha since 2006, and is currently in the second level of Junior Advanced Course, after graduating from the Junior Music Course and Junior Extension Course.  

Samuel Seo, son of Yongjin and Heejeong Seo, played Ballade Op. 1Samuel Seo00, No. 15 (Burgmuller) and won third place in the Piano BA category for ages 7 - 10.  Samuel began his studies at Yamaha shortly after his family moved to Cambridge from Korea just last fall.  Both students take private piano lessons from the same teacher at YMS Boston.

Their teacher, John Stapp, is proud of his students’ achievements.  "The top students from all over the state competed in this festival,” John said.  “I am so proud of Foster and Samuel for working hard and applying the musical concepts I taught in their lessons.  The future looks very bright for both of them. “  A graduate of Boston Conservatory, John joined the Yamaha teaching staff last September.  He was recently appointed Chair of the 2012 Bay State Contest in Fitchburg, MA.  

by Catherine Flora Con

Tags: piano lessons, Yamaha Music Education System, MMTA festival, Junior Music Course Grads, John Stapp

YMS Boston Announces LexFun Scholarship Recipient

Every year,  Yamaha Music School of Boston partners with LexFun!, Lexington's Five and Under Network, to give a full scholarship to a pre-school student whose family demonstrates a sincere passion for early music education and a need for financial assistance.  We’re excited to say that the scholarship student this year is Isaam Hassan, son of Anabel Diaz and Elias Hassan of Lexington, MA.  Isaam and his family are in Music Wonderland (age 3), the first course of Yamaha’s extensive music education curriculum, on Saturday mornings.

“His face LexFun Scholarship Winnersimply lights up when we begin singing and playing!" said Rebecca Helm, Isaam’s teacher.  "I'm thrilled that the school has given this opportunity to Issam and his family to enjoy and study music together.”  Issam and his family have indeed been enjoying the creative curriculum of singing, listening, movement, keyboard-playing, and imaginative play.  Designed especially for three-year-olds, Music Wonderland is a fun and high-energy musical adventure!

Special thanks to the LexFun! committee members for their help in facilitating the publication and selection of our annual scholarship recipients.

by Catherine Flora Con

Tags: rebecca helm, Yamaha Music Education System, Music Wonderland

YMS Boston Director Jim Keenan Profiled in Epoch Times

School Director Jim Keenan Discusses the First 5 Years of Yamaha Music School in Boston

The Epoch Times recently sat down with school director Jim Keenan to discuss the school's beginnings, achievements, and future goals. 

Click here to read the article (this article is in Mandarin). 

Keenan Interview in Epoch Times