If a Tree Falls…

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I picked up this nasty mindset somewhere along the way. It was this little voice that said “not unless it’s perfect.”

I never would show anybody anything until it was perfect. I would hide from the world, and craft this amazing thing (whether it be a product, a piece of music, a new skill…), then unveil it to the world as the cheers and praise came rolling in. Then I would stand there and be able to say “I did that myself” and “I knocked their socks off.” END Fantasy. Enter Reality.

This mindset flew in the face of one important thing I forgot. Exposure. Not something I forgot, something I was afraid of. I was afraid of exposure because what if I wasn’t good enough. Then came the reframing.
I was fortunate enough to meet with one of the most successful venture capitalists of all time, and he blew my mind. He completely reframed my idea of failure, to see it as a good thing. One of the most important things is to go out and fail, he told me. You have got to put yourself out there because there is the potential not of criticism but for feedback. He talked about the idea of minimum variable product. In a nutshell, this term refers to putting as least amount of something out to test to see if it is worth moving forward, because, he said, that know when to pivot away from something (with the least impact on your time and wallet) is as important as being able to move forward.

I have been trying to take his words to heart. For my current project, GTX,

I have tried to show it to as many trusted people as possible and get as much feedback as I can. It has dramatically shifted the way that I look at the project, and helped me not waste my money. Originally, the project was going to be the most beautiful perfect website, with no money spent to advertise it. Now, it is a work in progress for all to see, which markets the hell out of itself. Now, it is consumer driven- I am getting feedback from users about what works and what doesn’t. I am seeing the holes in the pedagogy, and working to help the people using my product. In this way the focus shifts from this being my project, to it being their project. That’s what it is really about- serving a community of people. And in the end, if it is helping those people the most, won’t they use it more and pay more for it.

If you only take away two things from my rambling then let it be this:
1. Most people are on your side and want to see you succeed. Use that to your advantage and get feedback.
2. Get yourself out there- exposure is more important than a perfect product. Your product/music/whatever is like a tree falling in the forest….if there is nobody there to hear it then…

Luis Ruelas: An Overview of Taller Comp

Taller Comp started as a project to help promote and expand the contemporary music scene in Mexico, especially in my hometown of León. Thought as a composition workshop for beginner students of any age, of any social background that would serve those interested in writing music and learning more on how to develop their skills.

Planning it was in and of itself a quite challenging task, but little did I know it would only be half the battle. I printed out a lot of posters, mailed them to Mexico to start promoting Taller Comp; created a website for the workshop; created a Facebook page; got the school were this workshop took place to start promoting it with their own sources. It all seemed to be going well. I thought the marketing side of things was being taken care of.

Nevertheless when I finally arrived to Leon everything I thought had gone well had gone completely the other way around. From the posters I had sent a month before to distribute all around Leon only 30% had actually been sent to music schools, cultural institutions or universities. I was stuck with 70% of those posters. This meant I had to move fast so enough people would know about this workshop before it started. This actually delayed the beginning of the workshop one whole week.

To promote Taller Comp I went to a lot of places in Leon and in the surrounding towns putting up posters. I went to music academies, cultural institutions both private and public, universities, libraries, and cafes, anyplace where people interested in such a workshop would go. Although putting up posters in such short time added a lot of pressure, in the end it resulted in a very positive thing, because I was able to introduce myself in person to important music schools in the area so they would know about my project and about myself as a musician.

The best most unexpected experience that I had while distributing posters was to meet the “Imagina” Orchestra. This is an El Sistema-based orchestra located in a poor neighborhood in the outskirts of Leon, which works with kids and teens in the area to improve their quality of life. It was a very moving experience for me to see these 80 or more kids who have nothing in the world but their instrument and music, and who showed so much passion and dedication towards music. I felt very very privileged to be studying in a prestigious school such as NEC and felt a strong commitment to help these kids some way. The director of the orchestra was so impressed with Taller Comp that he told me he wanted me to present this kind of workshop to the kids for at least the next 3 years, every summer that I go back to Mexico.

On the other hand there was interest in me presenting Taller Comp next year from other schools as well. One of them was “Praga” Music Academy. I was able to meet the director and she was very interested in me presenting this workshop next year in this school. She encouraged me to tailor the workshop to the different levels they have in the school and take into account as well the age difference between the students. Hopefully next year I will be able to present Taller Comp to the students in “Praga” next summer, and it will be adapted to their specific needs.

The overall learning I had from this pilot project is that Leon has a much wider music field than I originally accredited it for. In fact it is so vast that it was really hard for Taller Comp to try fitting all the specific needs from all the people interested in one session. Therefore in order for Taller Comp to be more successful in the future, I need to present the workshop tailored to the particular requirements from the schools that are interested, and teach Taller Comp directly in those schools. This not only saves me the money and time to do all the marketing, since the schools directly will take care of that, but also it allows me to focus on each particular need that a school might have that maybe another school might not. In addition to this the more locations Taller Comp can take place in, the more people that will learn and benefit from this project. Hopefully in the future this workshop will keep helping promote and develop the music field in Leon and its surrounding areas.

Mattia’s thoughts…

     When I learned that EM gave a grant to my project, I felt both delight and a little dread for the same reason: now I had to take real steps forward. In some ways, it’s similar to composing a large work (like the two-hour opera I’ve been working on for almost two years) — once you tell people and have some semblance of a deadline, you really can’t quit! However, the lovely EM staff has ameliorated any remaining anxiety, both through verbal encouragement and introducing me to experienced mentors.

     The mentors so far have given advice and wisdom on the following subjects: legal issues (including copyright and setting up an LLC), finding potential long-term business partners, hiring practices, organization, marketing, web presence, social media, and reaching out to related businesses. The advice on finding and working with people was particularly helpful, as I’m naturally trusting and needed the reminder to ask the right kinds of questions. Tanya Kalmanovitch’s EM graduate seminar has also been invaluable for setting realistic goals and fitting the business plan into my artistic life.

     Through asking for help when I need it, and continuing to refine the business’ end goals, I’ve learned that this project is not something to be rushed. Because I’m targeting a specific audience (musicians, and primarily composers), it’s important that even in beta, the printing website offers a pleasant user experience. While it tries my go-get-‘em nature to be patient, I’m learning to rely on the suggestions of the extensive resources EM offers, and roll out a well designed beta version of the site sometime after graduating next spring.

- Mattia

Learn more about Mattia’s business idea here

Katie Balch’s “The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year”

The most rewarding aspect of the premier of The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year was the positive response from the musicians in the ensemble afterwards. I was overjoyed to hear from players who I respect and admire that they had fun performing and participating in the project and that they would do it again.

This large ensemble collaboration, and the reaction it would illicit from the people involved, was something that I was apprehensive about from the onset—what if the people I’m working with don’t like my music? What if they don’t like me? This project? The other people in the room? Leading up to the first orchestral rehearsal, insecurities like these rumbled around my head, mixing in with imagined scenarios about everyone quitting at the last minute or catching some catastrophic illness, or simply not showing up to begin with. 

As a composer, I’m used to spending a lot of time on my own. The idea or practice of collaboration is not necessarily built into what I do in the same way it might be for a classical instrumentalist, who works regularly in chamber ensembles and orchestras, or for a jazz musician, who spends much of his or her musical development playing in groups. So, I might have anticipated that the most challenging and educational part of my EM grant was the large-scale collaboration that it involved.

The collaboration aspect of my grant mostly involved reigning in the forces that I needed to stage my opera. This entailed convincing 5 singers, a rehearsal pianist, and a conductor to devote a semester of their energies, talents, and hard work to learning and committing to memory 45 minutes of my music, asking a chamber ensemble of 18 musicians to commit to at least 6 hours of rehearsal, a mandatory 2 hour dress rehearsal, and the performance all for a small honorarium, and finding other friends or colleagues to fill in other various production roles, for example, the spotlight operator, and the super-title operator. 

Because I was fortunate enough to have partnered on this project with a cast of devoted and unbelievably talented singers (Laura Soto-Bayomi, Joshua Quinn, Patrick Dean Shelton,  Sami Stevens, and Diamanda La Berge Dramm—who might be known around NEC as a classical violinist, but this woman has a budding opera career ahead of her!), a phenomenal pianist (Alexander Zhu), and an enthusiastic and skillful conductor (Matt Szymanski), the bulk of my anxieties fell upon assembling and rehearsing the orchestra. 

Some of these anxieties were justified—indeed, several key players had conflicts at the last minute and needed to be hastily replaced, but most of my anxieties, and certainly the most substantial ones, ultimately proved to be a waste of emotional time and energy. After all, the performance happened, and it was a strong and energetic performance in front a full house!

So, as my own record of what I’ve learned, and perhaps as a tool for other awkward, reclusive, and neurotic composers, I’m going to list the most important tips I gained from the experience of assembling and working with a large ensemble:

  1. FOOD—everyone likes walking into a room with snacks. Whether or not it’s consumed, I definitely think it boosts morale. 
  2. Say thank you, say thank you, say thank you. 
  3. When you accidently have 5 measures of the bassoon part in alto clef, give your bassoonist a new part and a trillion hugs and maybe a latté. 
  4. Whenever possible, don’t stop. The best way to work through musical problems is to just keep plowing through. 
  5. Give a list of general notes to work on at the beginning of the next rehearsal, so it’s fresh in everyone’s head when they start—be concise, articulate, specific, and gracious.
  6. Give specific feedback to players individually at the end of rehearsal. 
  7. Trust the musicians in the ensemble. They know what they are doing, especially if they go to NEC. 
  8. Say thank you about specific moments to specific people.
  9. Say thank you in ways other than verbally.
  10. Saying what someone is doing right is more effective, then saying what someone is doing wrong.
  11. The people that show up to rehearsal on time are on your team. Don’t lecture the five people in the room on time about being on time. 
  12. Treat the first rehearsal as a read-through—it’s just a chance for people to get the music in their fingers and ears, and the environment should be relaxed, fun, and low-pressure.
  13. Create an environment that allows performers to be transparent with you about problems in the parts, problems with the schedule, etc. Panic yields only more panic. 
  14. Have a clear artistic and musical vision and goal. 
  15. Be able to articulate that goal both on a general level, and how it should be applied specifically in particular moments or instrumental parts. In short, know your music and be able to show that you know it! This seems obvious, but it feels that so many composers are afraid of talking about their work. An inability to do so fails to garner respect from the people who’ve devoted time and energy to playing it. 
  16. For some reason, morning rehearsals are better than afternoon rehearsals with large groups.
  17. Seek advice from players afterwards about how to improve your parts!
  18. Things tend to always come together at the last minute. Which is ok. Get acquainted with being ok with that. Because that’s just the way these things work. 

So, there it is! My guide to working with a large ensemble as a composer. For a condensed version, refer to #2, #8-10, #13-14, and put a star or check or something next to #18!

Shikata Ga Nai

Neal Markowski, recent graduate and regular in all that is EM, has a great web presence for his grant project, Shikata Ga Nai. Check out his website, and his bandcamp page to listen to the music!

Jussi Reijonen - Tour Reflections

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Musical highs unlike any I’ve ever experienced in my life; 8 months of non-stop preparation; visa problems too numerous to count; one armed robbery and a stolen passport; one band member having to stay behind at the last minute; our 1st Lady (our bus) Amanda; -27 Celsius temperatures; frozen gas tanks; the sauna; Moose and Camels; very bad humor; Santa Claus; Sverige; 8 packed concerts and 5 clinics in 8 cities around Finland; overwhelmingly positive concert reviews… the images that flood my mind thinking back to the two weeks my quintet - myself on fretted/fretless guitars and oud, Utar Artun from Turkey on piano, Bruno Råberg from Sweden on acoustic bass, Tareq Rantisi from Palestine on percussion and our special guest vocalist Eva Louhivuori from Finland - spent touring Finland this past February quickly become quite a blur, to say the least. 

Prior to this tour, I hadn’t played a single gig in Finland in the almost 5 years (since moving to the US in 2008), and hadn’t played in my hometown in 13 years. This was a homecoming that had tremendous personal meaning to me. 

It’s fascinating to observe one’s own thought process while being in the middle of something like this as it is actually happening. Our concert at Kulttuuritalo Korundi in my hometown Rovaniemi, which is a town of 60,000 people or so, about 4 miles from the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, was an occasion that made me quite nervous in advance - and I very seldom get nervous before concerts. The daylong drive northward from our previous clinic and concert in Joensuu found me in quite a contemplative mood. Out of all the concerts on the tour, this was one of only two door gigs, so I had quite a few things going through my mind - will there be anyone there? Can I keep myself together onstage? How will people living on the Arctic Circle react to a music that is a collage of influences from around the world, a diary of a search for Home after a childhood spent moving between Northern Finland, Jordan, Tanzania, Oman and Lebanon? Can we connect with the audience?

After getting settled in our family’s house and doing the mandatory Arctic Circle sightseeing and taking the guys to meet Santa Claus, we started to get ready to play again. The venue proved to be - bias or no bias - the most beautiful out of all the places we played on the entire tour. Built into a renovated old factory warehouse, Kulttuuritalo Korundi was a medium-sized concert hall with beautiful acoustics and gorgeously atmospheric lighting to set the mood. The parallels of reunion were many: in keeping with the theme of going full circle, I’d asked Timo Rehtonen, the same guy who had engineered, mixed and mastered my very first studio recording back in 2000, to do our live sound. 

Adding to the emotional charge as we took the stage and begun the concert with “Bayatiful” was that not only did it turn out that the concert was nearly sold out, but I saw so many familiar faces spanning my entire life - there were childhood friends, high school friends, family and relatives in the audience. Perhaps most significant of all, my parents were there; my father had not heard me perform in thirteen years. When Eva joined us to sing a heavily improvised piece I’d written as homage to part of my roots in Finnish Lapland, “Kaiku”, I felt like I disappeared and dissolved completely. I don’t remember much after that except feeling a tremendous sense of both peace and energy. The response from the audience was overwhelming; when, after playing through the material that comprises my debut album un, we ended the encore with an Eva-reinforced trio version of “Nuku Sie”, which I dedicated to a childhood friend’s newborn son who I’d just met that morning, not only both Eva and I, but many in the audience as well, were in tears. 

That night, after we’d already got back to my family home, I got an email from an unknown person thanking me for the concert. Reading it, I was left completely speechless. As my mother read it, she cried. Little did I know that the man writing to me was also the columnist for Lapin Kansa, Lapland’s largest newspaper, and that he would publish much of what he wrote to me in a column the following week with the title “The Value of Art is Immeasurable” (my translation): 

"…I closed my eyes as the familiar tune ["Naima"] from a jazz legend [John Coltrane] played and opened them later to make room for tears. The music that Reijonen had composed as a sonic photograph of his Lappish roots ["Kaiku"] was so beautiful that I felt as if it had cleansed me. All the pettiness, jealousy and bitterness that had gathered in me peeled away, and what was left was only the human being I would like to be. They were tears of joy that flowed, hot and unhindered, onto my cheeks. I suppose it was a spiritual experience, although I have never experienced anything spiritual in the religious sense before."

   - Jouni Kantola, Lapin Kansa, 10 February 2013

To wordlessly connect with another like this… the power of music never ceases to amaze me.

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Jussi was awarded an EM grant in Fall 2012 to complete this tour. 

Firebird Ensemble Director and NEC alum Kate Vincent joins us this spring to share her rich experience building a dynamic new music ensemble. Vincent will focus on the process of building fruitful collaborations—specifically interdisciplinary partnerships with dancers, poets, actors, filmmakers and visual artists—and best practices for shaping community-based performance programs. 

Firebird Ensemble Director and NEC alum Kate Vincent joins us this spring to share her rich experience building a dynamic new music ensemble. Vincent will focus on the process of building fruitful collaborations—specifically interdisciplinary partnerships with dancers, poets, actors, filmmakers and visual artists—and best practices for shaping community-based performance programs. 

Meet EM, Part Nine - Rachel Roberts
Posted from: MA, USA
A spreadsheet wiz and calming presence, Rachel’s the woman behind the department. Hide your pigs, folks…because she makes a mean piece of chocolate covered bacon! PART NINE
Rachel Roberts - our fearless leader 1. Tell us about yourself
I’m a flutist (and sometimes piano accompanist) originally from a small town in south-east Iowa.  I love food (and may have a *slight* reputation for making chocolate-covered bacon), love being outdoors (hiking, kayaking, and running), and have the sweetest and most awesome 14.5-lb orange tabby cat named Buddy. I’m also a twin! Dr. Sarah Roberts is a fabulous jazz and classical saxophonist, currently working as Professor of Woodwinds in Tyler, Texas. 2. What was your path to NEC?
I didn’t connect all of these threads until a few years ago, but being an entrepreneur helping to improve the music world has always been a part of my life. In junior high, I was the librarian for my town’s little summer community band. In high school, I was basically the assistant to my band director (when I graduated and left, they replaced me with a full-time paid position). At Eastman, I became actively involved with their Arts Leadership Program, and after graduating accepted my first job as Artistic and Production Assistant with the Houston Symphony. I was then accepted into a one-year orchestra fellowship program, and upon finishing became the Atlanta Symphony’s first Director of Strategic Planning Engagement. Through a completely unexpected series of connections and conversations, I learned about NEC’s desire to start the Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department, and was lucky enough to be asked to lead its creation. I moved to Boston in September of 2009, and throughout all of this journey, I’ve kept up my love for playing, performing, and teaching flute.3. Why are you working for EM?
Because I love music, and I genuinely care about creating a sustainable environment for the arts to thrive beyond our own individual careers! I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of how to integrate tangible survival/career skills into a music-performance centered environment. My goal is to provide the tools to empower NEC’s young musicians to become leaders and change-agents for the success of the arts in our communities worldwide. 4. What is your favorite musical memory?
There are so many!! I’ll choose just two … From fifth grade through my college years (and then some – like this past summer!), I’ve played the Stars and Stripes piccolo solo with my mom on the 4th of July in our little Iowa community band. 
My other favorite musical memory is with my twin. We would enter all kinds of competitions together in junior high and high school, and since we both played our wind instruments and piano, we accompanied each other everywhere we went. (I sorely miss having a built-in accompanist!!) While we aren’t identical, we still loved to surprise judges with our dual roles – the first appearance once would be with our instrument and the other on piano, then the second appearance we’d switch roles. Talk about a conversation starter!5. If you could have a second career, what would it be?
Hands down, my second career would be working with animals! I love them. All of them! I’ve often thought about what life would be like working in a zoo and taking care of animals (are there parallels to my current life? :-)), or I’ve also thought about what it would take to become a veterinarian. Who knows, in another 30 years once the music field has had enough of me, you might likely find me with a second “retirement” career with animals.6. What is your favorite food?
I know, you’re probably thinking “she’s going to say chocolate-covered bacon”. You’re right! (however, I really love all food as long as it’s GOOD!)7. What is the most interesting venue you’ve performed in?
Carnegie Hall! (2002 New York String Orchestra Seminar)8. Where is your favorite place in Boston?
My home. Second to that? Anywhere in Boston! I love this city. :-)9. What do you want to do when you grow up?
Travel the world. So many great sites to see, so many interesting people to meet, and so much good food to eat :-)10. What are you doing this weekend? 
This weekend I’m teaching flute lessons, finishing my holiday shopping, doing a bit of work at home, cooking something delicious, and enjoying dinner with friends. 

Meet EM, Part Nine - Rachel Roberts


Posted from: MA, USA

A spreadsheet wiz and calming presence, Rachel’s the woman behind the department. Hide your pigs, folks…because she makes a mean piece of chocolate covered bacon! 

PART NINE
Rachel Roberts - our fearless leader 

1. Tell us about yourself
I’m a flutist (and sometimes piano accompanist) originally from a small town in south-east Iowa.  I love food (and may have a *slight* reputation for making chocolate-covered bacon), love being outdoors (hiking, kayaking, and running), and have the sweetest and most awesome 14.5-lb orange tabby cat named Buddy. I’m also a twin! Dr. Sarah Roberts is a fabulous jazz and classical saxophonist, currently working as Professor of Woodwinds in Tyler, Texas. 

2. What was your path to NEC?
I didn’t connect all of these threads until a few years ago, but being an entrepreneur helping to improve the music world has always been a part of my life. In junior high, I was the librarian for my town’s little summer community band. In high school, I was basically the assistant to my band director (when I graduated and left, they replaced me with a full-time paid position). At Eastman, I became actively involved with their Arts Leadership Program, and after graduating accepted my first job as Artistic and Production Assistant with the Houston Symphony. I was then accepted into a one-year orchestra fellowship program, and upon finishing became the Atlanta Symphony’s first Director of Strategic Planning Engagement. Through a completely unexpected series of connections and conversations, I learned about NEC’s desire to start the Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department, and was lucky enough to be asked to lead its creation. I moved to Boston in September of 2009, and throughout all of this journey, I’ve kept up my love for playing, performing, and teaching flute.

3. Why are you working for EM?
Because I love music, and I genuinely care about creating a sustainable environment for the arts to thrive beyond our own individual careers! I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of how to integrate tangible survival/career skills into a music-performance centered environment. My goal is to provide the tools to empower NEC’s young musicians to become leaders and change-agents for the success of the arts in our communities worldwide. 

4. What is your favorite musical memory?
There are so many!! I’ll choose just two … From fifth grade through my college years (and then some – like this past summer!), I’ve played the Stars and Stripes piccolo solo with my mom on the 4th of July in our little Iowa community band. 
My other favorite musical memory is with my twin. We would enter all kinds of competitions together in junior high and high school, and since we both played our wind instruments and piano, we accompanied each other everywhere we went. (I sorely miss having a built-in accompanist!!) While we aren’t identical, we still loved to surprise judges with our dual roles – the first appearance once would be with our instrument and the other on piano, then the second appearance we’d switch roles. Talk about a conversation starter!

5. If you could have a second career, what would it be?
Hands down, my second career would be working with animals! I love them. All of them! I’ve often thought about what life would be like working in a zoo and taking care of animals (are there parallels to my current life? :-)), or I’ve also thought about what it would take to become a veterinarian. Who knows, in another 30 years once the music field has had enough of me, you might likely find me with a second “retirement” career with animals.

6. What is your favorite food?
I know, you’re probably thinking “she’s going to say chocolate-covered bacon”. You’re right! (however, I really love all food as long as it’s GOOD!)

7. What is the most interesting venue you’ve performed in?
Carnegie Hall! (2002 New York String Orchestra Seminar)

8. Where is your favorite place in Boston?
My home. Second to that? Anywhere in Boston! I love this city. :-)

9. What do you want to do when you grow up?
Travel the world. So many great sites to see, so many interesting people to meet, and so much good food to eat :-)

10. What are you doing this weekend? 
This weekend I’m teaching flute lessons, finishing my holiday shopping, doing a bit of work at home, cooking something delicious, and enjoying dinner with friends. 
Meet EM, Part Eight - Michelle Zwi Posted from:  MA, USAMichelle is a gig office veteran turned EM supporter. She knows the ropes when it comes to Bridge and the Music Referral Service, and is always helpful when questions turn up. Her most recent office endeavor included sprucing up the place with home-made holiday decorations. 
PART EIGHTMichelle Zwi - the gig service pro and holiday elf
1. Tell us about yourselfI’m currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Oboe, and I also did my masters at NEC.  I originally grew up in the Washington D.C. area and spent the last 2 years of high school living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I’ve been living in Boston for 7 years, so I guess at this point I’m pretty much a Bahstonian! 
2. What was your path to NEC?I completed my bachelors down the street at the Boston Conservatory, so I spent a lot of time hearing the awesome work of NEC students and falling in love with my teacher’s style of playing. It was only natural that this was my first choice for grad school!
3. Why are you working for EM?Before the offices merged, I spent 2 years working in the old gig office. I just adore everything about this job! Not only are all my co-workers a blast, but I’m able to meet so many great community members that come into or call the office. I’ve also learned so much about being a competent freelancer, so bonus points for life lessons! It’s an added plus that now my mind is tuned to marketing and entrepreneurial ideas, too.  
4. What is your favorite musical memory?This is a hard one! I’m going to cheat and pick two; on a tour of South Africa, we did a cultural exchange where we performed at a center for youth with HIV/AIDS. They sang and danced for us and we taught and learned so much from each other. It was a beautiful experience! The other would have to be bringing my outreach group to an orphanage for battered children in the slums of Brazil and watching as some of them saw an instrument and heard live music for the first time in their life; it was absolutely magical. 
5. If you could have a second career, what would it be?A neurological researcher! I think music has huge implications for science/health and vice versa, and I’m positive that there’s a physiological link between music or organized sound and pre-natal to early childhood neurodevelopment. I’ve tried to teach myself neuro-anatomy on the side (yay for coloring books!) and have been taking some pre-med classes on my free nights, but I wish I could just clone myself and do both full time!
6. What is your favorite food?A Brazilian black bean stew called feijoada with rice and collared greens. Oh…and brussell sprouts! And ice cream! Now I’m hungry… 
7. What is the most interesting venue you’ve performed in?At the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan. Not only was it jaw dropping gorgeous scenery, but there was some festival going on where there were floats and dragons everywhere so it was just an awesome spectacle. 
8. Where is your favorite place in Boston?I’m with Caroline on this one and have to say the reflecting pool, right in front of the church. It’s so beautiful there! Also, right in the middle of the Mass Ave bridge in the summertime :)
9. What do you want to do when you grow up?Happy
10. What are you doing this weekend?I have a lesson so I’ll be making lots of reeds! I’ll also be working at the Pine Street Inn downtown in their annual gift-wrapping where we package socks, toothbrushes and other useful items for the homeless who are currently sheltered there. 

 




 

 

Meet EM, Part Eight - Michelle Zwi


Posted from: MA, USA

Michelle is a gig office veteran turned EM supporter. She knows the ropes when it comes to Bridge and the Music Referral Service, and is always helpful when questions turn up. Her most recent office endeavor included sprucing up the place with home-made holiday decorations. 

PART EIGHT
Michelle Zwi - the gig service pro and holiday elf

1. Tell us about yourself
I’m currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Oboe, and I also did my masters at NEC.  I originally grew up in the Washington D.C. area and spent the last 2 years of high school living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I’ve been living in Boston for 7 years, so I guess at this point I’m pretty much a Bahstonian! 

2. What was your path to NEC?
I completed my bachelors down the street at the Boston Conservatory, so I spent a lot of time hearing the awesome work of NEC students and falling in love with my teacher’s style of playing. It was only natural that this was my first choice for grad school!

3. Why are you working for EM?
Before the offices merged, I spent 2 years working in the old gig office. I just adore everything about this job! Not only are all my co-workers a blast, but I’m able to meet so many great community members that come into or call the office. I’ve also learned so much about being a competent freelancer, so bonus points for life lessons! It’s an added plus that now my mind is tuned to marketing and entrepreneurial ideas, too.  

4. What is your favorite musical memory?
This is a hard one! I’m going to cheat and pick two; on a tour of South Africa, we did a cultural exchange where we performed at a center for youth with HIV/AIDS. They sang and danced for us and we taught and learned so much from each other. It was a beautiful experience! The other would have to be bringing my outreach group to an orphanage for battered children in the slums of Brazil and watching as some of them saw an instrument and heard live music for the first time in their life; it was absolutely magical. 

5. If you could have a second career, what would it be?
A neurological researcher! I think music has huge implications for science/health and vice versa, and I’m positive that there’s a physiological link between music or organized sound and pre-natal to early childhood neurodevelopment. I’ve tried to teach myself neuro-anatomy on the side (yay for coloring books!) and have been taking some pre-med classes on my free nights, but I wish I could just clone myself and do both full time!

6. What is your favorite food?
A Brazilian black bean stew called feijoada with rice and collared greens. Oh…and brussell sprouts! And ice cream! Now I’m hungry… 

7. What is the most interesting venue you’ve performed in?
At the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan. Not only was it jaw dropping gorgeous scenery, but there was some festival going on where there were floats and dragons everywhere so it was just an awesome spectacle. 

8. Where is your favorite place in Boston?
I’m with Caroline on this one and have to say the reflecting pool, right in front of the church. It’s so beautiful there! Also, right in the middle of the Mass Ave bridge in the summertime :)

9. What do you want to do when you grow up?
Happy

10. What are you doing this weekend?
I have a lesson so I’ll be making lots of reeds! I’ll also be working at the Pine Street Inn downtown in their annual gift-wrapping where we package socks, toothbrushes and other useful items for the homeless who are currently sheltered there. 



 

 

Meet EM, Part Seven - Eva HeinsteinPosted from:  MA, USAShe’s the one that can pull off funky glasses, hip scarves, fantastic shoes, and a rockin’ blazer - all while ripping your resume to shreds, and making you sound like the most accomplished musician in your bio. Eva is EM’s Assistant Director and has been an integral part in the department’s growth and expansion.
PART SEVENEva Heinsten - The one with the eloquent anwsers and advice
1. Tell us about yourselfI’m originally from Berkeley, California—the stock of a rational Berkeley native and a passionate Moroccan Israeli mother. I spent most of my youth trying to dodge my mother’s Middle Eastern flare, now I try to channel it.
2. What was your path to NEC?I made my way to NEC via NYU and Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where I studied Ethnomusicology and Hebrew Literature. I took a soft turn from academia to curating public programs for an arts presenter in Boston, excited to take my ideas about Jewish cultural revival off the page and into clubs, theaters, gardens, and living rooms. I attended free concerts at NEC with friends, and curiously followed the development of the Sistema Fellows Program and the Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department. Then a job posting turned up, and I thought why not? The job represented a way to bring together many of my seemingly diverging interests—piano performance, ethnomusicology, program curation, cultural start-ups, writing, and more.  A touch of luck, and a few interviews later, I was here.
3. Why are you working for EM?I love the process of starting new projects. The ideation, uncertainty, pluck, trial and error, and satisfaction of bringing something to life that wasn’t there before. I get to play a small role in so many new artistic projects and draw great satisfaction from watching students move through the process with such creativity and determination. 
4. What is your favorite musical memory?Music has always been central to the way my family celebrates, observes, and grieves. Though recent, I would say one of my favorite musical memories is of my mother singing La Arosa, a traditional Jewish Moroccan song, on my wedding day. She has such a beautiful, layered voice, and the mix of Hebrew, Arabic and English (translated for the occasion) in her song wonderfully captured the many threads of my family’s heritage.
5. If you could have a second career, what would it be?I would be a computer programmer. I find peace in complex, detail oriented projects. That, or a scarf designer. I love scarves.
6. What is your favorite food?I spend much of my day thinking about food—what to make for dinner, when to dive into my afternoon snack. So, I’ll qualify that Shakshuka is one of my favorites: it’s a simple Middle Eastern dish that involves warm tomato sauce, eggs and enough garlic to kill a horse. It’s hearty and healthy and great with a heel of olive bread. (See recipe from Smitten Kitchen if you’d like to give it a try).
7. What is the most interesting venue you’ve performed in?The Berkeley Piano Club—an exquisite private performance space nestled behind the Bertha Newell House in the heart of the city. It is such a warm, inviting space and remains one of my favorite venues.
8. Where is your favorite place in Boston?I love the Forest Hills Cemetery—it is beautifully landscaped, peppered with incredible monuments and sculptures, and is one of the few spots in Jamaica Plain that isn’t teeming with dogs (and thus a peaceful place to walk my own feisty Brittany Spaniel, Jasmine).
9. What do you want to do when you grow up?I’ll take a page from Tim’s book on this one. I’d like to do what I do now, only better.
10. What are you doing this weekend?I am planning to spend a few quality hours with a new cookbook, Denis Cotter’s For the Love of Food. All of the recipes are impossibly complex, but I’d like to pick one to put in Thanksgiving rotation. This is my first T-day as a vegetarian—wish me luck!

Meet EM, Part Seven - Eva Heinstein


Posted from: MA, USA

She’s the one that can pull off funky glasses, hip scarves, fantastic shoes, and a rockin’ blazer - all while ripping your resume to shreds, and making you sound like the most accomplished musician in your bio. Eva is EM’s Assistant Director and has been an integral part in the department’s growth and expansion.

PART SEVEN
Eva Heinsten - The one with the eloquent anwsers and advice

1. Tell us about yourself
I’m originally from Berkeley, California—the stock of a rational Berkeley native and a passionate Moroccan Israeli mother. I spent most of my youth trying to dodge my mother’s Middle Eastern flare, now I try to channel it.

2. What was your path to NEC?
I made my way to NEC via NYU and Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where I studied Ethnomusicology and Hebrew Literature. I took a soft turn from academia to curating public programs for an arts presenter in Boston, excited to take my ideas about Jewish cultural revival off the page and into clubs, theaters, gardens, and living rooms. I attended free concerts at NEC with friends, and curiously followed the development of the Sistema Fellows Program and the Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department. Then a job posting turned up, and I thought why not? The job represented a way to bring together many of my seemingly diverging interests—piano performance, ethnomusicology, program curation, cultural start-ups, writing, and more.  A touch of luck, and a few interviews later, I was here.

3. Why are you working for EM?
I love the process of starting new projects. The ideation, uncertainty, pluck, trial and error, and satisfaction of bringing something to life that wasn’t there before. I get to play a small role in so many new artistic projects and draw great satisfaction from watching students move through the process with such creativity and determination. 

4. What is your favorite musical memory?
Music has always been central to the way my family celebrates, observes, and grieves. Though recent, I would say one of my favorite musical memories is of my mother singing La Arosa, a traditional Jewish Moroccan song, on my wedding day. She has such a beautiful, layered voice, and the mix of Hebrew, Arabic and English (translated for the occasion) in her song wonderfully captured the many threads of my family’s heritage.

5. If you could have a second career, what would it be?
I would be a computer programmer. I find peace in complex, detail oriented projects. That, or a scarf designer. I love scarves.

6. What is your favorite food?
I spend much of my day thinking about food—what to make for dinner, when to dive into my afternoon snack. So, I’ll qualify that Shakshuka is one of my favorites: it’s a simple Middle Eastern dish that involves warm tomato sauce, eggs and enough garlic to kill a horse. It’s hearty and healthy and great with a heel of olive bread. (See recipe from Smitten Kitchen if you’d like to give it a try).

7. What is the most interesting venue you’ve performed in?
The Berkeley Piano Club—an exquisite private performance space nestled behind the Bertha Newell House in the heart of the city. It is such a warm, inviting space and remains one of my favorite venues.

8. Where is your favorite place in Boston?
I love the Forest Hills Cemetery—it is beautifully landscaped, peppered with incredible monuments and sculptures, and is one of the few spots in Jamaica Plain that isn’t teeming with dogs (and thus a peaceful place to walk my own feisty Brittany Spaniel, Jasmine).

9. What do you want to do when you grow up?
I’ll take a page from Tim’s book on this one. I’d like to do what I do now, only better.

10. What are you doing this weekend?
I am planning to spend a few quality hours with a new cookbook, Denis Cotter’s For the Love of Food. All of the recipes are impossibly complex, but I’d like to pick one to put in Thanksgiving rotation. This is my first T-day as a vegetarian—wish me luck!

Meet EM, Part Six - Daniel ParrettePosted from:  MA, USAAnother fantastic student worker, Daniel gives Tim some back-up when it comes to the male to female ratio in the office. In his third semester working for the music referral service, he’s the guy to know if you want some gigs! 
PART SIXDaniel Parrette - The other dude on a yoga ball
1. Tell us about yourselfI’m a clarinetist in my 3rd year of undergraduate study at NEC. I enjoy cooking, eating, playing ultimate frisbee, and performing for young audiences. I’m originally from West Point, NY where I’ve lived my whole life. 
2. What was your path to NEC?My parents met in their undergrad programs at NEC. They were both Class of ‘87. I’ve been visiting the school ever since I can remember. I never expected to come here, but I’m finding my own way at NEC and I know that it is the best place for me. 
3. Why are you working for EM?It’s a great opportunity to learn about the music world and work with people who are so creative and inspiring!
4. What is your favorite musical memory?Performing Stravinsky’s Danses Concertantes in The National Festival Chamber Orchestra. That piece is not meant to be played without a conductor, but we made it work and it was an incredible experience. 
5. If you could have a second career, what would it be?=Third baseman for the NY Yankees.
6. What is your favorite food?Fish and chips!
7. What is the most interesting venue you’ve performed in?One summer festival we performed in a church in upstate NY with a ton of windows with no screens. The concert was at 8pm, so it was literally swarming with bats. The audience had a freak-out. 
8. Where is your favorite place in Boston?Comm Ave. during Christmas time.
9. What do you want to do when you grow up?I want to perform music I love with people who inspire me. 
10.   What are you doing this weekend?Going to a musical theater frat party, BSO, and CPP public speaking workshop! (Sunday at 2pm in Pierce)


 

Meet EM, Part Six - Daniel Parrette


Posted from: MA, USA

Another fantastic student worker, Daniel gives Tim some back-up when it comes to the male to female ratio in the office. In his third semester working for the music referral service, he’s the guy to know if you want some gigs! 

PART SIX
Daniel Parrette - The other dude on a yoga ball

1. Tell us about yourself
I’m a clarinetist in my 3rd year of undergraduate study at NEC. I enjoy cooking, eating, playing ultimate frisbee, and performing for young audiences. I’m originally from West Point, NY where I’ve lived my whole life. 

2. What was your path to NEC?
My parents met in their undergrad programs at NEC. They were both Class of ‘87. I’ve been visiting the school ever since I can remember. I never expected to come here, but I’m finding my own way at NEC and I know that it is the best place for me. 

3. Why are you working for EM?
It’s a great opportunity to learn about the music world and work with people who are so creative and inspiring!

4. What is your favorite musical memory?
Performing Stravinsky’s Danses Concertantes in The National Festival Chamber Orchestra. That piece is not meant to be played without a conductor, but we made it work and it was an incredible experience. 

5. If you could have a second career, what would it be?=
Third baseman for the NY Yankees.

6. What is your favorite food?
Fish and chips!

7. What is the most interesting venue you’ve performed in?
One summer festival we performed in a church in upstate NY with a ton of windows with no screens. The concert was at 8pm, so it was literally swarming with bats. The audience had a freak-out. 

8. Where is your favorite place in Boston?
Comm Ave. during Christmas time.

9. What do you want to do when you grow up?
I want to perform music I love with people who inspire me. 

10.   What are you doing this weekend?
Going to a musical theater frat party, BSO, and CPP public speaking workshop! (Sunday at 2pm in Pierce)

 

Meet EM, Part Five - Caroline Scharr Posted from:  MA, USACaroline is another one of our smiley and fun, yet task-oriented, student workers. Soon, she’ll be heading up our exciting series called Project 231 – a student run, dialogue driven series that addresses your life-in-music questions. Intrigued? Chat with Caroline for more details!
PART FIVECaroline Scharr - she’s holding a pumpkin! 
1. Tell us about yourselfI am currently working on my graduate degree at NEC studying oboe performance from John Ferrillo. I grew up in Cape Cod, MA. Before I got serious about music, I was a pretty serious figure skater. Boo ya!
2. What was your path to NEC?I started going to NEC prep every Saturday during high school to get a better understanding of orchestral style playing. I started my undergraduate work studying oboe performance at UMass Amherst, but after two year at UMass I was looking for a more intense music school and decided to transfer to NEC.
3. Why are you working for EM? I am working for EM because I believe that every musician needs to have basic business managing and marketing skills to make it in the music industry today. By working in EM I get to learn about all the cool ways of doing so, while helping others along the way.
4. What is your favorite musical memory?When I was about eight years old, my Dad’s symphony orchestra invited musician’s children up to the stage to play Haydn’s “Toy Symphony” with the orchestra. My instrument for that concert was the triangle and I had no idea what I was doing. I was so nervous and confused to why people wanted to watch me, a child, with other children my age play instruments so poorly. But as I get older, I am beginning to understand how powerful music can be!
5. If you could have a second career, what would it be? I would work in a hospital, I really like helping people.
6. What is your favorite food?SUSHI!
7. What is the most interesting venue you’ve performed in? A carnival… in Maine…with fried dough, freak shows, cotton candy…the whole nine yards!
8. Where is your favorite place in Boston? The Reflecting Pool. What? I’m from Cape Cod, I need to be around bodies of water.
9. What do you want to do when you grow up? I want to play in an orchestra that exhibits great passion, technique and skill. It is my dream to be a member of an organization that helps move and change people through their musical talents.
10. What are you doing this weekend? I am going to a Halloween party! Any suggestions for a great costume?!?!

Meet EM, Part Five - Caroline Scharr


Posted from: MA, USA

Caroline is another one of our smiley and fun, yet task-oriented, student workers. Soon, she’ll be heading up our exciting series called Project 231 – a student run, dialogue driven series that addresses your life-in-music questions. Intrigued? Chat with Caroline for more details!

PART FIVE
Caroline Scharr - she’s holding a pumpkin!

1. Tell us about yourself
I am currently working on my graduate degree at NEC studying oboe performance from John Ferrillo. I grew up in Cape Cod, MA. Before I got serious about music, I was a pretty serious figure skater. Boo ya!


2. What was your path to NEC?
I started going to NEC prep every Saturday during high school to get a better understanding of orchestral style playing. I started my undergraduate work studying oboe performance at UMass Amherst, but after two year at UMass I was looking for a more intense music school and decided to transfer to NEC.


3. Why are you working for EM?
I am working for EM because I believe that every musician needs to have basic business managing and marketing skills to make it in the music industry today. By working in EM I get to learn about all the cool ways of doing so, while helping others along the way.


4. What is your favorite musical memory?
When I was about eight years old, my Dad’s symphony orchestra invited musician’s children up to the stage to play Haydn’s “Toy Symphony” with the orchestra. My instrument for that concert was the triangle and I had no idea what I was doing. I was so nervous and confused to why people wanted to watch me, a child, with other children my age play instruments so poorly. But as I get older, I am beginning to understand how powerful music can be!

5. If you could have a second career, what would it be?
I would work in a hospital, I really like helping people.


6. What is your favorite food?
SUSHI!


7. What is the most interesting venue you’ve performed in? 
A carnival… in Maine…with fried dough, freak shows, cotton candy…the whole nine yards!

8. Where is your favorite place in Boston? 
The Reflecting Pool. What? I’m from Cape Cod, I need to be around bodies of water.


9. What do you want to do when you grow up?
I want to play in an orchestra that exhibits great passion, technique and skill. It is my dream to be a member of an organization that helps move and change people through their musical talents.

10. What are you doing this weekend?
I am going to a Halloween party! Any suggestions for a great costume?!?!

Meet EM, Part Four - Michelle Doolittle

Posted from: MA, USA

Shelly’s bubbly personality always brings an extra spark to the office. She helps maintain the Bridge database, but also helps everyone maintain a positive outlook during the workday. Check back again next week for a new profile!

PART FOUR
Michelle Doolittle - the voice of calm

1.       Tell us about yourself
Well, my name is Michelle but my friends call me Shelly, and I’m in my 2nd year of grad studies in Vocal Performance. I grew up a block from the ocean in Santa Cruz, California. It’s probably one of the coolest places in the world to be from (not that I’m biased or anything…). I did my undergraduate work at Cal State Fullerton. Go Titans!

2.       What was your path to NEC?
Going into my senior year of college, I decided that I wanted to pursue a graduate degree. I asked teachers and friends for recommendations of schools and teachers. NEC was at the top of the list, and when I found out that Lisa Saffer (now my teacher!) was on faculty here, I knew this was what I wanted. Kids, dreams do come true!

3.       Why are you working for EM?
 Last year whenever I had to go into the Office of Student Services, I always peered into the EM office as I passed and thought “That would be an awesome place to work.” Guess what? It is! Also, let’s be honest, I need money. (But let’s be honest again: if I REALLY needed money I would have chosen a different career path…)

4.       What is your favorite musical memory?
A few years ago, the choir I was in at CSUF performed on a concert of Disney music at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. They needed someone to whistle the songs of the bird from Snow White. Since I was notorious for walking through the halls at school whistling Bach or whatever was stuck in my head, I got the part. Long story short: My whistling got me a standing ovation. SO COOL.

5.       If you could have a second career, what would it be?
I love photography, and I love babies, so I think I’d want to be a photographer that takes pictures of cute babies.

6.       What is your favorite food?
Desserts. Of any kind.

7.       What is the most interesting venue you’ve performed in?
A church in St. Petersburg, Russia, that had been converted from an indoor pool. The ceilings were super high and there was a 10 second reverb. It made it difficult to sing…

8.       Where is your favorite place in Boston?
I love Davis Square. I know that’s not exactly IN Boston, but you should check it out. 

9.       What do you want to do when you grow up?
Whatever makes me happy, just like my dad taught me.10.   What are you doing this weekend?
Memorizing recital rep, catching up on my favorite TV shows from the week (gotta love Hulu!) and various other homework assignments.
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