Opus / January 2018

January 2018 Opus

In This Issue

News at CCM
CCM in the community at The Old Manse
CCM Workshop Series
Ukulele Fever Leads to the Uke Club
Student Spotlight – Anthony Valeri and The Power of Practice
Did you know...
Upcoming Area Performances

News at CCM

Spring Semester Registration—Register today for private and group instruction and secure your time slot. Spring semester private lessons and group classes start on Tuesday, January 16th—please refer to our calendar for start dates per day of the week. There’s a class for everyone at CCM!

CCM Faculty Member Chieko Loy with student


American Roots Winter Party


Save the date!

CCM American Roots Winter Party!

Saturday, March 3, 2018, at The Scout House in Concord—we look forward to seeing you there. 

CCM Second Saturday Bluegrass Jam with BBU: January 13, 2018!

Join the Second Saturday Bluegrass Jam at CCM from 7:00 – 9:30 pm on January 13th.  Our monthly jam, co-sponsored by the Boston Bluegrass Union, is open to all ages and bluegrass instruments for advanced beginner musicians and above. The fee is $5 payable at the door. Through June 2018, the jams will take place at CCM.

February recitals:

*Saturday, February 3rd at 1:00, 2:30, and 4:00 pm

*Thursday, February 8th, 7:00 pm

Are you a CCM friend yet? Join us on Facebook to hear the Tune of the Week and be the first to hear CCM news and more! See what music videos we like, photos we post, practice tips and articles we suggest, and discover what’s new in the music world. Join us on Facebook.

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CCM at The Old Manse

CCM in the community at The Old Manse 

Talented and enthusiastic CCM students performed at the Trustees of the Reservation The Old Manse in Concord on Friday, December 22nd during its Illumination Night. CCM’s Beginner Vocals group and Concord Youth Chorus performed as well as many of our instrumentalist students. 

The students were so excited to perform in a public space and bring music into the community. Beautiful music was a holiday treat for all who attended and the beginning of a new community collaboration with The Old Manse.

While the warm glow of candlelight shone down from the windows of The Old Manse, some guests sipped hot cider and enjoyed delicious cookies. The Illumination guests were treated to hearing wonderful holiday songs, jazz, swing, Bossa Nova, Broadway music, and even Stevie Wonder tunes! 

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Concord Conservatory Introduces Its Workshop Series

In 2018, expand your knowledge, discover a new route, acquire skills, and let your creative ideas flow!

Beginning in January, CCM is offering a series of transformative Workshops that promise to engage and challenge all participants. The CCM Music Workshop Series is part of our Music Achievement Program (MAP) and open to the public, and we encourage non-CCM students of all ages to attend. The workshop topics run the gamut from improvisation, composing, and even jodeling. Imagine young students learning to focus better, improve their coordination and balance, and sharpen their music skills from a Dalcroze Eurhythmics music and movement workshop. 


The Workshop Series is a component of the CCM Music Achievement Program (MAP) and helps students to become well-rounded musicians. Each workshop goes far beyond the typical lesson and practice schedule by delving into theory and concepts that distinguish average musicians from true artists. Even within the 50-minute workshops students will learn skills to help carry their musical endeavors for years to come. And for current CCM students—it’s not too late to sign up for MAP.

The Workshop Series Schedule:

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Ukulele Fever Leads to the Uke Club


If it feels like you can hardly swing a hepcat without hitting a ukulele player these days, the feeling might be justified. CCM has enjoyed a growing interest in ukulele lessons in recent years, to the degree that we’ve expanded our offerings: Beginning students can start strumming straight away in the Ukulele Crash Course, then graduate on to more intermediate skills in the Ukulele Club, both taught by Phil Sargent. And now, some of our Club players are meeting after-hours, to continue the conversations from the weekly lessons and continue the fun.

Phil Sargent is a classical and jazz guitarist who also teaches improvisation and performance master classes throughout New England. To prepare for ukulele, he studied the available offerings, some of which take the shape of YouTube tutorials. Those instructions might be as basic as: When you hear this particular word in the lyrics, switch to the next chord. That might be enough to get a person playing along to some simple chords, Phil says, but it’s overlooking a larger sense of musicianship. “It’s also like swatting at flies if you don’t already understand the concepts of beats or measures,” he says.

So Phil’s uke groups work on improvisational skills, ear training, understanding rhythms mathematically and playing in time, being able to feel a song and play a melody over it, he says, or improvising a strum pattern to make it sound more musically related to a specific song. The ukulele, in its four-stringed simplicity, makes very easy inroads to these musical concepts.

John Bakewell found his way to the Crash Course after deciding he wanted to develop some basic music literacy. Now in his sixth semester, he acknowledges “the huge gulf between the music we’re working on and any kind of sophisticated chamber music or jazz,” he says. “I’m not delusional about that, but the general exposure to music theory has been a fun challenge.”

He points to the cross-section of learners, all of whom bring different musical influences and interests. After their weekly group lesson, a handful of individuals stay on, to discuss song selections or compare notes on fingerings, for example. “There’s a learning curve associated with playing together,” John says, “and we’re toddling around with some of those questions.”

In their time together, John’s group has made headway on some of the ukulele standards—“Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World,” or Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” But in recent weeks they’ve been playing with “Chan Chan,” the first track from the Buena Vista Social Club. “They were improvising with a harmonic minor scale, and there’s a really alluring sound to it,” Phil says. “We got there because we were playing ‘Michelle’ by the Beatles, improvising at the end there, vamping with that outro progression which is a variance of the minor scales. So we said hey, let’s go full bore with the harmonic minor,” Phil says. “That’s the fun thing about it, you can go anywhere with it.”

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Student Spotlight

Taking Center Stage: The Power of Practice

Anthony Valeri with CCM faculty member Angel Valchinov

Anthony Valeri started playing violin two years ago, at the age of 8. He loved the sound of the instrument, so his parents found a rental and signed him up for lessons with violin instructor, Angel Valchinov at CCM. Anthony does all the regular 10-year-old things, like playing hockey and baseball and palling around with his neighborhood friends and younger siblings. But he is also the rare individual who is driven to devote three hours to violin practice every day. It’s paying off: In December, Anthony and Angel performed J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins at the Carlisle Orchestra Holiday Concert.   

Anthony was interested in music from the outset and started playing the drums before he could walk, he says. He learned from his father, who also taught him guitar and piano. As Anthony outpaced his parents’ musical abilities, they were delighted to see a bond form between Anthony and Angel, a soloist and concertmaster who performs with orchestras in the U.S. and Europe.

They make a powerful pair. Angel is strict, according to his student, who says that helps him retain lessons. “And Angel is really good, so I want to impress him. With any other teacher I’d probably still be playing easy songs,” he says. The three-hour practice goal grew out of their work together. (To Anthony’s mother, one hour of daily practice sounded like a lot, and she didn’t have it in her heart to ask him to do more than that, so she hasn’t.)

Anthony says he gets distracted after an hour and a half of practice, so he takes a break, plays with friends, and finishes up the rest later. He likes to practice in his room with his door shut, “because my brother is noisy.” (Understandably. He’s 2.) Anthony works on both his private instruction—right now he’s focused on improving his vibrato, for example—and material he plays with CCM’s advanced string ensemble, which gives him a chance to play with a group and master the task of playing softly. (“I have trouble with that, and everybody else does, too,” he says.)

When Angel asked Anthony to perform in the December concert with him, Anthony says he felt “really scared and really excited. But more excited than scared.” He put in four months of steady practice and, in the end, he felt it went well. “I think I sounded my best,” he says. Playing beside his mentor was a thrill. “I want to be just like him when I grow up,” Anthony says.

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Did you know...

What is yodeling (jodeling)?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of yodel (Jodel): yodeled or yodelled; yodeling or yodelling play \ˈyōd-liŋ, ˈyō-dᵊl-iŋ\ is

To sing by suddenly changing from a natural voice to a falsetto and back; also: to shout or call in a similar manner.

Yodeling is more than simply trilling one’s voice—there’s an art to it and skills to learn. To learn the basics of how to yodel—register today for the CCM Workshop, Jodeling Songs From Switzerland on Saturday, January 20th from 10:00 – 11:30 am.

Who yodels? You’d be surprised—besides our own voice instructor, Gabriela Martina, some popular singers incorporate yodeling into their music, including Swiss-American country singer Jewel. Take a look and enjoy>>

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Upcoming Area Performances

Bluegrass Night at the Linden Tree Coffeehouse with Southern Rail and CCM’s Rich Stillman!

Rich Stillman and group

Southern Rail brings their exuberant brand of Bluegrass and happy mayhem to the Linden Tree Coffeehouse in Wakefield on Saturday January 6th at 8 pm.

Southern Rail’s music is no holds barred, high energy fun, featuring lush harmonies, irrepressible good humor, and sparkling banjo, guitar and mandolin. Awesome home baked goodies will be available during intermission. Reserve your seats today before the event is sold-out!

A lively evening of bluegrass featuring Southern Rail.

Tickets $20. Limited number of tickets available at the doors—reservations highly recommended. Doors open at 7:30. Contact: 781-246-2836 / Email: lindentree85@comcast.netL


Beyond the Notes

Beyond the Notes: an interactive concert on Friday, February 2, 2018 at 7:30pm with Sarah Whitney on violin and David Leisner on guitar.

51 Walden Performing Arts Center. Tickets: $25 ahead of time/$30 at door/$15 student w/ID. www.gobeyondthenotes.com

For information on Sarah Whitney, violinist & educator>>

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