In the Community

Ukulele Lessons at the Boys and Girls Club of Assabet Valley

Ukulele at the Boys and Girls Club

On Thursday afternoons, the Boys & Girls Club of Assabet Valley (BGCAV) in Maynard is filled with kids playing games, doing homework, and taking advantage of their athletic space. If you listen closely, you’ll hear a new sound, the sound of ukuleles and kids singing.

BGCAV offers after-school, summer, and recreational programs to youth in the community. While programming is varied and enriching, a notable gap was in music education. Recognizing this, the BGCAV Executive Director, Annalisa Campaneli, decided to augment their current program offerings to include music. “Talking with the Concord Conservatory of Music cemented the idea that the ukulele would be a great instrument for Club kids to start with. Aside from all the research that Quote shows that playing an instrument helps develop the area of the brain that handles cognitive tasks, research shows that most children respond to music with joy!”  This fall, CCM introduced a music program for kids ages 6 – 11 at the Club, marking the first time that Club has had music as a program option for the kids.

CCM instructor Cathy Marks leads two classes, teaching the kids the ukulele and general music. For most of these kids, it’s their first opportunity to have instrument lessons, learn foundational music skills like rhythm, play in unison as a group, and sing while playing. “Over the last few weeks, we have seen the ukulele lessons, under the tutelage of Ms. Cathy, draw out feelings of pride, self-confidence, and pure enjoyment. We plan on offering the ukulele lessons in the winter and may expand to include drums next year. Our partnership with CCM has been wonderful.”

The classes are free for the kids and the BGCAV and are made possible by our generous supporters in our community. The kids will share what they’ve learned with their families and the rest of the Club with a performance. “I am so excited that the BGCAV was receptive to piloting our music classes for their kids. They are so proud of what they have accomplished, and we’re looking forward to continuing to bring music to the Club next semester,” says Kate Yoder, CCM Executive Director.

CCM Adult Chamber Music Play-In

In collaboration with the Concord Chamber Music Society, CCM held its first Adult Chamber Music Play-In on Saturday, October 22nd. The Play-In had participants making beautiful classical musicAdult Chamber Music Play-In with a group of fellow amateur chamber musicians. All the chamber musicians had the chance to play through an excellent repertoire and received the benefit of engaging with members of the Concord Conservatory faculty.

The 30 participants were each placed in chamber groups during the morning to play through repertoire.  During the finale large group session, the players read through Bach’s Brandenburg 3rd Concerto, conducted by John Holland. Due to the terrific feedback received, CCM will soon announce the next Adult Chamber Music Play-In!


Join us when the Concord Conservatory of Music Presents


Friday, November 18, 2022, at 7:30 pm

Joie de vivre—exuberant enjoyment of life with live music at CCM!

Purchase tickets in advance or at the door. ($25 General Admission and free for students 18 and under)

In the optimistic Belle Époque era of the late 1800s to the Roaring Twenties (aka Années Folles–known as the crazy years in France), an abundance of uplifting and lively music was composed in Europe and America that has continued to capture our hearts and attention throughout the decades.

Join us for an evening of exceptional cabaret, burlesque, and belle époque music performed by the ensemble BEME. Their original arrangements of iconic numbers such as the Can-Can, ragtimes, and the Charleston will deliver pocket-sized dramas and romances through witty, sometimes provocative, and positive prose and poetry. CCM faculty members Fabrizio Mazzetta on cello, and Masako Yotsugi on piano, with guest soprano Sonia Jacobson, will present a program that includes works of Gershwin, Erik Satie, Offenbach, and Scott Joplin, among others. Read more on Guest Soprano Sonia Jacobson.

Community Sing on Sunday, December 4th!

In the Pale Morning Light – A Festival of Hope 

Sunday, December 4, 1:30 – 2:30 pm in North Hall, and then join the group and sing in Concord’s annual Tree Lighting

Concord Conservatory of Music’s Community Sing is an opportunity for singing enthusiasts of all ages and levels to gather and enjoy making music together.

Bring the entire family to this free event! Led by CCM voice faculty Gray Leiper, this unique multi-generational chorus will sing musical selections that celebrate the seasons.

Sing with us and sign-up today! There is no fee to participate.

Your November Listening Project Playlist!

This month’s theme is music influenced by the Industrial Age in conjunction with events held by the town of Concord. This is an incredibly broad subject, but Stephen Marotto narrowed it down to a few orchestral/chamber pieces along with an electroacoustic piece and some blues and bluegrass for your enjoyment and edification. Some of the connections to the Industrial age will be quite overt and direct, and others may be a little more abstract.

Remember to use your Listening Journal for additional thought-provoking questions to think about while listening to the selections. It’s a great way to start insightful conversations with your family, friends, or music instructor!

What do Fidelity, Raytheon, and State Street have in common?

They have matching gift programs.

If your employer matches tax-deductible charitable contributions, you can double the impact of your gift to CCM! Concord Conservatory recognizes and thanks to both donor and employer for this generous gesture!

Won’t you please consider giving the gift of music today?

Are you a CCM friend yet?

Join us on Instagram and Facebook to be the first to learn CCM news and more! See what music videos we like, photos we post, practice tips and articles we suggest, and new music in the music world. Be sure to bookmark the CCM Blog to never miss a new post.


Tones of Fun:  A Music Class for Kids with Developmental Needs

Tones of Fun

CCM continues to make music accessible to more of our community with the introduction of our Tones of Fun Developmental Music Class for kids with developmental disabilities. The class, in collaboration with the Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education, is tailored specifically for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder and is taught by Kayla McLaughlin from Berklee. She has her master’s in education with an autism concentration. We asked Kayla to tell us more about the class.

CCM:  Why do children with Autism Spectrum Disorder need a special class?

KM:  Students with disabilities have amazing musical talents and skills, just like their typically developing peers. Unfortunately, these aptitudes are not always able to be seen and celebrated in a general music class setting. If an adapted music class is not offered, that child’s music education stops there. An adapted music class is structured based on the strengths and needs of the students in the class. Each class is individualized to the student’s interests, instrument preference, genre of music and song preference, communication style, and learning profile. The teacher uses different tools so that each student can participate in meaningful group music-making. A disability diagnosis should not be a barrier to engagement with and expression through music!

CCM: How do you teach the class differently than with children who do not have a diagnosis?

KM:  Adapted music classes are planned with flexibility in mind. Students and their caregivers can stand or sit anytime and leave the room to take a break as they please. We use visuals to complement our music-making so that students with varying levels of language and communication skills can participate effectively. Each class has anywhere from 5-8 different musical activities, and the frequent change helps to keep students engaged. Finally, we make music through singing, playing instruments, improvising songs, and structured and unstructured movement activities. There is something in every class for every student!

Maura Lyons’s son, Daegan, is a member of the Tones of Fun class. Maura shared, “This class is soCCM Tones of Fun important to my family and me, it’s the highlight of our week. It is the only activity in town that Daegan can share with his siblings, myself, and his friends. It brings him so much happiness and excitement. It truly melts my heart to see him so focused on something he loves.”  In the class, Daegan is focusing, socializing with peers, learning how to take turns and be in a group, and discovering new songs and instruments.

Daegan’s two sisters are at the class, and Maura says they also benefit from the weekly sessions. “My daughters use skills from class and songs to interact, engage, and play with Daegan at home. Tones of Fun is an amazing program and is teaching us how to use music to bring a smile to Daegan’s face!”

The Tones of Fun class meets weekly on Wednesday afternoons at CCM and is supported by gifts from our community.


The Time of His Life: Grady Flinn and His Musical Mind Are a Great Fit at CCM

CCM student Grady Flinn

The less time you have, the more wisely you need to spend it. Concord–Carlisle High School sophomore Grady Flinn has learned that lesson well — which is one reason he values the CCM approach to music education. “The teachers are very focused and are really passionate about their students,” Grady says. “So when you go for a lesson, you really get a lot out of it. You always feel fulfilled walking out of the room”.

Getting the Most Out of What You Put In

Grady, who grew up in Connecticut, has taken a variety of lessons at CCM since moving to Concord in 2019, including piano and guitar. This fall, with a schedule that included competing on the Concord–Carlisle cross country team and working toward an Eagle Scout rank along with a full load of classes and homework, Grady decided to focus solely on viola lessons with instructor Susan Gottschalk.

“She’s wonderful,” Grady says. “She knows what I need personally — what I have to work on. And that might be different from what her other students need to work on. She knows I struggle a little bit with rhythm, for example, and I tend to play my A-flats a little bit too sharp. So there’s a very personal sense that she’s helping me make specific improvements instead of just offering a generic lesson. I really appreciate that about her.”

Finding the Right Combination of Work and Play

Grady’s mom, Leslie Flinn, cultivated his interest in music at an early age. “She would play songs for me when I was very young,” Grady says, “and when I was six or seven, she bought me a little electric keyboard. For the next couple of years I was always playing around on that. And even though I didn’t know what I was doing, people said it was clear I had a musical mind.”

His musical mind found a home at CCM. By then he had taken piano lessons in Connecticut, learning basic techniques and how to read sheet music. At CCM he expanded his interests to include guitar and singing — interests he indulged in Rock Lab, jamming on classic hits by bands like Blue Öyster Cult, Nirvana, and The White Stripes. “That was a lot of fun,” he says. “We would get together every week.”

But along with the fun, Grady says, “I’ve learned a lot about diligence and about hard work. If you want to get better at something, you have to put your best effort into it. The teachers at CCM have really taught me the importance of practice. So even if you can’t take four hours a day to practice, you find the time to build in a little bit wherever and whenever you can. And that applies to everything in life, not just music. If you constantly work at something, you can reach your goals.”

A Unique Audition

One of the goals Grady is working toward this year is an audition for the Massachusetts Eastern Senior District Festival. (“There’s nothing like a deadline to get you to practice even more,” Grady notes.) Susan suggested he perform the required viola piece, Concerto in C Minor by Johann Christian Bach, at the third annual West Concord Porchfest in September. Grady had performed at Porchfest, a grassroots community music festival for all ages (and all genres) in West Concord Village, before — but in a really casual setting, playing rock tunes with friends.

This time would be different. And Grady is sure to give credit where it’s due. “I wouldn’t have thought of it if Susan hadn’t brought it up,” he says with a laugh. “But it was really fun. You can get only so far when you’re practicing — you need the actual performance experience, too. The only way to get over performance anxiety is to perform. I was glad I did that because I think it will help me audition with that piece going forward. I can tell myself, ‘Well, I did it at Porchfest in front of all those people — I can easily do it in front of this one guy who’s adjudicating me.’”

Playing for Keeps

Where it all goes, nobody knows — Grady included. But whatever else he does in life, he’s confident that he will remain a musician. “Even if I don’t major in music in college or become a performing artist professionally, I think it will always be a part of my life,” he says. “Like all art forms, music is a way of expressing yourself, and I think everybody needs that release in their life. So whether it’s a side hustle or just a hobby, music will always provide that for me.”

As always, it’s a matter of determining what matters and what you want to spend your time on. For Grady and his musical mind, that’s an easy call. “When I’m not doing music,” he says, “I’m honestly not as happy as when I am doing music.”


An Enchanting Improvisation: CCM instructors Fabrizio Mazzetta and Masako Jasmine Yotsugi Collaborate in Music and in Marriage 

Fabrizio Mazzetta and Masako Jasmine Yotsugi

“For me,” says cello instructor Fabrizio Mazzetta,” the best aspect of teaching at CCM is the freedom we have in terms of curriculum. It gives us the opportunity to help people flourish according to their own goals, their own interests and their own abilities. We can also fit our lessons to their different ages and the time they have to devote to it. There’s wonderful diversity, and also very good dialog with the students and their families.

“We try to give everyone the opportunity to shine regardless of the means they have.”

Fabrizio’s wife, piano instructor Masako Jasmine Yotsugi, offers a more concise take on the rewards of teaching at CCM: “Most of my students are playing just for the fun, for the joy,” she says with a laugh, “and that makes me so happy!”

Different Pathways to the Same Place

Fabrizio and Masako come from different worlds. He grew up in Paris, a classically trained cellist. She grew up in Japan, where she honed her interest in jazz and Great American Songbook standards by obsessively watching “When Harry Met Sally.” (“I actually learned English from that movie, too,” she adds.) The soundtrack featured Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, and Bing Crosby, as well as contemporary interpretations by Harry Connick Jr.

Their different paths eventually brought both to Boston. Masako earned her diploma in Jazz Piano Performance at Berklee College of Music, where she studied with renowned jazz pianist Ray Santisi. His philosophy: “Let’s develop our skills so we can support our instinct.”

Masako spent 10 years doing both while playing at Boston Harbor Hotel and Joe Tecce’s restaurant Fabrizio and Masako in the North End. “I expanded my repertoire thanks to those audiences,” she says. “They had so many requests, so every week I would practice so hard to learn new tunes. I got better with the American Songbook repertoire, Broadway show tunes, and so on.”

Building on the classical (and classic) music education he received in his home country, Fabrizio earned a Master of Music in Cello Performance (with distinction) at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He honed his collaborative chops performing with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, Hingham Symphony Orchestra, Symphony New Hampshire, Gloucester Chamber Music Series, Strings Attached Duet and Chagall-Boston String Quartet, among other ensembles.

But Fabrizio and his future wife didn’t actually meet until they both began giving lessons at a small music school on Newbury Street. Despite their different backgrounds, instruments, approaches, and styles, each recognized something in the other that called out for collaboration. And it didn’t take long for them to realize that their chemistry transcended music. One of the highlights of their married lives was a trip to Europe, when Masako played for Fabrizio’s family. “They hadn’t had a chance to get to know her yet,” Fabrizio says. “They were enchanted.”

Finding Common Musical Ground

Masako has found that she can best express her joy and enchantment through the piano by specializing in a particular period: the Belle Époque (“Beautiful Period”), which ran from the middle of the 19th century to the early part of the 20th. Its hallmark, optimism, resonates with her. “I like those old times somehow,” she says, “even though I wasn’t there.”

Masako decided to put together a program highlighting some of her favorite Belle Époque composers. The original plan was to present it as a duet, with soprano singer Sonia Jacobson, in May 2022. But Covid forced a change in plans.

So, Masako improvised. The show was postponed — and in the interim it was also re-envisioned. Belle Époque music, it turned out, was an ideal way for Masako to meld her improvisational jazz leanings with Fabrizio’s classical approach. “Masako has a strong education in arranging,” Fabrizio says, “and I have experience in various types of ensembles — from orchestra to chamber music to duets to trios.”

So, the duet became a trio: BÉME (for Belle Époque Music Ensemble). You can see them on November 18 at CCM, performing works by Gershwin, Erik Satie, Offenbach, and Scott Joplin, among others. “I want it to be like a time capsule experience,” Masako says.

Fabrizio hopes to convey some of the optimism of that earlier time. “We look on the bright side of things through some famous tunes from composers on different continents,” he says. “For the CCM community, it’s an opportunity to hear music that might not have been exposed to as well as other music that they know so well — but not with this instrumentation. It was an interesting technical challenge for us to arrange some of these tunes for our ensemble.”

The result, no doubt, will be enchanting.

The Belle Époque Music Ensemble (BÉME) will perform at 7:30 on Friday, November 18 at CCM and at Club Café in Boston on November 29.


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