Opus / November 2017

In This Issue

News at CCM
Drumming Up Fun
Faculty Spotlight - Tsuyoshi Honjo
Did you know...
Upcoming Area Performances

News at CCM

November Dates to remember:

  •       Saturday, Nov. 11th, CCM Second Saturday Bluegrass Jam with BBU
  •       Friday, Nov. 17th, Chamber Music Faculty Concert
  •       Saturday, Nov. 18th, Student Recitals at 1:00, 2:30, 4:00 pm
  •       Thursday, Nov. 23rd – Sunday, Nov. 26th, CCM closed for Thanksgiving recess

Welcome Susanna Barton, CCM’s newest Board member

Susanna Barton

Susanna Barton shares with CCM her keen interest in making music education a regular and accessible part of families lives.

The Concord Conservatory of Music welcomes Susanna Barton to the CCM Board of Directors this fall. Barton worked for many years in the biotech field, doing bench work in genomics research and working in product development. These days she is deeply engaged in the complexities of raising three children, all of whom attend different Concord schools: Barton and her husband have one child in elementary, one in middle school, and a high schooler at Middlesex. The family tends to be an athletic bunch, but with two of the three children now studying piano at CCM, Barton says music is helping to create a healthy counterbalance in the house. She’s seen firsthand the value of practice, and how those lessons can translate to all aspects of a child’s life, whether academics or athletics. Barton says she is excited to join CCM in its mission of providing the highest quality music education in a community setting, and she looks forward to getting started.

CCM Second Saturday Bluegrass Jam with BBU: November 11, 2017

Bluegrass Jammers

For well over a decade, the Stage Coach Inn in Groton, MA welcomed pickers for a monthly jam on Saturday nights thanks in large part to host Paul Murray and the Boston Bluegrass Union (BBU). Since the Groton Inn burned down years ago, the BBU has been hoping to find a new location to revive these wonderful jams. BBU is now partnering with CCM to co-sponsor a new Second Saturday Bluegrass Jam in West Concord from 7:00 – 9:30 pm. This monthly jam is open to all ages and bluegrass instruments for advanced beginner musicians and above. The fee is $5 payable at the door. 

Mark your calendars as the next jam is Saturday, November 11th.

Bluegrass Jammers

The purpose of our jam is for non-beginner instrumentalists to have the opportunity to play with other musicians, or come just to listen. Attending a jam is an invaluable experience as it teaches improvisation, tone, dynamics and overall musicality. 

Through June 2018, the jams will take place at CCM. The jams will feature a rotating cast of hosts, and there are at least five separate rooms to jam in at CCM.

Congratulations to all our students who completed the October Practice for Pizza Challenge. Pizza was truly a great motivator!

Why is the October Practice for Pizza Challenge so successful for students?
"Practice for pizza is a refreshing change up for my daughter's monthly practice schedule.  While she practices most days, the practice for pizza month reinforces the benefit of daily practices." -Kent Smack, CCM parent


Faculty Concert - Chamber Music

On Friday, November 17th at 7 pm, the Concord Conservatory of Music presents Chamber Music performed by the Piano Trio featuring the faculty members violinist Angel Valchinov, and cellist Hyun-Ji Kwon, and with guest musician Keun Young Sun on piano.

The trio will perform works by composers Brahms, Mozart, and much more. CCM’s Faculty Concert Series brings world-class performers to our local community. The Trio members are exceptional performers, and many of CCM’s faculty members use the Concert Series as an opportunity for collaboration and innovation. CCM can bring the Concert Series to the community thanks in part to Enterprise Bank, and many other generous supporters. Purchase tickets online or at the door: $20 for adults, Free for students 18 and under.

Upcoming All School Student Recitals—Saturday, November 18 at 1:00, 2:30, and 4:00 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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Drumming Up Fun

Senior Handrummer

Since last spring, the Lincoln Council on Aging has been hosting a Concord Conservatory of Music world drumming class for senior citizens on Tuesday mornings in Bemis Hall. Hand drumming offers a whole range of therapeutic benefits, from increasing hand-eye coordination, waking up those neuro connectors, and improving memory, for example. “But also, what’s more fun than drumming,” asks CCM’s Mike Connors, who leads the class. “Nothing!” he says, emphatically. 

In six-week sessions, the group of eight students play West African djembe drums as they study specific rhythms from around the world: fanga from Liberia or soca from Cuba, for example. All of the learning is done by ear. To teach a particular rhythm, Connors will first break it down into parts, then the group assembles those parts one by one, eventually playing it many times through to internalize it. It’s a practice that requires careful listening, memory, a certain physicality, and coordination between right and left hands that can take some getting used to for the students. Not needed but a vital class component: laughter, Connor says.

“We’re so happy that we can bring our class to Lincoln and partner with the Council on Aging to provide music instruction to more of the community.” Say, Kate Yoder, CCM Executive Director.  “Mike leads a challenging and entertaining class. His students have such fun working together to master the rhythm patterns.”

No matter your age, rhythms can be challenging to remember and differentiate, so the group devises mnemonic devices to distinguish each one. “We were working on the rhythm from Cuba called soca,” Connors says. One of the participants suggested it sounds like, “Catch the sparrow.” Connors chants the phrase as the class drums it out, beating the pattern into their memories.

Almost all of the participants are coming to the class without any recent musical training or experience. “Maybe they played piano as a child, but really everyone is a beginner,” Connors says. Which is obviously a wonderful way to stay youthful.

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Faculty Spotlight - Tsuyoshi Honjo

Tsuyoshi Honjo

As a child in Japan, Tsuyoshi Honjo did not grow up in a musical family. In fact, the first music to catch his attention was from the scores of video games he played as a child. He would ask his mother to buy the albums, which he describes as easy listening classical music. But from that perhaps unlikely beginning, Honjo would go on to become a classical, jazz, and contemporary improvisation saxophonist and clarinetist, with a bachelor’s degree from the Berklee College of Music and advanced degrees from the Longy School of Music and Boston University. He has performed in ensembles all over the world and teaches saxophone at CCM.

Honjo started out on electric guitar as a teenager, teaching himself to play American and British hard rock and the heavy metal of the era, like Metallica. By the time he finished high school, he looked around at his peers and realized he was the best player around. “No one was even close,” he says. He started to consider a career in music.

Honjo and his guitar found their way to the Berklee College of Music, where he was required to take two years of jazz training—a first for him. He discovered John Coltrane. “I realized that music was heavier than heavy metal somehow,” he says. Truly inspired, he went out and bought the cheapest saxophone he could find in Boston and started playing as a hobby.    

As a beginner on a woodwind instrument, Honjo didn’t have much company at Berklee. “It’s not like learning drums or piano,” he says. “Woodwinds take many years to get better; it seemed impossible to switch at such a late age. You have to put in a lot more effort than other people. I did nothing but practice. Anywhere I went, I was the worst player for many years.” Some people seemed disgusted by his lack of ability, he says, which only inspired him to work harder.

Honjo requested lessons with classical saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky, who eventually encouraged Honjo to apply to the master’s program at Longy. He also studied with George Garzone, the jazz saxophonist, and Boston-area legend. “I was stupid enough to knock on his door and ask for a lesson,” Honjo says. Garzone had never taught a beginner student before, “and he was very cool about it.” Between his work with Garzone and Radnofsky, plus encouragement from jazz pianist Dave Bryant, Honjo built a foundation in saxophone and found his way into contemporary jazz. By then, he had upgraded his instrument and, believing anything is possible, he picked up clarinet around the age of 25.

It all worked out for the best. Honjo has performed as a classical, jazz, and contemporary improvisation saxophonist and clarinetist around the world participated in many festivals and ensembles and received awards in international competitions.

Given his late start and uphill efforts, Honjo says he has a keen eye for potential in his students. While some of his students learn quickly and others take more time, he says “I’m more interested in the individual progress they each make. I don’t care how slow it is, as long as they try to improve. When they do, it gives me enjoyment.” 

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Did you know...

How do our faculty members handle mistakes during a performance?

A rare occurrence, if ever, but here are some of their responses to learn from:

  • You just forget they happened and go on! You can deal with figuring out why they happened when you get back to the studio.
  • Mistakes happen when I am nervous. So I take a deep breath, remind myself to breathe with a phrase, play out more, and I smile and keep the music going!
  • I try to smile more!
  • Assume that some things will go wrong, and when it happens just don’t care about it.
  • In the moment? You have to let it go. I can think about them later when I pick apart my performance on my own time.
  • Keep going. Never Stop. Probably nobody noticed anyway!

Ah, there seems to be a pattern here! 

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Upcoming Area Performances

Saturday, November 4, 12:00 pm, BSO Family Concert, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra (BYSO), PROKOFIEV Peter and the Wolf at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Hall

The BSO's Family Concert Series provides engaging, age-appropriate, educational orchestral concert experiences especially for children ages 3-8 and their families. BSO Family Concerts are designed to build connections to the orchestra, orchestral music, the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, and Symphony Hall. 

Peter and the Wolf

Tickets $20. For more information and to purchase tickets>>

November 21-December 3, The Color Purple at the Shubert Theatre, Boston

The Color Purple

The Color Purple is the 2016 Tony Award® winner for Best Musical Revival! Hailed as “a direct hit to the heart” (The Hollywood Reporter), this joyous American classic has conquered Broadway in an all-new "ravishingly reconceived production that is a glory to behold” (The New York Times) directed by Tony winner John Doyle.

Tickets start at $48

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