Join Pakachoag Music School via YouTube for 21 Ways to Harmony, a set of seven conversations accompanied by music, airing throughout 2021.  The School’s first conversation will explore

From Music Lessons to Life in the Sciences: Parallels Beyond the Studio

Feature No. 1 with music school alumna Julia Nguyen, Ph.D., Chemistry.

Click Here to Find Feature 1

Enjoy a little music featuring student musicians.  We will also challenge you, through conversation, to think more deeply than usual about the role of music in life.  Our focus is on creating and uncovering harmony and commonality in music and in life.

Each conversation will be hosted by Pakachoag Director of Programs and Outreach, Kristjon Imperio.

We’ll post a link on this page around February 26/27 so you can find  us on You Tube.

February Feature No. 1

From Music Lessons to Life in the Sciences:
Parallels Beyond the Studio

  • Date: Saturday, February 27, 2021
  • Time: 6:30 pm
  • Platform:  Facebook/You Tube
  • Special guest:   Julia Nguyen, Pakachoag Alumna
    • Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Washington; Bachelor’s Degree, Williams College.


Pakachoag Music School is entering 2021 with a refreshed commitment to building harmony as part of community – both within and without.

During a difficult 2020, where conflict surfaced all around us – locally and nationally – the School began to receive a different kind of feedback from parents and adult students about the importance of music-making in life and especially for mental health.

The repeated thanks and appreciation coming from School families around the importance of music stood in deep contrast to the divisiveness that was going on externally.

Conversations host and Pakachoag Program Director Kristjon Imperio writes:  “In conversations amongst our staff and board members surrounding the challenges in our community and nation, we realize that these common ‘music messages’ stand as lasting principles, extending beyond popular and passing narratives.”

“My favorite college course was ‘Arts & Ideas’.  I love how the arts draw from a huge ‘library’ of culture and ideas, spanning time, circumstance and geography,” adds Sarah Smongeski, Executive Director.  “One can find so many commonalities among the arts over the centuries.  Differences bump up against each other but commonality is also present everywhere, no matter the musical genre or style; or artistic medium.   Our goal for Community Conversations is to peel away layers of stereotypes, differences and structures, using the framework of music to inform our understanding of cultural commonality,” says Executive Director Sarah Smongeski.

Throughout the year, Mr. Imperio will lead seven conversations, accompanied by student and faculty music.  With an array of varied conversational partners planned, we will be looking to uncover – perhaps even create — multiple “resolutions” as part of each conversation that can help each of us become aware of commonalities we might not have considered previously.  We want to encourage reflection on how we use those commonalities to create harmony in life, and provide a little inspiration for what it means to make music locally.  We often hear that music is the common language.  We plan to dig deeper to uncover what those commonalities CAN be, for 2021 and beyond.

Upcoming 21 Ways to Harmony:  Feature 2

Chasing Dreams to American Shores

Feature 2, to air in March, will explore commonality of the immigrant experience, using Irish fiddle music and poetry as our launching pad.

  • Date: St. Patrick’s Day, Wednesday, March 17
  • Time: 6:30 PM
  • Place: Facebook/YouTube (Prerecorded)
  • Special guest: Worcester poet Curt G. Curtin
  • Featuring Irish Fiddle Music with Pakachoag faculty and students.


Wednesday, March 3, 2021
12:30 PM ET
Free, Open to the Public
Online, From Home

Live from Kenya, with Pakachoag and Music Together Worldwide


Register for Mpala Field Trip

On March 3, 2021 we’ll be visiting with the Elephants at the Mpala Living Laboratory.

This winter, Pakachoag’s RK class  and other Rhythm Kids classes around the world are drumming and jamming along to rhythms inspired by elephants.

So, thanks to Music Together Worldwide, on Wednesday, March 3, at 12:30 PM ET, we’re going on a virtual field trip to see these amazing animals in their natural habitat . . . at the world-renowned Mpala Research Centre in Nanyuki, Kenya.

While showing us around, Mpala Executive Director Dr. Dino Martins

  • will share elephant facts kids will love,
  • talk about the role families everywhere can play in conservation, and
  • swap musical stories with Rhythm Kids creator Tom Foote.

Bring your children’s elephant questions and something to drum on . . .  we’ll be making music, too!

This Event is Free

Everyone is welcome to attend this free event.  Children of all ages welcome.

Register for Mpala Field Trip
We’re going on a virtual field trip to Mpala Live with Music Together Worldwide to see some amazing animals in their natural habitat.

Join the Fun – just click the button above to submit a quick registration sign-up and Music Together worldwide will send you the event link.

We’re Online Having Lots of Fun & Learning, Too!

Rhythm and Drumming for KidsYou’re invited to sign up for a demo class offered on February 26, March 5 or March 12th.

Submit the form below to request a space.

Our Rhythm Kids classes meet:

  • 8 or 10  weeks, starting January and late March.
  • 4:15 to 5:00 with Julie Holston
  • For k, Grades 1 and 2*
  • Space limited.  First come/first served.
  • If registering, Tuition is $170.  Includes Song Book and CD.  Financial Aid available for families of low income or who have lost a job.  Email
  • To register for a full session, click here.

*We’ll accept a sibling between 4.9 and 5.5 when attending with older sibling(s).

You can LEARN MORE about Rhythm kids here.

Scroll down to sign up for a free drop in class.

Did you know that all children are musical?

Have you ever wondered what you can do to nurture the musical growth of your child, regardless of your own musical ability?  Singing and rhythm games are the foundation for music success.  Birth through age 6 is THE critical window to develop and fine-tune these foundational skills.

      • Classes are interactive and active.
      • Come ready to bounce, jump, dance and sing.
      • Each child will need some kind of drum.  A box or plastic bin can work.
      • Our free drop in class is offered via Zoom.

Request a Free Drop In

To request a free drop-in class, please submit the form below at least 48 hours in advance.  We’ll confirm if space remains available once we receive your sign-up form.

After confirming, we’ll send you a zoom link.  Your teacher will admit you via the remote waiting room which helps us ensure we’re safe for those participating.

When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, we flipped all lessons to remote and cancelled our spring recitals.  This year of 2021, spring recitals are also cancelled although we are hosting remote performance classes for most of the winter/spring season.

The disruptions of COVID-19 meant that we never found an opportunity to recognize and congratulate our five and ten year students in 2020 and will again miss this traditional recognition for milestone certificates and graduates this spring of 2021.

I wanted to provide here a little background on why we award milestone certificates.  I usually mention this when we are together at an event and award certificates.  Also to ask for your ideas for celebrating this spring.

Why Milestone Certificates?

Certainly, talent can be found.  Just like an Olympic swimmer benefits from big feet, musicians also benefit from physical and mental characteristics like large hands for pianists, structure of the palette for vocalists and flute players, lung capacity, perfect pitch, etc. etc.  But while some of these traits occur naturally, many of these physical and mental attributes can be developed over time.

Much more important to achieving success in music is hard work.  That includes practice in combination with guidance from a knowledgeable and skilled instructor.

Work ethic, time and time again, is huge in how we progress in our learning and work lives.  Further, it would never be appropriate for us to judge a student’s “talent”.  Talent may not be seen immediately or may reveal itself at different ages.  Every student is unique.  For all of these reasons, this is why we celebrate milestone years (rather than level of achievement) on the journey to becoming a musician.

Becoming a musician does not happen overnight; nor even during the course of one school year (although you can learn a lot in one year).  Becoming a musician takes sustained effort over many years.

In the life of the music school, we celebrate when students have been taking five years of lessons.  That sustained effort is huge!  I am always known to say in advance of handing out a certificate for achieving the five year milestone:  “Congratulations!  There is NO going back now.  You are in this and must continue.”  Occasionally, our five year students don’t continue through the end of high school, sometimes narrowing their focus in other directions, but most of our five year students keep going through the end of high school.

Even more exciting is when we can celebrate the Ten Year Milestone.  Students obviously need to start young to reach 10 years of private lessons by end of high school.  But each year, we usually have a few students that reach the ten year milestone.

How Can We Celebrate in 2021?

In Spring Spring 2021, we will not be together in-person.  I had hoped that we could do an in-person catch up to acknowledge last year’s milestones as well as this years.  Instead, we will be acknowledging our five and ten year students and graduates in our e-news and print news.

If you have an idea for how we can celebrate in some way that is meaningful, please let me know.

We could have a zoom ice cream party?  but are we so tired even ice cream over zoom feels fatiguing?  As parents, you may know better than I what would be most meaningful for your child.  Please let me know if you have ideas.

Thank you for making music available to your child – or if you are an adult, thanks for making it available for yourself!  Or, if you are a donor, thank you for making music available for our community!

Music is a gift that lasts a lifetime.  Seeing our students grow over time is the biggest thrill for myself and Kristjon.  It is what drives us to keep going!

Sincerely,  Sarah

(Executive Director)

Neel Smith – 15 year piano student; from Worcester

[A]t some point, even if you go through days where you don’t seem to make any progress, you’ll have a moment when suddenly a passage you’ve struggled with starts to come more easily to you, or you start to hear music in a phrase that just sounded like plonking notes before. That’s always a great feeling…

Adult piano student Neel Smith can’t imagine going through the current pandemic without music. He feels that a lot of us have been shut off from so many experiences with no concerts at Mechanics Hall, no recitals at Pakachoag Music School, and no choral groups to sing with. Making some kind of music at home has been more important than ever for Neel.

As Neel reflects on the past nine months, he says his conversations during lesson time with an incredibly patient teacher Adult Piano student Neel prepares for lessonhelp him listen more carefully to, think about, and find meaning in the music he is trying to play.

His piano teacher Janeen Baker is infinitely patient, and if she is ever frustrated, Neel notes:  “She somehow manages not to let it show! ”  Neel’s work schedule has been chaotic during the pandemic, and he had to reschedule lessons on a couple of occasions. He was particularly appreciative of the flexibility Janeen has provided during a difficult time.

With the challenges of using technology for lessons, Neel loves that they were able to figure that out together – teacher and student.  If his Wi-Fi drops out, and they have to continue with a shaky phone connection, they both figured out together how to do that.   Neel also mentions:  “Janeen has also been very helpful in thinking about things I can be doing on my own, between lessons.   I never imagined discussing online resources like Youtube with my teacher before the pandemic, but those extra suggestions have made a nice addition to my lessons.”

When asked if there is a musician or a music group that particularly inspires him, Neel says has so many inspiring figures to choose from — famous, and not famous alike. Before the COVID19 pandemic, he had been singing with the All Saints Choir, and working with that group week in and week out was a constant inspiration to him. Choir members range in age from elementary school students to those even older than he is. What is most inspiring to him is the way that the commitment of the whole group raises everyone’s level to a point where the choir could create a choral sound that on some occasions literally gave him goosebumps.  For Neel, singing in a choir and applying his piano learning in that context has been an inspiring experience of the lifelong joy of music shared with others.

Neel is currently working on several concrete skills that he hopes will deepen his musical understanding. He is working to play brief compositions more frequently from memory and to improvise simple harmonizations on a given tune.

Neel’s advice to other students during this time is to not let the pandemic discourage you. “Studying music is not a race! It’s OK to take time to reach your goals. Keep at it, and at some point, even if you go through days where you don’t seem to make any progress, you’ll have a moment when suddenly a passage you’ve struggled with starts to come more easily to you, or you start to hear music in a phrase that just sounded like plonking notes before. That’s always a great feeling; try to enjoy all the days in between, even if you feel like you’re struggling. If you can find a friend or group of friends who like to talk about music together, that makes the effort more fun, and can really help you stick with the daily effort of practice.”, he says.

Neel is a great example of how one can pursue music even in tough times like the current pandemic. We, at Pakachoag, hope to continue to provide more online opportunities during and beyond the pandemic for students of all ages.   Pakachoag Executive Director Sarah Smongeski, who has known Neel since before he began his lessons, when his children took lessons, says “We are inspired by Neel’s long-term commitment to the piano! Fifteen years forward, and Neel has progressed from the simplest of piano melodies to playing major classical pieces like Bach Inventions and repertoire of the Romantic Period.  What a significant accomplishment!”.


Hey, Diddle, DiddleHey Diddle Diddle song

Rhymes, more specifically nursery rhymes, have been with us for centuries.  The earliest known published collection of nursery rhymes was Tommy Thumb’s (Pretty) Song Book, 2 vol. (London, 1744).

The Music Together curriculum is rich with rhymes.  Songs with words that rhyme, like “Hey, Diddle, Diddle,” help children hear how individual sounds come together to make words.

To expand and reinforce your child’s speech and memory skills, try singing other words that rhyme in place of “diddle” and “moon.” When your child is ready, they can come up with their own words that rhyme. You can even use nonsense words and silly phrases! For example:

Hey, doodle, doodle, the cat and the noodle,
the cow jumped over the hoop.
The little dog laughed to see such sport,
and the dish ran away with the soup!

Hey, Diddle, Diddle is one of several free songs available on the Music Together free Hello Everybody App.

Get the Music

The Music Together Free AppWith Music Together’s “Hello Everybody” app, it’s easy to play musically as a family at home and on the go. The app comes pre-loaded with eight Music Together songs, including Hey, Diddle, Diddle.  If you are an MT enrollee, you can sign in with your Music Together account to access your semester music, too. The app also includes a digital version of Music Together’s award-winning Singalong Storybook, Hello, Everybody.
Digital versions of our other 9 Singalong Storybooks can also be purchased.

Sign-Up is now closed, as of Tuesday, January 5th, 2:30 pm.

Thank you to all who signed up! We’re excited to see you tomorrow.  Watch for follow up email coming from the office.

If you are interested in signing up for a future demo, please email  Thank you!

  • Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 10:00 am with Linnea Lyerly
  • For children birth through age 4.  Siblings welcome.
  • Submit the Drop-In form below to hold your space.  Space limited.  First come/first served.

Did you know that all children are musical?

Have you ever wondered what you can do to nurture the musical growth of your child, regardless of your own musical ability?

Experience Music Together® and find out how important–and how much fun–your role can be!

  • You’re the role model!  That means screen time is for parent/caregiver.
    You follow the teacher; your child or baby follows you!
  • For parents of babies:
    Learn how to nurture and grow your babies inner musician.
  • Toddlers and pre-schoolers with caregiver learn through play.
  • Pre-K and K children are honing skills for music success.
  • Our classes are active and interactive

Come ready to bounce, jump, dance and sing.  No special skills required – just your enthusiasm.

You’ll be amazed at the response of even the youngest children to this informal, developmentally appropriate and thoroughly researched approach to music.

Our Music Together classes build on your child’s natural enthusiasm for music and movement.

This free drop in class (like our Winter Session classes) is offered via Zoom.  Please complete and submit the form below at least 24 hours in advance so we can send you a zoom link for your.  We’ll admit you via the remote waiting room which helps us ensure we’re safe for those participating.

A New Year, A New Song

Introducing:  21 Ways to Create Harmony in 2021

View Event

Pakachoag Music School will share inspiring music and conversations for the New Year as we look at the many positive ways music and the arts contribute to community.

  • Hosted by Kristjon Imperio, Director of Programs and Outreach
  • Thursday, December 31st
  • 6:30 to 7:00 pm
  • Online via Pakachoag Music School on YouTube and Facebook

Featuring conversations, student and faculty music, & a special mystery guest!

We’ll post a direct link for ‘A New Year, A New Song’ on this page on 12/31/20

Join Pakachoag Music School Program Director, Kristjon Imperio, for conversations and music.  We’ll take a quick look back on how Pakachoag kept music alive in 2020 and share hopes for 2021, including the School’s vision for its new Pakachoag Connect program.  We’ll pause to enjoy faculty and student music, and explore with special guests how we can celebrate individual and cultural diversity, through music and the arts.  Be prepared for some cute/ heart-warming moments as student musicians share some favorites.

2020 has been a tough year, but music remains a strong positive in the life of many.  This New Year’s Eve event will be the first of an ongoing series focused on uncovering 21 Ways to Create Harmony in 2021.

More About A New Year, A New Song

Pakachoag Music School of Greater Worcester presents a New Year’s Eve conversation with music. Presented via YouTube, “A New Year, A New Song” will be the School’s kick-off, with a little holiday flair, for its new ‘21 Ways to Create Harmony’ Series.

Each conversation, presented roughly once a month, remotely and later in-person, will be looking to uncover one of 21 ways we can create harmony, locally and creatively in 2021. Pre-recorded faculty selections (alumna and guests in the future), as well as student performances, including a few cute/heart-warming moments, will be included.

For this first conversation, Kristjon Imperio, Director of Programs & Outreach, will look back on how Pakachoag kept music alive in 2020 and share hopes for 2021, including the School’s vision for its new Pakachoag Connect program.

Mr. Imperio will also be introducing a Pakachoag Music School alumna, a recent PhD recipient living on the west coast, who will speak to her own experience as a Pakachoag piano student and first generation American.

Mystery Guest!  Tune in to meet our January Mystery Guest

Future conversations will explore how we can celebrate individual and cultural diversity, through music and the arts. Mr. Imperio says the ultimate goal of the new series is to look at the many positive ways we can connect with each other, individually, and as participants in the creative community of Greater Worcester.

“I believe that our community has embraced the challenges of 2020 with incredible endurance and strength. While initially wearying, technology has transformed our culture – presenting each of us the opportunity to positively connect with each other in new and creative ways as we move towards a post-pandemic world.”

Mr. Imperio, the son of a South East Asian immigrant, has spent much of his own life reflecting on how cultural background influences so many aspects of life, including how we learn, how we create community and how we approach our life trajectory.

When asked why someone should take the time to tune in to this kick-off conversation, Sarah Smongeski, Executive Director, says: “We’re approaching this new year’s eve as ‘let’s celebrate all of the positives that are happening’ – despite a really difficult year. I would also say don’t under-estimate the cute factor. Seeing young people make music and doing so with such enthusiasm and commitment – it makes you feel good. Our youth are our future, and, when we see/hear others engaging creatively (even online), the outcome can be nothing but positive.”

Pakachoag invites you to spend an hour, via YouTube, on December 31st at 6:30 PM to enjoy the beauty of music and community in harmony as we plunge forward and enthusiastically into 2021.

21 Ways to Create Harmony is made possible, in part, with funding from the Creative Engagement Grant Program administered by the Greater Worcester Community Foundation in partnership with the Barr Foundation.

Check Back Here for a Direct Link on 12/31/2020.


Music can be a fun way to help your child transition from one activity to the next throughout the day. Try making up verses for different activities and tasks that you and your child might do throughout the day and sing them to the melody of “This Train.” Replace “children” with your child’s name when singing “children get on board.” For example:
This train is cleaning up… Charlotte get on board.
This train is bound for bed… Zion get on board.

Get the Music

Click below to sing with This Train or…

With Music Together’s “Hello Everybody” app, it’s easy to play musically as a family at home and on the go. The app comes pre-loaded with eight Music Together songs, including This Train.  If you are an MT enrollee, you can sign in with your Music Together account to access your semester music, too. The app also includes a digital version of Music Together’s award-winning Singalong Storybook, Hello, Everybody. Digital versions of our other 9 Singalong Storybooks can also be purchased

Practice for quality and not for quantity

– Varsha Swaminathan, Five-Year Violin Student from Shrewsbury

Meet Varsha

“Varsha has really excelled in violin thanks to Pakachoag’s strong violin program”, her mother Vidya praises. Varsha is only in the 8th grade but has been part of New England Conservatory’s pre-college orchestra for three years.  She was accepted by audition last year, 7th grade, into the Junior Central District Orchestra.

Dedication is only part of the recipe for Varsha’s success.  Mom notes, “With Pakachoag making the transition to remote learning so easy, that too has contributed to her on-going growth.  Pakachoag made sure that they worked with the teacher and family to make the transition easy. Madalyne Cross, Varsha’s teacher, is providing weekly zoom lessons with Varsha, and works with the students according to the devices that they have at home”.

“My teacher is helping by always telling me ways to play even better than I already am, such as adding in dynamics and different bow techniques” Varsha excitedly reports.    And from mom:  “We are so impressed with her talent and hard work, with her having performed at various venues thanks to Pakachoag’s group lesson program”.

Varsha studies violin with Madalyne Cross.

Varsha’s Inspiration?

Varsha is inspired by the young world-renowned Chloe Chua (age 11 from Singapore).    “She is really good at playing the violin and has performed in various places as well as won many big competitions.” Varsha adds, “My teacher also helps me prepare for auditions and competitions.” Mom shares Varsha’s dreams for success.  “One day I hope Varsha becomes a performing artist in violin and she continues to play throughout her life no matter what career or profession she chooses.”

At Pakachoag, we are happy to support Varsha’s dreams.  Setting goals and working hard is the way to do it, one step at a time.

Learn more about private lessons here.

Learn more about the Suzuki Program here.

Learn more about the Pakachoag Connect online program here.