School News

Pakachoag Music School is pleased to announce that two students have been selected for the 2021 Reinburg Award for Effort, Commitment and Attitude:  Mai Caslowitz, voice student, of Sturbridge and Ksheeraja Ramanujum, violin student, from Shrewsbury.

About Mai Caslowitz of Sturbridge

Mai Caslowitz, from Sturbridge, is a senior at Tantasqua High School.  Mai has been enrolled at Pakachoag for over 10 years, first starting at age two! Mai began her musical journey with Pakachoag in 2005 as a participant, with mom, in the School’s early childhood Music Together program.  Mai later enrolled in the School’s Suzuki Program as a violin student, and in 2018 narrowed her focus to private vocal studies.

Mai has excelled during her music studies, most notably being selected for the 2021 All Eastern Music Festival Chorus which draws vocalists from across the northeastern US.

Mai’s private voice teacher, Pakachoag faculty member Silvia Irving, formerly a professional vocalist with Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society, writes:  “These four years with Mai have been an inspirational journey with a blossoming young artist. From the beginning she has been an exceptionally self-motivated student, always being open to learn, explore and share new ideas and literature. Mai’s consistent focus and effort has allowed her to gain richness and flexibility in her vocal expression and to sing an impressive array of songs from classical to music theater.”

Mai will enter Ryder University in the fall pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre.

About Ksheeraja Ramanujam of Shrewsbury

Ksheeraja Ramanujam, of Shrewsbury, the second recipient of this year’s Reinburg Award, studies violin at Pakachoag with Amy Matherly.  She has been enrolled for seven years and is currently completing her junior year at Shrewsbury High School where she plays in the school orchestra.

Teacher Amy Matherly comments, “Ksheeraja loves playing the violin and views it as a pleasure to be enjoyed. She listens to music with interest and sets goals for herself. A dedicated and enthusiastic student, she practices thoughtfully and comes to her lessons well prepared. I am pleased that she has received this award!”

In addition to her activities at Pakachoag, Ksheeraja participates in the Shrewsbury High School Orchestra and studies the Carnatic style of classical Indian violin at the Anubhava School of Music. She was also accepted into the 2021 MMEA Senior Orchestra.

Ksheeraja is interested in biochemistry and plans to pursue a career in that field.  She plans to continue playing the violin in college and would like to set up a multi-instrument fusion club where people from different backgrounds and cultures can come together to learn from each other and enjoy music.


About the Peggy Kelley Reinburg Award

The Peggy Kelley Reinburg Award for Effort, Commitment and Attitude, named after the School’s second director who strove to instill an appreciation for excellence among all School students, is awarded annually, each spring.  With the pandemic closures in Spring 2020, the School did not present an award last year and is thus happy to be able to acknowledge two very deserving students this spring of 2021.

Prior recipients of the PKR award, which dates back to 1992, include students who have gone on to excel in the sciences, law enforcement,  engineering, aviation, education (both k-12 and higher education), social work and professional careers in music performance, music education, and musical theater.

Welcoming All

As we look ahead, beyond this very abnormal year, we’ve been busy planning for how we can welcome new students and others in the community to experience music with Pakachoag.

The new Faces of Pakachoag photo display adds splashes of color to the stairwell between the second and third floors at 10 Irving Street and greets visitors with a sampling of who we are today.

The display is one of several activities underway to create a greater sense of community for enrolled families.  Or, if you are not currently enrolled, we’re hoping the display will inspire you to consider Pakachoag as your home for music learning and enjoyment.

Are these faces ‘typical’ Pakachoag students?

Actually, there is no typical Pakachoag student – only someone who enjoys music and wants to learn, or for our younger early childhood children, families who wish to nurture their child’s natural music ability.

Because lessons and classes happen once each week, enrolled families, as well as visitors, do not always see the many faces of Pakachoag that rotate through our home site and satellites each week.

Our Faces of Pakachoag are every age – from baby to senior citizen.  We have different colors of skin, hair, eyes, and height; different instruments played; different stages of growth and levels of accomplishment (which you can sometimes see by how a student is ‘attached’ to their instrument).

Many thanks to Target of Worcester, Westborough and Millbury.  Together, those stores donated the frames and printing services needed to put the display in place.

If you do not currently come in for lessons, please feel free to email Sarah@pakmusic.org to arrange for a tour and you can see the display in-person!

Other Ways You can Get to Know Us

Other activities underway for getting to know us better include:

  • The new in 2019 Faculty Feature video series and
  • The Student Spotlight effort.

The videos and spotlights are posted roughly every month or two.

Where We’re Going With All This…

Wrapped within these efforts and our goal for growth is a commitment to finding ways to ease access to after-school music enrichment for all in the Greater Worcester community.

That commitment is in part because statistics show access to quality arts instruction is not equal, with disparities tied to income, race and ethnicity, and geography.  Search/google ‘Arts Equity 2020’, ‘Gaps in access to after-school high quality arts programming’, ‘Supporting student success in after-school programs’ and you’ll get the picture.

If you are an enrolled student in any program and would like to have your photo included in the display, please email info@pakmusic.org and we’ll get you on the wait-list for when we begin to rotate some of the photos.  We’ll rotate roughly every 9 to 12 months.

 

During this year plus of COVID-19, now the school year of 2020-2021, school friend Gail Morgan agreed to help us out as a door greeter on Saturdays once or twice a month, a time when some students have been visiting for in-person.  We appreciate Gail’s support.  We thought it would be fun to find out a bit more about why Gail has chosen to volunteer.

Full disclosure:  No goods or services (or bribes) were offered in exchange for Gail’s responses, below.  We appreciate her kind words.

Pakachoag Office and Development Assistant Jacob Walz asked Gail what made her want to help out.  Here’s the full conversation.

Jacob:  Can you Sum up what Pakachoag has meant to you over your years of involvement with us?

Gail: Having witnessed the quality of the student/faculty performances and knowing the fortitude it has taken the school to pursue this excellence has endeared the institution to me. The passion for music has been spread throughout families from all of Worcester County.

Jacob:  What has been the one consistent thing about Pakachoag that has kept you connected with the School?

Gail:  Quality in teachers, programs, outreach and administration.  Pakachoag Music both preaches and practices a quality program and that is reflected in the quality students who graduate and go on to pursue other musical endeavors.  Only one class experience can set a great example and begin the appreciation of music.

Jacob:  As you reflect back over the years that you have “known” Pakachoag, what is your fondest memory of the school?

Gail:  Sarah Smongeski. Sarah’s commitment to music, the school, staff, teachers, students and families is steadfast.  She represents the school with her own discipline, passion and wonderful personality.  She is creative in her fundraising, events and strategic planning, reacting well to the hills and valleys of running a non-profit.  I consider Sarah a friend and she is also an incredible role model.

A Note from Sarah:  Thank you, Gail, for believing in Pakachoag Music School.  I think you first became a friend of the School back in 2008, although I expect your connection may stretch back further.  We also appreciate your steadfastness in support.  What we accomplish each and every year is ONLY possible because of the many friends who stand with us – whether as volunteer, as family similarly committed to supporting excellence in teaching and learning;  or as annual donor.  You watched carefully as we juggled the decisions about our move into Worcester.  Your care, support, advice and time as volunteer is appreciated.

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  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 Kristjon@pakmusic.org.
  • To register for a full session, click here.

*We’ll accept a younger 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.


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.


2020 Holiday Music Lesson Special

Sign up for four lessons anytime between now and January 5th, 2021 and we’ll waive the $40 registration fee.  If you choose to extend your lessons beyond the four week special,  the ‘no registration fee’ still applies.

Some in-person options available.  Lots of remote options.  For ages 6 and up.

Lessons must be scheduled to begin between December 5th  and February 15th, 2021.  Four consecutive lesson weeks (excluding the traditional February School vacation week) are required for school aged students.  This is because students need consistency to learn effectively and teacher schedules do not permit ad hoc scheduling.

For adults, we will consider an every-other-week schedule, depending upon available schedule options.

Gift Vouchers Available

We can provide a gift voucher if desired.  Your cost for four lessons?

  • 30 minutes: $120
  • 45 minutes (best for non-beginners or older students):  $220
  • 60 minutes (best for experienced students):  $300

Instruments Available

Most instruments available, subject to scheduling availability.  Includes:

  • Flute, Fife or Recorder
  • Voice
  • Guitar – All Styles
  • Trumpet
  • Cello
  • Ukulele
  • Other:  Interested in an instrument not listed here? Please email info@pakmusic.org and we can check if teacher can be available.

Not Sure About In-Person vs. Remote?

Learn more about our online Pakachoag Connect program here. Pakachoag Connect Remote Music Lessons logo

In-Person is available for some instruments, depending upon teacher availability and schedules.

Still have questions?  Please email Kristjon@pakmusic.org.  We encourage you to consider remote options.  Our remote students are progressing and enjoying lessons!  For beginners, we may encourage in-person to start.

 


We’re offering two special workshops, remotely, this Fall of 2020.

  • For string players, ‘Practice Strategies’

  • For instrumentalists and vocalists, ‘How to Record Professionally’

Practice Strategies

This four week online workshop is designed specifically for string players aged 13 through high school.

Topics include:

  • Get Inspired!
  • The science of habit formation (do’s and don’ts)
  • What to practice
  • Making the best use of your time – How to practice effectively
Details

This class is part of the Pakachoag Connect online learning Program.

How to Record Professionally

This four week online workshop Recording Professionally at Home is designed for students in grades 8 to 12 who are playing or singing music from the traditional classical, folk or jazz repertoire.

Details

New to private lessons with Pakachoag?  Sign up for school year lessons now (by September 24th) and we’ll waive the $40 registration fee.

Our featured instrument for September is the Fife.  A great way to get started, for ages 7 to 10.  If you want to play in band next year, fife lessons will give you a head start.  We’ll teach you how to blow, finger, listen and some basic music reading.  From Fife, you can move to the flute, to clarinet, sax, or a brass instrument.  Fife is particularly great for pre-flute, as the way we blow is very similar to playing the flute.

Kiki, in the photo, began Fife lessons in Fall of 2019.  She is now off and running with her flute!

Fife lessons are offered remotely until at least January.  Because we are remote, we ask that a parent be on hand for the lesson so you can guide practice between lessons and assist with some of the physical “set-up” (positioning for holding and blowing) when getting started.

We have a few different scheduling options.

Our teacher is Alice Daugherty.

For more information, please submit this inquiry form; or email info@pakmusic.org.

Thank you!

Private Lessons Inquiry Form (Summer or School Year)

Please complete and submit this form as Step 1 of your lesson inquiry or registration.
  • For adult students, you are welcome to enter 01/01/1920 if you prefer not to be specific about age.
    MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Please tell us your or your child's desired instrument of study, including voice, or feel free to note 'not sure'.
  • If you are requesting assignment to a specific teacher, please note teacher's name here.
  • Many of our students, both new and continuing, enroll for additional lessons during the summer months. Please tell us what is most important to you with regard to summer lessons (we'll also ask you about school year separately). This information can help us consider needs/interests and teacher availability. During the SUMMER, I prefer.....
  • Whether you are interested in school year or summer, by understanding more about your school-year needs, we can consider summer options in light of avoiding a teacher change in the fall. We recommend avoiding teacher changes when possible as it takes time for each teacher to establish knowledge around a student's needs and learning style. During the SCHOOL-YEAR, I prefer....
  • Note: If you already play an instrument, you may be playing out of a Suzuki Method Book. Whether you participate in the Suzuki program is based on weekly participation in both a group class and a private lesson rather than on which method book you use.
  • If you have any more specific requests surrounding in-person or online, please feel free to add notes here.
  • Please tell us the name of your day school - elementary, middle, Jr. High, High School or College. Or, please note 'none' or 'home-schooled'.
  • Scheduling Information

  • Time Schedule Availability

    Even if you already know the assigned time of your lesson, please provide the time information requested. This helps us assess options in the event that a schedule change is needed.

    Please provide as wide a time range as possible; a minimum 90 minute time frame is requested.

    If you do not yet know the day of your lesson, please provide information around general availability.

  • Please answer according to the student's general availability on weekdays.
  • Please tell us the earliest possible time you can arrive for a lesson when school is in session (in the event that your summer lessons begin prior to the close of the school year). If you do not yet know day of lesson, what is the earliest possible time you can usually arrive?
  • What is the latest possible end time you can be on hand during the school year. If you do not yet know the day of your lesson, please answer according to 'usually'.
  • Your response is appreciated. This information is used for aggregate reporting to grantors and similar, and remains confidential. Do you primarily identify as….
  • Contact Information

  • Would you prefer receiving text messages, if texting becomes available?
  • Your response is appreciated. This information is used for aggregate reporting to grantors and similar, and remains confidential.
    Do you primarily identify as….
  • Please let us know if you would like additional information regarding...
  • Feel free to select as many as are applicable.
  • Do you give Pakachoag Music School permission for yourself and/or your child(ren) to be photographed and/or videotaped during school functions for school purposes and for such photos or videos to be used commercially by the school, including postings on the School web site.
  • Please review our Program Policies prior to completing registration, and confirm your acceptance below. This includes information regarding make-ups, withdrawal, weather, and student supervision.

    For Summer, go to: Summer Policies

    For School Year, review here: School Year Policies

Fall 2020 Preview:  Why / How Remote Music Learning is Different

Dear Friends,

We hope you remain well. As public school openings (or “remotings” ) take shape, we’re ready to confirm our plans at Pakachoag.

Fall 2020 includes our new Pakachoag Connect Remote Learning Program as well as some limited in-person options.

If you are not already enrolled for fall, before you retreat from the idea of additional remote learning, I encourage you to consider how MUSIC learning is by nature different from core subject matter learning; and, in particular, with regard to the remote experience.

1) When teaching, our focus is on sound -melody, harmony and rhythm.  Not only are we using our ears, we’re also using our physical “self” to feel rhythm and develop the physical techniques needed for successful musicianship.  For our youngest learners, rhythm is tied closely to movement. For the vast majority of our online offerings, teacher and student are focused on listening, creating and feeling music; less on reading, dictation and conversation.

2) For private lessons, we don’t spend a lot of time looking at each other on the screen and talking. Rather, we’re playing music.  As teacher, we coach and demonstrate; together we play back and forth, and listen.

3) For lessons and school-aged classes, we’re checking in on how practice, in connection with weekly assignments, is going.  For 6 out of 7 days, online music learning is actually NOT ONLINE at all. Its independent study [aka practice] with weekly teacher ‘check ins’ that include coaching and goal setting/assignments for the upcoming week.

4) For early childhood classes and sometimes Rhythm Kids, mom or dad or grandparent is the teacher (not the screen) as you, the adult role model for your child, take cues (visually and aurally) from our teacher.

This very interactive / active nature of music learning, which in every case benefits from independent music-making (and listening) at home between class or lesson time, means screen fatigue is a little less prominent than with traditional subject matter.

I totally get that some moms and dads, primarily our younger families, are opting to wait until we can be in-person. But I hope you will take a few minutes to consider all of the benefits music has to offer, no matter whether in-person or online.

This year, it also makes sense that we highlight how artistic engagement supports mental health.  As one of my own adult students mentioned in her remote lesson this week, ‘My lessons are my anchor right now; practice brings a routine to my day, a predictability.’

As teacher and musician, I like to add: “Yes!! it also helps us block out the outside world for a bit and immerse ourselves in the music.”

With wishes for good health, let’s stay connected with music – no matter if in-person or online.

Sincerely, Sarah Smongeski, Executive Director


Fall 2020 Preview

We’re Listening:  Technology Sustainability and Transformation

Thank you to parents who responded to our Online Learning Assessment earlier this summer. We heard you loud and clear and are investing time and resources to kick off the School’s new Pakachoag Connect Program.

The new PCP Program is a long-term commitment to remote learning.

PCP expands access geographically and to those with health concerns, eases transportation and schedule challenges, and ensures safety during COVID-19.

For the long-term we’ll be offering both in-person and remote lessons, or a combination option.

For group classes, some will be designed to be remote-only; some will be in-person only; and some groups will similarly offer either/or options in the future.

Check Out Pakachoag Connect

Look for the PCP logo above on webpages to quickly identify programs being offered remotely.

PCP options for FALL include:

Details for our Two Most Popular Programs

Music Together Online:  Registration Now Open

Music Together Online Registration Opens TODAY!

Save $15 now through Friday, September 8th

Fall classes are currently planned for online. We’ll be singing and dancing with ‘Bongos’!

Some classes will remain online for the full year. We hope to be able to resume some in-person classes when circumstances change with regard to COVID-19.

Summer families have enjoyed seeing each other each week and taking a few minutes to say hello on-screen. Then, we’re off and hopping, skipping from home.

Materials will be mailed home starting September 17th or within 2 weeks of receiving your registration thereafter.

Early registration greatly appreciated so we can confirm classes in a timely manner.

Private Lessons – Remote and Some In-Person Opportunities

We’re registering! Whether you are looking for remote only, in-person only, or a combination we may be able to help.

We’re handling plans on a case-by-case / teacher-by-teacher basis.

Some of our safety plans include:

  • HEPA-13 medical-grade filters in studios to circulate and clean air every 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Plexiglass barriers to curb flow of air between teacher and student.
  • Open windows when possible.
  • Sanitizing of key surfaces between lessons.
  • Masks and social distancing

We can provide a COVID-19 Safetey Guidelines Handbook upon request. We will ask anyone enrolling to sign a waiver of liability.

For lesson information please e-mail our Director of Programs & Outreach Kristjon@pakmusic.org

Take a tour, remotely, with Pakachoag Music School and the Worcester Children’s Chorus

Learn about some exciting new program offerings and discounts with the Chorus and Pakachoag.
Hear from parents & teachers.
Learn about remote vs. in-person: how it works;
and more.

Dates: Choose

  • Wednesday, August 12 or
  • Tuesday, August 25

Registration for 8/25 is open until 4 pm 8/24.
Please submit your registration at least 24 hours in advance so we may plan ahead.  Thank you.

Times:  Pick

  • 12 noon or
  • 4:00 pm

Please complete the quick registration form below by the requested deadline, so we can send you a private, secure link in advance of your selected date/time.

What to Expect

  • Meet faculty and parents to hear about our fall programs
  • Remote v. In-Person: How it Works
  • Enjoy student performances
  • Tour the Music School and Chorus remotely
  • Ask your questions
  • Learn about discounts and registration

Plan for 30 minutes for our remote tour.  If you have additional questions, we’re happy to set up a follow-up meeting.

Want to know a bit more ahead of time?

Meet the Chorus’ Phil Montgomery, Associate Director, and Pam Mindell, Artistic Director, here.

Meet Phil and Pam

Or, hear a little music from one of Pakachoag’s private lesson students with teacher here.

Enjoy Grieg for Four Hands Piano
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