This year, the musiConnects program at the Sumner Elementary School in Roslindale has partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Boston with the help and leadership of Nina Vansuch. The Sumner Quartet is finding that having a stronger presence in the school has really been a positive experience. We have a brand new class of six beginners in addition to the nine returning students from last year, and also a sizable waiting list of interested students! This year, in addition to the private lessons portion of the program, the Sumner musiConnects students are participating in a large group music circle class. They seem to really enjoy working together in the group class to develop chamber music skills and a sense of community. The students have been enthusiastic about the new program, and they have also been extremely responsible about remembering all their materials, and flexible working with schedule adjustments as we settle into a new routine.
There is now a broad range of abilities with the students of musiConnects at the Sumner since adding a new class of students. The first year players are learning proper posture, bowhold, how to create a good sound and are working on plucking the “roots” (a.k.a. the bassline) of Bile ’em Cabbage Down for our first All Play concert of the year this December. The second year players are quickly reviewing where they left off with their teacher last year, playing songs like Hot Cross Buns and The Pickle Song, and moving on to more difficult repertoire. Many of the second year students will be moving to the “stem” (a.k.a. melody) of Bile ’em Cabbage Down for the concert. It has been interesting seeing the leadership qualities that come out of the second year students in our music circle time together. We are working on keeping a steady beat, cueing and building a strong musiConnects community. This weekly time all together has helped to reinforce skills learned in lessons and create some consistency from week to week.
In May, the Sumner Quartet traveled to the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in Nelson, NH, for a weekend of intensive rehearsing, and were coached by Apple Hill Executive and Artistic Director, Lenny Matczynski as well as the first violinist of the Apple Hill String Quartet, Elise Kuder, both of whom shared with us a bounty of new musical ideas and ingenious rehearsal techniques. At the retreat and in the months since, the Sumner Quartet has worked to prepare Beethoven’s String Quartet in F Major, Op. 59 No. 1, sometimes called the first “Razumovsky” quartet, and will perform two movements of the work at the upcoming Free for All concert at the Mattapan Public Library on November 21. We are also looking forward to collaborating with our colleagues from the Boston Public Quartet in a performance of one of Felix Mendelssohn’s most beloved works, and a piece—astonishingly—that he composed at the age of sixteen: the Octet in E-Flat for strings.
-Laura Messina, Liz Stefan, & Josh Addison