Reflections on my first year with musiConnects and the BPQ

by Cora Swenson, musiConnects resident musician

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When I was contacted and offered an interview with the BPQ, I had never heard of musiConnects and had no idea such a program existed in Boston. I began to learn about musiConnects and was extremely pleased to see how well my ideals aligned with the mission of BPQ. I have always seen music as being something far more profound than just learning to play an instrument. The idea that studying music and learning to play with one another can turn a group into a community, and can mold young people into conscientious citizens contributing to that community, is the foundation of my beliefs about teaching. musiConnects embodies just that ideal. I am so grateful to be surrounded by such passionate and dedicated teachers.

The teaching experience has been rewarding in ways I didn’t necessarily expect. I hadn’t had much experience working with children in elementary school; most of my previous teaching was focused on high school aged students. While it is always satisfying to have a student achieve a goal of keeping their proper bow hold through an entire song or correctly sight-reading, the most satisfying and heart-warming moments have been in seeing the students open up to me, begin to trust me, and feel themselves improving enough that they start to set their own goals for music making. Just this past week, a student proudly played me her new ringtone- a movement from a Bach solo suite for cello. She asked me if I had learned it yet, so I played it for her. She looked up at me in awe, her eyes shining, and said “maybe someday I can play that too!”

If I’m being totally honest with myself, I was a bit apprehensive about taking on the task of coaching a chamber group composed of such young kids who were relatively new to playing music. It has been a new kind of challenge for me, and some days and experiments have been more successful than others. But nothing compares to the moment when that group of six young girls finally plays through an entire chorale in true harmony. I once jokingly told the group that it was time for their favorite part of chamber music- packing up. One of them said “no!” very emphatically, and told me that her favorite part was when they played something well all together and I told them how beautiful it sounded. It has also been amazing to see some of them taking on leadership roles within the group, helping each other and learning to give comments in a constructive, respectful and caring way.

Overall this has been an incredible first year teaching at the Chittick and collaborating with my musiConnects colleagues. I’ve learned so much from them and from the students, and I’m proud of what I have contributed to the program as well. I’m very much looking forward to another year and another group of inspiring and stimulating students!

 

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