City Music Alumna Q and A: Gerami Groover

Gerami Groover was awarded a Berklee City Music full-tuition scholarship to the Five-Week Summer Performance Program, as well as, a City Music College Scholarship to Berklee. She has continued to take advantage of the opportunities City Music and Berklee has to offer.

pic1When did you graduate from Berklee Valencia and what projects have you been pursuing since?
I received my master in Music Technology Innovation from Berklee Valencia on July 14, 2014.” Since then “I have been teaching full-time as a music educator within the Boston area.”

What were you doing in South Africa?
“I recently traveled to Swaziland, a kingdom located inland of South Africa, via the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative as their first reverse exchange fellow. I was in Swaziland for two weeks during the month of August providing and organizing a two week formal music workshop program entitled Emandla Emculo (Power of Music) for 150 Swazi youth (ages 8-18) in the town of Lobamba.”

What takeaways do you have from your experience in South Africa?
“There were so many takeaways from my experience in Swaziland, one being understanding fully the power of music and the impact it can have across cultural barriers, and the importance of providing access to arts education to more communities regardless of socio-economic status.”

Tell us about what it means to be chosen for the Mandela Washington for Young African Leaders Initiative- Reverse Exchange Fellowship?
“The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) has been active for less than five years now, each year sending a cohort of around 1,000 young professionals and aspiring leaders from sub-saharan africa, whom are believed to be the next leaders of their country to the USA. These inspiring group of young people partake in a six-week residence at a US university and work closely with the Obama administration in building international relations and networking with local business, civic, and political leaders here in the USA.

The question was asked to President Obama during his meeting with the YALI’15 fellows, how can this initiative be a proper exchange if only Africans are coming to America, we need Americans to do the same and partake in an initiative here in Africa. As a result, President Obama and his administration created the Reverse Exchange fellowship, American professionals that would be identified and recommended by YALI fellows as individuals who would be great ambassadors and carry out the vision that President Obama has for YALI but in reverse, American professionals establishing international relations with young african leaders and creating an initiative that will continue annually. I was selected to be a part of the first American cohort (only 8 were selected) and I was the first American to be awarded and complete an initiative.”

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What’s next on the horizon for you, and what are your ultimate career goals?
“I am currently continuing my partnership with YALI, specifically continuing my works with two YALI fellows from Swaziland. Working together to address some of the challenges facing providing music and arts education to the country of Swaziland. I will be returning back to Swaziland to organize the second year of Emandla Emculo Youth Music Program. I am expanding my work that has been done with YALI and continuing the vision and initiative to other areas of the globe, teaming up with artists from Latin America, Europe and sub-saharan Africa via my project Gerami Groover Presents.”

Read more about Groover and her experience with City Music and Berklee.

Network Lunch at NAMM!

Hello from NAMM!  NAMM is a trade show that stands for National Association of Music Merchants. Every year it is held in Anaheim, California at the Convention Center with upwards of 100,000 people in attendance. For the past three years, Berklee City Music staff have attended in order to meet with industry partners that can help benefit our City Music Network Members and School Districts.

 

Every year that we have gone to NAMM, City Music has hosted an annual lunch for Network Members. This year, five members where represented: Phoenix Conservatory of Music, A Placed Called Home, RYTMO, The Roots of Music and Notes for Notes.

The lunch is always a great opportunity for everyone to connect and give updates on new projects and initiatives they are working on.  It is also a place to start collaboration, as many conversations at the lunch, much like at the Berklee City Music Summit, have lead to cross member projects.

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L to R: Joey Arreguin (RYTMO), Lee Whitmore (Berklee City Music), Regina Nixon (Phoenix Conservatory of Music), Charyn Harris (A Place Called Home), Raymond Jacobs (Notes for Notes), Alex Kies (Notes for Notes), Clint Valladares (Berklee India Exchange), Arin Canbolat (Berklee City Music), John Bigus (Berklee PULSE), Morgan Steward (The Roots of Music), Mike Anderson (RYTMO) and Angela Han (Berklee City Music)

At this year’s lunch we received updates from our Vice President for Education Outreach, Lee Whitmore, on the Grammy Music Education Coalition, The Boston Conservatory and Berklee merger and news on our online music resources, the Berklee PULSE Music Method, that is now open to the public and will be translated into Spanish in the coming year.

We also heard from each Member on news from their organization.

  • Phoenix Conservatory recently moved locations to a larger facility that will better accommodate their growing student population and program offerings.
  • RYTMO recently launched a new partnership with Learn 4 Life charter school in Anaheim where they are teaching course levels 1 and 2 and will soon be implementing levels 3 and 4.
  • The night before A Placed Called Home and Charyn Harris were honored with the She Rocks Motivator Award from the Women’s International Music Network. Charyn is the conductor of the Music Program at APCH.
  • Note for Notes has recently opened three new studios with their partners at Boys and Girls Clubs in Cleveland, Memphis and New Orleans and plan to open another five new locations in 2017.
  • The Roots of Music is also looking at expanding their program with moving into a new location and creating an arts campus in New Orleans with other partners, including another Network member in New Orleans, Tipitina’s Foundation.

And what lunch would be complete without a traditional selfie?  Check out our Instagram to see it.

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L to R: Charyn Harris (A Place Called Home), Sandy Jordan (Casio), Angela Han (Berklee City Music), Regina Nixon (Phoenix Conservatory of Music), Joey Arreguin (RYTMO), Stephen Schmidt (Casio), Arin Canbolat (Berklee City Music), Clint Valladares (Berklee India Exchange), Morgan Stewart (The Roots of Music), Lee Whitmore (Berklee City Music), and Bev Tryon (Berklee College of Music)

After lunch we headed from the Marriott to the Convention Center to say hello and thank you to our friends and partners at Casio. The Casio Musical Instruments Division has been a fantastic partner over the past two years, donating more than 150 keyboards to Network Members, including those who attended the lunch.

If you plan to attend NAMM next year in 2018, please make sure we know so we can see you at the lunch and connect!

Guest Post: Performing for Hiatus Kaiyote

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“My experience as the piano player for the Hiatus Kaiyote ensemble was truly a unique one. I had the responsibility of arranging Borderline With my Atoms for several members of the band. Given that Hiatus Kaiyote is known for their extremely tricky time signatures and groove manipulations, arranging a song like that was a daunting task to say the least!

After having spent several hours writing everything down, it was time to rehearse the actual song. I had listened to each segment of Borderline so many times before to get each part down that it naturally was up to me to direct the cues. During the rehearsals, everything went really well for that song, but I became pretty nervous when it was time to actually perform for the band. It was such a surreal experience seeing the band right in front of me and directing the cuts and cues that they themselves had written!

I have to thank the band for doing such a great job with the arrangement and representing City Music in front of such a prestigious band so well. The hours of work put into all three of the songs will be long remembered, and I believe that my musically oriented leadership skills have improved a great deal based on my participation in this fantastic ensemble.”

– Alex Flavell

 

Five-Week Alumni Advice: Henry Oyekanmi Jr.

Henry just graduated Berklee College of Music after attending the Five-Week Summer Performance Program and being awarded a full-tuition scholarship to Berklee at the Scholarship Concert.

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Do you have any tips for this year’s incoming Five-Week students?
Stay humble. Everybody in the program is talented. Stay focused, and go to every class. Remember that not everybody gets an opportunity to be in the seat you’re in. Take full advantage of the opportunity. Talk to people and become friends with them. The more you socialize and meet people, it will be beneficial in the future.

To read more about Henry, click here.
Follow Henry @YOUNGKINGHENRY

Network Chapter Series: Northeast Chapter

The City Music Network is made of nine regional chapters established across North America. Each chapter meets monthly to discuss current events,  opportunities for collaboration, and deepen their relationships with each other. This first blog post is kicking of a get-to-know-your-network series which will introduce all 47 sites in our network. This Chapter Feature will focus on the Northeast Chapter, made up of five City Music Network sites.

City Music Boston at Cafe 939Berklee City Music Boston – Boston, MA
City Music Boston—the founding site of the City Music Network—provides music education programs and scholarship opportunities to 1,200 underserved students annually throughout Greater Boston. With year-round instruction, expert faculty, and a comprehensive curriculum based around Berklee PULSE, City Music Boston gives students the tools and support they need to reach their full potential.
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Boys & Girls Harbor – New York, NY
The mission of Boys & Girls Harbor is to empower children and their families to become full, productive participants in society through education, cultural enrichment, and social services.
Website | Facebook

Renaissance Youth Center – Bronx, NY
RYC empowers at-risk inner city youth to fully maximize their potential as productive and responsible members of society by offering dynamic, team-building education, music and sports programs while instilling the importance of building strong communities.
Website | Facebook

New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) – Newark, NJ
The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) is the artistic, cultural, educational, and civic center of New Jersey. Part of NJPAC’s mission is to enhance and transform the lives of children and families through arts education.
Website | Facebook

Dixon Hall Music School – Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
Now in our 37th year, Dixon Hall Music School is a “second home” to over 300 neighbourhood youth per week, offering 21 different instruments and classes for as little as $3.00 per lesson. We develop leadership skills and build inner confidence through the world of music.
Website | Facebook

Check back next week when we will be feature two more chapters: the Mid-Atlantic and Central Chapters.

Musiq Soulchild visits City Music Boston

On Friday, December 3rd, The Loft was overflowing with passion, ambition, and talent.  Rude, a band made up of Boston Arts Academy students, kicked off this event with a riveting rap battle, a one-of-a-kind arrangement of “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley, and a show-stopping performance of “Suit and Tie” by Justin Timberlake.  The marriage of an “in the pocket” rhythm section adorned with trumpet and saxophone, and precise, sultry vocals made for an adoring crowd and set the tone for the rest of the evening.  

Neo soul icon Musiq Soulchild performed with Berklee City Music Boston students during a master class at Berklee College of Music on Friday, December 4. Pictured, from left to right: Kamar Satchell, Musiq Soulchild, Sarah Coelho, and Peter George. Photo by Michael D. Spencer.
Neo soul icon Musiq Soulchild performed with Berklee City Music Boston students during a master class at Berklee College of Music on Friday, December 4. Pictured, from left to right: Kamar Satchell, Musiq Soulchild, Sarah Coelho, and Peter George. Photo by Michael D. Spencer.

The students were then able to work closely with Musiq Soulchild, a grammy-nominated singer/songwriter with an album that topped the Billboard 200 charts, among many other outstanding achievements.  Musiq began the presentation by opening the floor to specific questions.  He delved into his musical journey and how it paralleled with his self discovery, and remarked that he “lives by the philosophies of music in so many different ways”.

 

Musiq distinguished the difference between being emotional and being able to keep certain emotions in check in order to pursue a successful career and grow as an artist.  He then wrapped up the Q & A by explaining his structure of songwriting is simply working off of a feeling, and that he draws inspiration from any individual that can “enhance his perspective on being a better service to the culture of music”.  The crowd was fully engaged and hanging onto every word that Musiq eloquently spoke.  

 

The City Music Boston band, featuring current students and program alumni, was next to take the stage.  Their recipe for a stellar performance was infectious soul combined with technique and craftsmanship.  Musiq joined the band on stage for a charismatic, extraordinary performance of “Just Friends”.  The group’s undeniable chemistry had the audience on their feet.  Musiq gave the band insightful feedback, advising them to let go of making sure everybody likes their sound, and to commit to their signature sound whether the crowd fully understands it or not.  Musiq shouted out to the band on the fly to see how they would react under pressure, and said they passed the test.  He concluded the master class with a statement that resonated deeply with both the band and the audience, “don’t compare your process to someone else’s results”.  

This post was written by Berklee College student Kristen McFarren

JazzBoston helps orchestrate a field trip for City Music Boston students to attend Newport Jazz Festival

Grace Mann is a City Music Scholar from Boston, MA, and is currently studying at Berklee College of Music.

Photo Credit: Jean Hangarten
Photo Credit: Jean Hangarten

Bright and early on Friday, July 31, a group of Boston students attending the Berklee Five-Week Summer Performance Program on City Music Summer Scholarships headed to the Newport Jazz Festival on a little yellow school bus. This amazing opportunity was only possible because of the generosity and kindness of JazzBoston, Natixis Global Asset Management, and Newport Festivals Foundation. The students in attendance were bubbling with excitement to have the chance to see some of their idols perform and could not be more grateful to both organizations for giving them this opportunity.

On our way to the festival we heard from Dr. Leonard Brown, who was invited by JazzBoston to speak to us. Dr. Brown is a professional musician and recently retired as an associate professor at Northeastern University in Boston. Dr. Brown reminded us of the history that surrounds the jazz festival. He discussed how Newport, which began in 1954, witnessed the Civil Rights Movement and mentioned that, “even with existing social pressures, the festival continued.” It was interesting to hear about how the music at Newport withstood the heavy social storms of America since its establishment.

The students started their day at Newport with a presentation from Dr. Wes, founder of the Jazz and Democracy Project, that was arranged by Natixis. He encouraged the students to talk about what’s it’s like when they’re “in the moment” or “in the zone” on stage. One student related his experience on stage to how he feels when he’s driving a car. On the road he feels free, but at the same time he is aware of the other drivers around him, just as he’s aware of the other band members during a performance.

After the workshop everyone was allowed to roam free! Most students were looking forward to Snarky Puppy who was the last band of the day. Joshua Sutherland, a student from City Music Boston, said his favorite part of the festival was seeing Corey Henry perform, stating, “I would have been upset for the rest of the year if he didn’t perform.” The Christian McBride Trio was another highlight from the festival. Many students sat in the front row mesmerized by his amazing performance. The energy and spirit of the trio was captivating.

Overall the day at Newport was a success. By the time the wheels on the bus starting rolling us back to Boston, almost everyone was drifting to sleep in their seats, exhausted from such a full day of inspiration and excitement at the festival.

#5to5week: Alumni Advice from Yesseh Furaha Ali

As part of our #5to5week countdown to 2015 Five Week, we asked five week alumni what advice they have for students that are getting ready to travel to Boston. Today, we’re featuring Saxophone player and Berklee College of Music student Yesseh Furaha Ali.

Yesseh Furaha Ali
#5to5week Yesseh Furaha Ali

“I attended five-week for three summers (2012-2014). Every year I learned something new, developed and matured as musician and an overall individual, and made many connections from people all across the world who I still keep in contact with till this day. To me, my favorite part of five week was just being around diversity in music, people, classes, teachers, etc. I felt as though being in this type of an environment allowed me to express myself freely amongst other musicians. My advice to you students, first and foremost is to thank the people who’ve helped you and guided you to get to this point in your young musical careers, especially your City Music site and the staff and administration at Boston City Music for providing you with this wonderful opportunity to be apart of this summer experience many dream of attending ON A SCHOLARSHIP.  So definitely be thankful for that. Also, always keep in mind that you are a representation of your city, your City Music site, Berklee, your family, and anyone else who has helped you along the way. Remember that there is a time and place for everything but when it’s time to work, it’s time to work. Professionalism goes a long way in anything you do, and keep in mind that you are auditioning 24/7 wherever you go. Like my late music teacher would say, ‘It’s how you look, how you act, and how you sound.’ Keep this in mind and many opportunities will open up. And lastly, have fun! Definitely explore Boston and take as much in in these five weeks as you can! Congrats to all of you, and I hope you take full advantage of this experience!”

Follow along on social media with #5to5week and follow us on Facebook.

SAVE THE DATE: August 11, 2015, 7:30pm BPC – 2015 Scholarship Concert

#5to5week Ensemble Director: Marty Walsh

As we count down to Five Week, Berklee City Music is interviewing our Five Week City Music ensemble directors. Today, we’re featuring Marty Walsh, director of the Five Week City Music Pop/Rock Ensemble.

Ensemble director Marty Walsh with Five Week student.
Ensemble director Marty Walsh with Five Week student.

What are you looking forward to most this summer?

Working with very talented City Music musicians.

 

What advice can you give to students to get the most out of your ensemble?

Think above all else what is right for the song. It’s not about individual performances, it’s about how the group performs as a whole

 

Many students travel from far away – what is one thing you think students should do/see/eat while in Boston?

Go to a Red Sox game. Fenway park is the classic old school baseball stadium.

 

SAVE THE DATE: August 11, 2015 at the Berklee Performance Center, 7:30pm

WATCH highlights from the 2014 Scholarship Concert:

Follow along on social media using #5to5week

 

Concord Music Group visits Berklee

On March 12th, Berklee alumnus Jason Linder, VP of Project Management for Concord Music Group, shared some insight on today’s music industry and where it’s headed. Concord Music Group started as a jazz record label, but over the years it began working on a new vision: introducing established legends to new, upcoming artists. They recently released an album titled Take Me To the River: Music from the Motion Picture. The album is a companion to Martin Shore’s award-winning documentary Take Me to the River that brings multiple generations of musicians together in collaboration.

Linder discussed the marketing aspects of a record company and provided a list of marketing strategies including PR, radio, new media, video, and sales. Many say that CD sales are dead, but Linder believes otherwise. Though it’s not a predominant source of income, people are still supporting artists through CD sales. Linder explained how an artist’s income is a huge indicator of who their audience is.  For example, in one week Big Sean received 17 million streams on Spotify, while Kid Rock only received 500,000 streams. This shows us that Big Sean’s audience is mostly young people who choose online streaming over hard copy.

I learned that 1500 streams of one song is equal to 1 album sale.  This means that Big Sean’s 17 million streams are equivalent to only about 12,000 albums sales. Since CD sales are plummeting with the new generation, the music industry will have to adapt or artists will no longer be able to support themselves.

Lastly, Linder discussed an internship for students here at Berklee to work with Concord Music Group in various cities around the country. It’s an amazing opportunity for students to see the nooks and crannies of the music industry and the big changes that Linder believes are on the horizon. For questions about the internship program, contact Arin Canbolat.

Grace Mann is a City Music Scholar from Boston, MA, and is currently studying at Berklee College of Music.