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.

New City Music Advisory Board Members, December 2015

As the semester comes to a close, we’re excited to welcome two new members to the City Music Advisory Board:

Louis Hernandez, Jr. Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Avid
Henry Panion III, PhD Grammy-Award winning composer, arranger, producer, and educator

LHernandezJrLouis Hernandez, Jr., is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Avid, the leading provider of audio and video technology used to help creative and media professionals make, distribute and monetize the most listened to, most watched and most loved digital media in the world. Mr. Hernandez is a proven growth-oriented technology executive with expertise in operational execution and results-driven performance in a variety of complex technical fields. His focus and passion is to advance technology initiatives that specifically enable the active collaboration and connection between individuals, teams, and businesses. He explains his decision to join the board, “Berklee College plays a critical role in the industry by developing the music professionals of tomorrow, which is why I’m honored to be a part of Berklee City Music program’s advisory board.” He continues, “City Music is a phenomenal program that not only helps our youth develop musically and academically, but also helps them pursue their dreams in music. I’m looking forward to working with all of the board members to help further this important program.”

HPanionDr. Henry Panion III is a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the president and founder of BCMN site Audiostate 55. A two-time Grammy Award winner, Dr. Panion is a distinguished composer and producer who has conducted and arranged for Stevie Wonder, among many other notable artists. In addition to lending his expertise to the City Music Advisory Board, he was also recently appointed to the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Dr. Panion explains, “I am honored to have been asked to join the Advisory Board of the Berklee City Music Network. I have long felt that music is not merely a luxury but an essential part of life. BCMN provides the most unique opportunity for young people to be exposed to contemporary popular music in a manner that not only nurtures but prepares them for the future and a lifetime of making music.”

The City Music Advisory Board is is made up of a dynamic group of professionals who lend their experience and expertise to further city music’s mission. Board members are currently involved in developing new partnerships for PULSE, and a subcommittee is guiding the development of a City Music Vision Statement. This active group represents many facets of the music industry and education sector, and their strategic thinking and guidance is invaluable to the program.

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.

2015 Scholarships – We are all winners!

This post was written by Dr. Krystal Banfield, Dean, Berklee City Music

“We all sat around the computer awaiting the answer! When I opened the college scholarship computer portal and saw that I was awarded a college scholarship! My entire family burst into tears. I had received the City Music full tuition college scholarship. Thank you! ”

This was shared by one of our City Music students having just received a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music. The African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child,” is true. We all have had some influence on our students, which has contributed to their success. Yet, how can we know success, if the evidence does not arrive in the way of a scholarship? These are questions we readily ask as we prepare our students by building their skills and guiding them so that they would have the capability to attain choices—to pursue their dreams, to be leaders in their communities, to have purpose, to be responsible, to have the ability to enrich their own lives and the lives of others. In doing so, we know it takes being committed to a concentric circle that includes you, your students and their families, their teachers, schools and the greater communities. But how can we create this for more of our students who by national statistics still fall far behind their more advantaged peers? It is possible to leverage our relationships collectively, to share what works, and be determined in our efforts as we look to endeavor earlier preparation for each student. Let us establish a national dialogue, with a goal to create a consistent standard that provides opportunities for each student who joins our community. But, first let’s celebrate our next cohort of 2015 scholarship awardees!

15 – Awarded City Music College Scholarships
Camden Repertory Theater
Campus Club Milledgeville
City Music Boston
Cleveland Music Settlement
East Bay Center-Performing Arts
Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center
Phoenix Conservatory of Music
Project RYTMO
Richmond Youth Jazz Guild
Stax Music Academy

120 – City Music Summer Scholarships
2xSalt Ministry
A Place Called Home
Bahama Village Music Program
Boys & Girls Harbor
Camden Repertory Theater
Campus Club Milledgeville
City Music Boston
Cleveland Music Settlement
East Bay Center-Performing Arts
Escuela de Bellas Artes de Carolina
Fort Hayes Metro Education Center
Jazz Aspen Snowmass
Lincoln Park Perform Arts Center
Motivational Edge
New Jersey Performing Arts Center
One World
Philadelphia Clef Club
Phoenix Conservatory of Music
Project RYTMO
Richmond Youth Jazz Guild
Sarah McLachlan School of Music
Sitar Center
Stax Music Academy
Tipitina’s Foundation
Wilmington Youth Jazz Band
Woodlawn Musical Arts/Audiostate 55

Emcee Kiki Haynes (Actress, Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse) and Walter McCarty (Assistant Coach, Boston Celtics) joined Berklee President Roger Brown, Associate Vice President for Education Outreach and Executive Director of Berklee City Music J. Curtis Warner, and Dean of City Music Krystal Banfield to present 18 Berklee City Music Network Students with full-tuition scholarships to Berklee College of Music
2014 College Scholarship Recipients with emcee Kiki Haynes, Walter McCarty, Berklee President Roger Brown, Associate Vice President for Education Outreach J. Curtis Warner, and Dean of City Music Krystal Banfield

BCMN On the Road: Campus Club Milledgeville

This post is #4 in a guest series from BCMN Registrar Andrew Sammut after his visit to 4 BCMN Sites this spring.

Campus Club Milledgeville

Last but far from least on Arin and Andrew’s southeastern Network trip was Campus Club Milledgeville. Leadership team Gregory and Toyia Barnes partner with public schools, nearby Georgia College and local business leaders to offer musical instruction to the K-12 students of Milledgeville, GA and surrounding areas.

Our day began with an introduction by Toyia to Dr. Noris Price, Superintendent for Baldwin County Schools, who spoke to the relationship between CCM and Milledgeville’s school district, and the opportunities City Music provides to students for college preparation. We were then introduced to Kathy Carroll at nearby Baldwin High School, who was proud to speak about some of the students who have attended the Berklee 5-Week Summer Performance Program as well as Berklee College and her experiences directing the chorus at Baldwin High School. We were also treated to some brief but beautiful singing by a few of the students in her class.

A short drive away to downtown Milledgeville took us to Georgia College, where we met Dr. Chelsey Mercado, Chair of the Music Therapy. Students from Dr. Mercado’s department teach CCM students on-campus, working with them to develop both musical proficiency as well as academic and interpersonal skills to help them succeed in college and beyond. We met Dr. Lisa Griffin, Director for the School of Health and Human Performance, who not only also provides instructors to CCM but whose annual Art Healthy event invites CCM students to perform as well as participate in an active community event. Dr. Griffin mentioned that she is proud to attend every CCM event!

We toured the audiovisual and recording facilities at Georgia College, which CCM students access as part of their experience. After a debrief that included CCM board chair Cassandra Ford, Esq., it was clear that CCM is all about collaboration as a means to bring music education and its corresponding personal development to as wide an audience as possible.

Four sites, one week and about seven-hundred miles on our rental car’s odometer after we started this trip, we flew back to Boston with ample information and even more inspiration. The southeast region is diverse in programming and demographics but unified in its commitment to students. This trip was a welcome opportunity to meet the people who make our work possible, and we returned to our office galvanized by their accomplishments.

BCMN On the Road: Woodlawn

This is post #3 in the guest series by BCMN Registrar Andrew Sammut after his visit to 4 BCMN sites this spring.

Woodlawn + Audiostate 55

Arin and Andrew’s third stop on their southeastern trip took them to Woodlawn Musical Arts, Entertainment and Industry Program of Birmingham, AL. Conducted by state-of-the-art local recording studio Audiostate 55, Woodlawn provides a music technology course to students from local schools, a summer music camp that serves over two hundred students and opportunities to perform at local community events.

Audiostate 55
Audiostate 55

When we arrived, Dr. Henry Panion, President at Audiostate 55, explained some of the projects he is working on with students at the local public schools including music videos to celebrate several local and national events. We then had an opportunity to observe one of the music technology courses that Woodlawn provides as an elective for students at a nearby high school. These students use PULSE in conjunction with other software to learn the basics of sound production and recording technology. We also got to meet members of the school faculty as well as the recording and business staff at Audiostate 55.

Audiostate 55
Audiostate 55 Music Technology

Dr. Panion then gave us a tour of the Birmingham community, including the impressive musical facilities at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where Dr. Panion teaches as both University Professor of Music and Co-Director of Music Technology. We also visited the Woodlawn Foundation offices, which engages and enriches the Birmingham community through the Woodlawn music program as well partnerships providing academic tutoring, mixed income housing, locally sourced produce and other efforts at “holistic neighborhood revitalization.”

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The support of these teachers, philanthropic partners, engineers and administrators allows Woodlawn Musical Arts, Entertainment and Industry Program to provide greater opportunities, musically as well as academically, to students in the Birmingham community. With its deep roots in the community and roads to Berklee College and beyond, City Music is proud to partner with this grassroots, globally minded organization.

BCMN On the Road: Community Music School

This post is #2 in a guest series by BCMN Registrar Andrew Sammut from his visit to 4 BCMN Sites this spring.

Community Music School Raleigh

Arin and Andrew continued their tour of BCMN’s southeastern region at Community Music School of Raleigh. NC. Founded over twenty years ago at around the same time as City Music, CMS provides private lessons at virtually no cost to students in elementary school all the way up through high school. Beginning musicians receive introductory instruction in music reading and advanced students have the opportunity to play in CMS ensembles and perform at local community events, including through partnerships with local symphony orchestras.

Our day at CMS began with meeting acting interim executive director Debra DeCamillis, school operations manager Erin Zanders and PULSE coordinate Matt Douglas. Once again it was great to put faces to all of the names we were so used to emailing and calling over the phone! We also enjoyed the tour of CMS’s facilities, including the main building where students study everything from piano to ukulele and the community center next door, which CMS uses for performances while sharing it with other community organizations.

CMS Raleigh Percussion Ensemble
CMS Raleigh Percussion Ensemble

We then broke for a lunch discussion of CMS’s history and programming (as well as the finer points of Carolina barbeque!). Matt shared some of his successes with PULSE in his Composition Workshop, and a common theme of eagerness to recruit more students, a desire to share the craft and confidence-building of music with even larger audiences, had already emerged on this trip. That was the perfect segue to head back to CMS and continue our discussion while students began filling the halls and rooms for their after-school instruction. We also got to observe a high school percussion ensemble, a piano student learning the harmonies and chord scales for John Legend’s “All Of Me” and a first grader practicing her solfège.

Matt teaching his Saturday Composition Seminar at CMS Raleigh
Matt teaching his Saturday Composition Workshop

We came back the next day to observe Matt’s Composition Workshop, which allows students of all ages to write original material. It was rewarding to see a teacher incorporate PULSE into his own curriculum, inspiring to see and hear his students using that City Music platform to channel their own creativity. This was yet another example of what makes our Network so strong and so important. We left looking forward to meeting other Network partners, learning more about their work and doing more to promote it.

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.

 

BCMN On the Road: 2xSalt

Berklee City Music staff members Arin Canbolat and Andrew Sammut recently returned from visiting four Berklee City Music Network sites, so we invite you to take an inside look at their trip in this four-part series by BCMN registrar Andrew Sammut.

2xSalt

With a roster encompassing the continental United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, site visits are a welcome opportunity for City Music staff to skip the smartphone and speak directly with the people who make the Network possible. Last week Arin and Andrew were fortunate to tour City Music’s southeastern region, beginning with 2xSalt Ministry in Charlotte, NC.

Founded in 2003, 2xSalt brings together youth through community gatherings, athletic programming and of course music education. Our visit began with a warm welcome from 2xSalt board member Alan Barnes, who took us on a tour of 2xSalt’s main facilities. In addition to its full size basketball court, community cafeteria, Thrift Shoppe and mechanical engineering lab, 2xSalt offers music students the opportunity to record in their own studio, study PULSE in a computer lab and jam in a beautiful, welcoming performance space. 2xSalt joined City Music shortly after adding music to its broad range of programs in 2012. It has been both rewarding and informative to observe the growth of this site’s musical resources and more importantly its student base.

2xSalt Students
2xSalt Students

After music instructor Eric Brice joined us, we drove to some of the nearby schools attended by 2xSalt students. We listened in on a jazz band jamming over “Footprints,” smiled at the sight of three trumpeters and a sousaphonist using their lunch period to practice, and talked with another student who just completed their audition for the City Music Summer Scholarship. We also met some of the local band directors who support 2xSalt. President and founder Bart Kofoed and 2xSalt music teacher Randy Johnson then joined us for lunch, sharing their experiences and hopes for West Charlotte’s students. With music programming in many schools reduced or cut from the curriculum, Alan and Eric emphasized their eagerness to bring in more students and allow them the opportunity to learn music.

Lab at 2xSal
Lab at 2xSalt

As students began arriving back at 2xSalt stage to begin playing after school, the importance as well as sheer joy of that mission was palpable. From a swinging blues jam through Freddie Hubbard’s famously difficult “Red Clay” to a very Herbie Hancock-esque original composition by one of the 2xSalt students, it was clear that these young musicians not only enjoy playing but that music animates and empowers them.  The opportunity to meet and talk with those students as well as their teachers, parents and the dedicated leadership at 2xSalt was a great beginning for this trip!

 

Tips from a Successful Mentoring Program Coordinator

We recently sat down with Jordan Summers, the Music Mentoring and Youth Development Coordinator for Berklee City Music Boston, to get some tips on how to foster successful mentor/mentee relationships in a program that consists of about 80 participants in the Boston area.  Mentors are Berklee students and mentees consist of local middle school and high school-aged youth from underserved areas that have auditioned for City Music programs. The program provides mentees with 3.5 hours of instruction per week that includes a one-on-one music coaching, theory class, and ensemble rehearsal.

City Music Mentoring Program Collage
City Music Mentoring Program

 

Jordan broke down her keys for program success into the “3 R’s”: Research, Recruit, Relationship

Research

Jordan frequently uses free online tools to enhance Mentorship programming. There are several non-profit organizations that provide guidance for mentor programs in the form of networking, helpful information, and organizational tools.  She said that she regularly checks for new resources like handbooks, activity ideas, and training information from the websites of the following established national mentoring organizations:

  • http://www.mentoring.org: Mentoring program that develops quality resources to advance mentoring program effectiveness and innovation, while sharing knowledge among mentoring programs, and works to drive increased investment to sustain and grow mentoring programs nationwide.
  • http://www.massmentors.org: Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP) helps to fuel the movement to expand empowering youth-adult relationships to meet the needs of communities across Massachusetts.
  • http://www.nationalmentoringmonth.org:  Focuses national attention on the need for mentors, and how businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits can work together to increase the number of mentors to assure positive outcomes for young people.

Recruit

“Always be looking for mentors!” Jordan advises. Because City Music mentors are usually full-time Berklee College of Music students, Jordan is sure to have a “back up for the back up”.  She sources her mentors from general interest meetings that she advertises through the college, referrals from Berklee faculty and staff, a recruiting table that she sets-up at college events, and through informational materials she places around campus.  Jordan also leverages the program’s many success stories to encourage students to sign-up.

Show Value:  Jordan knows that Berklee students are more likely to sign-up as mentors if she can show them the value of being a mentor goes beyond spending time with a kid in need of music instruction and someone to hang out with after school.  Jordan said that her mentors oftentimes tell her that they have become more aware of their own learning style through the applied teaching of their mentee.  Following graduation from Berklee, several of her City Music mentors have requested and received recommendation letters and connections with industry professionals throughout the Berklee City Music National Network.

Relationship

For the mentor’s first contact with their mentee, Jordan provides them with a “first call” template/script to make communication effective and easy.  She also put together a handbook for mentors that contains best practices and acts as a trouble-shooting guide to get the relationship off to a great start.

Jordan plans at least one non-music activity per month and told us that “pizza always works!”  She highlighted the importance of taking the mentors and mentees out of the context of a demanding learning environment.

Jordan left us with her favorite quote to share with new mentors/mentees, “In learning, you will teach and in teaching, you will learn.”

Click here for more information on the City Music Mentoring Program.