Amazing Grace: A Goal to Give Back to the Community After Berklee City Music

Grace_Mann_HeadShotAfter spending many years involved with the talented performers and professionals at Berklee, Grace Mann is excited to be finishing up her studies and graduate from college. Since the 7th grade, Grace has been part of the City Music Boston family and it has opened doors to perfecting her craft as a songwriter, as well as exposing her to the aspects of non-profit management for the arts. “After all this time, it’s pretty crazy that I am graduating from the school. I’ve met some amazing people. I’m so thankful for my experiences.”

In middle school, Grace was fortunate to be recognized for her talents by Berklee City Music Boston and she later participated in multiple Five-Week-Summer-Performance events. “I realized at Five-Week that I could do anything that I wanted to do in music. I really enjoyed songwriting and I wanted to explore more outside of performing on stage. Talent definitely can be in different forms.” Eventually, she was awarded a scholarship to Berklee College of Music and Grace was exposed to numerous intensive programs focused on electronic production, songwriting, and vocals. Also, she noticed an opportunity to become involved in the Berklee Women and Action group on campus to support the initiatives of young women at the college.

Grace_Mann-colorIt was the Berklee City Music program that later inspired Grace to get involved in other outreach organizations such as Head Count, which registers people to vote at concerts, in addition to participating on several campus activities at the college. Grace enjoyed collaborating with other students to host and invite special guests that offered advice to young women with aspirations to pursue a career in music. She was also inspired by her teacher Melissa Ferrick, who she first met at a songwriting competition at school. “I had never written a song to be performed on stage and she was one of my judges. Melissa was a wonderful mentor to me and I developed a close relationship with her. I was able to work with her on other student-run productions helping with the audition process, rehearsals and supporting the performers.”

While at Berklee, Grace has been very busy balancing her classes, working part-time for the President of the school, and she has written and produced a few songs. Not too long ago, one of Grace’s songs that she co-wrote with another Berklee student was selected by an artist to perform at the Essence festival in Atlanta. “I couldn’t attend the event while I was in classes, but it was crazy to see someone perform my song on a huge stage! I love to see something that I created come to life through someone else’s ability to share the story.”

Soon, Grace will start a new chapter in her life with a move to New York City and a desire to accomplish some amazing things in her future. She will be attending graduate school at the New School to study Arts Management and Entrepreneurship and she can’t wait to explore a new city, make new friends, and discover the next stage in her life.

Listen to Grace share her experiences at Berklee in this
and her plans for the future. 



Berklee City Music Boston Student Spotlight – Danny Rivera

Name: Danny Rivera
Grade: 11th
School: Boston Arts Academy
Instrument: Voice

How long have you been with City Music:

I’ve been in City Music for two years now. This summer will be my 3rd five-week.

Who are your musical influences?

I really love Frank Ocean, Sampha, Solange, Hiatus Kaiyote, Johnnyswim, Thundercat, and Thirdstory.

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

I want to become a professional musician and tour singing. I’d also be interested in teaching music, or entering into the music/songwriting business.

What is your favorite thing(s) about City Music?

It’s a diverse open community, not only in physical appearance (skin, race, etc) but also in tastes and styles of music.

Are you in a band? If so, tell us a little about your band:

No, but I do some gigs where I share my music as a solo artist, which is a privilege. I love being able to write and sing what’s in my heart.

What kind of tips/strategies do you have for your peers thinking about applying for City Music?

If music is something you want to pursue and you want to take your craft seriously, invest and take advantage of every opportunity you can get. It’s only what you make it, so try everything and continue to shed. Use the library, practice rooms, and network! That’s the most important thing to do.

What steps have you taken to improve your music skills?

I shed. Every day I work on developing a more advanced, mature tone quality and making the best of what I have to offer. It’s vital to find the thing that you’re good at as well as acknowledging your weaknesses and continuing to work on your craft daily.

How does your involvement in music affect your other day-to-day activities?

I’m a musician first. If I wasn’t involved in music I don’t know what I would be doing with my life. There’s not one day that I’m not singing or not having a vocal tech class, whether private lesson or with an ensemble. I’m always singing!

Do you have a teacher/instructor that has inspired you?

Nichelle Mungo, Imani Wilson, David Alexis are all hardworking musicians who have not only taught me musically, but they have also poured into me spiritually. They teach me new things every day and when I mess up they help pick me up and tell me what I can continue to work on.

What has your experience been like being on the student committee and your recent performance at the David Friend Recital Hall, “Vibe of the Night?”

It was awesome!  I had numerous responsibilities/roles that kept me very busy and were somewhat stressful,  but it was worth it. Jennie.O killed it! I got lots of compliments on my original music from the group of people who played with me which was very encouraging to hear!

Phoenix Conservatory of Music Awarded National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award

Berklee City Music is pleased to announce that on the evening of November 9, 2017, the Phoenix Conservatory of Music — a longstanding partner of Berklee City Music Network and PULSE — was granted the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Award in Washington D.C.

PCM students Marcus Wolf (16), Lourde Childs (13), and Michael Rodriguez (15) were representatives of Phoenix Conservatory of Music at the event, travelling from Arizona to the Nation’s Capital to find out that their organization’s College Prep Program is an awardee for the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.  Childs and Rodriguez gave a stunning performance of Man In The Mirror recorded by Michael Jackson on live TV, which was observed by the Phoenix community at a viewing party that evening.

The NAHYP Award is the highest honor in the country that can be given to an out of school arts program.  There were only 12 awardees chosen from a pool of 350 nominations from 46 states.  Recipients of this award are recognized as the most outstanding programs in the country for providing creative youth development programs, exemplifying how arts and humanities outside of school enrich the lives of young people by teaching new skills, nurturing creativity, and building self-confidence.

The Phoenix Conservatory of Music offers a high quality music education to hundreds of students each year, with programs ranging from introductory-level music to advanced private lessons and the most prestigious College Prep Program for contemporary music education in the Arizona — the Berklee College of Music’s City Music and PULSE programs.  The affordable and accessible program has provided a path for students to achieve their dreams in music since its outset in 2010.  Students in grades 4-12 are provided with weekly private lessons, music theory classes, and Popular Music Ensembles. PCM has a graduation rate of 95% (compared to 86% in the local community and 77% in the state), and a 71% rate of students who go to a college or university. 43% of those students go on to study music professionally.

“Wish I Had Answered” for Orff Ensemble


It’s time to break out those Orff instruments and start jamming because Berklee PULSE is offering their first-ever arrangement for Orff Ensemble!

All elementary school students now have the opportunity to learn and perform the tune “Wish I Had Answered” by The Staple Singers. This Gospel classic was arranged to accommodate all traditional pitched Orff instruments and provides challenging rhythmic nuances that are commonly found in Gospel music. Students will have opportunities to solo, sing, and simply have fun through a live ensemble experience.


  • Lead Vocal
  • Backing Vocal
  • Glockenspiel
  • Soprano Xylophone
  • Alto Xylophone
  • Alto Metallophone
  • Bass Xylophone
  • Shaker
  • Tambourine
  • Drums

Download the “Wish I Had Answered” for Orff Ensemble arrangement by Nicholas Koechel. Then head over to the PULSE Jam Room to listen and play along to the original recording.

Youth Gospel Choir With The Staple Singers


Pictured is Grammy award winning artist Mavis Staples of The Staple Singers

In celebration of Black History Month, Berklee PULSE will feature assets from our Take Me To The River Elective course. This curriculum, designed by Dr. Dru Davidson, Fine Arts Advisor for Shelby County Schools in Memphis, Tennessee, highlights scenes from the award-winning 2014 documentary film, directed by Martin Shore, Take Me To The River. By focusing on the contemporary music of Memphis, Tennessee and the Mississippi Delta teachers have access to the original mix-tracks from the soundtrack masters and resources that engage students in curricular activities that inspire creativity and collaboration.

The featured lesson this month, “Youth Gospel Choir With The Staple Singers“, presents students an opportunity to discuss the socio-political factors that gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in connection with the overall impact The Staple Singers’ music had on this movement. By exploring the tune “Wish I Had Answered”, written by Roebuck “Pops” Staples, students will connect history to the music they are learning.

Download the “Wish I Had Answered” arrangement by George Russell Jr. for youth Gospel Choir, soloists, and rhythm section.

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.”

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.

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.

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!

Berklee Partners with IDB to Expand Music Education Opportunities in Latin America

From Berklee News: “Berklee Latino, Berklee’s Spanish-language program, returned to Bogota, Colombia, to partner with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The Berklee/IDB partnership is the first initiative that employs Berklee’s renowned curriculum via three synchronized components: Berklee Latino clinics, Berklee PULSE® Music Method, and specialized Berklee MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). The partnership will also allow for the translation of selected material into Spanish and integration of fully licensed contemporary Latin music.”

Berklee Latino photo by Pamela Hersch-1.jpg
Final concert from a Berklee Latino program Photo: Pamela Hersch

“Coupled with the training of the teachers to use PULSE and providing computers to the local schools, we are creating an unprecedented opportunity for thousands of young people across the continent to experience music education at no cost,” said Lee Whitmore, Berklee’s vice president for education outreach and social entrepreneurship. PULSE will release translated material come September 1st, 2017. In addition, tunes and grooves will be created focusing on the rich cultural diversity of musical styles that originated in South America. Students and educators will have an opportunity to explore an individual country’s musical heritage through creative lesson material and interactive online learning tools.

Read the full article by Brian Gonzalez here.

Software in the classroom with MAGIX

mgxThe Berklee City Music Network is fortunate to be able to partner with some outstanding companies. One such company is MAGIX, a leader in multimedia software. With MAGIX, both beginners and professionals alike can create, design, edit, archive or present videos, music, photos, graphics and websites. Plus, with user-friendly, state of the art technology, MAGIX allows for seamless sharing of multimedia files over the internet. With a passion for innovation, MAGIX has certainly made a mark in the media, music and tech worlds, having won over 1000 awards!

grafik-420-arrangement-mx-intMAGIX can also be used in the classroom to teach media literacy, a subject which is becoming essential to practically all future careers. Students can learn the basics of things like video editing and production, sound design, digital audio editing and publishing, web design, and photo editing, just to name a few. MAGIX products allow educators maximum time saving through tight lessons with quick results. As a member of the Berklee City Music Network, you and your organization are eligible for a discount on MAGIX software of up to 80% off! A copy of a photo ID and a document with a valid seal or original letterhead from your educational institution will need to be provided. To learn more about MAGIX and to take advantage of this offer, please visit:

As always, BCMN strives to offer its partners the utmost in resources, products and materials from the latest and greatest across the music industry. Thanks to generous companies like MAGIX, BCMN is able to uphold this commitment.

12 Issues of Billboard for just $12!

Whether you’re involved in the music industry or not, you’ve likely heard of Billboard. Billboard is the music industry’s flagship media brand. With in-depth reporting, analysis, unprecedented access to the hottest new artists, world-class photography and video, plus feature exclusives, Billboard is the definitive source for music news.

The Berklee City Music Network is proud to partner with Billboard, who has played a helpful role in supporting BCMN and promoting news for the Network and its partners. Billboard has generously made bb_logopromotional offers to the Network in the past and has agreed to do so again. Starting today, Billboard is pleased to offer Berklee City Music Network Members 12 print & digital issues for only $12! Use this link to take advantage of the offer: And to get a glimpse into the kind of exciting content Billboard provides, check out their site at

Make sure to keep up with the Berklee City Music Blog and monthly Newsletter to continue to take advantage of amazing offers from our generous partners like Billboard!