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.


UrbanFUTURE, Welcome to the Berklee City Music Network

Please join us in welcoming the 46th member to the Berklee City Music Network, UrbanFUTURE in St. Louis, Missouri.  Founded in 1998 UrbanFUTURE “is dedicated to success of urban youth through literacy, academic growth, character formation, parental involvement, and career preparation.”

They provide mentoring, tutoring, enrichment and career exploration programs for middle school students to help them reach their full potential.  The UrbanFUTURE vision “is to help urban youth and their parents see and believe in future career opportunities.”

Check out the UrbanFUTURE drumline from Fanning Middle School perform at this year’s UrbanFUTURE Awards Banquet, and be sure to check out their website to learn more about what they do.



Creating PULSE Playlists in the Classroom

Playlists are a wonderful tool for the classroom! You can use it to save time during your lessons by avoiding dead space as you search for the next video.

Here is a step by step guide to creating playlists in the PULSE Listening Room:

  1. Log on to berkleepulse.net

  2. Go to the Listen Room

  3. Select “Playlist”

  4. Select “Create New Playlist”

  5. Name the playlist

  6. Search for audio/video you would like to add to the playlist

  7. Hover over the desired media and click on the “+”

  8. Select the playlist you would like the media to appear under

Congrats! You made your first playlist!

Create New Playlist

If you would like to reorder the media in your playlist:

  1. Go to the playlist you would like to rearrange

  2. Press “Reorder”

  3. Arrange the media

  4. Select “Confirm” when finished

Reorder Playlist

If you have the time, comment and share some theme ideas that you keep in mind when making your playlists.

Guest Blogger: Lindsey Stefanski on the PULSE Trainers Retreat

We welcome back our Guest Blogger, Lindsey Stefanski, who recently attended the PULSE Trainers Retreat in Philadelphia, Feb 6 and 7.   Not even a blizzard and temporary loss of power could stop this group.  It was a time for sharing best practices amongst our Network educators and administrators to help further the vision of PULSE.  

PULSE Retreat

From best practices to revamping the PULSE trainings, the wonderful minds of PULSE teachers from around the country got together to speak their minds.  With Dr. Tom Rudolph as our amazing facilitator, we were able to get into serious talks about where we are in our own practices as well as where we would like to see PULSE go.  With administrator buy in and assessment at the top of the list, PULSE is going to keep moving forward!

Our fearless leaders of The Berklee City Music Network, Dr. Krystal Banfield and J. Curtis Warner, Jr., were instrumental in leading these talks.  They truly want to see PULSE transform and go further into the schools.  They were not afraid to hear the voices of those using it, even if it meant taking constructive criticism about what could be changed and done even better than before.  These fearless leaders are not afraid of change and that is what makes them excellent leaders.

In talking about the positives, the elite team of PULSE teachers and administrators were able to determine the amazing practices already put in place.  Because of this amazing gathering of awesome teachers and administrators, PULSE will continue to move forward and will continue to change the lives of our students across the network!

Guest blogger Lindsey Stefanski is a Resident Artist at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center, which is a member of the Berklee City Music Network. Lindsey received the Outstanding PULSE Educator Award at the 2013 BCMN Conference.

Guest Blogger: Lindsey Stefanski on PULSE and Noteflight


Guest blogger Lindsey Stefanski is a Resident Artist at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center, which is a member of the Berklee City Music Network. Lindsey received the Outstanding PULSE Educator Award at the 2013 BCMN Conference

Since my introduction to PULSE in 2011, my options on how to approach music education have exploded!  There are unreached students that are now excited to get involved in the games and videos and students interested in music now able to explore on their own.  One of PULSE’s greatest features is “Noteflight.”

Noteflight is a tool that students and teachers can use to create their own compositions and share them with another!

From general music classes to band lessons my students at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center (LPPAC) and outreach sites alike have been using Noteflight to explore their own musical creativity.  I have received over 60 scores created by my students and shared with me not to mention the 100 plus users that have scores saved under their own PULSE accounts that have not been shared with me.
Here is a video of one of the many awesome ways that Noteflight can be in one’s class.
The student’s assignment was to create their own composition using any instrument of their choice.  When they presented them in class, we were able to pull them up on a projector so that the whole class could see and hear at once.  Once the students heard the composition, they were able to ask questions to the composer about what they were feeling or why they chose to instruments that they did and so on….
The students had a blast with this and were so excited to share their work with others!  Most of these students are not pursuing music, but were beyond amazed at themselves over what they were able to come up with!


Lindsey Stefanski
Resident Artist; Liason, Berklee City Music Network
Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center
724-576-4644 ext. 1518 or 724-419-4314

Jumping Into PULSE

Here are some frequently asked questions to help kick start your semester in PULSE!

Q: Is PULSE a step-by-step curriculum?
A: Think of PULSE as an online textbook. You can progress through the curriculum from unit 1 through the end of the units, and you can skip around as you wish.

Q: How do I determine where my students should start in PULSE training?
A: Whenever possible, students should be placed into PULSE classes according to their knowledge of music theory, instrumental skill and/or grade level. You can have students take several of the quizzes at the end of the units in the “Study Room.”

Q: What specific steps should I consider to get the most out of PULSE?
1. Focus on the objectives you wish to teach based on your syllabus or course outline and correlate them with the objectives for Units in the PULSE “Study Room.”

2. Review the objectives in the “Study Room” page in the “Information about this Unit.” Choose the “teacher” view and click on “objectives.”  The objectives are concrete and specific to student learning outcomes

3. Use the PULSE Index. Learn more about each term or topic and its related resources or activities throughout the PULSE website. Keep in mind there are no direct links to these pages but that will be implemented in the future. You can use the PULSE Index to find more resources and activities based on the PULSE Songs. Games and widgets also reinforce curriculum goals and students enjoy these activities.

4. Use the PULSE Songs in your classes, ensembles and private lessons. PULSE Songs reinforce knowledge based on the Unit objectives and are listed on each Study Room page that has been selected.

5. Download the sheet music for each song. Sheet music is available on the Teacher Resources page. In the Listen Room you can explore video/audio versions PULSE Songs being performed by a variety of artists, animations of Study Room Tables (Form, Melody, Rhythm, etc.) based on PULSE Songs, and many other video/audio resources. The Listen Room has a search feature and you can create/save playlists that are useful for lessons. You can also study arrangements of the PULSE Songs in the Jam Room by using the Notation Mixer Tool.


PULSE Instructions for the CMSS Application


As a part of each City Music participant’s continuing music education, there is a new PULSE requirement for the City Music Summer Scholarship application this year.

For those of you new to PULSE or need a refresher on the basics, here’s a quick 1-2-3-4.

Step 1. Go to www.berkleepulse.net

Step 2. Enter your username and password to login

Step 2

Step 3. Click on the green study room door on the left

Step 3

Step 4. Complete all 10 components under level one by Friday January 31st 2014

Step 4If you need technical or login help, contact pulsehelp@berklee.edu. If you have questions about the requirements, contact berkleecitymusic@berklee.edu

Check back for more posts on PULSE.  Next time, we’ll take a peek into the Study Room.

Escuela de Bellas Artes de Carolina

Last week Clint and I traveled to Puerto Rico to visit Escuela de Bellas Artes de Carolina, a Berklee City Music Network member.  While there we met with the organization’s leadership, teachers, and students.  We attended classes, private lessons, and ensemble rehearsal and heard some great music.  Check back next week for a blog post on the concert we attended during our visit.  Below are pictures of a Berklee PULSE class and private lessons.

Below is a picture of the members of Berklee City Music and Escuela de Bellas Artes de Carolina.  From left to right: Angel Vigo, Music Director-Escuela de Bellas Artes de Carolina; Clint Valladares, Director of Operations and Outreach-Berklee City Music National; Yanira Santana, Dean-Escuela de Bellas Artes de Carolina; Louis Rodriguez Dominguez, Director-Escuela de Bellas Artes de Carolina; and Arin Canbolat, National Field Coordinator-Berklee City Music.