September 8, 2013
The Harmony Program is all about community, and it brings us great joy to share our work all of our friends, families, teachers, supporters, and partners who make it possible.
So, over the past few months, we developed a new Harmony Program website to more clearly represent who we are, what we do, and how you can get involved. We hope you’ll take a look around and let us know what you think!
(P.S. If you have a moment, please fill out a quick feedback survey to let us know how we’re doing.)
July 25, 2013
Our summer orchestra programs in Brooklyn and Manhattan began on July 8th and will continue through the last week of August. These programs, which meet every afternoon, are a great opportunity for our students to work on advanced repertoire as ensembles and strengthen their skills in small-group lessons.
When we stopped by to visit a recent orchestra rehearsal in Brooklyn, we asked the students how they liked meeting every day to work on music during summer break. Their responses?
Angelo: “I love it. I wish we were here for four hours instead of two.”
Malik: “It’s summer, so it’s our time off, but when I heard that Harmony would be meeting over the summer, I knew that I had to come. I didn’t want to miss this. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun to play music.”
Our teachers are also seeing the benefits of being able to work with their students when school is out of session.
Sarah:”In the summer, the students come and play for two hours and then they go home and have time to continue playing. They get so much more practice time and we’re definitely hearing the results.”
William :”We’re able to extend the range of what we’re doing in addition to the music that we have in front of us. All of my students are learning new notes, working on sight reading, breaking into trios and duets — so it’s been really great.”
It’s exciting to see and hear the progress that our students and teachers are making. We hope that you’ll join us in the coming weeks as our orchestras hit the stage to share what they’ve been working on all summer.
May 31, 2013
This month, Harmony Program students in Harlem, Washington Heights, Brooklyn, and the Bronx celebrated their accomplishments and performed for family, classmates, and friends from the community.
It’s truly inspiring to see and hear our students take the stage and work together to make music. From section leaders in our orchestras to new students who’ve learned so much in such a brief time, all of our students make a serious commitment to learning music, and our spring recitals are their opportunity to share what they’ve achieved.
Check out this video of our beginner brass students at PS 194 performing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” and stay tuned to Facebook for pics from all of our concerts this month.
May 4, 2013
For the past two years, we’ve been fortunate to work with the musicians of the West Point Band, who have worked with our teachers and students in the classroom and at special events and performances.
This week, the West Point Band’s Quintette 7 performed at P.S. 129 to an extremely enthusiastic crowd of students. Pieces included “Angry Birds” and “Mario Brothers,” both of which were received with screams and dancing. After the program, Quintette 7 performed a couple of instrumental features for our students and answered questions from the young musicians.
Kristen Mather, one of the West Point musicians, told us “The West Point Band believes strongly in supporting tri-state area schools and their children through music education, and the Harmony Program is at the forefront of efforts in New York City. Their work epitomizes values such as goodwill and selfless service, and our musicians have been honored to collaborate with Harmony to bring events to the students of Harlem.”
April 27, 2013
On Thursday, April 25th, the Chelsea Symphony presented an evening of music for our students and families from the Washington Heights community. The evening was led by Julie Desbordes, Harmony Program teacher and newly appointed Associate Conductor of Education and Outreach of the Chelsea Symphony.
Children met the musicians of the orchestra, explored their instruments in an instrument “petting zoo,” learned how to bird whistle and make flowers with crepe paper, and discovered literature and poetry related to the spring season.
Later, the orchestra presented a concert featuring music in the spirit of the spring season: “Spring” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, “Morgenstimmung” from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite , Copland’s “Variations on a Shaker Melody”, excerpts from Beethoven’s “Pastorale” Symphony, and lastly, the “Voices of Spring” Waltz by Strauss.
Thanks again to Julie, the Chelsea Symphony, and all of the musicians and teaching artists who helped us celebrate the new season.
April 18, 2013
Jacqueline joined the Harmony Program last summer and has taught beginner violin students at the United Palace of Cultural Arts since October. Here’s what she has to say about her experience as a musician and teacher, and how she creates a bond with her students.
How and when did you start playing music?
I started playing the violin when I was 5. My parents took me to a children’s concert of Peter and the Wolf, after which I started asking for violin lessons.
Can you tell us something about your favorite teachers?
All of my music teachers and coaches have impacted my life, musically and otherwise. My most recent teacher, Laurie Smukler, showed me the importance of playing with your whole heart. She embodies this, which is not an easy thing to do!
What do you hope to learn from your experience teaching with the Harmony Program this year?
I hope to learn new ways to connect with and inspire my students to reach high and succeed. I know that I will learn a lot from the El Sistema-inspired, holistic approach to teaching music.
What kind of classroom environment do you find works best for you and your students?
“How can we improve our playing position? Create a more beautiful tone? Play better in tune? Play more expressively? The key is putting the music first.”
I expect a lot from my students but approach teaching with a positive attitude. I do not impose limits on their potential, and they seem to enjoy the challenge. I correct mistakes without judging the student and use them instead to think about how to make the music better. How can we improve our playing position? Create a more beautiful tone? Play better in tune? Play more expressively? The key is putting the music first. I often put students in pairs and encourage them to help each other. I have been happily surprised on several occasions to see one student correct another and have that student reply, “Oh, thanks!”
My students know that they can talk to me about anything. Class time is reserved for music, but I am available to them before or after class. Students often tell me about both their accomplishments and difficulties in school and in social situations, and I try to give the best advice I can.
April 14, 2013
On Saturday, students and families from Harmony Program sites in Harlem and Washington Heights joined Executive Director, Anne Fitzgibbon, for “Fiesta,” the final Young People’s Concert of the season. The performance focused on the influential music of Spain and featured selections by Lalo, Bizet, and Falla, performed on violin and guitar, and accompanied by flamenco dancing.
The New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concerts series began in the 1920’s and gained popularity when Leonard Bernstein joined the Philharmonic as Music Director in the late 1950’s. Bernstein eventually led over fifty Young People’s Concerts that were televised and syndicated around the world. The series continues today, and is hosted by Ted Wiprud, Director of Education at the New York Philharmonic.
Thanks again to everyone who made this special day possible!