2018-2019 Teacher Enrichment Grant: House Concerts, Betsy McCabe

The path to becoming a solo recital performer is not always straight and narrow, as Betsy McCabe, recipient of a 2018 AAAPTG Foundation Teacher Enrichment Grant, can tell you.  She studied piano seriously through high school with Betty Nolting in Atlanta. As an undergraduate at the University of Georgia, she majored in European Intellectual History, going on to receive a  Master’s and a PhD in Philosophy from Vanderbilt. Her dissertation,  “Assessing Decision Making and Dispute Resolution in Environmental Decision Making” led to a position at the Environmental Protection Agency in Ann Arbor for 10 years, where she developed regulations for the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.  Betsy also holds a certificate in Piano Pedagogy from Schoolcraft College, where she taught for several years while also maintaining a private studio of 10-15 students.    She has served the Ann Arbor Area Piano Teachers Guild in several capacities including a term as President, Vice President and Seminar Chair.

A few years ago, Betsy decided to downsize her teaching studio and return to her roots, i.e., serious piano study.  She worked with Dr. Joel Schoenhals to prepare a complete recital program in 2017, which she performed for four different audiences, and then a second complete recital program in Spring 2018 performed for three audiences.  She enjoyed the process, experienced growth and decided to continue along this path. Betsy applied for an AAAPTG Foundation Grant for support in preparing two complete new programs of solo piano music (approximately 50 minutes each) which she will perform several times at house concerts for members of the community.  

In her studies with Dr. Schoenhals Betsy works on varied issues involved in preparing full recital programs:  memorization, pacing practice, developing stamina, selection and organization of repertoire, development and delivery of program notes, and the general logistics of putting on a house concert.  In the work that she’s done so far, Betsy has “seen my performing abilities improve through my work with Dr. Schoenhals, and am confident that my performances will continue to be enhanced through continued study.”  

Each recital is performed three or more times for different audiences:  Guild members, neighbors, various friends, family and their guests; it’s very much a modern day salon.  One of Betsy’s guests captured the essence of attending her house concerts in a letter: “The experience of meeting up in a small venue to listen to beautiful, expressive music is a very different experience from the concert hall.  Music can be such an intimate mode of communication, yet some of it is lost in our mass electronic age.” Betsy’s house concerts are unique community-building and enriching activities which the Foundation is proud to support.

Betsy also considers her programs a means by which she honors the teachers with whom she has studied and those who share this music with her.  She has a table with photographs and letters of these individuals which she sets up for guests and thinks of the performances as part of the bigger historical continuum of all those who have played before.  Betsy’s Fall 2018 program included music of Mozart, Brahms and Chopin. Her May, 2019 will feature music by Bach, Haydn, Schubert and Chopin. Betsy welcomes guests to her concerts and can be reached at betsymccabe@comcast.net for further information.  

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2018 Summer Ensemble Camp

The AAAPTG Summer Piano Ensemble Camp was held at the Faber Piano Institute, from June 18 to June 24, 2018. During the week, students met from 9AM to 1:30PM and 10AM to 1PM on Saturday. After performing 23 pieces, plus three camp ensembles based on Irish tunes, students and their families were invited to a farewell pizza party.

Each year, the camp takes a very different shape based on the kind of students who participate, but also from what we have learned from previous camps as well as our willingness to explore new avenues. In its  fourth year, the camp expanded in four different ways:

Twenty students registered from 4 th to 12 th grade, compared to 18 the year before and the group’s age span was wider.

–Due to the rising level of playing, the repertoire included some standard chamber music pieces, such as movements from Haydn, Beethoven and Mendelssohn trios.

–We had an Irish theme and explored repertoire based on Irish folk songs. During the first hour class, campers learned to play the “whistle” and learned about the singing traditions of Ireland. They also learned to dance the gig.

–While the Faber Institute has generously been hosting the camp for free for the last three years, the AAAPTG rented the space for 3 hours on Saturday morning for its end of camp celebration. In essence, this extension allowed us all the advantages of one more day of rehearsal on Friday.

Students benefited from the presence of four guest artists: Cellist Katri Ervama, who is in charge of chamber music at UM Residential College, Violinist David Ormai, a very respected teacher and also member of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, Susan Camino, musician and Irish music specialist and Pianist George Lopez from Bowdoin College in Maine.

Mr. Lopez benefited from a grant from the Foundation last year. He was incredibly gracious with his time and energy. He coached advanced repertoire (Haydn and Beethoven trios) as well as the Bumble Boogie by J. Fina, for 2 pianos-8 hands and Waltzer in F by F. Huber for violin, cello and piano duet. Mr. Lopez also conducted a reading of a piece based on the Irish tune, Sheebeg Sheemore, by Mike Hopkins (Music Education chair at UofM.) Most campers and 4 faculty members joined in, with pianists playing the part of the double bass, or playing one hand of the piano part. Following the reading, one teacher, who is both a pianist and violinist, deemed that session one of the highlights of the camp.

Later on Mr. Lopez demonstrated, in a very interactive and playful fashion, how one could start improvising.

It should be noted that the 20 registered students came from the studios of 13 piano teachers, of 4 violin teachers and 1 cello teacher. Six students played two instruments including violin, cello, viola, flute and clarinet. Also because three of our guest artists have strong ties with prominent music organizations (UofM, Great Lakes Performing Artists, A2 Symphony, Concordia College, A2 Community Music School) the reputation of the camp is growing and we hope to keep attracting young musicians. Finally, campers are provided other opportunities throughout the year to continue the learning process they started at the camp.

The AAAPTG is very grateful of the support the Foundation has given to the Ensemble camp since its inception. Foundation support is acknowledged on the camp webpage, and mentioned by the Director at the end of the camp celebration so that parents and students alike understand that such an endeavor requires the support of other arts and educational organization. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brightmoor Summer Arts Camp 2016

Each year, the AAAPTG Foundation provides a grant to an individual or organization to support musical activities or education in the community.  A 2016 grant was awarded to the Brightmoor Arts Camp, a music day camp for students in the Detroit area.  The program was impressive and worthy, and in January 2019 the Foundation provided a second grant for the 2019 program.  The following interview with Ben Greenberg, DIrector of Resource Development for the camp, offers insights into camp activities and purpose.

Brightmoor Arts Camp 2016 Report

1. It looks like Seven Mile Music is a volunteer organization run by students at the University of Michigan. Is this correct? How did it get started?

Seven Mile Music is a volunteer organization run by students at the University of Michigan which started in 2013. The organization was founded by Sam Saunders, a piano performance and composition major. Sam started the group as a reaction to news that Detroit Public Schools defunded all arts programs. As a music major, he knew first-hand how transformative music could be for children. The first trips consisted of Sam and three other volunteers from the University who taught only four or five students each week. Today, our summer camp services about 80 children and our year-round program transports over 40 volunteers from the university to service over 50 children each week.

2. How do you pick your teachers – are they all volunteers? Are students outside the School of Music Theater and Dance eligible to teach?

For our summer camp, our educational staff is comprised of accomplished, elder musicians from the Brightmoor area, decorated high-school musicians from Detroit, and University of Michigan (U-M) Music Education and Music Performance students. Hiring a diverse team not only supports various areas of the arts economy, but exposes our children to the vast possibilities of a future in music.

For our year-round program, our educational staff are volunteers with a vast musical experience, whether they be SMTD students or students from the greater University with a fervor to pass on their musical knowledge. There is no class requirement, however, we require that our teachers go through training sessions first at the beginning of each semester, and then throughout the semester as refreshers. Our student volunteers also often opt to engage with various committees that help the organization’s development.

3. When does the camp run – summers only, or year round? How many years has it been in existence?

The camp itself runs for eight weeks in the summer and has existed for the last two summers, 2015 and 2016. However, our main programming takes place throughout the school year. We take three trips per week to two community centers in Brightmoor to ensure that our students have a year-round music education.

4. Can you describe a day in the life of a camper briefly?  Where is camp held? How many campers are there?

Approximately 80 campers (slightly varying each week) arrive by 8am for breakfast at our host community center, Mission: City (a converted charter school). After breakfast,
our campers participated in activities run various organizations associated with Mission: City until 12pm. Some of the activities in the morning include learning a play, Bible Study, and Olympic themed physical activities. From 12pm to 12:30pm campers are served lunch.

The music portion of their day begins at 12:30pm and ends at 4pm. I have attached a sample schedule from a typical week. Briefly, in a typical day, students would engage with small group music lessons, a movement class to develop beat competency, a notation class to learn music notation, and choir.

4. Who is eligible to be a camper?  

Any child ages 4-18 from Detroit is an eligible camper. Most of our campers are ages 4-13 who come from both public and charter schools. We flyer in the schools and post yard signs around the community. However, most of our children are from the neighborhood nearest to the community center, so our program is mostly spread by word-of-mouth.

5. What type of equipment do you use and need? Do you have business partners who provide support? 

We have a partnership with SHAR Music and MusicGoRound. We use any and all instruments. The most popular instruments are piano, violin, and guitar. We are currently seeking child-size guitars, electric keyboards, fractional sized violins, flutes, saxophones, and any percussion equipment. Additionally, our needs beyond instruments include music stands and art supplies for our new, and quickly growing creative writing and art program.

6. What other types of financial support do you get? 

We have garnered support from various foundations, the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance, and the Central Student Government at the University, among other general fundraising efforts. A full list of supporters can be found under the “sponsors” tab on our website at http://www.sevenmilemusic.org.

7. What feedback from campers and their families have you received? What are your goals/mission in providing this experience for Detroit children?

The mission of our organization is to provide youth in Detroit lasting opportunities to learn and enjoy music and the arts. To fulfill our mission, we have three objectives we aim to achieve: 1) empower youth to master challenging tasks, 2) foster lifelong enjoyment of playing music, and 3) nurture students into proficient musicians.
We have received an immeasurable amount of community support from community leaders, parents, and children alike. As one parent said after the camp:

“You have children who are violinists and they don’t even know it. You have children who could be beautiful pianists and they don’t even know it. There is a need for the arts . . . there is a need for mentoring the children at every level…this camp has already impacted our community greatly.”

Our program is not only recognized in Detroit for its mentorship and efforts to provide a music education, but the high-quality of music education it provides. Most notably, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) reached out to our program to come and audition our string students for their Youth Ensembles. After only 6 weeks of training on their instrument, eight campers earned spots in the DSO’s entry level Youth Ensemble and one camper even worked her way toward a spot in the intermediate Youth Ensemble. This is both a testament to our hard-working teachers, but more importantly our passionate and driven students. To see some of the impact our program has had on our children, please see the attached a document which includes some of our children’s quotes and pictures.