Early Music Meets the 21st Century

NEC’s School of Continuing Education Professional Studies Certificate candidate Amy Kao, gave her final recital on Saturday February 22, 2014 in Brown Hall.   Amy performed works by Froberger, Handel, Bach and Scarlatti on a 1987 custom built French double-manual harpsichord  by Allan Winkler.  The harpsichord is based on the work of the Parisian builder Francois Blanchet II and was built here in Boston.

What made this recital even more interesting was that Amy’s entire performance was done without sheet music.  Instead, she chose to use a tablet computer with a foot pedal mechanism to turn the pages of the music which had been scanned into the tablet computer.

A special congratulations to Amy on a great performance and we wish her all the best in the next stage of her musical journey!

NEC School of Professional Studies Certificate Graduate Amy Kao
      NEC School of Professional Studies Certificate Graduate Amy Kao


Early music meets the 21st century
Early music meets the 21st century



French double-manual harpsichord by Allan Winkler
French double-manual harpsichord by Allan Winkler (notice the tablet computer and foot pedals)


Amy Kao pictured with NEC Faculty John Gibbons (center) and Allan Winkler (builder of harpsichord.
Amy Kao pictured with NEC Faculty John Gibbons (center) and Allan Winkler (craftsman of harpsichord).



NEC Professional Studies Certificate

A special congratulations to our Professional Studies Certificate in Jazz student, Lisa Witwicki, who gave her final recital on Wednesday, January 29, 2014.

We wish her all the best in the next stage of her musical journey!

To learn more about our certificate programs and how we can help you achieve your musical goals please visit our Certificate Programs page.

photo 1 (1)photo_5[1]photo_1[1]photo_2[1]photo_3[1]photo_4[1]

2014 Grammy Awards

Lorde, Katy Perry, Robin Thicke
Lorde, Katy Perry, Robin Thicke added to the lineup!

Here in the SCE, we love checking out all the different kinds of music happening out there! Just like us, many others will be tuning-in to CBS for the 56th Grammy Awards on January 26th. In addition to the awards show this year, CBS will be presenting “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles,” celebrating the Fab Four’s debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show” 50 years ago in 1964. The Beatles themselves were awarded seven Grammy’s throughout their career, so it’s going to take several talented artists to honor the unforgettable group.

According to the Grammy’s official website, “scheduled to perform are four-time GRAMMY winner Annie Lennox and GRAMMY winner Dave Stewart reuniting as Eurythmics for one night only; 14-time GRAMMY winner Alicia Keys with nine-time GRAMMY winner John Legend; three-time GRAMMY-winning group Maroon 5; and seven-time GRAMMY winner John Mayer with four-time GRAMMY winner Keith Urban.”During the special these artists will be covering Beatles classics. In addition, original footage will be played from their appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “various presenters will help highlight and contextualize the musical, cultural and historical impact of the group and this legendary performance.”

Producer Ken Ehrlich reports that “Don’t Let Me Down” will be performed by John Mayer and Keith Urban, and “Let It Be” will be a collaboration between Alicia Keys and John Legend. A dozen acts are reported to be performing.

This commemorative special will air on February 9th at 8pm on CBS, exactly 50 years after the original event. Be sure to tune-in!


Huffington Post

Physical Therapy/Injury Prevention Clinic for Musicians at NEC

This past Thursday, December 5th, NEC’s Student Activities Center hosted a physical therapy/injury prevention clinic. This clinic served to educate musicians on how to avoid playing with injuries in the first place, how to practice effectively and cautiously while injured, and how to help one’s self heal as quickly as possible after getting injured. At NEC, this clinic couldn’t be more helpful. It is common knowledge here at NEC that the pianists and string players spend hours and hours on end hidden away in a practice room perfecting their craft. For some people, this works just fine, but for others, sometimes their fingers, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, etc. just can’t keep up with that intense of a practice session, but more often than not, the players keep on playing. This is a horrible habit considering these musicians have their careers resting on those hard working hands!

Of course, injuries can happen to any instrumentalist, and injury prevention can be just as effective for a trombonist as it is for a jazz bass player. I only use string players and pianists as my example because of how many cases of tendonitis, broken fingers, and stress fractures that my friends have experienced in this past semester alone! I, being a singer, don’t really have to deal with this much stress on my body when I’m practicing; the occasional crick in my neck, sure, shoulder tension, you bet, but that’s nothing that a little massaging and stretching can’t fix! I couldn’t even imagine how devastated I would be if I hurt one of my ribs, or a lung, or worse… if I got nodes!

Injury prevention is such an important topic for musicians and I am so glad that NEC is able to hold a clinic like this! Productive practicing is NOT just spending hours in a room playing the same phrase over and over. Productive practicing is being aware of your body while you’re playing; how does it feel? Does it hurt when you reach for that note? Do you feel confident of the music within your body?

Be engaged and aware fellow musicians! We need you to help keep our art alive!

Stay healthy my friends!
Lizzie Wendt
SCE Workstudy

Elizabeth Wendt
School of Continuing Education Office Assistant
Phone: (617) 585-1701
Email: ContinuingEducation@necmusic.edu

The ultimate remote? Control your classroom computer with your iPad!


Great blog!

Originally posted on iPad and Technology in Music Education:

 Actions for iPad iconActions for iPad is a remarkably simple way to control your classroom computer from your iPad. The best thing? You set it up the way that you need it to work. I wish tis was the way professional development worked at our school…. The english department gets the info they need while us music teachers get something meaningful and directly related to our classroom teaching! Wait, I get sidetracked…. sorry!

BONUS – AS OF TODAY THIS APP IS ONLY $0.99 – the Cyber Monday deal of the day! Get it now! Usual price is $3.99

The other Deal today is NoteShelf today is $4.99 (on sale from $8.99) I use this app every time we work on music theory in class. Best app I have found yet for using like a large notepad on the projected screen during rehearsals! There are all sorts of different “paper” you can write…

View original 423 more words

Our NEC work-study students are passionate about music and everything about it! How many times have you heard the word diva used in opera these days? What are your thoughts on opera today? Jessica Rost, one of our very own Undergraduate NEC sopranos  voices her opinion on the matter.

Opera News, “Sweet Sound of Freedom”

“It’s so difficult to define the word “diva” today in the opera world and outside of it.
In a recent Opera News interview, American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky explained her interpretation of the word.  She claimed that in the past, “a diva was someone who threw fits, stomped out of rehearsals, had all these demands. But that’s not acceptable in this day and age.  People who throw hissy fits get replaced.” There’s no room for those kind of divas anymore.  Brilliance and humility are both expected.
As of late, being called a “diva” is something to be celebrated rather than ashamed of. Celebrities like Beyoncé have made being called “a diva” desirable. Divas are accomplished and they’ve “earned the right to be called ‘diva’ because of all the work [they’ve] done.” 
But why the shift in attitude all of a sudden?  One could assume that performers are in fact more immature and selfish now with all the influences of young Hollywood destroying society.  Does that make our generation more humble, or are directors just expecting professionalism now?
I leave you with the words of the beautiful Sondra Radnanovsky:
“I’m honored to be called a diva. I am. I work hard for that. I work very hard, I love what I do, and I am intensely passionate about it. If that’s being a diva, I am fine with it. But I refuse to be something that I’m not, or behave in such a way that creates an aura of me being untouchable. That’s not me.”
Thank God for modesty. 
Stay classy!
Jessica Rost
SCE Work Study
B.M. Vocal Performance ‘16

Elvis Costello Receives Honorary Doctorate from NEC!

Elvis Costello Receives Honorary Doctorate from NEC!

Here’s a post from one of our great student workers, Eric Stilwell, after attending the song-writing workshop at NEC during Elvis Costello’s visit to NEC!

“As a performer and composer for almost 40 years, it’s hard to believe there are awards and titles that Elvis Costello has not yet earned. This past friday, The english singer-songwriter was awarded a Doctorate of Music from the New England Conservatory‘s Contemporary improvisation department. Dr. Costello’s visit started with a workshop with students, and ended with a live interview in Jordan Hall. Wether working with The Attractions, The Roots, Paul McCartney, or college students, his love for music and creativity is clear.

In the work shop, Elvis sat in front the bands, next to CI department chair Hankus Netsky and CI ( and SCE) Faculty Eden MacAdam-Somer. The three gave advice to the performers on how to make their songs better. Having not been trained classically or formally, Dr. Costello’s advice was often in a much different style than a conservatory professor would give. While there was a clear respect for the way music is studied here at NEC, he did not stray from his own beliefs. He spoke about how textures in music can change the intensity, or paint a different picture. At one point he observed the difference between a group of people each playing their instruments, and a group of people performing together to create an image through sound.

Dr. Costello held a genuine interest in each performance, and made sure that he had an understanding of what message the performers and writers were trying to convey. His first album is titled My Aim is True, and after 40 years, the title still holds its meaning. Listening to him speak to each group, I could tell how invested he was with each one, and how invested he is in music in general. It’s amazing that after all these years he is still so passionate about creating and revolutionizing music.”

Eric Stilwell
NEC School of Continuing Education Work-Study Student
B.M. Jazz Studies ’16


Film Scoring and Alfonso Cuaron’s, “Gravity”

How do you score a movie with little or no noise??

Last week, Alfonso Cuaron’s movie “Gravity” was released in theaters all over the United States. The movie takes place in space, hovering above earth, where two astronauts have been lost due to debris damaging their ship. Not only is the movie incredibly unique because of its two person cast (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney), the film score had to be captivating and had to capture the essence of space – silence.

The 36 year old composer for the movie, Steven Price, told Huffington Post in a recent article about his experience working on the movie, “With a lot of action scores, you’re competing with a lot of noise,” Price said. “Say there’s a big explosion: the music would conventionally have a lot of Hollywood-style percussion or brass, because that’s the only thing that will cut through. You’d hear stuff within their spacesuits,” Price said. “If they touched something, you’d hear the vibration that they’d hear, but you don’t hear any exterior noises. We kind of knew the music would be responsible for all the other things. I was asked to try and tonally represent things that would ordinarily be sound. You don’t hear an explosion in the film, but you might hear some pulsation in the music that reflects it. The score is doing the job of traditional sound, while the sound crew was able to do an interesting job on their own.”

To me, this concept is fascinating. As musicians, our ears are constantly listening and analyzing the things we hear, but how often do we take a step back and analyze or appreciate the silence? Can you imagine having to write an entire film score based on complete, isolated quiet? Or better yet, can you imagine being an astronaut going from a ridiculously noisy environment, to only hearing the singular sounds that you produce? Astonishing!

In another Huffington Post article, a former astronaut, Jerry L. Ross, recounts his experience on his multiple space-walks and how the silence only emphasized the beauty of the silent vacuum that he was observing.

If space is your thing, follow the links provided for both articles and be amazed at what you will read. And if you have the time, pop into your local movie theater and witness “Gravity” for yourself!

-Lizzie Wendt
NEC School of Continuing Education Work-Study Student