We have learning happening at all levels and ages at the Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program. Each year, our 5th-grade musicians take part in our Youth Leadership Program. They spend the year developing their teaching skills, shadowing our Teaching Artists, and peer mentoring younger musicians during our Morning Music program. In November, we invited JQOP parents to learn fundamental music skills and educate them on proper instrument techniques in an effort to support better home practice for their children. The initiative was so successful that parents expressed interest in learning to play their own musical instruments during the school year.
Introducing the JQOP Adult Orchestra
This resulted in the launch of our first-ever, Adult Orchestra! JQOP parents and Boston Public School academic teachers—18 in total—have spent the past month receiving weekly instruction from our Youth Leadership Director, Melany Piech; our Cello Teaching Artist, Stephanie Chen; and our Youth Leadership cohort. Their debut performance was during our February Coffee Hour Concert. Currently, they are preparing for their second performance alongside our Youth Leadership students at our March 13th concert.
Just after their debut performance, we took a moment to ask our Adult Orchestra members about their experience. One parent shared that "the experience was similar to the adrenaline rush you get when giving a large presentation for colleagues." Another parent said, "I felt like a rockstar walking into work with my violin."
First-grade parent and Adult Orchestra cellist, Cel Kulasekaran shared, "there's something to be said about a communal music experience before starting your day. I walk into my office post-lesson much happier and ready to produce. I can relate to how this must be benefiting the kids before their classroom time start."
Through this experience, our Youth Leadership students are improving their interpersonal and communication skills.
Cello Teaching Artist Stephanie Chen shared,"the highlight for me teaching Adult Orchestra is collaborating with my JQOP students. It is very inspiring seeing them work alongside me as youth Teaching Artists, responding to the questions asked from parents, as well as guiding their learning process"
Many parents have said that they have been practicing and learning from their own children. Gosia Kubica Walsh, violinist and parent to K2 musician, told us that she used to go through long negotiations with her daughter to get her to practice at least once a week.
"I had to set up a timer for 10 minutes. She would only practice in her room behind closed doors. She didn’t want us to see or listen to her. Before time was up she would be out of the room. The day I brought my violin home her attitude towards playing completely changed. She loves teaching me and playing for us. She kept playing her songs over and over again. We now actually have to ask her to stop playing and go to bed. My husband and I were shocked at first but we are absolutely thrilled! She is so proud of her instrument and she is very excited about learning new songs and performing."
"No words can express my gratitude for this [Adult Orchestra]. I had been genuinely excited about the idea of playing the cello since I applied and fell in love with the instrument from the first class!" - Ms. Hom, BPS Teacher
Adult Orchestra Conductor, Melany Piech, said it best: "The Adult Orchestra affirms that music-making is for everyone, and that one can learn to play an instrument at any age. The adults have responded to the class with enthusiasm, humor, and openness to the help of the student leaders. I am thrilled to see these interactions, and for the adults to understand on a deeper level the challenges involved in the work our orchestra students do every day."
Thank you to our partners at Johnson String Instruments for helping to make this possible!