Alumna Olivia Malin ’07MM, on choosing a career as a music educator

Olivia Malin works with students at KAPPA International High School

Trumpeter Olivia Malin ’07MM, who studied with Allan Dean and worked in the Music in Schools Initiative during her time at YSM, is entering her 11th year as a public-school music educator and teaches at KAPPA International High School in the Bronx, New York. Malin spoke with us recently about being inspired, as a student, to pursue a career in education despite the pressure she felt to focus on performance.

Q: You were a Teaching Artist in YSM’s Music in Schools Initiative. How did that program prepare you for what you’re doing now at KAPPA International High School?
A: While I was a student at YSM, I was also working in the Music in Schools Initiative. At first I stayed firmly in my comfort zone, teaching elementary/middle school brass group lessons. Midyear, I was branching out to woodwinds and percussion, and in the spring, I was running full band rehearsals when the band director wanted to do isolated lessons himself. I also began working with first- to third-graders learning piano and guitar. My second year in the program, I was placed at a high school where I got the opportunity to teach higher-level lessons and music, and to assist teaching AP music theory. The varied placement over those two years gave me a significant taste of what teaching K-12 would be like, with significant hours teaching piano, guitar, band, and general music classes. Even more important, the program was the first exposure that opened my eyes to what urban schools need, and what they don’t need, from me. At KAPPA, I now teach rock band, guitar, IB music, band, beginner band, and chorus – and I have also taught piano and general music – so the majority of classes I helped with at YSM are in fact what I teach full-time now.

Q: Did you know or think, upon enrolling at Yale, that you’d become a music teacher?
A: I have always taught private trumpet lessons, but no, I never thought I would be a full-time music teacher. We all know the stigma that exists about music teaching, and I admit I used to believe that only those performers who weren’t very good would end up as educators. It’s an easy thing to believe, since once a person becomes a teacher, it’s pretty difficult to maintain a high level of performance on their instrument, and most people don’t see the “performance level” of teaching. It’s hidden in the classroom – your audience is 30 students who don’t always applaud. One of the most difficult barriers I broke through was deciding that public-school teaching would be a higher calling than performing. There is so much outside pressure in the performance world not to become a teacher, and that pressure shows up constantly in little ways from friends, teachers, family, and the general public.

[Prof. Dean, Malin said, “is a wonderful teacher who taught me well and supported me through this decision to switch to teaching, something I think not all professors would be able to do.”] 

Q: What informed your decision to transition from focusing on performance to focusing on education?
A: What I started noticing was that my levels of happiness and self-worth after teaching at Lincoln-Bassett School or Wilbur Cross High School were significantly higher than those after an orchestral rehearsal or concert. I also noticed that I looked forward to being around the students – learning from them and laughing with them as much as teaching them content – much more than I expected. Their energy in the band room was so fresh and vibrant that I wanted more and more hours teaching in the program, and I spent extra time there after my paid time expired. The real moment, however, was when Associate Dean Michael Yaffe approached me sitting in (operations manager) Tara Deming’s office one day. He started talking about me to other people in the office, about what great teaching looked like and that he saw amazing potential in me when he saw how I lit up around students. In that short conversation, I saw something in myself that had until that point been a hobby, something I was good at and made a little money at, but which had never been a true option. Hearing him say those things out loud suddenly gave the green light to a career I hadn’t realized was a possibility – and a highly respectable possibility validated by the associate dean.

Q: What would you tell incoming YSM students who’re starting to think about what their careers might look like after school?
A: Be open to absolutely anything, say yes to everything, and be professional constantly. The music scene for you can be a combination of so many fulfilling things that it makes no sense to pigeonhole yourself early on. Don’t rule anything out simply because of generalizations – they may not apply to you! I am going into my 11th year of public school teaching. I am a proud high-school teacher in the Bronx and a trumpet player in a salsa band in Manhattan – and I wouldn’t change anything about my life.

Published August 1, 2017
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Achievements celebrated at annual Honors Dinner

Carol Colburn Grigor, recipient of the Samuel Simons Sanford Award

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Samuel Simons Sanford Award winner Carol Colburn Grigor, and Robert Blocker

The Yale School of Music held its annual Honors Dinner on Sunday, May 7, welcoming students and alumni, faculty and staff, and distinguished guests to the Yale Commons for an evening of celebration. After thanking recently retired staff members for their service and acknowledging the University officers who were in attendance, YSM Dean Robert Blocker presented Carol Colburn Grigor ’69MMA CBE with the School’s highest honor, the Samuel Simons Sanford Award. Grigor, Blocker, said, “is one of America’s most generous … most thoughtful philanthropists.” Composer and former Edinburgh International Festival director Jonathan Mills congratulated Grigor via video.

Willie Ruff, recipient of the Nathan Hale Award

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Nathan Hale Award recipient Willie Ruff, and Robert Blocker

Dean Blocker, with University President Peter Salovey and Yale Provost Benjamin Polak at his side, presented longtime YSM professor Willie Ruff ’53BM ’54MM, who will retire at the end of the semester, with the University’s prestigious Nathan Hale Award. “He’s changed all our lives,” Blocker said, before attendees were shown a video tribute to Ruff’s life and work. In a nod to the man who indirectly inspired him decades ago to study at YSM, Ruff said, “I thank, most of all, Charlie Parker.” The jazz office in the Yale School of Music’s Adams Center for Musical Arts was recently named in Ruff’s honor.

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award winner Warren Lee, and Robert Blocker

Blocker presented the Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award to pianist Warren Lee ’00MM and the Cultural Leadership Citation to retiring Yale Collection of Musical Instruments curator William Nicholas Renouf ’71MMA. The Collection’s director, William Purvis, accepted the Citation on behalf of Renouf, who was unable to attend the Honors Dinner. Before presenting student prizes, Blocker referenced an impressive number of awards and successes earned and realized this year by students, faculty, and staff. He recognized longtime YSM faculty pianist Peter Frankl, who plans to retire in the fall, for his dedication to the School community.

At the end of the evening, Blocker told the students in attendance, “Claim the future. It belongs to you. You will make us better.” What follows is a list of the student prizes awarded during YSM’s 2017 Honors Dinner. MORE

Published May 9, 2017
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Inside YSM: Matthew Gray ’17MMA, horn

Matthew Gray

Meet horn player Matt Gray ’17MMA, who spoke with us recently about his experiences studying with Prof. William Purvis.

“The dynamic in the YSM horn studio is similar to that of a big family,” Matt said. “Each member of the family has strengths and weaknesses, but together we are a capable and formidable group. This sense of family and camaraderie comes directly from Prof. Purvis.

“Prof. Purvis has a style of teaching that focuses directly on the steps his students should take to assess and improve their own playing while also motivating and encouraging his students to pursue their own strengths to the fullest degree.”

While at YSM, Matt has worked in the Concert Office and has developed an interest in the administrative side of the field. MORE

Published May 5, 2017
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Willie Ruff retires having given “conservatory without walls” a home at Yale

By Lucile Bruce

Willie Ruff

Willie Ruff was born in 1931 in Sheffield, Alabama, a rural town on the south side of the Tennessee River. As a child, he showed an aptitude for music and immersed himself in the musical resources of his community. A neighborhood boy shared his drum set with young Willie and they became lifelong friends. The pianist at church became his piano teacher. But the best music he heard was the drumming in the African Pentecostal church half a block from his house. “We would sit on the ground outside the church and listen to the people playing those drums,” Ruff recalled. “It was the most exciting, the most moving music. I heard them in my sleep.”

Across the river from Sheffield stands Florence, the hometown of W.C. Handy, the “Father of the Blues.” Handy visited Ruff ’s elementary school classroom, played for the children, and accompanied their singing. “W.C. Handy was a big presence in my world,” Ruff recounted. “When I saw him on stage in my school, talking about the importance of our musical heritage, I said, ‘I want to do that.’ I think I have.” MORE

Published May 1, 2017
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Joseph Guimaraes ’18MM receives Soros Fellowship

Tubist Joseph Guimaraes ’18MM has received one of 30 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. Each year, the program, according to language on the organization’s website, “supports thirty New Americans, immigrants or the children of immigrants, who are pursuing graduate school in the United States.”

“Selected from 1,775 applicants, each of the recipients was chosen for their potential to make significant contributions to U.S. society, culture, or their academic fields,” the Soros Fellowships website indicates. Each awardee receives up to $90,000 to help with costs associated with graduate school.

“I am both hopeful and confident that this lifelong platform will afford me the network needed to achieve my goal of national music-education reform in the United States,” Guimaraes said. “Music is so much more than an auditory art form; it can be seen and felt as a working construct of the human condition. Through music, we can learn to listen, instruct, be instructed, be critiqued, work as​ ​a team, lead, follow, and so much more. These are skills that go far beyond the realm of just music-making, skills that should not be seen as extra-curricular or secondary, but rather as the fundamental building blocks of society. If we​ ​allow every child the opportunity to learn these skills in the proven model of a functional music ensemble, we will instill a greater sense of self, community, and a place in the world. I hope that myself, alongside the greater community of ​Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows, will be able to reach far and wide to the towns, cities, states, and eventually the federal government to … give every child​ the ability to be stronger members of society through music.”

A native of Recife, Brazil, Guimaraes is currently pursuing his master of music degree at the Yale School of Music, where he studies with Carol Jantsch. He has served as principal tubist at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, and of the Chautauqua Institution’s Music School Festival Orchestra in New York and the AIMS Festival Orchestra in Graz, Austria. Guimaraes is the founder of The Valve Beanie and the Mouthpieces for All Initiative, whose mission, according to his website, is “to furnish musical tools and services to underserved community members with which they may develop a sense of hope, empowerment and self-worth through engagement in the performing arts.”

JOSEPH GUIMARAES

YALE NEWS

Published April 24, 2017
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Inside YSM: Wil Wortley ’18MM, trombone

Wil Wortley ’18MM

Meet YSM student Wil Wortley ’18MM, who recently talked with us about switching his focus from euphonium to trombone.

“I’ve kind of had it in my head to focus more on trombone (as opposed to euphonium) since later in high school, because a teacher of mine kept pushing me to do so,” Wil explained. “The two instruments are similar enough that with a little individual practice I was able to play in the trombone choir at Eastman, where I did my undergrad. Eventually, I began taking secondary lessons beginning my junior year as I considered playing trombone more seriously. As grad school approached, I made the transition for a simple reason: There are more job opportunities on trombone than euphonium, although that isn’t saying much. The actual switch has been easy in some ways and difficult in others. The obvious difficulty is the difference in the technique mechanism. Moving a big ole piece of metal back and forth while trying to hit the right spot at the right time is exactly as hard as you’d think it would be. Luckily, the sound production is similar, which allowed me to very easily become an OK trombone player. It’s been much harder to learn some of the subtle differences between the horns, because, in a way, the similarities actually mask some of the differences. My professor here at Yale, Scott Hartman, has been tremendously helpful. We don’t really focus on the fact that I used to play euphonium, which is great. He always looks at what we’re working on from a musical perspective while managing to think about the technique required in a very logical and consistent way. The trick to balancing or integrating those two aspects of music-making is something I aspire to learn.”

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Published March 24, 2017
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Inside YSM: Ashley Hale ’18MM, trumpet

Ashley Hale ’18MM

Meet YSM student trumpeter Ashley Hale ’18MM, who recently spoke with us about how she came to choose the Yale School of Music.

“I must admit, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to attend grad school,” Ashley said. “I was so ready to be done with classes and stuff that I hadn’t thought of it. There I was at the beginning of my last year of undergrad and I did not have any plans. I decided to audition for schools and see what happened. I was asking around for recommendations of schools because I had not done much research. I applied to YSM on the recommendation of my teacher at the time, Roy Poper. Once I got here, I was pleasantly surprised with how little it feels like school. I’m only taking two classes but I am involved with many outside-of-class activities. I go to class in the morning then teach in the New Haven Public Schools as a Yale Teaching Artist, get to make music with my brass quintet, and sometimes rehearse with the Yale Philharmonia. I am loving my life here at YSM and am so glad I decided to apply!”

Ashley talked specifically about studying with YSM faculty trumpeter Allan Dean.

“Studying with Mr. Allan Dean has been great!” she said. “He has such a strong concept of phrasing with everything he does. I am always amazed with his reasoning for each musical idea he has. Phrasing is definitely something I need to think more about and I’m looking forward to learning much more from him.”

Of taking advantage of all that the School, the University, and the city have to offer, Ashley said, “The campus is so pretty and I’m really enjoying New Haven. It is great to be able to study in a cute place as well as a brand new building. I have not taken any classes within the University yet, but I might look at some language classes later, if possible. I love being able to utilize the libraries and immense resources on campus. There are so many places within the School of Music that I love. I like to spend time in the recording studio (CSMT) working on different projects, as well as the music-composition lab in Leigh Hall.”

#insideYSM

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Published March 24, 2017
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YSM musicians featured in Essex Winter Series program

purvis

YSM faculty hornist William Purvis

The Yale School of Music will be well-represented when the Essex Winter Series kicks off its 40th season on Sunday, Jan. 8. Along with YSM faculty hornist William Purvis, the series’ 2017 Fenton Brown Emerging Artists — percussionist Sam Um ’17MM, trumpet players Aaron Plourde ’17MMA and Nozomi Imamura ’17MM, trombonist Matthew Russo ’12MM, and tubist Joseph Guimaraes ’18MM — will perform an arrangement of Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. Plourde, Purvis, and Russo will also perform as a trio on the program, which features an impressive roster of musicians and a diverse collection of works.

The mission of EWS is “to bring the finest music, in live performance, to the Connecticut River Valley and Shoreline Region during the winter months and to cultivate its appreciation to the widest audience,” according the the series’ website. The Emerging Artists program offers young, up-and-coming musicians the opportunity to perform in schools and retirement homes in the Connecticut River Valley and along the shoreline. MORE

Published January 7, 2017
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CalArts names Ravi Rajan president, the first Asian American to be named to the post

Los Angeles Times | By Carolina A. Miranda

Ravi Rajan '00MM

Ravi S. Rajan ’00MM

Ravi S. Rajan, the dean of the School of the Arts at Purchase College, State University of New York, was named president of the California Institute of the Arts on Tuesday following a unanimous board vote.

Rajan, a musician, teacher and administrator who has also worked in computer animation, will be CalArts’ fourth president — and its first Asian American head.

Rajan says he is excited to take the helm at a school that has long harbored a confluence of ideas and an institutional ethos of experimentation.

READ FULL ARTICLE

Published December 15, 2016
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Sarah Ford ’16 MM joins Colorado Springs Philharmonic as principal horn

SarahFord_Headshot

Sarah Ford

Sarah Ford ’16 MM has been appointed principal horn of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic; her appointment will begin in fall, 2016. The Colorado Springs Philharmonic is led by Josep Caballé-Domenech who succeeded Lawrence Leighton Smith, the former music director of Yale Philharmonia. Smith was also the first music director of Colorado Springs Philharmonic.

Originally from Guilford, CT, Sarah earned her Bachelors of Music degree from Mason Gross School of the Arts – Rutgers University, where she studied with Douglas Lundeen, Denise Tryon, Eric Reed, and Jerry Peel. Her summers have been spent in programs such as the NSO Summer Music Institute, the Maine Chamber Music Seminar, the Pierre Monteux School, the National Music Festival, and Kendall Betts Horn Camp. In May 2016, Sarah graduated with her Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music, where she studied with William Purvis.

Published June 20, 2016
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