Violinist and YSM alum Jessica Oddie, on music education in the United States and abroad

Jessica Oddie

Since she graduated from the Yale School of Music, violinist Jessica Oddie ’13BA ’15MM has been living in Germany, “playing chamber music of all varieties and working in educational initiatives, supported by a DAAD [German Academic Exchange Service] fellowship to research the differences between the European and American systems of music education.” We talked recently with Oddie, who was immersed in the Lincoln Center Teaching Artist Development Labs “discovering how I can deepen my teaching artistry further,” about her time at YSM and how it informed what she’s doing now.

Q: How did participating as a Teaching Artist in YSM’s Music in Schools Initiative influence what you’re doing today?

A: My time in MISI strengthened my belief that we as artists have a strong imperative to share our passion and knowledge, not only through performance but also through teaching. MISI offered me an opportunity to be involved in my community as a musician and educator, while also providing a platform to engage with ideas about art and education with colleagues, mentors, and other professionals. MISI’s commitment to creating another musical community in New Haven, and YSM’s support for innovation in that field, inspired me to continue this work when I moved to Germany, at a time when cultural exchange, multiculturalism, and how these themes influence music education are particularly important topics.

In Germany, I’ve worked in collaborations between music schools and normal schools, bringing music education to students who would not otherwise have an opportunity to try out an instrument, including students from difficult socioeconomic or refugee backgrounds. I’ve been involved in conversations at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart and the recent Germany-wide Musikschule Kongress, exploring how music education can be inclusive of new members of European society, especially through intercultural music collaboration and exchange. I started a project at a local middle school aimed at getting young string players excited about upcoming orchestral performances in the area, by arranging orchestral repertoire for players of all levels. By playing this repertoire, whether they were beginners who were pizzing open strings or advanced students playing an excerpt from the solo line of the Beethoven Violin Concerto, students got to know the pieces from the inside out.

Q: How is the work you’re doing there similar to and how is it different than what you did in New Haven as a YSM Teaching Artist?

A: My students in Germany have an enormous amount in common with my students in New Haven. Children are children, and the joy of exploring or creating something beautiful together is the same regardless of the culture. My work is therefore largely the same. One of the most important things we as teachers can do is to affirm to children the value of their experiences and the power of their creativity, and to provide them with tools to express their own voices.

The biggest difference logistically is that funding in Germany is generally from the state, so initiatives are developed in conjunction with the local government, whereas in the United States, most are developed by entrepreneurial individuals who have an idea and find the funds to make it happen.

Q: Can you share some words about the importance of programs like the Music in Schools Initiative and the one with which you’re involved now? 

A: I believe there is no task more essential to crafting a brighter future than engaging with young people about ideas, seeking and creating meaning together, and celebrating a multitude of voices. Programs like MISI inspire creativity, connect people, and strengthen communities.

Q: What would you say to incoming YSM students who might not be familiar with the Music in Schools Initiative? 

A: Absolutely get involved! You will share a lot and learn even more, from colleagues, mentors, and most of all your students. I am constantly surprised by how much I learn through teaching. I also can’t think of a more fulfilling way to spend your Saturday mornings than working with young New Haven orchestral players.

Published July 26, 2017
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Yale Hosts Sixth Symposium on Music in Schools

Rubén Rodríguez, left, and Michael Yaffe during the 2017 Symposium on Music in Schools. Photo by Matt Fried

On June 15-17, the Yale School of Music hosted its sixth biennial Symposium on Music in Schools, an event at which 43 participants discussed “how to ensure that every child in every city in America has access to an active music life,” YSM Associate Dean Michael Yaffe said. That topic is one that Yaffe and Rubén Rodríguez, the lead teacher in YSM’s Music in Schools Initiative, have been thinking about for more than a year.

Among those invited to participate were public-school and university teachers and administrators, foundation leaders, music-education scholars, and public-policy experts who worked, Yaffe said, to “help us craft and complete a declaration about why music has the potential to change children’s lives and have an impact on issues of exclusion.” The purpose of the document, a draft of which was sent to participants ahead of the Symposium, is to “encourage the creation of ecosystems” that support the goal of guaranteeing children in city schools the same opportunities their suburban counterparts enjoy. The “gap” in quality public-school music education in the United States, Yaffe said, “is usually represented by city schools that don’t have full-time certified music teachers” or music-specific activities.

Symposium participant Tarik Ward, the director of music programs at ELMA Philanthropy Services, talked about the “story of inequity,” saying, “If you tell me your zip code, I can tell you your life story.” To Ward, the Symposium and the declaration that’s being crafted represent “an exercise in storytelling” about systemic inequity, and a chance to address “what we have to do” to bring about change. Music, Ward said, “is the cultural equalizer, the thing that everyone can do.”

Lara Davis, the arts education manager at Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, said the conversation about music education in city schools is part of a larger discussion about “the inequities that are running rampant across public education in this country,” and that the gathering at Yale “is a step in the process.”

Lara Davis, the arts education manager at Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture, addresses a working group during the 2017 Symposium on Music in Schools. Photo by Matt Fried

“We have to have an intersectional lens as we approach this,” and ask, “How does that inform the ways we talk about music?” Davis said.

Mike Blakeslee, the executive director and CEO of the National Association for Music Education, said, “We’ve constructed a system where the self-interest of many constituencies is not social justice. You can tell the story,” he said, but “the real question for me is, what are we going to do to make [change] really happen?”

In the coming months, Yaffe and Rodríguez, with YSM staff and input from Symposium participants, will finalize the declaration, launch a website, and identify organizations that will help disseminate the information. “We learned so much from this group of experts,” Yaffe said. In essence, the 2017 Symposium on Music in Schools was the opening salvo in what will be an ongoing effort to address the inequity that plagues America. And while the Symposium itself was an important step toward bringing about real change, what follows, in terms of the resulting document, will be even more critical.

In addition to brainstorming and sharing ideas and perspectives during the three-day event, participants also honored their peers. As has been tradition since the first Symposium on Music in Schools in 2007, the 2017 iteration included the presentation of Distinguished Music Educator Awards to 10 public-school music teachers, all of whom work in city schools.

The impetus for the efforts undertaken at the Symposium was the work of YSM’s Music in Schools Initiative, which was created in 2007 with an endowment from the Yale College Class of 1957.

Rodríguez looks forward to a paradigm shift in terms of how we think about music in schools. “We are declaring that we are all equal and we all deserve the same opportunities and freedoms and services and access to the same spaces and opportunities to thrive,” he said.

Related:
MUSIC IN SCHOOLS INITIATIVE
2017 SYMPOSIUM ON MUSIC IN SCHOOLS
YALE HONORS DISTINGUISHED MUSIC EDUCATORS

Published June 21, 2017
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2016 Music in Schools Winter Festival

IMG_5851For 120 New Haven Public Schools students, vacation from school doesn’t mean taking a break from music.  During the NHPS Winter Break (Feb. 16-19), the Music in Schools Initiative hosted its annual Winter Festival for students across New Haven.  Nineteen Yale School of Music graduate students participated as Teaching Artists, providing instrument-specific instruction, leading sectionals and ensembles, and developing close relationships with their students.

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Published March 3, 2016
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[ students + alumni ]

Ian Tuski honored with Yale-Jefferson Public Service Award

Tuski teaches in the New Haven Public Schools

Tuski teaches in the New Haven Public Schools

Ian Tuski ’15 MM is to be honored with a Yale-Jefferson Public Service Award. The awards recognize those who inspire the Yale community through innovative, effective, and sustained service for the greater good.

The Yale-Jefferson Public Service Awards were launched in 2012 by the Association of Yale Alumni, Students and Alumni of Yale (STAY), and the Jefferson Awards for Public Service. Three awards are now given each year: one to a Yale undergraduate, one to a graduate/professional student, and one to an alumnus. MORE

Published November 19, 2015
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[ in the press ]

Yale School of Music and New Haven Public Schools: Changing lives through music-making

all-city-chorusYaleNews | By Bess Connolly Martell

It’s not uncommon for the students at the Yale School of Music to “blow their own horns,” but when it comes to the wealth of opportunities the school presents to New Haven schoolchildren, the school leaders aren’t known to boast.

YaleNews recently met with Michael Yaffe, associate dean at the School of Music, to discuss the recent Music in Schools Symposium, the numerous programs that the school provides for New Haven schoolchildren, and how this collaboration gives students “distinctive opportunities to flourish as musicians.”

An edited version of that conversation follows. MORE

Published July 21, 2015
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[ concerts + events ]

June 5 event combines concert and conversation

Matheus Garcia-Souza

Matheus Garcia-Souza

An event on Friday, June 5 will highlight the role that music partnerships can play in today’s environment. Matheus Garcia Souza ’14 MM will talk about his work as a teaching artist, lead a performance by New Haven’s All-City Honors String Orchestra, and perform with his own string quartet.

Originally from Londrina, Brazil, Matheus started teaching during his undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri, with students from the ages of 6 to 50. While studying for his master’s degree at the Yale School of Music, he served as a teaching artist in the Music in Schools Initiative: he taught beginning string students at Lincoln-Bassett Elementary School and then directed the All-City Honors String Orchestra and the 2013 String Orchestra of the Morse Summer Music Academy.

In February, 2014 he was the teaching artist of the week, and in May, 2014 he was awarded the prize for the outstanding graduating teaching artist in the Music in Schools program. MORE

Published May 14, 2015
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[ music in schools ]

Teaching Artist of the Week: Isabel Lepanto Gleicher ’14 MM

Not all teaching artists can say that they have experienced both sides of the student/teaching artist relationship. But Isabel Lepanto Gleicher ’14 MM says it’s the reason she plays flute today: “My very first private teacher was a teaching artist. That’s how I started the flute. She played flute professionally, and I wanted to play the flute. So my parents approached her, and she became my private teacher.”

TA_Izzy GleicherIsabel now teaches over a dozen students in private and group lessons at Mauro-Sheridan School and Co-Op High School throughout the week, as well as leading flute instruction for the All-City Honors Band on Saturdays. This past summer, she had her first experience teaching young students in the Morse Summer Music Academy: “Before, I’d only ever really taught private lessons to high school students or older. But at Morse, from the very first day I was surrounded by almost a hundred kids, and many of them were my responsibility in different ways. So it was challenging in the sense that my learning curve had to be really steep. By week two I was completely comfortable in doing everything that I needed to do, and I felt like I had a really good relationship with the kids.”

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Published April 4, 2014
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[ music in schools ]

Teaching Artist of the Week: Ian Tuski ’15 MM

TA_IanTuski

Regular classes at Fair Haven Middle School end at 3:00 pm every weekday. But on Tuesdays and Thursdays, seven students get to stay an extra hour for group guitar classes taught by Ian Tuski ’15 MM.

Tuski, a first-year student at YSM, has several years of experience teaching guitar in private lessons at the Wauwatosa School of Music in Wauwatosa, WI. However, this experience with the Music in Schools Initiative is the first time he’s taught both in a group setting and in a public school. About the program, he says, “most students don’t need much convincing to come learn guitar due it being such a popular instrument. The challenge comes with so many students thinking guitar is only a part of popular music.”

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Published March 18, 2014
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[ music in schools ]

Teaching Artist of the Week: Matheus Garcia Souza ’14 MM

TA_Matheus Garcia-SouzaThis week we feature one of our busiest Teaching Artists, Matheus Garcia-Souza ’14 MM. Originally from Londrina, Brazil, Matheus started teaching during his undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri, with students from the ages of 6 to 50.

In his second year of teaching in New Haven, Matheus now has about 40 young students total. Not only does he teach 15 beginner string students at Lincoln-Bassett Elementary School, but on Saturday he directs the All-City Honors Orchestra, with about 25 students of all levels. In the summer of 2013, he also directed the String Orchestra of the Morse Summer Music Academy.

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Published February 18, 2014
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[ music in schools ]

Meet Your Teaching Artist of the Week: Andrea Beyer ’15 MM

TA_Andrea BeyerThis week’s featured Teaching Artist, Andrea Beyer ’15 MM, is a well-traveled student and experienced instructor. Before entering the Yale School of Music this year, she traveled with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas (YOA), teaching young bass students in Chile and Mexico. Coming to YSM, she says she was happy to find similar opportunities with the Music in Schools Initiative: “I have always enjoyed teaching, and found the outreach work I did through YOA extremely rewarding, so I was very excited when I learned about MISI. While in the Global Leaders program, I grew a lot as a teacher, so I was eager to have a chance to further that and apply all that I learned to my new community in New Haven.”

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Published February 7, 2014
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