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: 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.

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Published December 15, 2016
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In memoriam: Robert E. Nagel Jr., trumpet

New York Brass Quintet From left: John Swallow, Allan Dean, Paul Ingraham, Robert Nagel, Thompson "Toby" Hanks

New York Brass Quintet
From left: John Swallow, Allan Dean, Paul Ingraham, Robert Nagel, Thompson “Toby” Hanks

Trumpeter Robert E. Nagel Jr. passed away on Sunday, June 5 at the age of 91. He was a member of the Yale School of Music faculty from 1957 to 1988, and was named Professor Emeritus in 1988.

He is best known as the founder and director of the renowned New York Brass Quintet. In addition to paving the way for brass chamber music, Nagel was an active and highly respected performer as well as a prolific composer. In 1959, Nagel founded a publishing company, Mentor Music, in an effort to make brass music more available to the public. He leaves a legacy of numerous seminal recordings such as the 1961 recording of L’Histoire Du Soldat (conducted by Igor Stravinsky) and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 (conducted by Pablo Casals).
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Published June 9, 2016
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[ concerts ]

CANCELED: Brass of Yale performs at Carnegie Hall Jan. 24

Yale Brass Trio

Yale Brass Trio

Update 1/23: We regret that, because of the severity of the blizzard, this concert has been canceled.

The Yale School of Music continues its acclaimed Yale in New York series on Sunday, January 24 with a program of music for brass. The concert will highlight the school’s acclaimed brass faculty as well as the contributions to the brass repertoire of past and present Yale composers. The program honors the late composers Ezra Laderman and Gunther Schuller, both of whom served on the Yale faculty.

The evening is anchored by the Yale Brass Trio, comprising William Purvis, horn; Allan Dean, trumpet; and Scott Hartman, trombone. They are joined by fellow faculty member Carol Jantsch, tuba, and numerous YSM students and alumni.

Ezra Laderman

Ezra Laderman

A former dean of the Yale School of Music, Ezra Laderman (1924–2015) joined the Yale faculty in 1988 and served as Professor of Music until his retirement in 2013. He also served as the president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. William Purvis, Allan Dean, and Scott Hartman will perform the New York premiere of his Brass Trio, written in 2005. MORE

Published January 5, 2016
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[ in the press ]

Strings, horns will set stage for San Fermin

The Columbus Dispatch | By Kevin JoySan Fermin

As a Capital University freshman double-majoring in music education and mathematics, trumpeter John Brandon arrived on the Bexley campus with a different upbringing from that of some of his peers.

“I met kids who used to be considered ‘nerds’; I could not relate,” said Brandon, 30, a Columbus native who, after his graduation from Capital in 2007, earned a graduate degree in classical performance on full scholarship from the Yale University School of Music.

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Published December 11, 2015
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[ in the press ]

Springfield Symphony Orchestra shines spotlight on principal trumpet Thomas Bergeron

Mass Live | By Clifton Noble Jr.

It is always a special occasion when the Springfield Symphony Orchestra features its own members as soloists.

On Saturday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m., SSO Principal Trumpet Thomas Bergeron will be in the spotlight, playing Haydn’s “Trumpet Concerto in E-flat,” and sharing solo duties in Aaron Copland’s beautiful tone poem “Quiet City” with SSO Principal Oboist Nancy Dimock, who will play the English horn solo.

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Published November 19, 2015
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Carl Stanley ’15MM, trumpet, wins position in West Point Band

stanley_carlCarl Stanley ’15MM has won a trumpet position in the West Point Band at the U.S. Military Academy.

Raised in a musical household in California, Carl Stanley has seen his trumpet career take him around the globe. After completing his B.A. in music in 2008 from California State University, East Bay, Mr. Stanley won a position with the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band in Hampton, Virginia.

In his four years as Principal Trumpet in the Concert Band and a member of the Heritage Brass Quintet, Mr. Stanley toured throughout the United States, performing in concerts, recitals, ceremonies, professional sporting events, competitions, and conventions as an Airman musician. MORE

Published March 10, 2015
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