Symposium affirms diversity of music education in American public schools

Music in Schools-572

A discussion during the 2013 Symposium on Music in Schools. More photos below.

The 2013 Yale Symposium on Music in Schools concluded on June 8 with an affirmation of the quality and diversity of music education in the public schools of America. Fifty Yale Distinguished Music Educators, selected from over 300 nominations, from 32 states, convened in New Haven to discuss “The Role of Music in School Reform.”  A lively series of presentations culminated with a two-hour discussion amongst the teachers,  seeking their solutions to ensuring the value of music instruction as schools continue to evolve.  This discussion will be posted as an online video by the end of the summer.

Anne Midgette, Classical Music Critic of the Washington Post and a 1986 graduate of Yale College, was the keynote speaker at the Awards Dinner.  She congratulated the teachers and spoke of their value to the overall infrastructure of music-making in America.  Her often-humorous (particularly related to her own musical training) but deeply insightful comments helped frame the evening in which the teachers received a certificate and recognition from Dean Robert Blocker and Associate Dean Michael Yaffe.

Another highlight of the evening was the announcement by Dean Blocker of the Dr. Reginald Mayo Teaching Artist Prize that will be awarded yearly to a Yale graduate student who exemplifies the best in serving as a Graduate Teaching Artist in the Music in Schools Initiative. Dr. Mayo, who is retiring this year as Superintendent of Schools in New Haven, has been instrumental in creating the partnership between Yale School of Music and the New Haven Public Schools.

The fifty teachers represented urban, suburban, and rural school districts, and had the opportunity to spend two full days in policy discussions led by experts in the field. View details of the program here. MORE

Published June 11, 2013
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Fifth Annual Yale/New Haven Young Artists Solo Competitions May 23, 29, 30

A student competing in the 2011 Competition. Photo by Alvin Wong

The Music in Schools Initiative is pleased to announce the fifth annual Yale/New Haven Young Artists Solo Competitions. This year’s competitions will take place on three nights: Wednesday, May 23 for 4th–6th grade students; Tuesday, May 29 for 7th–8th grade; and Wednesday, May 30 for 9th–12th grade.

All competitions will take place in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall, and will begin at 5pm. Competitions are open to the public.

A collaboration between the Yale School of Music and the New Haven Public Schools, the Solo Competitions offer NHPS students the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and compete against their peers. Students are nominated by their school music teachers. Each school may nominate up to 3 instrumental students at the 4th–6th and 7th–8th grade levels. The 9th–12th grade level also includes vocalists, and there is no limit on the number of nominees per school.

The top three performers in each age group will be awarded prizes, including tickets to any fall semester School of Music performance and gift cards to the Yale Bookstore.

Judges for the 2012 Solo Competitions include representatives from the Yale School of Music faculty, Music Haven, Neighborhood Music School, and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.

Published May 22, 2012
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Sweet Honey in the Rock performs in Woolsey Hall Jan. 15

(Photo courtesy of Sweet Honey in the Rock)

The internationally renowned a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock will perform a free concert as part of Yale’s annual campus-wide celebration of the national Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

The concert will take place Sunday, January 15, at 3 pm in Woolsey Hall (corner of College and Grove Streets). The concert is free and open to the public, and no tickets are required; the doors will open at 2:30 pm. Donations will be collected for the American Refugee Committee and Christian Community Action.  MORE

Published January 10, 2012
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Gig List Relaunches

The School of Music is pleased to announce the official re-launch of the gig list and community lessons list. Visit:

Members of the community:

Have you been wondering how to hire a string quartet for your wedding, or where you might find a piano teacher or trombone instructor?

To make an inquiry about hiring student musicians, please fill out this form.

To inquire about taking lessons from a Yale School of Music student, visit this page.


If you’d like to receive inquiries about gigs and/or lessons, sign up HERE. You can sign up at any time.

Please remember that you will not hear about gig or lessons requests if you do not register. Registration is not a commitment to take any specific gigs; it’s just expressing your interest in hearing about them. If you are at all interested in hearing about gig/lessons requests, please do register!

Once you have registered, you will start receiving requests via email as they come in.

Published December 19, 2011
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Michael Yaffe receives national award

National Guild Service Award recognizes exceptional long-term achievement in community arts education

The Yale School of Music is pleased to announce that Associate Dean Michael Yaffe was honored with the National Guild Service Award this past Saturday, November 11. Conferred by the National Guild for Community Arts Education, the award recognizes individuals who have given exceptional service to the Guild and to the community arts education movement.

Yaffe received the award at the Guild’s annual awards luncheon, held last Saturday at the national Conference for Community Arts Education. In his acceptance, Yaffe addressed the Guild’s members and proposed “a rallying cry that I hope we all can gather around and promote.”

“Arts education is the education of the emotions,” said Yaffe, “and we need that more than ever in our splintered and dysfunctional society. Emotional education can channel the anger in today’s politics. It can help us through traumas in our personal lives. It can teach us how to work together – to trust one another. And it could help to convince policy makers of the value of what we do. Over the years, I have become more and more convinced that it could be a unifying principle for all of us, in all levels of arts education.”

“Michael Yaffe is one of the nation’s leading proponents of community arts education,” said Dean Robert Blocker of the Yale School of Music. “He is responsible for transforming the lives of countless children and enriching their communities. The National Guild Service Award is a tangible expression of recognition for his unselfish commitment to music and to community arts education.”

Click HERE to read more about Michael Yaffe, the National Guild for Community Arts Education, and the award.

Published November 16, 2011
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Associate Dean Michael Yaffe to receive National Guild Service Award

Michael Yaffe will be honored by the National Guild for Community Arts Education this Saturday, November 11. Yaffe, the associate dean of the School of Music, will receive the National Guild Service Award at the annual awards luncheon at the Conference for Community Arts Education.

The National Guild Service Award is offered for outstanding achievement to individuals who have given exceptional service to the National Guild and the community arts education movement. Past recipients include Betty Allen, Lolita and Azim Mayadas, Robert Capanna, Stephen Shapiro and Ed Farmilant. Formerly called the President’s Award, it was established in 1989.

Michael Yaffe has been dedicated to the growth of the field of community arts education for nearly 35 years. Prior to coming to the Yale School of Music in 2006, he served as executive director of the Hartt School of the University of Hartford from 1986 to 2006, greatly increasing its student population, expanding its faculty and initiating new programs to make high quality arts education accessible to all. Yaffe was a member of the Guild’s board of trustees from 1999 to 2006 and is currently chair of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Precollege Arts Schools. He also served on the board of the National Association of Schools of Music and was chair of its non-degree-granting commission. MORE

Published November 9, 2011
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Morses visit the Morse Academy

Enid and Lester Morse ’51 today visited the School of Music to attend a concert by students in the Morse Summer Music Academy.

After performances by a clarinet ensemble, a saxophone quintet, and a solo flutist, the audience heard something new: Academy student Jose Meza had written a piece dedicated to the Morses, to thank them for their generosity in founding the program.

Meza, a trumpet player, performed the piece and then presented a framed score to Mr. and Mrs. Morse.

After the concert, students lined up eagerly to meet Mr. and Mrs.  Morse.

Today marked the third day of the 2011 session, and one student performer remarked that she had “already learned so much.”

Founded in 2010, the Morse Summer Music Academy provides free, comprehensive music instruction to New Haven Public School music students. In the intensive, four-week program, each student has a weekly private lesson and takes part in scheduled daily individual practice, ensemble rehearsals, workshops, and master classes. MORE

Published July 27, 2011
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Morse Summer Music Academy begins second season

Today was the first day of school for fifty-one young musicians in the Morse Summer Music Academy. Now in its second year, the Morse Academy at the Yale School of Music offers intensive music instruction for students in grades 5 through 11 in the New Haven Public Schools.

The 2011 Morse Academy runs from July 25 to August 19. For those four weeks, students meet five days a week, at least four hours a day – more music than most have ever done before.

Students who successfully complete the Academy will have musical opportunities throughout the academic year. These opportunities may include master classes, private lessons, and attendance at Yale School of Music performances.

Participants in the Morse Academy are selected not only for their musical accomplishment but for their enthusiasm and ability to commit to an intensive program. They must also have at least a B average in school. The program is open to students in grades 5 through 11 who play woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion, or piano.

This year, 51 students are taking part in the program. Last summer, there were 42 students from 10 schools.


Published July 25, 2011
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Music in Schools Initiative continues to thrive

New Haven All-City Band makes its debut on May, plus other events

A competitor in the 2010 Yale/New Haven Young Artists Solo Competition

The Music in Schools Initiative, a project bringing together the Yale School of Music and the New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) continues to thrive in New Haven. Upcoming events include the first-ever performance by the new Yale/NHPS All-City Band, a performance by the Yale/NHPS Honors Chorus, and the Fourth Annual Yale/New Haven Young Artists Solo Competitions.

The Yale/NHPS All-City Band will make its debut performance on Tuesday, May 10, at 7 pm in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall (470 College St., New Haven). The band will perform four pieces by Thomas C. Duffy, plus arrangments of music by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, among others. The ensemble comprises 35 students selected from eight New Haven schools. Duffy, the director of bands at Yale, is the music director. Students from the Yale School of Music teach and perform with the ensemble.

Now in its second year, the Yale/NHPS Honors Chorus will present its annual performance on Tuesday, May 17 at 7 pm, also in Morse Recital Hall. The auditioned chorus is comprised of 31 students in grades 6 through 9 from twelve New Haven Public Schools. The Honors Chorus, directed by Jonathan Berryman (the choral director at Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School), is a collaborative effort between the Yale Glee Club, the Yale School of Music, Music in Schools Initiative, and the New Haven Public Schools.

This year, the Yale/New Haven Young Artists Solo Competition will expand into three divisions, organized by grade level. The competition for Grades 4–6 will take place on May 24; the event for Grades 7 and 8 will be on May 25; and students in grades 9–12 will compete on May 26. All three divisions take place in Morse Recital Hall and begin at 5 pm. Three prizes – $200, $150, and $100 – will be awarded each day.


Published April 28, 2011
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Ellington Jazz Series presents the second “Homegrown on Common Ground” Concert November 12

New Haven’s Ben Allison, bassist and composer for NPR’s “On the Media,” is featured with his band; St. Luke’s Steel Band and Andy Akiho return

After the success of the first “Homegrown on Common Ground” concert last April, the Ellington Jazz Series at the Yale School of Music revisits the theme of having musicians from Yale and New Haven share the stage of Sprague Hall for an evening of exciting and creative music.

The first “Common Ground” concert caused a sensation with a jazz piano trio, a 20-member steel band, and leading-edge music written by several Yale composers for an eclectic instrumental ensemble that included steel pans alongside a rhythm section, winds, and strings. The second “Homegrown on Common Ground” concert on Friday, November 12 at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall (470 College Street) picks up where the first concert left off.

Director of the Duke Ellington Fellowship, Willie Ruff, has invited several of the performers to return as well as the featured guest artist, Ben Allison, the jazz bassist and composer of music for NPR’s “On the Media.” Allison is a native of New Haven who studied music at the Educational Center for the Arts and who played his first professional gigs on the salsa circuit in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He will perform with his band, which includes Jenny Scheinman, violin; Michael Blake, saxophones; Steve Cardenas, guitar; and Rudy Royston, drums. Returning by popular demand is the St. Luke’s Steel Band from New Haven, directed by Deborah Teason, and steel pan virtuoso Andy Akiho. Akiho will again appear with the St. Luke’s Band, as well as with the Yale Steel Band and the Common Ground Ensemble.  Four composer/performers – Andy Akiho (steel pans), Deborah Teason, Samuel Adams (bass), and Paul Kerekes (piano) – have written pieces that will be premiered by this group, which features three pan players in addition to piano, bass, drums, and violin.

“These young musicians are creating some of the most exciting and original music I’ve heard in a long time,” says Ruff. “I think we’re seeing history being made by these composer-performers.”

Tickets to the concert are $12 to $20, $7 with student ID. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call the Yale School of Music concert office at 203 432-4158.

Panel Discussion,  “A Vision for the Future of Music”

The next day, November 13 at 10 am in Sudler Recital Hall, 100 Wall Strett (next door to Sprague Hall), Willie Ruff will be joined by Ben Alliston, Andy Akiho, and several of the other performers of the previous night’s concert in a wide-ranging panel discussion, “A Vision for the Future of Music,” that will explore the future of new music: the most promising trends in creative music-making, the kinds of venues where audiences will hear this music, the ressurgence of the composer-performer, and more. According to Ruff, “The question I intend to ask is, ‘In today’s rapidly changing musical landscape, what kind of tomorrow should the now emerging music makers be preparing for?'” Admission is free. MORE

Published October 20, 2010
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