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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Huffington Post: Treasures in New Haven

Huffington Post
By Jeryl Brunner

…Project Storefronts is just one really cool element of New Haven. The city is filled with them. Check out these gems.

Shop at a custom-made-clothing boutique and design house: Located in New Haven’s historic Ninth Square District is Neville Wisdom‘s boutique, filled with his custom designs for women that have a classic, vintage feel with a modern twist. (He’s also working on a men’s line.) Wisdom designs dresses and clothing from silk, linens and wool that are made to flatter. Each item is custom-altered to fit (at no additional charge), or Wisdom can create pieces from scratch. MORE

Published March 10, 2014
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More grads call New Haven home

Yale Daily News
By Pooja Salhotra and Rishabh Bhandari

When Mayor-elect Toni Harp ARC ’78 and President Peter Salovey begin their partnership in January, the two will look to continue a trend that began over the past two decade under their predecessors. Over the past two decades an increasing number of Yale students have been choosing to work in the Elm City after graduation. Although Undergraduate Career Services did not track the occupations and residence of Yale graduates before last year, all nine administrators and students interviewed said that they have seen a gradual pattern of more students leaving Yale but not New Haven. MORE

Published November 18, 2013
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New Haven Pizza Named Best In America

CBS New York

New York may be known for its pizza, but it’s a pie from New Haven, Conn. that takes home the prize as Best Pizza in America.

The website The Daily Meal compiled a list of the top 101 pizzas in the nation, drawing on votes from what it describes as 46 American chefs, restaurant critics, bloggers, writers and “pizza authorities.”

While New York grabbed the most slots, 30 in all, it was Frank Pepe’s in New Haven that topped the list with its white clam pizza, made with clams, grated parmesan, olive oil, garlic and oregano. MORE

Published October 22, 2013
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NY Daily News: New Haven is happening

New York Daily News
By Michael Shoule

New Haven is about to get a whole lot hotter.

Beginning Sept. 20, hunky “True Blood” werewolf Joe Manganiello will star as Stanley in the Yale Repertory Theatre’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Through Oct. 12, the actor known for his six-pack abs will heat up the stage and the Connecticut city.

Not that New Haven needs much help. Fall festivals, art museums, theaters and lots of fabulous food options make the town a must-visit.

Streets are laid out in a grid called the “Nine Square Plan” (picture a square with a tick-tack-toe board inside of it). The centerpiece of the grid is the beautiful New Haven Green, which is bordered on one side by three churches in varying architectural styles, each unique in their own right. MORE

Published September 15, 2013
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New York Times: Near Yale, a District Blooms

New York Times
By Lionel Beehner

Tucked amid New Haven’s gritty downtown not far from the well-groomed Yale campus lies the Ninth Square, a district of old red-brick buildings whose storefronts sat mostly vacant for decades. But that has changed in recent years. The opening last year of a sprawling organic food store, Elm City Market (, announced the area’s rebirth, with an assist from an urban-renewal city initiative that has converted empty spaces into artsy businesses called Project Storefronts. A wave of new art galleries, trendy boutiques and Brooklyn-style lofts stuffed with architects and social media types has followed. “We have so many like-minded people with a do-something attitude that want to collaborate in a shared space,” said Ben Berkowitz, a founding member of MakeHaven… MORE

Published August 26, 2012
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