All posts by Dawn Heinen

Nano-Interview with Paul Pitts of Boston Latin School

Paul J. PittsName: Paul J. Pitts
Organization: Boston Latin School
Title: Director of Fine Arts
Music Genre: Band, Jazz, Orchestra and Vocal
Years in the field: 38

What do you do at Boston Latin?
I organize and coordinate a large arts department consisting of 1,100 music students, 900 visual art students, and 300 drama students. We have 11 full time arts faculty as well an additional eight adjunct faculty. I also conduct the Wind Ensemble, the Symphonic Band, the Big Band, and the Dues Band.

Why do you do what you do?
For a few reasons. I really love music, all kinds, some more than others but it is all really cool. The idea is if you love what you do most days it is not like work but more like a great way to spend a day. The groups that I teach are really quite good and we are able to play music that I find quite challenging to conduct and it is awesome to get to study and conduct this great music. Last year we played lots of Bernstein’s music, it was great. Great music and the students played it really well, a joy to work on with my groups. In jazz band we do a lot of Mingus and Ellington and other more contemporary charts but the charts that they are able to play has really gotten better every year so it is great to work on this music at such a high level. The other reason I do it is because I really like kids, I guess it keeps me young, talking to young people, I tend to think about what they are thinking about instead of my feet hurt and I need to sit down.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
The music, the passion for the music.  I spend a lot of time searching for music, at times it can be tough but I have been able to find music that is great, and once the students get to a certain level that can appreciate great music as well.

What challenges you in this work?
The daily grind is demanding, it is relentless, there is always something to do. So many students, events, festivals, auditions, concerts,  etc etc. I am concerned for younger teachers, it seems like they keep asking for more and more from teachers that is not related to student instruction, but things that require more and more time. It seems to be getting even tougher to do a great job teaching with all of the non-teaching requirements.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
That is sort of difficult to answer, they seem to enjoy the concerts, the auditorium is pretty well packed for most all of our major concert throughout the year. I get many positive comments from alumni when we perform for them several times throughout the year. I know the students enjoy it otherwise they would not take the elective classes.

Whose work in the Creative Youth Development field do you admire and why?
Some band directors in Massachusetts who have been role models for me and had outstanding programs. Paul Alberta from Norwood, Steve Massey from Foxboro,  Jeff Leonard from Lexington and Vinney Macrina from Brockton. They have all had fantastic programs for many years, unfortunately all but one is retired but I still use them for questions about musical and administrative details.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
Jazz all the time, in the last two years I have become a big fan of Dudamel in LA I love the music he selects, lots of classical music from Latin America that is so rhythmic and groove oriented. I always love to go to the Boston Symphony when I can, it is such a fantastic orchestra and a beautiful hall. Sixties rock and roll, I saw Led Zepplin live at the garden back in ’72 when I was 15 and it blew me away, they were incredible. I saw the Eagles last summer and they were also great.

What are you currently reading?
Mostly magazine articles, the last book I finished was Miles Davis’ autobiography. I am reading Mingus’ now, Beneath the Underdog. A friend gave me John Coltrane’s book but I have not started it yet.

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
Mistakes in music, learn from mine.

WANTED: Your Creative Youth Development Videos

Our national CYD network is collecting video URLs from practitioners that feature students’ voices and boldly and creatively tell their stories. Short videos will be embedded on the Creative Youth Development National Partnership website to help communicate our collective story more strategically to funders, government agencies, policy makers, organizations, artists, funders, researchers, and other stakeholders.

Submit your organization’s video URL and be included in our national story. This video directory is inclusive.

Video Guidelines

  • 2-3 minutes average length
  • prominent student voice
  • demonstrate CYD core values of creativity, social justice, youth perspective

Submission Deadline: November 30, 2018

Share Your Video URLs

Join Us for a Presentation by Dr. Bettina Love

We Want To Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching, Hip Hop Civics & Creativity

Monday, Nov 5, 2018
3 – 4:30pm
The Loft
939 Boylston Street,  2nd Floor
Boston

Dr. Bettina Love is one of few scholars to have implemented hip-hop education principles into elementary classrooms. (Photo courtesy of Bettina Love).

Dr. Bettina Love is an award-winning author and Associate Professor of Educational Theory & Practice at the University of Georgia. She is one of the field’s most esteemed educational researchers in the ways in which urban youth negotiate culture to form social, cultural, and political identities to create new and sustaining ways of thinking about urban education and intersectional social justice. Her focus is also on how teachers and schools, working with parents and communities, can build communal, civically engaged schools rooted in intersectional social justice for the goal of equitable classrooms.

Space is limited.

Register Now

The space is physically accessible. We welcome people of all abilities

Nano-Interview with Sean Elligers of Kids 4 Harmony

Name: Sean Elligers
Organization: Berkshire Children and Families’ Kids 4 Harmony
Title: Teaching Artist
Music Genre: Mostly classical
Years in the field: 9

What do you do at Kids 4 Harmony?
At Kids 4 Harmony, I teach music theory, composition, trumpet, and some string technique to students ranging 3rd to 11th grade. I work with students on various music theory skills (scales, arpeggios, chord structures) and, through collective improvisation or using the notation software, Noteflight, students compose their own music based on those concepts. I also play the role of unofficial photographer for our program.

Why do you do what you do?
My students are incredibly smart, curious, introspective, often (intentionally) hilarious individuals and I feel incredibly fortunate to have developed close connections with them. As someone who thrives on collaborative work, I am instantly swept away and energized by their ideas and am committed to helping them gain access to the tools and knowledge they seek to pursue their compositional and performance ambitions.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
Engaging with the students and their families. More specifically, one of my favorite things to do is go to a student’s parent at the end of the program and brag about the new composition that their student has started or how great the student played in orchestra. The students will be the first to tell you that I’m far more excited than they are, but the parents still appreciate it.

What challenges you in this work?
I regret never being able to spend a sufficient amount of time to help each student on their individual compositional projects in class. Despite running around to each student, helping them navigate questions with the software or find that initial spark of inspiration for their piece, it’s frustrating when class ends and there are eight students raising their hands begging you to come listen to their compositions or their revisions. I’m thrilled that they are eager to share but it always burns to tell them they’ll have to wait until next class.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
Thanks to Berkshire Children and Families, the social service agency that Kids 4 Harmony is part of, our program is given the support and visibility that has helped us make collaborative relationships with the local schools, colleges, and other arts programs in the Berkshire community. Our families are always generous to share their appreciation for our program and for the opportunities the students are given to perform at these events.

How do you blow off steam?
I chip away at my own compositions, try to make sense of synthesizers, and try to get better at instruments I’m less familiar with, like the violin or accordion.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
I drive a lot and I often find myself in a low-stakes crisis of what music I want to listen to. I might pull from a range of artists/genres (Ambrose Akinmusire, Mount Eerie, Bjork) but as of recently, I’ve found myself unexpectedly defaulting to any original soundtrack from SEGA Genesis or Super Nintendo video games.

Do you live with any animals?
I do! Her name is Cammie and she’s a chihuahua mix. True to her breed, she keeps us on our toes: shaking when we come home, shaking when she wants our food and shaking during thunderstorms.

Register Now for National CYD Webinars

The Creative Youth Development National Partnership is hosting two webinars this month:

Healing Centered Practices through Creative Youth Development

Wednesday, October 17
3 – 4pm EST

FREE

Learn about different healing centered practices and how an intentional focus on the principles of this approach: safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness and empowerment, can support your CYD program outcomes.

Speakers:
Shontina Vernon, Founder and Creative Director, Visionary Justice StoryLab, Seattle, WA
Jana Lynne Umipig, Creative Productions, New York City

Register Now

Supporting Youth-led Activism through Creative Youth Development

Thursday, October 25
3 – 4pm EST

FREE

CYD programs work across sectors to engage youth in high quality arts-based programs that make a real impact in our community. To that end, youth who participate in CYD become activists.  Participants both learn about social justice issues and create art work that aims to inspire and activate social change.  Join us to hear from CYD program leaders who are creating opportunities for youth to use their art to make a difference

Speakers:
Ebo Barton, Poet and Artist, Seattle, WA
The Youth Resiliency Institute Amir, Youth Artist, and Fanon Hill, Executive Director & Co-Founder, Baltimore, MD

Register Now

Celebrate National Arts in Education Week: September 9-15, 2018

National Arts in Education Week is a Congressionally-designated celebration of the transformative power of the arts in education. The field of arts education annually joins together to bring visibility to the cause, unify stakeholders with a shared message, and provide the tools and resources for local leaders to advance arts education in their communities. Find many ways to celebrate the week alongside 500+ other communities by visiting www.NationalArtsInEducationWeek.org for more information. Are you in for the celebration? If so, please fill out this form.

Artist as Instigator: Join ITAC4’s Digital Conference

Fourth International Teaching Artist Conference (ITAC4) logoThe Fourth International Teaching Artist Conference (ITAC4) will be held in the U.S. for the first time in New York City September 13-15, 2018. [Previous conferences were held in Oslo (2012), Brisbane (2014), and Edinburgh (2016).] While the in-person conference is sold out, teaching artists are encouraged to attend digitally.

Digital conference goers will be able to participate online through a live stream of plenary sessions, curated interviews and conversations, along with access to special web-only content:

  • Catch keynote presentations from Liz Lerman, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and Aaron Huey.
  • Join the first ITAC project as they create an historical timeline for the global field.
  • Learn about and join the ITAC Collaborative that will continue between conferences.
  • And sessions like:
    • Let Our Light Shine: Songwriting and Goal Attainment for Homeless Men with Mental Illness
    • Teaching Artists in International Development: Creating Safe Spaces for Challenging Power and Agency
    • The Moth: True Stories from Teaching Artists and Their Students
    • The Power of Parade to Build Community
    • The Responsibility of 21st Century Artists in Communities
    • Theatre and Community: Engaging, Responsive and Inclusive
      Transforming Through Performing
    • And more

A detailed schedule and instructions for joining the live stream will be posted on the ITAC4 site by August 31.

All of these online sessions will be archived on the ITAC website.