Category Archives: META Fellows

Nano Interview with Jane Money of Boston City Singers

Jane MoneyName: Jane Money
Organization: Boston City Singers
Title: Founding Artistic Director
Years in the Field: 30

What do you do at Boston City Singers?
I do pretty much everything! I conduct several of our choirs, including the most advanced, Tour Choir. I enjoy meeting with our donors, creating new arrangements of music with our outstanding staff (often based on folk songs or spirituals). I work on our grantwriting team, and conduct 5 of our 15 programs. And recommendations! Last year I wrote over 100 for our graduating seniors. We were delighted that they earned over $300,000 in scholarships.

Why do you do what you do?
At Boston City Singers we believe in supporting the upward trajectory of each of our singers.  There is nothing more rewarding than supporting the growth of a young person all the way through to college and beyond.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
I am passionate about excellent repertoire which speaks to the diversity of our singers and audiences.

What challenges you in this work?
As our work has continued to grow, we have been challenged to find rehearsal and performance space that is both safe and accessible in the communities we serve.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
We have always been based in Dorchester, MA. In our earliest years, potential partners, funders, and Board members would be turned off by that. Few would visit, and it was not always easy to be taken seriously. More than once we heard “You are from Dorchester? You can’t be any good…” Over time,  Dorchester has changed and continues to evolve into something far more positive. We like to think that we have been a part of that process.

How do you blow off steam?
Once a year, I go back home to New Zealand for a couple of weeks, where I walk the length of one local beach each day and cook for my brother and his family.

What do you create in your free time?
I am an avid knitter, home cook, and co-restorer of our Victorian home.

Whose work in the CYD field do you admire and why?
We have had a long relationship with the Corrymeela Centre in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. We led a choir project in Ireland in 2005 aimed at bringing children from both sides of the border together in song. One of the highlights was a residency at the Centre where I experienced first hand the power of creative youth development. We have worked closely with one of their volunteers ever since crafting leadership and youth development  programs across the organization.

What music do you like listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
The Brazilian singers Marisa Monte, anything Ella Fitzgerald and the Canadian choir Elektra.

Do you live with any animals?
I am a foster parent for New England Brittany Rescue. We adopted our first dog, Brady, three years ago. He is 12 now, but very active and an awesome host dog to our fosters.

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
Let’s find a way to make this happen!

What’s next?
My husband and I are visiting Cuba in February, meeting with local choirs, musicians and teachers, then off to South Africa with 40 members of the Tour Choir in the summer.

Nano-Interview with Corey DePina of ZUMIX

Corey DePinaName: Corey DePina
Organization: ZUMIX
Title: Youth Development and Performance Manager
Genre: Hip Hop
Years in the Field: 17

What do you do at Zumix?
I plan and run creative writing and performance programs for teens. I also teach literature through creative writing for the 9th grade class at East Boston High School. I manage, support, and train ZUMIX performance instructors to be their best, so that they can offer the best learning experience for their students.

Why do you do what you do?
I feel like this is my calling. Through my love of hip hop, I was able to learn how to read and write. I help empower so many others though understanding their voice and expressing themselves.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
Taking a boring subject or topic and finding a fun, engaging, and exciting way to introduce it to students.

What challenges you in this work?
Not being paid enough.  I wonder if we will have donors and the money to keep doing this work in the future. I also find it a challenge to continue to prove to the academic world that my spiritual and artistic approach is important, and in a lot of cases, is what’s missing.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
It means the world to me and to my community for everyone to have access to arts and education. In a city where our public schools have no music programs and youth are told to memorize facts like computer programming, it means so much to provide a creative outlet for expression – one that incorporates critical thinking, reflection and growth along with theory and practice.

How do you blow off steam?
Going on long drives.  Getting lost, either physically or with the paper, pen and a hip hop track.

What do you create in your free time?
In my free time I like to evolve my curriculum and create unique, fun approaches to writing and music making.

Whose work in the CYD field do you admire and why?
My homie, Eric Booth, and my big homie, Mo Barbosa. Eric is wicked smart and has a way with words. He takes this profession and validates it. Mo is super thoughtful and smart in his approach in youth work. It’s comforting every time to talk to these guys about the work. They are so confident in the field and it rubs off.

What music do you like to listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
No shame, I have been feeling the new Bruno Mars track 24KRT. I think I like it, because it’s pretty funky, and I’m sure I can bust like 95% of the dance moves I have to it.

Seen any good movies lately?
Movies, no. But that Netflix though… Black Mirror…

What are you currently reading?
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, by Beverly Daniel Tatum.

What’s next?
I want to write my own book and tell my story about how hip hop helped this young man go from being illiterate to becoming one of the best educators this city has.

Check out Corey’s tracks on SoundCloud.

New META Fellowships Provide Professional Development for Teaching Artists

Eric Booth leads learning session for more than 40 teaching artists on October 13, 2016 at the META Fellowship launch at Boston’s Symphony Hall.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) and Klarman Family Foundation have launched a new program to help teaching artists improve the quality of their work with youth in schools and community settings across Massachusetts.

The Music Educators and Teaching Artists (META) Fellowship Pilot Program meets a growing need for high-quality, professional teaching in programs that employ the principles of creative youth development. With an initial focus on music, this two-year fellowship will help teaching artists develop the skills, relationships, and experiences they need to improve their practice. In turn, these artist educators will be better equipped to help their students grow as musicians and develop the cognitive and life skills they will need to thrive as adults.

“This project is a game changer. It is powerful and unique in a number of ways,” says Eric Booth, author and international authority on teaching artistry. “This can serve as a model for the rest of the country.”

Booth led learning sessions for more than 40 teaching artists on October 13 at the program’s launch at Boston’s Symphony Hall. They were joined by state Representative Alice Peisch of Wellesley, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, MCC Executive Director Anita Walker, and leaders of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Public Schools, and others.

MCC and Klarman will provide META Fellows with professional development in instructional practice, site visits, and access to a support network of more than 30 creative youth development organizations statewide. Fellows will also receive stipends of $800 annually for participating, and are eligible for grants up to $3,000 to further develop as teachers and artists. For their part, the META Fellows, with the support of their organizations, will participate in up to eight group learning sessions and visit two programs of other participating organizations each year. Finally they will develop and present projects that document new knowledge for broader dissemination within the represented organizations.

This pilot project builds on MCC’s 20-plus-year support of creative youth development, an intentional, holistic practice that fosters active creative expression through the arts, humanities, and sciences alongside core social, emotional, and life skills, for youth of all ages. In supportive spaces, with guidance from skilled and compassionate teachers, children and adolescents immerse themselves in creative endeavors: composing and making music, producing and directing films and journalism, writing and staging new dramas, creating and interpreting visual art. Programs take place in public, private and charter schools; nonprofit arts, science and history institutions; YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, and many other settings.

Youth in these programs achieve high levels of artistic skill and a deeper knowledge of themselves and their cultural heritage. They build self-esteem, resilience, and civic agency. They create works of art and culture, and in doing so create meaning in their lives. The programs share an overarching goal to help them reach their full potential as individuals and as contributors to their communities.

MCC has been a national leader in this work for more than two decades. Its YouthReach Initiative integrates substantive out-of-school arts learning opportunities into a collaborative community response to the needs of young people – especially at-risk youth. More than 40 YouthReach programs have been honored over the years with National Arts & Humanities Youth Program awards from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. In 2014, MCC hosted the National Summit on Creative Youth Development, which shone a national spotlight on the work of YouthReach and generated an ongoing national partnership between the MCC, the National Guild for Community Arts Education, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and Americans for the Arts. Later that year Massachusetts became the first state in nation to create a public support system for El Sistema-inspired work. SerHacer is an innovative program that provides grant support to programs, supports an instrument library through the Johnson String Project so that young people have access to high quality instruments with insurance and maintenance included, and includes a three year research study that seeks to establish the impact of the El Sistema model on the lives of young people.