Concerts at A Street – A Monthly Series

We’re happy to announce our new concert series at A Street, featuring students of all ages and our awesome instrumental faculty. Each month, we’ll have a few of our students and a faculty member perform here in our shop (our office handily converts into a small performance space).

Rachel Massey and Daniel Hawkins played at our old location last year as the Driftwood Duet

Rachel Massey and Daniel Hawkin’s played at our old location last year as the Driftwood Duet

March 23rd marks the first event, featuring piano and violin students, and a performance by Geni Skendo. After our very successful violin classes last month, I’m sure we’ll see more and more violin performances!

Concerts at A Street

The fourth Saturday of the month at 5pm

One Elm Avenue, Quincy, MA 02130



Spring Scholarship

Hi Readers,

As the holidays approach, I want to make available our application for the Spring financial hardship scholarship! This scholarship provides fifteen free lessons for eager students who can’t afford the cost of music lessons. Please download the file from the link below, and carefully answer the questions. Deadline for applications is January 4, 2013. We’ll be accepting either one or two students.

A Street Scholarship Application Spring 2013

In other news, I am proud to formally announce the addition of Samantha Dearborn and Rob Megna to our faculty! Samantha and Rob will both be teaching on Thursdays at A Street Music.

sam dearbornSoprano Samantha Dearborn has performed on stages in the U.S. and in Europe, presenting recitals and appearing as featured and guest soloist in both concert and recital repertoire. Her passion for music and performance is evident in her teaching. Emphasizing the importance of breath, she encourages a healthy technique for a sustainable voice. She strives to create a safe, positive atmosphere for her students to learn, grow, and discover. During a study program in Hungary, she was trained in the Kodály Method, which she also incorporates into her lessons.

Ms. Dearborn holds a Bachelor of Music with honors in vocal performance from Capital University. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Music in voice at Longy School of Music of Bard College.

rob megnaRob Megna is a professional drummer living in Boston, Massachusetts. He is well versed in styles including blues, jazz, latin, rock, funk and country. Rob has played live at music venues such as Lupos Heartbreak Hotel in Providence, RI, B.B. Kings in New York City, the Worcester Palladium, and Tobey Keith’s in Foxboro, MA. He recently headlined a sold out show at Nectar’s in Burlington, VT with folk/blues quartet Hey Mama.

Rob began playing drums at the age of 5 and was instantly recognized for having natural talent. He studied privately with Martin Vazquez, owner of M.V. Drums on Cape Cod. Rob has considerable experience teaching young drummers on Cape Cod and the South Shore, and performs regularly with A Street guitar teacher Paul Chase.

To see full bios for either of our new teachers, see! Short update today, but I’ll be back with more soon!

New to Our Faculty

I always feel like the start of a school year is the real “new year.” Everything picks back up after our collective summer travel and special projects. September also marks the start of A Street Music Education’s third year teaching music. To celebrate, we’ve already chosen our first ever scholarship student, who will receive free tuition for a full semester of lessons. Read below to find out what else we’re doing to provide opportunities in music education to our community. First, however, I’d like to address the title of this post!

We’re happy to announce the addition of Benjamin Moniz and Sarah Troxler to our faculty. Benjamin specializes in teaching classical and folk guitar, banjo, and mandolin, and also teaches harmonica. We’re very excited to add banjo and harmonica to the list of instrumental lessons we teach here at A Street. Benjamin will be available to teach  lessons on Monday afternoons. Sarah is an accomplished pianist and music director, performing regularly around Boston and the South Shore. Sarah will be teaching our intermediate and advanced piano students, as well as providing substitute beginner violin lessons, on Thursdays. Please find more information about Ben and Sarah at the bottom of this post.

Now back to those music education opportunities to which I alluded. We’ll be providing monthly intro classes on a variety of instruments through the Spring. Thanks to generous donations to A Street Music Education, we’ve decided to provide these intro classes with a suggested donation instead of a fee. Call us at 617-328-3600 to inquire about registering for November’s FREE guitar classes.

About Our Faculty Additions:

Benjamin Moniz is a seasoned working musician in Boston and New England, performing almost nightly and teaching thirty private students each week. Ben received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth where he studied jazz guitar with Jim Robitaille, modern improvisation with Andrew McWain, and classical guitar with William Riley. Ben has continued pursuing education on a variety of instruments including mandolin, banjo, dobro, bass, piano, harmonica (chromatic and diatonic). He is currently studying jazz and modern styles of guitar with Lou Cero and is enrolled in Tony Trischka’s online banjo lessons at the Academy of Bluegrass. You can see Ben perform locally with Grace Morrison and the RSO, The J.Kelley Band and The Marcus Monteiro Quartet (MM4).  He also enjoys a hobby of archiving bootleg jazz recordings and collecting folk, jazz and bluegrass vinyl records.

As an artist, Sarah Troxler operates on the firm belief that any person can learn music from any age or background. Each student learns differently and grasps material in their own unique way. Sarah strives to guide each individual to utilize his/her strengths and interests, so that he/she is able to take ownership of their craft, even from a beginning stage.

Sarah is an active musical collaborator throughout the greater Boston area, having earned her Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA.  She earned her B.A. in Piano Performance at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, MA, where she is currently an adjunct music professor. She is active as a teaching artist throughout the greater Boston area, serving as a vocal coach for individual singers, choirs, and theatre groups.

Ms. Troxler is active in community music programs, serving on staff with the Quincy-based South Shore Performing Artists’ Concert Series and Quincy Summer Singers.  She serves as a collaborative pianist and vocal coach at Longy School of Music of Bard College and with Cambridge Summer Opera Company, as well as serving as Minister of Worship at North Street Community Church in Hingham.  Her instrumental arrangements of favorite Christmas tunes can be heard on North Street’s Advent album Coming Home.

Rachel Massey Talks Suzuki Method

Today I’m posting a short essay that our violin teacher, Rachel Massey, wrote for our blog about her evolving views on the Suzuki Method, created by Shinichi Suzuki. For a long while, the Suzuki Method has been one of the “buzz words” in music education, and Rachel thinks there’s good reason for this.

A few notes before turning things over to Rachel: (1) you can find a short overview of the Suzuki method here, (2) Rachel’s biography can be found at the end of this post, and (3) give us a call if you’d like to schedule a lesson with Rachel.

Thanks for reading!

Growing up, my exposure to the Suzuki method was pretty limited. Despite the fact that my earliest violin lessons were in Boulder, Colorado, a hub for the Suzuki Association and Suzuki Training, my teachers chose instead to focus on more “traditional” European methods and pushed me to start reading music as soon as I began, at age 7. While we still used the Suzuki books, they were more a vehicle for graduated repertoire and less about the violin method. Suzuki for me instead became synonymous with ridiculously talented peers (most of who had started by age 5 or earlier), a few beloved pieces and a few less-beloved ones, and a circulating rumor among the non-Suzuki kids that the method produced “automatons” and students who don’t know how to read music.

Until recently, I could include myself among the skeptics of Suzuki’s violin school. This wasn’t so much because I had any proof that my Suzuki peers were in any way insufficient. On the contrary, it had more to do with the violinistic trait of competition. From the very beginning, I was jealous of the effortless technique of these Suzuki kids. When I heard that they might, in fact, be flawed, I was all too eager to believe it, a consoling thought that offered a possible one-up on the Suzuki clan at long last.

The Suzuki Method emerged in Matsumoto, Japan out of Dr. Shin’ichi Suzuki’s belief that “every child can.” Suzuki himself didn’t begin to play the violin until his late teens (a very late start for anyone hoping to make a career out of music), and because of this had a greater chance to observe the earliest processes of learning an instrument with an adult eye. Suzuki’s first observation had to do with a child’s mother tongue: barring anything extraordinary, every child is able to speak the language of their parents at any early age. If children can pick up language so easily by listening and mimicking, why couldn’t they do the same thing with music?

The whole question seems elementary, but in effect it turned musical pedagogy on its head. Up until Suzuki’s revelation in the mid-20th century, Traditional European methods were the way music was taught. These methods encouraged a later start, early sight reading skills, and, quite often, rigid obedience and discipline. Many pedagogues of the European school intended their teachings to make great concert artists. Suzuki, on the other hand, intended his to make great people: “I want to make good citizens,” he said. “If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.”

My own journey with Suzuki started as I began pondering how best to teach my students. I’ve been teaching for many years, and for many years did so in the same way I was taught. Recently, teaching has become a much bigger focus for me, and with that shift came a reevaluation of my methods. I was accepting more children into my studio, and I found the toolbox I had with which to teach simply wasn’t big or broad enough; I wanted to find ways to engage the kids, to relate to the way in which they access music, and to make the violin into a joy rather than a chore.  Because of this, I enrolled in Suzuki Teacher Training at Suzuki School of Newton. At the end of May, I will be certified in Book 1. While at the school for class and observation, I have witnessed two boys so excited about their violins and music that they insisted their mothers wait while they played their repertoire together in the hallway, all giddy and without an ounce of competition. I have also seen students come to their lesson each week with grins on their faces, not dreading their lessons but excited for what the thirty minutes ahead might hold. And I have heard 4, 5, and 6 year olds play with beautiful tone, great intonation, and, most importantly, with genuine expression. Not once have I encountered an automaton nor a child incapable of reading sheet music as well as she uses her ears.

I’m very excited to incorporate my Suzuki training into lessons with my students at A Street, as well as in lessons in my private studio. I would be hesitant to imply that any one method works for all students, but I’ve been very pleased with the emphasis in Suzuki on finding how best to reach a particular student rather than making the student bend to you.  I’ve been able to teach both children as well as adults using games, tools, and concepts from the Suzuki method. Perhaps most surprising, though, is how I’ve been able to teach myself.


A student of Yumi Hwang-Williams, Sally O’Reilly, Joey Corpus, and Mark Lakirovich, Rachel Massey attended high school as a violin major at Denver School of the Arts, and furthered her violin and viola studies at Denver University and Longy School of Music. She has played under the direction of noted conductors David Zinman, Julius Rudel, Michael Stern, James DePriest and, most recently, Benjamin Zander of the Boston Philharmonic. Rachel has also performed by invitation at Music on the Rhine in Dusseldorf, Germany, Aspen Music Festival, and on viola at the Las Vegas Music Festival. Currently, Rachel is a member of the Boston Philharmonic, associate principal for the Mercury Orchestra, and plays traditional and classical styles with cellist Daniel Hawkins in the Driftwood Duet.

Interlude: September News and Events

Hi all,

I’ve posted a few events that are coming up for our faculty in the next month. Please help support our local artists! I’ll be back soon for some more updates to the schedule. Right now, I’m busy trying to get the A Street Music education program fiscally sponsored, which would mean that we could raise money through grants and tax deductible donations to provide financial aid for our students. Please keep your fingers crossed!

Also, if you are a visual artist in Quincy, or if you know one, please be aware that we’re looking for artists to exhibit their work on our wall here at A Street. If you’ve been in the store, you know that we have a 30-35 foot wall in the front of the store and near the lesson rooms that wants more art! Contact me at if you’re interested.

 Street Events…
On most Fridays, you can find us playing at the Quincy Farmer’s Market!

September Teacher Performances…
September 6, 2011 – 8pm
Chad Gray performing electronic music at
Phoenix Landing
512 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA

September 24, 2011 – 6pm
Justin Stanley with the Wenham Street Brass
Dorchester in the Park Gala, concert flyer
Dorchester Park, Boston, MA

September 29, 2011 – 12:15pm
Nick Dinnerstein with pianist Pei-yeh Tsai
First Church in Boston
66 Marlborough St, Boston, MA

Interlude – July News and Events

Hi blog readers! I’ve been swamped with work getting ready for summer camps, working for the Center for Music-in-Education, planning a fund raising campaign to create a scholarship program for low-income students, and performing with the Wenham Street Brass. This has kept me from the blog a while. But no more!

I realized when getting ready to write this blog that some of our readers might not know what our store looks like. I’ve added a few pictures of the front of the store, where we sell and rent a variety of instruments and accessories. We also have pictures and art on the wall. It’s a really small space, but Aaron (A Street’s “repairman” [read: owner]) recently rearranged the space. I think it looks pretty great right now!

Beyond the front space are four lesson rooms: a piano room, a drum room, and two multi-instrument rooms. Some of my other posts on the blog have pictures of those rooms. Beyond that is the repair area and the office, where you can generally find Aaron and me. Aaron also recently installed a gate between the lesson rooms and the repair area so that he can bring his dog, Sydney, to the shop. I wont post a picture of that now, because Aaron might get upset that I documented a gate that many have associated with the “O.K. Corral.” It is, however, great to have Sydney, the unofficial store mascot. The store is a fun place to be whether you’re hanging out, trying out an instrument, or learning from our teachers.

Before I finish and post the list of events coming up this month, I’d like to remind anyone in the Quincy area that we still have a couple of spots open in our music camp at the YMCA. The camp lasts from August 1-5. The camp is for children entering first, second, and third grades. You can find a blog about the camp here. Last I heard, we are almost at the limit, so call 617-475-8500 today to inquire about placement.

Thanks, and I hope to have more information for you soon!

A Street Events…
On most Fridays, you can find us playing at the Quincy Farmer’s Market!

July Teacher Performances…
July 9, 10, and 23 – 1pm
Michael Thomas Quintet
Outdoor Summer Concerts Series
Wrentham Village
1 Premium Outlets Blvd, Wrentham, MA

July 28 – 2pm
Bülent Güneralp
with Caddy and the Devilles
John Adams Healthcare
211 Franklin Street Quincy, MA

July 31 – 4pm
Bülent Güneralp
A Concert of Operatic Selections
Longfellow House Summer Festival
Cambridge, MA

Sundays in July – 5-9pm
Paul Chase hosts
Blues Jam at the Red Parrot
1 Hull Shore Drive, Nantasket Beach, Hull, MA

Wednesdays in July – 9pm
Paul Chase
The Burren
247 Elm Street, Somerville, MA

Other News…
Call the YMCA at 617-479-8500 for information on our summer music camp, August 1-5!

WQXR Discussion – American Orchestras: Endangered Species?

Hi blog readers!

Today’s blog is a little bit impromptu. I happened to stumble upon a link to this video featuring Tony Woodcock, the president of New England Conservatory (my Alma mater). The full list of presenters as taken from the WQXR website are:

Anne Parsons, President and Executive Director of the Detroit Symphony
Alan Pierson, Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic
Eric Jacobsen, Co-Artistic Director of The Knights
Tony Woodcock, President of the New England Conservatory
Raymond M. Hair, Jr., President of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada

Use this link to see the video:

I found this video to be really interesting, as the speakers spoke at length about outreach, music education in communities, and the varied programs by large symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles. The five speakers seemed to have been situated according to their business and musical principals, with the president of the musician’s union at one end and Woodcock on the other. They sparred often about the plentiful number of ways to present music to as many as possible and the availability of funding to make those presentations happen. At A Street Music, we’ve been trying to figure out the best way to bring music to our community in Quincy and to keep our doors open, so both opinions resonated for me to some extent (the idealism of Woodcock and the realism of Raymond Hair).

The other panelists had great points as well. I especially enjoyed listening to the younger people leading music ensembles in Brooklyn. They discussed ways to present music in a modern age and the desire musicians have to find ways to perform and to find money with which to perform. Musicians naturally believe that musical engagement is important to artistic-experience and learning, but it’s not always easy to find the resources to get people involved.

I’d like to know what you think about this video. I think you’ll find it really interesting, and I hope it inspires some comments. How can we apply the things they are talking about in Quincy? What is your experience with musical outreach or engagement? To what extent does Quincy foster a culture of music-making and musical engagement?