Farewell, Settlement!

Dear Settlement Community,

It has been an absolute pleasure seeing you around the six branches and writing to you throughout my time here. In honor of my last days, I thought it necessary to tell you what I've learned about Settlement during my days at this special place.

I've seen the following things to be true at Settlement:

It's a real community. The members of Settlement, faculty and students and parents alike, are a part of this lovely group of people of music-appreciators in the Greater Philadelphia Area. The community aspect stems from the collaborative spaces and the fantastic history of Settlement.

It's inclusive. Seriously anyone can participate in what Settlement has to offer. There is virtually no barrier to entry. Furthermore, the staff here wants any person who is interested in music, regardless of age, race, or financial ability, to come here and grow.

It's a home to many. In the multiplicity of interviews I've conducted over the course of my internship, the word "home" has come up frequently when describing Settlement. The faculty staff and administrators work to make each student feel welcome and comfortable from the moment the student walks through the door.

It cares about things outside of itself. Settlement is an entity that can pride itself on giving back. Settlement creates incredible programming that reaches out to the Philadelphia community (and beyond) and truly tries to help people through music.

It forges lasting bonds. You always know that you can come back to arms wide open. Once a Settlementer, always a Settlementer.

Settlement Music School is a really fantastic place where I've been able to grow and learn and thrive. It has been such an honor to work here!!! I'll probably drop back in to see a concert or two. Thanks for a great summer, Settlement!

Signing off for good...

All my best,

Karis

 

 

Behind the Scenes: A Day in the Life of a Settlement Intern

Everyday is different, but here's my best recount of a standard day!

8:25am - leave home to catch the bus to 5th Street & South Street

9:00am - arrive at Settlement's MLC Branch and head to the administrative offices.

9:03am - turn on computer in my personal cubicle, fill up water bottle

9:05am - check email & answer any new messages

9:15am - check Settlement Instagram account, find a suitable picture for the day, edit and post

9:30am - eat a granola bar to stop growling stomach

9:35am - get out a piece of paper and write down tasks/goals for the day

10:00am - check in with my two bosses, Adam Johnston and Chris Spangler

10:30am - brainstorm ideas and start writing a blog post

11:00am - post new blog writing

11:02am - work on current project (Communications or Community Engagement related)

11:30am - take a phone call to interview someone in the Settlement community

12:00pm - eat lunch (brought to work)!

1:00pm - attend a meeting with Adam or Chris

2:00pm - work on project more (Communications or Community Engagement related)

4:00pm - visit another Settlement branch location/go to a Settlement event and take videos/pictures

5:30pm/6:00pm - go home!

I really love it here at Settlement! I feel like I'm doing worthwhile things. It's the kind of job where you know that everything you do has a purpose and is ultimately for a good cause.

7 Things You Need to Know About the Camden Branch

  1. Settlement at Camden is nestled inside of a beautiful building.
  2. It's literally right across the bridge from Philly and situated in a mega-safe location.
  3. The Camden branch is located in The Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy, which is essentially an ultra-new-and-clean performing arts school with shiny floors and freshly painted everything.
  4. Valerie Clayton, director of the Camden branch, has the best laugh. We discussed brunch destinations, at length. She's great.
  5. They offer private lessons with extremely nice and dynamic teachers!
  6. I walked into the school and Beyonce was playing--she is queen. Enough said.
  7. Did I mention the pretty building?

Verdict: Make a visit to the Camden branch, if not for the music, then for the building, brunch, and Beyonce.

990 morgan blvd, camden, nj

990 morgan blvd, camden, nj

Musings on Suzuki

You know those words or names that you hear over and over again but never muster up the energy to actually look them up? Well, that was "Suzuki" for me. Yes, I'm a musician and probably would have benefited from learning more about it, however I was also a teenager by the time I heard about Suzuki and it seemed to be linked closely with children.

My mother's old friend used to rave about the Suzuki program, going so far as to drive her child two hours away every week in order to obtain his Suzuki violin training. That's four hours of travel time every lesson. Perceiving this situation, I looked on skeptically. Why on earth would someone exert that much effort for violin lessons when there were multiple violin teachers surrounding us in a 5 mile radius?

Instead of seeking the answer, I kept the opinion that this lady might be just another incredibly intense parent with crazy high expectations for her kid.

Yesterday, I finally learned what Suzuki is.

Originating in post-war Japan, the Suzuki method was invented with the mission of raising more productive, intelligent, and balanced young people. The Suzuki process entails the students acclimating to their instruments by first emulating their teachers and listening to music recordings of their future repertoire. The whole journey is supplemented with Suzuki books, though the teacher of this method must be specially trained in the techniques necessary to tutor for Suzuki way. The composition of the program includes both group sessions, where kids can work alongside each other, and individual sessions, where kids can receive one-on-one time with their expert instructor. The popular outcome of the program, if followed in its entirety, is a young musician who has been exposed to social situations, quality instruction, practical discipline, and musical brilliance. According to Andreia Torain, the Coordinator of the Suzuki program at Settlement, the curriculum "creates a really strong, well-rounded kid."

My mom's friend wasn't crazy after all.

If I had done Suzuki as a miniature human, perhaps I would have a more capacious memory today. Wistful thinking, probably.

~Suzuki at Settlement~

~Suzuki at Settlement~

PMAY x NYO2

A petite, young violin player sitting adjacent to more mature adolescent violinist. A pair of cello players intent on the same Tchaikovsky work, though many years apart. A younger percussionist wowing older drum-players with musical knowledge far beyond his years.

Last Friday, the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth (PMAY) and Carnegie Hall's National Youth Orchestra 2 (NYO2) convened at Curtis Institute of Music and rehearsed a Tchaikovsky piece in a side-by-side fashion. The Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth is a collaborative of 16 organizations in Philadelphia working together to make music education accessible to all. This event drew students from six of those organizations: The School District of Philadelphia, Musicopia, Play On, Philly!, Settlement Music School, Temple Music Prep, and Tune Up Philly (a program of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra) and was sponsored by two other member organizations- the Curtis Institute of Music and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

For this spectacular event, the PMAY players were all approximately middle-school-age, whereas the NYO2 players were securely high-school-age. This set-up lent well to a mentor-mentee relationship on a powerful musical level. The result was fantastic. After just 3-ish hours, the younger musicians were able to look up with admiration to the NYO2 students, overtly set on fire with inspiration. On the flip side, the older NYO2 musicians took time to talk to and get to know the younger PMAY students. All of which affirmed the conviction that music possesses the innate ability to fabricate bonds between individuals.

After ice-breaking exercises were completed, sectionals were finished, and the Philadelphia Orchestra assistant conductor, Lio Kuokman, took the stand, the PMAY musicians alongside the NYO2 players performed their practiced song to a crowd of beaming Philadelphia-native parents. The piece was beautifully played. The claps of appreciation were tremendous.

Music and Miracles

The Kardon Center for Arts Therapy at Settlement Music School is a hub for arts therapy treatment in the city of Philadelphia. According to Mark Bottos, the Program Director of Arts Therapy, each therapy program is tailored especially to the individual. But all sessions have one thing in common: music is used as a mode for attaining peace, working through problems, and finding one's center. 

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Kaleidoscope Kids: Entrenched in the Arts

This is the future of early childhood education.

When I was a tot, I was given the gift of having an artist for a mother. She even taught at my elementary school and summer arts programs for youth. I have been entrenched in the visual arts my whole life, by consequence of my creative guardian. I had the chance to create artwork outside of school, an inadvertent arts enrichment program integrated into my home life.

But, not everybody is lucky enough to have a parent or guardian who is an artist and believes so strongly in the arts. Thus, the famed Kaleidoscope program at Settlement Music School, founded in the year 1990. The preschool functions as a sanctuary of all-things art for Philadelphia's smallest citizens. 

Today, I took a tour of the Kaleidoscope classrooms, observed the dynamic of the spaces themselves, and briefly watched the children as they utilized each classroom's resources. And, man, there are many resources right there at the child's fingertips. The Kaleidoscope Pre-K serves children aged 3-5 years old and is dubbed "arts enrichment learning." Essentially, this means that the students enrolled in the school have arts classes as their core curriculum. This includes music, creative movement, and visual arts. The school day is fraught with the students interacting with the arts and the outcome of such an arts heavy education is, in a word, astonishing. 

I had the pleasure of speaking with Tarrell Davis, the Director of Early Childhood Programming, about Kaleidoscope and its merits. I found myself falling into fascination with the program with every word she was saying. Ms. Davis recounts the program as "more than just rote learning." The kids don't memorize material and spit it back out, rather the concepts become "embedded" in their understanding, according to Ms. Davis. They learn things like patterns through musical activities (like identifying beats in a song) and things like the evolution of caterpillar to butterfly through dance. With well-trained and experienced teachers who intimately care about every single student, the Kaleidoscope program is historically amazing. 

After listening to the inspiring descriptions of Tarrell Davis and beholding the students actively engaged in real arts activities, I'm utterly convinced that this program works. Just look at the formalized research on the inter-webs.

The power of the arts should never be underestimated.

Best Regards,

Karis

Community at the Core: Kris Rudzinski

"Settlement is a place of growth. A place where strangers become friends. A place to learn and have new experiences. A great place for community building and making real connections." - Kris Rudzinski, MLC Branch Director

The above quote came from the mouth of Kris Rudzinski, the MLC Branch Director at Settlement Music School. The few lines were spoken in response to the question, "Why should people come to Settlement?" After sitting down with Mr. Rudzinski and talking about everything from his hometown to Settlement's summer programming plans, I detected an incredibly authentic aura to his presence. Undoubtedly, Kris Rudzinski is a genuine believer in Settlement's approach to arts education. He emphasized the communal component of Settlement as existing at the core of the values of the school. The institution has in no way strayed from its original title as a "Community Music School." 

One thing is for sure: with his powerful convictions in the power of community, Kris Rudzinski is a true guiding force in Settlement's success.

Best Regards,

Karis

 

Settlement Takes Over Chris' Jazz Cafe

I'm an unabashed jazz enthusiastic. I find the unplanned melodies and unexpected harmonies mesmerizing. The holistic construction of jazz music is undeniably the product of individual and collective brilliance. It's electric, unconventional, and entirely creative. So, yes, I am an unabashed jazz enthusiast. So much so, that I'm currently receiving private lessons for vocal jazz. I'm slowly, but surely, overcoming my irrational fear of scatting.

Settlement Music School recently hosted an evening of jazz at Chris' Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia. For a jazz fan like me, the night was, in a word, magical. Adorning the stage were jazz musicians of all ages, from unreasonably young to reasonably older. All musicians were clearly skilled in their own right and each, no matter how expert, was somehow connected to Settlement. As an audience member, I could feel the performers feeling the music and delivering the message that jazz ultimately communicates: at the core of music is pain, joy, feelings, expression at-large, and a shedding of inhibitions. Chris' atmosphere served as the scarily appropriate backdrop for these jazz values. The food and music joint embodies warmness and intimacy--the same kind of vibrations that the musicians themselves exuded.

The music ranged from slow and soothing to exciting and electric. This diversity of sound proved to exceed my jazz enthusiast expectations. I walked out of the venue musically satisfied and with plans to make another trip down to Chris'. 

All in all, a successful evening of jazz at Chris'.