Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Faculty Spotlight: Matt Langley

Matt Langley has been passionately playing Jazz since he was a teenager in the 1970's. His high school band introduced him to improvisation, which turned into a life long relationship with his Saxophone and making music with others.

Matt’s career in music has taken him to blues bars in Waterville, Maine to the famous Green Mill in Chicago, Illinois. From the Boston Globe Jazz Festival to Sunday Services at the Second Congregational Church in Kittery, Maine. Matt has also shared the stage or recording studio with Ron Carter, Richie Cole, Fred Hersch, John Tchicai, John Medeski, Billy Martin, Chris Wood, Dave Fuzinski, Matt Wilson, Charlie Kohlhase, Tiger Okoshi, Roswell Rudd, Gene MacDaniels and many others.

Matt has been generously sharing his passion with PMAC students for almost 10 years.  As a teacher of Jazz and saxophone, he is perfectly fit to be instructing at our Summer Jazz Workshops!
We asked Matt a few questions about Jazz and his teaching career - here are his answers!

Portsmouth Music and Arts Center: How long have you been teaching the Summer Jazz Workshop? How long have you been teaching Jazz in general?

Matt Langley: I just checked my copies of welcome letters and I have them going back to 2007. I'm thinking my first year might have been 2006? I've been teaching Jazz since early Charlie Kohlhase Quintet tours to the Midwest which would have been in the early 1990's!

PMAC: What are some of your favorite parts of teaching the Summer Jazz Workshop?

ML: I love the fact that we can take our time with the music and really get to know it. We've always had a large group consisting of everyone in the camp and I have had guest composers write for the group. Then we also have combos for each instructor and the combos have written their own music most of the time. I love hearing what the combos come up with. 

PMAC: What are the different advantages of participating in a week long, intensive summer camp as opposed to a semester long weekly class? 

ML: When you get together every day the music gets much deeper and the hang gets much deeper too. There's a whole vibe to camp that changes each day and it affects the music and communication between all the students. It's great to see them get to know each other if they're new and to strengthen their bonds if they've been at camp before.

PMAC: What life skills can kids take away from participating in this summer camp?

ML: Collaboration. Listening. Peer support. Self discovery. Leadership. Mental focus. Sharing ideas. Refining ideas. Performance planning. Program planning. Importance of free play. Creativity. Empathy. 

PMAC: What is different about Jazz than other genres that might be interesting to teens?

ML: Jazz is a constantly evolving style of music that melds all genres into an infinitely arrangeable blend of composition and improvisation. Anything is fair game. Sounds just like being a teenager!  

PMAC: Why is Jazz important in your life?

ML: I started really listening to jazz in the mid seventies when I was a teenager. I was drawn to the freedom of expression and the complexity of the lines played by saxophonists Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Johnny Griffin, Dexter Gordon, John Gilmore, Sonny Rollins and MANY, MANY others. I LOVE the sound of the Tenor Saxophone. At the same time, I love the sound of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix and Gentle Giant and Yes and the Beatles and MANY, MANY MORE. As I began to get more and more into playing the music, it became part of me. Improvisation, going with the flow, listening to your heart, listening to others, musical conversations on the bandstand. All of that flows into day to day life. Life is improvisation. Every day is different; a blessing to behold in the instant that it occurs and to be present and live every moment. That's jazz. That's art. LIFE!

Thanks so much Matt! If you're interested in participating in any of PMAC's summer programs, please visit our website and register today!

Sunday, May 03, 2015

PMAC Spotlight: Music Therapy Intern Sarah Young!

Sarah Young has been shadowing Ginna Macdonald's Music Therapy Classes for the past year. A graduate of Plymouth State University, Sarah received her BA in Music, focusing in Violin Performance and Pedagogy. She began teaching private and group lessons at the Bedford Youth Performing Company along with being the Music Teacher for their pre-school. 

A personal experience lead Sarah to the helping world of Music Therapy. Experiencing the joy it brought to her, she wanted to be able to enrich and better the lives of others! Sarah is currently enrolled at Lesley University pursuing a master's degree in Music Therapy.

Portsmouth Music and Arts Center: What got you started in music? 

Sarah Young: I initially became interested in playing the violin when a woman came to our school and did a demonstration for us.  The violin that she played was blue, and I thought that was amazing! I signed up after watching her play, and I have not stopped playing since then.

PMAC: What drives you to become a Music Therapist?

SY: Through my own personal experience, I have witnessed how healing music can be. Following a horrible car accident a couple of years ago, I began to seek alternative forms of therapy, rather than exclusively talk therapy. I discovered how healing music could be, and I was able to pull myself through the pain I was experiencing. I believe so strongly in music therapy because I know how overwhelming and scary life can be. Through my own personal experience, and what I am learning through school, I am driven to help others improve their quality of life.

PMAC: How has it been working alongside Ginna this past year?

SY: It has been such an honor and a privilege to work with Ginna this year.  She is kind, caring, compassionate, and has a wonderful sense of humor—all traits that I believe are so important for a music therapist to have. Ginna is a fountain of information, and is always so generous when sharing with me.  Because of Ginna’s encouragement, I leave this internship feeling much more confident with my music skills.  I have enjoyed being a part of her music therapy sessions—she truly is an amazing music therapist.

PMAC: How has working hands on changed your perspective of Music Therapy?

SY: Experiential work is how I best learn something.  It is one thing to read about how music therapy affects others, but it is quite different to experience it firsthand and see the results.  I have had the pleasure of working with several populations this year, and through the hands on work, I have realized what populations I want to work with after I graduate. 

PMAC: You teach violin at another school – how has Music Therapy impacted how you teach regular lessons?

SY: Music therapy has impacted how I interact with everyone.  I feel as though I am much more present than I ever have been, and I am getting better at staying in the moment.  I feel as though I am much more observant of what is happening in a lesson—it is easier for me to go with the flow. 

PMAC: What will you and Ginna be talking about in the Music in Caregiving Workshop you are both presenting on May 15th? Who is the Music in Caregiving Workshop for, can anyone attend and why should they come out?

SY: Anyone may attend the music in caregiving workshop. Ginna and I will be focusing on how caregivers can use music to help others, and how to use music to take care of self (self-care). We will be demonstrating how important and easy it is to incorporate music into everyday life— with the individual one might be caring for, and self. We will also be performing some hands on demonstrations during the workshop that can be easily used at home.  Most importantly, we will have fun!

Thanks so much Sarah! It's been a pleasure to have you here at PMAC this past year, and we wish you all the best on your route to becoming a Music Therapist!

DON'T MISS OUT! Check out the FREE Music In Caregiving Workshop on May 15th from 6:30 - 7:30pm in PMAC's Haas Family Gallery. Free & Open to the public!