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Community Outreach Instruments in the Attic

Instrument in the Attics Donation to Wynne Schools

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On April 28, 2023, Instruments in the Attic (IiA) was able to provide over 100 instruments and accessories to middle and high school students in Wynne, Arkansas. Matthew Cooper, a middle school music teacher in Wynne Schools, reached out to Dr. Samantha Clarke (IiA Coordinator) earlier this academic year seeking instruments for the program. Cooper had learned about and received instruments from IiA in the past when he was teaching in Maryland, so he sought help from the program again in his current job. In the midst of coordinating the details of the instrument pick-up and school needs, the Wynne community faced an unimaginable tragedy: on March 31, their town was struck by a massive tornado. It completely destroyed their high school and half of their town. While they are on a path to recovery, the damages will take at least 2-3 years to rebuild.

Wynne High School destroyed by the tornado. Local Memphis 24
Matthew Cooper, Middle School Music Teacher, and colleague with MCAA Staff

Cooper stated, “These instruments could not have come at a better time.” He and his colleague drove from Wynne, Arkansas to Mason Community Arts Academy with a trailer in tow in order to get instruments and supplies back to their students. The donation included band and orchestra instruments, guitars, percussion equipment, and various accessories, and has made it possible for music to continue for the students in Wynne despite the hardships they are facing. Receiving these instruments has allowed the students to attend and perform at Music in the Parks at Magic Springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and has allowed the guitar ensemble to remain intact. As Cooper said, “This is going to help us so very much moving forward out of this disaster.”

Instruments in the Attic is always seeking instrument donations so that we can continue to help those in need locally, nationally, and internationally. If you would like to make a donation or to find out more, please visit our page or email us at academy@gmu.edu!

Written by Dr. Samantha Clarke
Edited by Regina Schneider

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Announcements

Piano Available to Good Home

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A generous family from Rockville, MD recently contacted the Academy about gifting their Sohmer and Co. upright piano to a good home. If anyone is interested in accepting this gift, please contact us ASAP.

The piano is approximately 45 years old and is free of charge (to a good home); however, the family requests the recipient to pay for the moving expense, which averages around $250-300 (when using a professional piano moving company) depending on the distance traveled, number of stairs involved, etc. Also, acoustic pianos usually require a tuning from a professional piano tuner after a move as well. 

If you think you have a need (and a space) for this piano, it’s a great opportunity to look into. We will handle this on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please email us at academy@gmu.edu  (no phone calls please) and put “Piano Available to Good Home” in the subject (or simply Reply to the Newsletter email). A recipient will be matched as soon as possible.

The owner is able to hold the piano until June 23rd.

Please note that these opportunities typically come up several times throughout the year, so keep checking the Academy Newsletter!

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Announcements

Piano Available to Good Home

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A generous family from Arlington, VA recently contacted the Academy about gifting their Wurlitzer Spinet piano to a good home. If anyone is interested in accepting this gift, please contact us ASAP.

The piano is approximately 50 years old and is free of charge (to a good home); however, the family requests the recipient to pay for the moving expense, which averages around $250-300 (when using a professional piano moving company) depending on the distance traveled, number of stairs involved, etc. Also, acoustic pianos usually require a tuning from a professional piano tuner after a move as well. 

If you think you have a need (and a space) for this piano, it’s a great opportunity to look into. We will handle this on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please email us at academy@gmu.edu  (no phone calls please) and put “Piano Available to Good Home” in the subject (or simply Reply to the Newsletter email). A recipient will be matched as soon as possible.

Please note that these opportunities typically come up several times throughout the year, so keep checking the Academy Newsletter!

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Faculty News

Faculty Enrichment Fund Awardee, Catherine Grimball

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The Academy values the importance of our teacher’s professional development. Because of this, the Faculty Enrichment Fund annually provides partial and full reimbursement for teachers to attend conferences, workshops, and teacher training sessions. 

Our piano teaching artist, Catherine Grimball, attended the Virginia Music Teachers Association State Conference and writes about her experience:

The Virginia Music Teachers Association State Conference is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy live performances, network with like-minded musicians, and grow professionally through masterclasses and a variety of well-researched presentations.  

(Above) Catherine with Guest Artist Thomas Pandolfi, after his masterclass.

There were a number of exciting performances during the conference.  Pianist Thomas Pandolfi, the featured Guest Artist (and Guest Artist for this Summer’s Advanced Piano Academy), performed an incredible program including his spectacular “Rhapsody on Themes from West Side Story.“  The commissioned Composer’s Recital was also very inspiring.  Paul Sanho Kim, an associate professor at Old Dominion University, performed his trio “7” for violin, cello and piano.  Kim’s arrangements of Radiohead songs for string quintet have been performed on NPR as well as at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.  He was kind enough to send me the score of “7,” and I am looking forward to performing it! 

I was honored to perform in the Virginia Teachers Concert, which included several contemporary works.  Highlights included “…against the shore” by Hilary Tann, commissioned by the October Sky Ensemble, Aiveen Gallagher’s piece “Aisling” which she performed on amplified viola, and an arrangement of Ravel’s Pavane for harmonica and piano!     

The VMTA Conference programmed many informative sessions on a variety of topics.  Prolific composer and educator Lisa Bastien shared her insights not only on pedagogy, but also on the business of running a studio as well as new ways to incorporate technology in both lessons and communications with students.  June Huang, Director of Strings and Assistant Professor of Violin at George Mason University’s Dewberry School of Music and Program Director of our Summer Strings Programs, presented a session on “How to Improve Sight Reading Skills.”  Some other favorite sessions included Dr. David Berry’s “Finding Your Voice: Learning to Make Creative Piano Arrangements and Teaching Your Students to as Well,” a session on Nkiolai Kapustin including the performance of his Trio for Flute Cello and Piano, and Dr. Akiko Konishi’s “The Importance of the Bow and Blurb: Introducing Students to Effective On-stage Comportment.”       

I am very grateful that the Mason Academy encourages professional development with the Faculty Enrichment Fund.  My piano studio will benefit from my experiences at the VMTA Conference, and I hope that others may be motivated to attend the conference and share their areas of expertise with other educators.  

Paul Sanho Kim explaining his piece, “7.”

Written by MCAA Piano Teaching Artist, Catherine Grimball
Edited by Regina Schneider

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Announcements

Piano Available to Good Home

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A generous family from Herndon, VA recently contacted the Academy about gifting their Kranich and Bach (model 452) piano to a good home.  There is one missing knob on the key cover. If anyone is interested in accepting this gift, please contact us ASAP.

The piano is approximately 42 years old and is free of charge (to a good home); however, the family requests the recipient to pay for the moving expense, which averages around $250-300 (when using a professional piano moving company) depending on the distance traveled, number of stairs involved, etc. Also, acoustic pianos usually require a tuning from a professional piano tuner after a move as well. 

If you think you have a need (and a space) for this piano, it’s a great opportunity to look into. We will handle this on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please email us at academy@gmu.edu  (no phone calls please) and put “Piano Available to Good Home” in the subject (or simply Reply to the Newsletter email). A recipient will be matched as soon as possible.

Please note that these opportunities typically come up several times throughout the year, so keep checking the Academy Newsletter!