This week brings with it another Music Café to Dana Hall’s School of Music. Originally a unique opportunity for music students to perform in an informal, fun environment, Music Café is now a community-building, pop-up event. Our Dana Hall Rock band will play (yes, we have a Dana Rock Band!), and we’ll welcome all other Dana students who feel the urge to share what they’re working on at this lunchtime gathering.
Imagine an open-mic atmosphere. The conventions and etiquette of the Beveridge Hall recital experience are robust and meaningful, no doubt, but they’re not for everyone. Music Café requires no bowing, no programs, no order of performance. Strip away recital formality and simply enjoy making, sharing and absorbing music. Just show up and play. It’s like pick-up (name your sport). Performance is by order of volunteer. We encourage sing-a-longs, works-in-progress, do-overs, and any mistakes are met warmly with smiles and empathy. We’ve all been there!
I direct Dana Hall’s School of Music and have the great pleasure of welcoming our students for weekly lessons (and small group ensembles) with one of our 35 music faculty members. Coordinating these 35 faculty members with our 150 Dana students (and another 150 community music students), as well as the space and programming that houses them, is what keeps me challenged (and gratified!) at Dana.
If you’ve done the math, about a third of Dana Hall students take music lessons at Dana Hall’s School of Music each year. Many students continue their instrumental/voice study, picking up where they left off prior to coming to Dana. Others take the opportunity to return to the instrument they studied in childhood (often piano) and still others take the opportunity to learn an instrument they’ve always wanted to learn—voice, violin, guitar, flute, even oboe, sax or harp. A year of lessons can earn Upper School students credit toward their Performing Arts graduation requirement—as long as they perform at least once during the academic year.
So far this year, 30 of Dana’s student musicians have performed for audiences at Beveridge Hall recitals and all-school Dana Hall convocations and events. We have students who compose music and students who pursue district auditions and elite competitions. Just last week one of our student pianists won first prize in an international competition, and as a result, she’ll play at Carnegie Hall this spring! We are honored to support these aspirations in music and admire these students’ pursuits that parallel their many other demands as Dana Hall students. We are committed to furthering the music education of our high-caliber student musicians, and we are equally committed to making music at Dana inclusive. Last Thursday evening we hosted a Beveridge Hall Student Recital. This Thursdays at lunchtime we’ll host Music Café at the School of Music.
In addition to the warm and vibrant experience it offers to every level of musician at Dana Hall, Music Café nudges the performance requirement within reach to music students just starting out on their musical journey and those less eager to tackle that performance requirement. Witnessing the rush of relief and accomplishment these students feel after taking the plunge into Music Café, and the camaraderie that soon connects them, keeps us eagerly awaiting Music Cafe’s next pop up date.