Sing-a-longs, Do-overs and More at the Music Café

piano at Music CafeThis 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.

duo at Music CafeSo 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.

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About Michelle Kiehl

Michelle Kiehl is the Executive Director of The School of Music at Dana Hall School. She joined the School in 2014.

5 Replies to “Sing-a-longs, Do-overs and More at the Music Café”

  1. Michelle, thank you for providing such a supportive, inclusive opportunity for our students to perform and connect with other musicians. I look forward to attending Music Cafe this Thursday!

  2. Michelle,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and reflections here! The Music School provides such important opportunities for our students to play music and to share that experience with the larger community, in both formal and informal settings.

  3. Music’s ability to bring people together is powerful, and I’m proud that Dana Hall School supports so many girls making music together. Thank you, Michelle, for helping to make that happen.

  4. Michelle,
    I’m so impressed by all the accomplishments of our student musicians. And I’m equally impressed by the many informal, pop-up, and “do-over” opportunities that you provide. The Dana Hall School of Music is a wonderful hybrid, offering students the chance to study from some of the very finest musician-teachers Boston in a warm, welcoming, creative environment.

  5. I loved getting the chance on Thursday to hear my advisee perform and to hear some of her peers as well. Thank you for offering such a welcoming space for Dana Hall girls to explore and nuture such an important aspect of themselves.

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