Indian Hill Music is committed to sharing the transformative power of music, and giving music generously when there is need. It sounds like a lofty ideal, but our dedicated music teachers and orchestra musicians put our mission, “Giving Music Generously,” into practice every day through our community education and outreach programs.
The cornerstone of these programs is the Ayer-Shirley School Music Partnership, which offers after-school instrument lessons to the region’s elementary school students. For over a decade, lean school budgets have not allowed for instrument lessons at the elementary school level. In addition, a great many students in these economically diverse towns have not had access to private lessons outside of school.
Through the Partnership, 4th and 5th graders at the Lura A. White and Page Hilltop Elementary Schools are able to take lessons in flute, clarinet, saxophone, percussion, trumpet, trombone, or violin for a small fee, with free or discounted instrument rental, in a supportive group setting. In addition, Indian Hill offers scholarships for anyone not able to afford lesson or rental fees.
“Music is fundamental to the human experience, so it is unthinkable that a child would not have access to a good music program as part of their education,” says Michael Havay, Director of Indian Hill Music School. “For those school districts who have found it necessary to cut the arts for the sake of budgets, partnerships like ours with Ayer-Shirley School District become even more essential.”
Shirley resident Sue Gleason has taught through the Ayer-Shirley Partnership since it began in 2007. The Indian Hill flute and recorder teacher says she is thrilled to teach these students, and is uniquely qualified to teach and relate to them, because she sees herself in them. “I didn’t grow up privileged,” she says. “When I expressed interest in music, my mother had to borrow money to buy my flute.” Sue paid for her lessons and bought her music with the money she earned from a part-time job.
Today, through the Partnership, Sue is able to give back to her community. “I can bring my whole-life experiences to the table,” she says. “It can be a challenge, but it’s incredibly rewarding. You have to love the students — the most important thing is patience.”
“We are very grateful that my daughter has had the opportunity to study flute with Sue Gleason. She is a top-notch teacher, with an approach that is wise and encouraging. After just a few lessons with Sue, my daughter was able to read and play simple melodies, which helped to keep her excited and motivated about learning to play! Taking flute lessons through Indian Hill has also given my daughter a sense of pride and has helped her develop the confidence to perform in front of a group.”
– S. Anders, Shirley, MA, Mother of Ayer-Shirley School Music Partnership student
“I’m always up for working with kids in Ayer and Shirley, she said. “It’s wonderful that we can provide something for kids who have less.”
Indian Hill Music began this community outreach in 2007, to fill the musical void left by extensive budget cuts in local schools. In its 8th year, the program offers group lessons, “Instrument Petting Zoos” for 3rd and 4th grade students, in-school professional concerts for the entire school community, and participation in open houses for parents and students. This academic year, the Partnership will also offer a masterclass with world-renowned flutist and educator Jim Walker and a tour of Shirley-based Burkart Flutes; and fully funded music therapy sessions for 40 middle school special education students with Indian Hill music therapists.
The Ayer-Shirley School Music Partnership and its programs are made possible by the generous support of an anonymous individual donor, and: Ayer Rotary Club, Bemis Associates of Shirley, Groton Ayer Realty Trust, Haartz Corporation of Acton, ISS of Shirley, Nashoba Valley Healthcare Fund, North Middlesex Savings Charitable Foundation, Red Hat of Westford, and Target Corporation.
For more information about Indian Hill Music and the Ayer-Shirley School Music Partnership, visit www.indianhillmusic.org.