Indian Hill's Blog

Summer Spotlight: Summer Jams with Joey Pierog

Summer2017-SummerJamsGet ready to rock in our new summer program for ages 10 – 14, Summer Jams! Summer Jams offers aspiring young musicians with some experience a chance to perform in a rock band with new friends. Play songs by your favorite artists or work on your own original songs, and learn recording basics under the guidance of a professional touring musician, and other members of our talented faculty. Open to guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, and voice students. One year of lessons or equivalent experience recommended.

Meet your instructor, Joey Pierog, and learn more about this rockin’ band experience!

What instrument(s) and styles do you play/teach?  

I’m a bass player, and I also play and perform guitar, ukulele and a little bit of drums. I do love the excitement of picking up a new instrument so when I’m ready I’d like to be able to play the piano.  I teach many kinds of music depending on the student’s proficiency level — anything from folk to rock to jazz and pop. I perform regularly in multiple bands around New England and I really love it.

Watch Joey play with his band, Four Legged Faithful

Why did you choose to study music? Was there one teacher or program that inspired you the most as you were learning?

I’ve always heard the phrase, “Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I took that saying to heart. I knew early on that if I were able to play, write and record music as a job, I would be happy.

At a very young age music had a profound effect on me. Music has a way of tapping into your emotions and inspiring you. I wanted to reach people the way that so many of my favorite bands and artists had reached me.

My father is a musician, and as a young child I was fortunate enough to see him perform. The effect he and his band could have on an audience was captivating. I started performing as soon as I could play and soon wanted to create the types of music I was listening to. I enrolled at Berklee College of Music and once I started working more deeply in my major, Contemporary Writing and Production, I was exposed to arranging and composing. Writing and arranging music for orchestras, chamber groups and big bands was an empowering experience. Hearing the music you previously heard in your head — realized on real instruments — pretty much sealed the deal, and I knew that my life would be all about learning how to make music in any capacity I could.

What do you like most about teaching at IHM?

Indian Hill has a strong emphasis on community. Its programs and classes show how music can bring us together. The staff is cheerful and helpful, which in my opinion is a sign of a good place to be.

What do you hope to do in your program? What can students expect to get out of it?

I’d like to take what students have learned throughout the year (or years) in their private lessons and apply that to a group setting. While solo practice is very useful, it’s hard to understand the full potential of music until you’re playing it with other people. I also want to show people how fun and easy it can be to play some of their favorite music. In a band everyone has a job to uphold. If we all work together and try our best, the results can be pretty awesome.

Who are your favorite contemporary musicians / bands? 

My personal tastes are always changing so it’s hard to pin down what I would call my favorite bands. For the classics, l’ve always been a huge fan of The Beatles, The Band, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Fleetwood Mac (the list goes on). As for new artists I like the Fleet Foxes, Wilco, Sia, Bruno Mars, Adele, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar… (this list also goes on and on). I listen to everything from hip hop to country. As long as the music is inspired and sincere I can find something to like about it. Louis Armstrong once said “There are two types of music. Good music and bad music.” To me, the two types of music are the music that speaks to you and the music that doesn’t.

What do you like to do when you’re not teaching or performing?

I always try to connect with my audience/students on an emotional level. The purpose of all art is to make us feel something. While the technical side of music can be very helpful, it’s pointless unless it helps you convey a feeling or idea.

Learn more about Summer Jams and our other summer programs for youth, teens, and adults, and register online.



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A minute with Alice Hallstrom: A Seasoned Finale with Vivaldi’s Classic

Orchestra of Indian Hill wraps up its season featuring some of Indian Hill’s best on Saturday, April 22! The program features Ginastera (Variaciones Concertantes), Tchaikovsky (Capriccio Italien), and Vivaldi’s classic Four Seasons with soloist Alice Hallstrom, OIH concertmaster. Indian Hill Music School 2017 Concerto Competition winner Justin Gu, 15, will also take the stage to perform the Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No 2: Mvt I.

Alice Hallstrom has served as concertmaster of the Orchestra of Indian Hill for the past five seasons, and is an active performer in the Boston area where she plays freOIH_AliceHallstrom_CREDIT_AliceGeburaquently with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra.  She has also served as assistant concertmaster of the Portland Symphony and assistant concertmaster of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic.  As a featured solo performer, she has played concerti with the Southwest Symphony, Juilliard Baroque Ensemble, Purchase Symphony Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra of Tennessee.  She has recorded with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, BMOP, Josh Groban, Natalie Cole, Chamber Music Atlanta, Train, Ephraim’s Harp, and The Cartoon Network. Alice received her master’s degree from The Juilliard School and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of music from SUNY Purchase.  She lives in Bedford, MA with her husband Michael and son Spencer.  She took a minute to give us her take on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

How are you bringing a fresh perspective to the popular Four Seasons?

Vivaldi put many interesting nature sounds, programmatic elements, and visual images in these pieces.  It has been a lot of fun to explore ways to bring these out and really create an auditory picture with the violin.  Some of the musical decisions I have made for this performance will be different from past performances that the audience may be familiar with, but I hope that they will serve to highlight the effects that Vivaldi was creating through his music and the poems that he included in the score.  In my work on these concerti, I did a lot of thinking about how best to emphasize the sound effects, characters, and stories that are interspersed throughout each season.

How do you personally connect to the piece? 
In preparing to perform the Four Seasons this past year, I decided to work seasonally and focus mainly on practicing the season we were currently in.  Having Vivaldi’s view of the seasons in mind shaped my experience with nature, and my own experiences with the season shaped my interpretation of the piece.  For instance, Vivaldi portrays a much more harsh and stormy picture of summer than we typically think of in our day.  While we associate it with summer vacation, swimming, lemonade, and leisure, Vivaldi captured exhausting heat and fierce, terrifying storms.  Drawing on my own experiences of oppressive heat, no air conditioning, and the scary storms I’ve lived through put me in mind of the images that Vivaldi was evoking of summers in Italy in the 1720s.  I remember one day in particular last summer when a huge storm came up.  A tornado watch was issued for our area, and I found myself hunkered down in the basement with my son thinking of Vivaldi’s poor shepherd quivering with fear. And so on with the other seasons.  The thing that’s so wonderful about Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is that they invoke images, concepts, and feelings that we are all very familiar with, and put them into a beautiful and fascinating musical setting.

If you had to choose a “season” as your favorite, which one would it be and why?
If I had to choose a favorite season, it would probably be Spring for its bright, fresh and joyful melodies.  Although the drunkard in the first movement of Autumn and the icy sounds of Winter are also favorites.

What do you hope the audience will come away with from this piece?
These pieces are so fun to play and to listen to!  I would hope that audience members would come with their own experiences of the seasons and combine those experiences with Vivaldi’s vivid musical portrayal of his view of the seasons.  Most of all, I hope the audience will have as much fun listening to the Four Seasons as we have playing them!

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Meet Justin Gu: 2017 Concerto Competition Winner

Our 2017 Concerto Competition winner Justin Gu, 15, of Andover, March17 045 is no stranger to competitions, nor great stages! A student of Niva Fried for the past six years, Justin has already played in Carnegie Hall. See him perform with the Orchestra of Indian Hill on Saturday, April 22.

What was your first introduction to music?

My dad had bought a grand Kawai piano when I was five years old. I was very excited when I came back from school in kindergarten and heard the sound of my dad playing the piano. I was very interested in learning how to play the piano. Everyday my dad would teach me and my brother as well. Often, I didn’t let my brother play because I enjoyed playing so much. After two years of learning with my dad, I finally got a teacher. After two years, I started with Niva Fried at Indian Hill Music School, at age 9. Today, I am still currently learning from her.

How often do you practice? When is your favorite time to practice?

On weekdays, I try to practice as much as I can, trying to fit in at least one hour. I would usually practice during the night after I finish all my school homework and projects. On weekends, I always practice piano right after I eat breakfast. I practice piano for at least an hour during the morning. Later at night, I practice at least another hour before I go to bed.

You live in Andover – what brings you to Indian Hill for your lessons?

I go to Indian Hill for my lessons because my teacher, Niva Fried, teaches here. Indian Hill is also a great music school. There are great teachers and students that bring life to the community. There are many recitals and competitions which give us chances to perform in front of others. Listening to other Indian Hill students is a great way to enjoy music and also learn. It is a great experience to be part of the Indian Hill community, and it is amazing to see students improve over the years.

As soon as I put my hands on the keys, it felt as if I drifted into my own world.

You have played in Carnegie Hall!   What does it feel like to perform on that grand stage?

When I was ten years old, I auditioned for the American Fine Arts Festival to get a chance to play at Carnegie Hall. I was so fortunate to be selected by the judges — it was the first time that I have ever played in front of such a large audience. The piano was one of the best pianos I’ve ever played in my life. Before I started to play, I was extremely nervous because of how many people were watching me. As soon as I put my hands on the keys, it felt as if I drifted into my own world. I felt much less nervous once I started to play and it felt as if the whole audience disappeared. Every second on that stage was such an amazing and memorable experience for me.

Who is your favorite composer?

One of my favorite composers is Beethoven. There has always been something about his music that fascinates me, and I can never stop listening to him. After understanding his personal life and some of the struggles he went through, it is just truly amazing what he could do. I have played many Beethoven Sonatas, and his works have always interested me in playing more.

What do you dream of pursuing in life?

Getting into a good college. After that, I do not know for sure where my path is taking me. In school, my favorite subjects are math and science. Some ideas that I have for when I grow up are becoming a computer engineer, or a doctor.

You have won several competitions in the past few years! How do you handle nerves and get into the mindset to compete?

My first piano competition was in 2011 in the MMTA (Massachusetts Music Teachers Association) competition. I remember I had a very tough time trying to sleep the day before. On the day of the competition, I could feel my heartbeat getting faster as I got closer to the piano. Even when I was playing, I still felt very nervous. Now, I still get a little bit nervous before a competition, but once I start playing, it seems like all the feelings of nervousness disappear. To get into the mindset before a competition, I only listen to my competition pieces and avoid listening to current pop songs. I start doing this a couple of days before the competition.

Justin will perform the first movement of Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2 with Orchestra of Indian Hill on Saturday, April 22 at 7:30pm at Littleton High School Performing Arts Center. Buy Tickets


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Faculty Spotlight: Dan Masterson, Songwriting & Recording

UPDATED 10.4.2017

Award-winning singer-songwriter Dan Masterson will perform at Indian Hill Music on Friday, October 13, and teach a Songwriting Workshop for teens and adults, beginning October 21.

Buy tickets for Art of the Song with Dan Masterson | Friday, October 13 @7pm

DMasterson_IMG_4337 300DPIHow did you get into songwriting? Was there one teacher or program that inspired you the most as you were learning?
I started in high school. I had already taken to composition and arranging, and made the jump to songwriting when I moved to a new school. I’d say Matt Corriel, who primarily writes for musical theater, but has taught seminars on American Popular Song as a tradition of its own.

What are you currently doing as a performing songwriter?
My band and I were recently awarded “Last Band Standing in New England” in a regional competition organized the New England Music Awards. We are releasing our debut full length album, When Reality Calls, this fall to follow the success of two EPs released in 2014 and 2015. Hear the first single from the new release

What do you hope to do in your class? What can students expect to get out of it?
We will listen, analyze, and discuss a variety of recordings to illustrate different tricks and tools used by songwriters before breaking out to write. We’ll use structured exercises to help focus our writing and work with one another to provide constructive feedback and practice co-writing.

Can anyone write a song? 
Certainly anyone can write a song. Many military and sports anthems were conceived by people without the intention of being a songwriter. It certainly helps to have a background in music theory, or experience playing an instrument, but those are not prerequisites. I believe an ability to pick up on patterns and a willingness to take risks are the best assets to an aspiring songwriter.

What do you like to do when you’re not teaching or performing?
Outside of performing and teaching, I like to play Fifa 13, participate in civic life, attend shows, support locally-owned small businesses, and wonk out on housing and transportation policy.

Learn more about Dan at



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Faculty Spotlight: Meet Paul Pampinella, Contemporary Vocal Ensembles

Pampinella2WebVoice Department Faculty Paul Pampinella will lead the new contemporary vocal ensembles for teens and adults, Wednesday evenings beginning March 29.

What vocal styles do you teach? 
Primarily contemporary styles: Pop/Rock, Jazz, Musical Theater. I also teach some guitar, piano, and bass guitar. I’ll be leading the Contempo Voices ensembles for teens and adults this spring.

Do you actively perform? 
I perform with two a cappella groups, Vox One (jazz) and Five O’Clock Shadow (pop/rock). I also perform with a group called the Vintage Vocal Quartet that performs close harmony music of the swing era (1930’s – 40’s). I’ll be performing with the Vintage Vocal Quartet at the Indian Hill Music Gala on May 13! I sing and play electric guitar in that ensemble. Beyond that, I sing and play acoustic guitar in a guitar duo that performs rock hits from the 60’s to 2000’s.


Why did you choose to study your instrument? 
I started taking piano lessons at age 6, mostly because my older sister was doing it, and I didn’t want to be left out. Both my sister and I were child singers in a New York City jingle house, and sang on a lot of ads in the 70’s. But I chose to study guitar when I was 12, and then took voice lessons at 17 just prior to attending Berklee College of Music. Voice ended up being my principal instrument, and I’ve been an Assistant Professor of Voice at Berklee for over a decade.

Was there one teacher or program that inspired you the most as you were learning?I studied music theory in New York City with a private teacher, Helen Hobbs Jordan, for two years prior to attending college. She had her own method of teaching which broke theory down into its component parts; pitches, rhythm, meter, and keyboard harmony. I learned effective and efficient practice habits from her. Whenever possible during lessons, I break everything down before expecting students to digest a whole concept.

How long have you been at IHM? What do you like most about teaching here?
I’ve been teaching here for over 10 years as well. I appreciate the diversity of students who show up at Indian Hill; from middle school to middle age, and beyond. There are lots of students interested in music simply for enrichment, and some that are interested in making it a career, or at least a very serious hobby. I think engaging in music at any level and any age is worthwhile, so I’m happy to teach anyone who has enough interest to sign up.

What can students expect to learn and do in your Contempo Voices classes? I’ll start with the end-goal; I hope to create a short program of music (2-3 songs) that can be performed at the end of the run of the class. The music will consist of songs that everyone in the class agrees upon (I don’t have a strict agenda – it’s based on what most people in the teen and adult classes choose to sing). We will look for songs that have lots of background vocals, and trade off lead vocals, so that everyone will have a part. I will accompany on guitar or piano, and if anyone in the class plays any instrument (guitar, piano, bass, drums, or even brass or woodwind) we’ll try to incorporate those as well.

What do you like to do when you’re not teaching or performing? 
I enjoy cooking (you want me to be a part of your pot-luck, trust me). I also love to watch documentaries — history, food/agriculture, environmental issues, etc. I used to play a lot of tennis — I don’t get the opportunity much these days, but I would if I could! And, I’m a dance dad – my daughter is on a competition team and that keeps us really busy!


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