Indian Hill's Blog

Student Spotlight: Saxophonist Andrew Bedard

Saxophone student Andrew Bedard of Westminster, MA has been studying at Indian Hill Music School for over 10 years, and recently performed at Symphony Hall in Boston in the Massachusetts All-State Band. A student of Bill Jones,  Andrew is a member of the Indian Hill Big Band and Jazz Lab ensembles, and is a graduating senior at Oakmont Regional High where he plays clarinet in the school concert band, and first tenor saxophone in the jazz band. He spent a few minutes with us to talk about his recent honors and where he’s headed next!

What was yourAndrew Bedard - Sax Student 2016 inspiration to play sax?

I started playing saxophone around 8 years old. I have an older cousin that plays so I would say that most likely planted the seed when I was little. My grandfather passed away shortly after I began playing and gave me a record of his. That’s when I really started listening and gaining a strong interest in it. Some of my biggest musical influences include but are not limited to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Cedar Walton, Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, and Lee Morgan.

What led up to you being selected for All-States?

I was selected as first tenor in the Massachusetts All-State Jazz Band through Audition. First I had to audition to make it into the Massachusetts Central District Jazz Band and receive an All-State recommendation. Then I had an audition to make it into All-States. I received the highest score out of all of the other tenor saxophone players that auditioned in the state. The whole experience was simply phenomenal.

What was it like to play at Symphony Hall?

The best way I can describe performing at Symphony Hall with the All-State band is it was like playing along with a record of mine. Everything was so precise. The band was tight and everyone had a great sound.

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! What’s next for you?

Once I graduate high school I intend to major in Jazz Studies in college. I have been accepted to all of the schools I applied to, (UMass Amherst, the Hartt School of Music, William-Paterson University, New England Conservatory, and Berklee College of Music), and am currently in the process of deciding where I want to go.

What have all these years of music study taught you?

I think that studying music has helped me for the future in a lot of ways. It has helped me become more disciplined as being a musician demands a solid practice routine. It has added so much to my networking both in my career and socially. It has also made a great tool for me to give back to society and stay active in the community since a lot of the playing opportunities I have are at community functions or charity events. Ultimately it has given me countless meaningful life experiences and an opportunity to reduce my stress levels and express my creativity.

We wish Andrew the best of luck with college and future musical endeavors! For more info about Andrew, visit his website:


Posted in Latest News

Ask Pete: Why should I study music during summer break?

Indian Hill Music School Director of Education Pete Robbins answers your questions about music lessons, practicing, performing, and how it all makes life better!.

Pete PHOTO 0788dc2Hi everyone!

Before I begin, I want to say that I am beyond excited to introduce myself to you as IHM’s new Director of Education. As a jazz saxophonist, a private and school-based music educator and program director, and a director of large community music programs, I have developed curriculum, assessment tools, and new program ideas, and have personally taught students across all age levels and in a wide variety of settings.

My wife (Karina), my two sons (Jackson, 5.5, and Silas, 3) and I are thrilled to be relocating from Brooklyn to Massachusetts. I was raised in Andover and was actually a student at Indian Hill Music School around 1992, and am very grateful for the opportunity to help chart the course of our wonderful institution into the future.

Why Study Music This Summer?

Summer is coming, and you’ve been studying, and practicing hard all year. You deserve a break, right? So…why should you consider taking lessons in the summer? Here’s something to chew on regarding non-music studies: it’s been proven that annual summer regression in math studies is equivalent to 2.6 months of grade-level work. In reading it can be as much as two months’ worth of loss as well. In my experience as a music educator, I am certain (though it merits academic study) that this applies to music lessons, too.

This means that, for roughly every five years of music study, one full year’s worth of skill may be completely lost if summers are taken “off.” Given how much individuals and families invest in music education, in terms of both the time and financial commitments, this should be alarming for everyone involved! Summer music study pays huge returns: students and their families avoid suffering the financial and musical “losses” of time off, and the gains are readily apparent in the skills and motivation that are developed (and not diminished with time away).

More great reasons to continue your music lessons over the summer include:

You get to choose a schedule that works for you. IHM allows you to take a relaxed schedule of lessons — as few as three — and book lessons around your summer plans.

You get the chance to switch it up. Summer is a great time to try something new: a new instrument, a longer lesson, a new teacher, and/or one of our fun new programs.

You have time to focus. Without the usual weekly commitments that most of us have during the regular “school” year, summer might be a time when we can really focus on our music studies for a while, to generate some extra skill and motivation heading into the fall.

Having taught private lessons and having run school-based music programs, I have seen summer music regression first-hand, and it happens, no matter the talent of the student. I’ve also seen the spark that can be lit in a music student who has a special summer music experience! So my advice to you is to protect the many investments you have made while taking lessons all year — time, effort, financial and emotional — and continue your studies during summer vacation!

More information about Summer Lessons 

More information about Summer Programs

Pete Robbins is the new Director of Education at Indian Hill Music School. Have a question for Pete to answer in this new column? E-mail it to



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Posted in Blog, Music School, Tips & Tricks


Wayland Resident to Perform with Maestro Bruce Hangen and Orchestra of Indian Hill on April 23

Kyle Chen IHM Concerto Competition Winner 2016

Student pianist Kyle Chen, 14, of Wayland

Pianist Kyle Chen, 14, son of Ying and Yonghao Chen of Wayland, is the winner of this year’s Student Concerto Competition at Indian Hill Music School.

Kyle was one of seven students from Indian Hill Music School who competed for the chance to perform a piece with The Orchestra of Indian Hill, under Music Director Bruce Hangen. Kyle will perform the Allegro from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 at the Orchestra’s season finale, Saturday, April 23 at 7:30pm at the Littleton Performing Arts Center.  The concert will also feature the music of Hindemith and Brubeck. Buy tickets online or call (978) 486-9524 x116.

“We’re very pleased to be able to offer this wonderful opportunity to our students,” said IHM Executive Director Susan Randazzo. “It is one of the things that makes Indian Hill Music a special place to study.”

Chen, an eighth grader, has studied at Indian Hill Music School for the past seven years, and is a student of Niva Fried. A prize winner in piano competitions of the Massachusetts Music Teachers Association, New England Piano Teachers Association, and Steinway Society, Kyle has also performed at Carnegie Hall as a participant of the American Fine Arts Festival, and played concerts in Moscow through a special scholarship last spring. He has been selected to attend the BU Tanglewood Institute for summer piano studies this coming August.

A Q&A with Kyle Chen

1. How do you prepare for a competition? Do you ever get nervous?

When I first started participating in competitions, I was about eight years old. Over the years, I have developed sort of a habit of practice before my competitions. Most of the times, two weeks before I have competitions, I would stop listening to my usual music (pop, hip-hop, etc.) and start to listen more to classical music, especially the pieces I would be playing for the competition. Of course, I also practice more and more rigorously, but one thing I almost always do is once I get to a week before the competition, I stop playing the pieces all the way through; instead, I’ll just work on a specific section of the piece to fix it up.

I remember the first competition I went to, which was the Steinway Competition of 2011. I was extremely nervous – I had butterflies in my stomach, my hands were trembling, and I was terrified of playing in front of the judges. But when I actually started playing, all of those feelings went away. Nowadays, when I have competitions, I don’t usually get too nervous. Mostly, I just feel adrenaline and some anticipation. One way I have gotten rid of my stage fright is to make my performance just between me and the piano – and have fun when I play.

2. Why do you especially love Chopin’s pieces?

Ever since I first started playing piano, Chopin has been my favorite composer. Something about the style of his pieces, the elegance, and the beauty of his works has always intrigued me. I have played many pieces by Chopin, and he is one of the composers that I feel I can understand and have a great feel for.

3. What was it like to play at Carnegie Hall?

In my second year learning with Niva, I auditioned for the American Fine Arts Festival performance in Carnegie Hall, New York. I was fortunate enough to make it and get the opportunity to perform in one of the most famous performance halls of all time: Carnegie Hall. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was very nervous at the thought of performing in front of such a big audience. In fact, I can still remember pacing in the back entrance hall of the stage, trying to prepare myself for the performance. When it was my turn, the bright lights, the people, and the applause all faded as I tuned out. Once I got settled and started to play, I felt at home, sitting there at the piano, coaxing out a beautiful melody by Chopin from the instrument. It was truly an amazing experience.

4. What do you learn by studying piano and practicing?

For me, piano has always been something that I enjoy and have fun with. When I started learning, it wasn’t about if I was going to become a concert pianist; I did it for the fun of playing piano and how I enjoyed running my fingers across the keys and making music. Practicing piano and studying piano is, in my opinion, not just about the technique and how to play; it is more about how I can play piano throughout my daily life: in times of hardship, in times of happiness, and expressing myself through something other than words.

5. What do you like about studying at Indian Hill?

Basically my whole musical journey has been at Indian Hill, when early childhood classes jumpstarted my interest at the age of three. Beginning my piano studies here at seven, I have been learning with Mrs. Niva Fried for the past five years. Indian Hill is an amazing music school with great teachers, and throughout my education, the school has provided me with many performance opportunities. Finally, I really like how Indian Hill gets the community involved in its events and engagements with guest artists. I would not be the pianist I am today without Indian Hill. So thank you very much to everyone making the school such a great place for young musicians everywhere!



Posted in Latest News

The Orchestra of Indian Hill Presents A Truly Classical Evening

By McLaren Harris

Saturday night’s (March 12) program by the Orchestra of Indian Hill at the Littleton High School Performing Arts Center comprised three works close to the heart of Viennese Classicism, the era and style from which many listeners gained their first experiences with true concert music. Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven, along with Haydn, exemplify perhaps most of all the sounds and spirit that drew in young audiences over many generations, as they continue to do two centuries later.

The works that conductor Bruce Hangen chose – Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony in B minor, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E flat for four wind soloists and orchestra, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C major – have the fine artistic attributes that combine familiar musical idioms with opportunities to show off the orchestra’s strengths.

Like nearly all of Schubert’s compositions– he was incapable of composing anything that wasn’t beautiful – the “Unfinished” Symphony’s two movements are full of felicitous melody and harmony that envelop the listener like a warm, comfortable blanket. The orchestra’s robust low strings and delicate upper strings bespoke mystery at the opening, followed by soaring lyrical lines from the winds. The woodwinds and French horns were richly sonorous both in the first Allegro and the following Andante; the latter’s midsection was shared successively by tender lines for solo oboe (Jennifer Slowik), clarinet (Sandra Halberstadt), flute (Jessica Lizak), and French horn (Clark Matthews).

Four of the orchestra’s principal players (Stephen Jackson, clarinet, Nancy Dimock, oboe, Stephanie Busby, bassoon, and Clark Matthews, horn) became the soloists for Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, K.297 – at least, Mozart is assumed by most to have composed it. Some critics have seized upon certain stylistic peculiarities to conclude that Mozart may have composed the solo parts and cadenzas while another, anonymous composer wrote the orchestra parts. Without getting into that, let us be satisfied that it was accorded a Köchel number, so Mozart it is.

The Sinfonia is a dashing, cheerful work with plenty of virtuosity, flair and an outright romp for the soloists, who were well prepared and excellent throughout. Clark Matthews’s high-register horn-playing was flawless; Stephen Jackson’s and Nancy Dimock’s agility was breath-taking; Stephanie Busby showed what a beautifully toned instrument the bassoon is – and quick as well.

Beethoven’s First Symphony is well enough imprinted in many or most musical minds, but the untraditional genius of the composer’s imagination is always a pleasure to hear – the opening chord progressions that finally resolve to the home key, the bold, up-tempo Scherzo (What? No minuet?), the tentative scale leading up to a full sprint in the finale, the sudden, fortissimo entrance of the low strings (signaled by conductor Hangen with a closed fist). The orchestra acquitted itself ably and energetically all the way; the concert earned a standing ovation.

Let us give credit here to Bruce Hangen. The high caliber of the instrumentalists and of the performances is due in no small part to his leadership. His program choices never fail to please, his conducting is clearly wrought, his own preparation is meticulous and that of the orchestra as exacting as it can be within the rehearsal time available. The musicians really want to play for him, and Indian Hill Music is indeed fortunate to have him.


Posted in Latest News


Kristin+Renee+Young+-+Headshot2Maestro Bruce Hangen and the Orchestra of Indian Hill commemorate Black History Month, the 150th anniversary of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln in musical terms on Sunday, February 21.

The program will feature works by two African-American composers — William Grant Still, and Hale Smith, whose Four Spirituals will be sung by lyric coloratura soprano Kristin Renee Young.

Lauded for her “effervescent” performances, Ms. Young sang in the premiere of Cries and Whispers by João MacDowell with International Brazilian Opera Company in spring 2015. Recent and upcoming performances include Norina (Don Pasquale) and Zerlina (Don Giovanni) with Opera Company of Brooklyn. As a soloist, Ms. Young has performed in Handel’s Messiah, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and Mozart’s Requiem.

Take a minute to learn more about Ms. Young, her inspirations, and finding strength in the music.

What have been your favorite roles?

My favorite role tends to be whatever I am studying at any given moment, most likely because I become so wrapped up in the character, constantly humming the melody and reciting the text in my head. However, the roles that I’ve most enjoyed singing are Tytania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Benjamin Britten and Cleopatra from Giulio Cesare by George Frederic Handel. Both roles demonstrate the boundlessness of a woman’s strength and her ability to love.

You are performing a mix of Mozart, traditional spirituals, and a contemporary Previn piece with lyrics by the legendary Toni Morrison. How do you approach these pieces as an interpreter of the music?

Again, the word strength comes to mind. In each piece, the subject/protagonist’s strength is challenged when faced with the possibility of loss, whether this loss takes the shape of lost love in Pamina’s aria, lost life or pride in “Take My Mother Home,” or lost faith in the spirituals. And in each piece, strength wins. In fact, accepting the possibility of loss actually becomes a bastion of strength. At the thought of losing love, Pamina resolves that in death she will find peace. In Previn’s piece, death, too, offers solace to the song’s subject, who wants her family members to be free from the tortures of slavery. Similarly, the spirituals remind the subjects that their experiences can be made less painful by humbly praying to God. This recurring theme reminds me that human beings can access inner strength even in the most trying of times.

What inspired you toward opera?

You might be surprised to hear that Richard Gere and Julia Roberts inspired me to consider opera. In Pretty Woman, the actors’ characters attend a performance of La Traviata at the San Francisco Opera House. While the appearance of La Traviata in the film is quite clever, seeing as Roberts’ character closely parallels Violetta’s in the opera, I was less conscious of the story line than I was of the quick, high, and challenging coloratura passages being sung on stage. I immediately wanted to find out if I was up to the challenge of singing them myself!

CONCERT TICKETS: $20-35-50; all seating is reserved. Call 978-486-9524 x116 or order tickets online. There is a pre-concert talk at 2:00 pm with Maestro Hangen, plus a post-concert Stage Talk with Bruce and guests. This concert is sponsored by Deluxe Corporation Foundation. Season Media Sponsor is GateHouse Media New England.

Posted in Blog, Latest News, Orchestra
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