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Saturday Morning Music School Program 2018

Dear parents of music students -

As many of you might be aware, we have been working very hard over the past year to establish a plan for the future of the Saturday Morning Music School (SMMS) program in the wake of John McLellan’s retirement. John directed the program for the past thirty years and SMMS has become a cherished asset to many people in our community during that time, providing additional instruction to students at the beginning levels of instrumental study, as well as opportunities for older students to act as mentors and develop leadership skills.

It has always been our goal to maintain SMMS after John’s retirement, and we explored several options over the past year that would allow the program to continue. Finding a new director to take over the program in its current form proved to be a very difficult task. The BPS Music Faculty members are spread very thin as it is, and so it is understandable that none are able to take on the additional responsibility associated with devoting 21+ Saturdays each year to supervise the SMMS program.

Next, we conducted a search for an SMMS Director from outside the district. After posting the SMMS Director position and conducting several interviews with outside candidates, it became clear that having someone from outside our district serve as the director of SMMS, supervising a new staff of teachers who would not be members of the BPS Music Faculty was not an attractive option. It started to feel like SMMS would have very little to do with the BPS Music Program anymore other than that it would take place at Chenery Middle School.

Finally, after consulting with district leadership and with input from members of Parents of Music Students (POMS), we approached our neighbors at Powers Music School to see if they would be interested in partnering with us to operate Saturday Morning Music School. To our delight, Powers was immediately on board and excited about the possibility of working with us.

Over the next several months, we surveyed SMMS parents and worked closely with Gavin Farrell (Powers Music School Director) to identify which aspects of SMMS students and families felt were most important to maintain. Hands down, those things were:

  • Small group lessons for young instrumentalists in GRADES 4-6

  • Ensemble experience for Grade 4 Orchestra, since one is not offered in school

  • Mentoring experiences and relationships between older and younger students

After working with Gavin and the staff at Powers, we are confident that we can continue to offer a Saturday Morning Music School program that serves the needs of our students and the BPS music program. While many veteran SMMS teachers will take this opportunity to “retire” from SMMS and enjoy their weekends for the first time in many years, some SMMS teachers will return to continue teaching alongside the exceptional musicians who teach at Powers Music School. The SMMS Mentors program will be overseen by POMS in conjunction with the BHS chapter of Tri-M (a national honor society for high school music students).

With all these exciting changes comes the financial reality - one that we have known for a very long time - that the tuition for Saturday Morning Music School has been in need of an increase for more than a decade. We have worked very hard to keep the cost of SMMS tuition to a reasonable amount for families, and I am confident that the fee structure we have identified is still an incredible bargain for the amount of instruction that students will receive.

Detailed information about the new Saturday Morning Music School, including registration information, can be found at www.powersmusic.org/saturdaymorningmusic.  Below is some general information that you may find helpful.

General Schedule

Saturday Morning Music School will open October 6, 2018 and run through March 16 with the following general schedule:

  • 9:00-10:00 AM
    Beginning Strings Group Lessons
    Beginning Band Group Lessons
  • 10:00-11:00 AM
    Beginning String Orchestra (Ensemble Rehearsal)
    Intermediate Strings Group Lessons (Grades 5-6)
    Intermediate Band Group Lessons (Grades 5-6)
  • 11:00-12:00 PM
    Jazz Workshop
    Chamber Ensembles
    (Additional Lesson Groups dependent on enrollment)

Tuition and Waivers

Tuition rates for SMMS will depend on the activities selected. *Please note that students in Grades 4-5 must be participants in the in-school Instrumental Music Program in order to attend SMMS.

  • Group Lessons ......... $250/year
  • Jazz Workshop or Beginning Orchestra ......... $100/year
  • Chamber Ensemble ......... $125/year

Just as in the past, families may apply for fee waivers and reductions through the Belmont Public Schools.

As part of this unique partnership with Powers Music School, we are very excited to announce that Powers will provide free or reduced weekly private lessons during the week to BPS music students who qualify for fee waivers or reductions. Powers is committed to helping the BPS Music program provide access to the best music instruction for all students, and this is one   major step that will help us meet that goal. Beginning this fall, any student in Grade 4 or 5 who qualifies for a waiver or fee reduction in the instrumental music program will be eligible to receive a free or reduced weekly private lesson at Powers Music School. This kind of commitment from a private music school is unprecedented, and we are incredibly fortunate to have fostered this relationship with Powers for our students.

More information about Saturday Morning Music School registration will be included in e-mails about the Instrumental Music Program, as well as at Instrument Rental Day on Sept. 13. Thank you for your patience as we continue to work out the details and logistics of this “new” program. Be on the lookout for more information in the coming weeks, and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Best wishes for a wonderful last few weeks of summer -

Arto Asadoorian, Director of Visual & Performing Arts