Musician of the Month

Musician of the Month

Manchester Community Music School recognizes the hard work and talent of all of our students. In this section, we will highlight a different musician each month to share their story so that you, too, can see what exceptional students we have at the Music School.

March Musician of the Month

Interview with Ayla

Age: 10

Hometown: Bedford, NH
School: Homeschooled
Years at MCMS: 2nd year
Years with Teacher: 2nd year

“Ayla is an incredibly creative and artistic young pianist and has progressed so quickly in our year and a half together. She is a diligent and effective practicer and her love of music is apparent in her playing. In lessons, Ayla always arrives with a great attitude, ready to work, and is quick to implement feedback. Making music with Ayla is such a blast and I am so glad to be a part of her musical journey!”   Kaitlyn Leahy, piano faculty

How did you choose your instrument?

I took music exploration lessons with Mr. Striker and went to his summer camp. I enjoyed piano the best.

What have you learned from your teacher?

Ms. Leahy really helped me improve my piano technique. In less than two years, I went from not knowing how to play the piano at all to being able to play Tarantella and Arabesque, both by Burgmuller. When I was having trouble with my recital, she helped me get through it. She taught me to not be too hard on myself when I make a mistake.

What is your favorite piece? 

Tarantella by Burgmuller.

How would you define music? 

Music is beautiful and relaxing.

What do you like about taking lessons? 

Ms. Leahy is really nice and she makes learning the piano fun.

What are your hobbies? 

In addition to playing the piano, I enjoy dancing, skiing and making arts and crafts. 

Do you have any future plans for music? 

It’s something that I want to keep doing because it makes me happy.

February Musician of the Month

Interview with Akira McDowell

Age: 17
Hometown: Merrimack, NH
School: Merrimack High School
Years at MCMS: 7
Years with teacher: 7

“Akira is one the most talented flute students I’ve taught in my 20+ years here at MCMS. The flute is a natural extension of his fingertips, and his technique is consistently flawless. He can spin the air so beautifully into the flute, that his sound is pure silver magic. He’s reached the point where he manifests his own interpretation and expressive ideas and they are always interesting and stylistically appropriate. It’s been a pleasure teaching him for the past seven years and watching him evolve into a captivating performer.”  –Aubrie Dionne, MCMS Flute faculty  

How did you choose your instrument?

At the Upper Elementary School, there was a band program that allowed us to try out some instruments before joining. I tried out the trumpet and the flute, and the band director told me that the flute looked natural in my hands.

What have you learned from your teacher?

Aubrie taught me a lot about every aspect of playing the flute, and of making music; she taught me how to practice, how to motivate myself, how to feel the music, and to express myself to the audience. I learned so much about the technical aspects from her, but more importantly, I learned to enjoy the music I made, and to share that enjoyment with the audience.

What is your favorite piece?

This is a tough question; there’s a lot of pieces that I truly enjoyed putting together and performing, but if I had to narrow it down to just one, I think I would choose the Dutilleux Flute Sonatine. It has such an otherworldly quality to it, a sort of madness mixed in with the beauty, which makes it truly unique.

How would you define music?

Music is a form of human expression, a way in which we can communicate feelings without words and sights without pictures. It connects us and allows us to express ourselves on a deeper level, and convey how it feels to be alive.

What do you like about taking lessons?

Taking lessons really allowed me to home my skills and figure out which direction to take my practicing. I can receive critiques on what I should improve, and how I can improve it. It allows me to be a part of the studio, and it gave me numerous opportunities to perform for, and see the performances of, my peers. Music lessons are incredibly valuable, and I would not be anywhere near as musically capable as I am now without them.

What are your hobbies?

I love playing cards with my friends, reading, listening to history podcasts, learning languages, and caring for my unreasonably large collection of houseplants (I think that I might have about four dozen by now???). 

Do you have any future plans for music?

I intend to pursue flute performance as part of a double-major, or as a minor in college. Beyond that, I intend to continue making music with community groups

December Musician of the Month

Xiomara Rivera
Age: 17
Hometown: Manchester
School: Manchester West High School  
Years at MCMS: 2
Years with Teacher: 1

“Xiomara Rivera is a hard-working and driven student with incredible character. She has done so many things at the music school from taking my music theory classes to being one of my summer camp counselors. Xiomara is very helpful and proactive in everything she does in music with me and other faculty. She has made a significant amount of musical progress in the last couple years at MCMS.

 She is currently one of my ensemble interns and she always comes to the school with a good attitude and work ethic. Xiomara is eager to learn more about music and intends to pursue a music degree in college. I foresee her being a fantastic music teacher.”

Ryan Striker, Program Coordinator and Faculty, MCMS

“I met Xiomara when she joined Queen City Music and Leadership a few years ago, and I have watched her grow into an incredible musician and person. She has become an important part of our music school community, being involved in many programs, helping where she can, and being a positive role model to her fellow students. I am beyond proud of everything she has accomplished, and I’m so excited to see what her incredibly bright future has in store.”

Hailley McConnell, Office Manager and Faculty, MCMS

How did you choose your instrument?

I always knew that if I was going to play an instrument, it would be the violin.  

What have you learned from your teacher?

Practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent. This statement has changed how I practice and how I approach music.

What is your favorite piece?

Scheherazade by Rimsky- Korsakov

How would you define music?

Music is the method used to organize and transfer sound.  

What do you like about taking lessons?

I am able to focus on music that will not only help me grow as a musician but that I can connect to and enjoy.

What are your hobbies?

I like to read and write. I also involve myself in other fine arts such as theater and art.

 Do you have any future plans for music?

Yes, I plan to attend college and major in Music Education.

November Musician of the Month

Tara Kurup

Age: 15
Hometown: Nashua
School: Nashua High School South
Years at MCMS: 1
Years with Teacher: 1

“Tara has been studying the oboe with me for two years. She didn’t have a steady oboe teacher before, so she had to work on many things in her playing. However, she was always positive, diligent and eager to learn new things. In result, her playing has improved so much in two years. I am very excited that she joined the Wind Ensemble at MCMS.
She is such a responsible 10th grader and texts me back right away without failing. She is amazing. It is my pleasure to teach Tara.”
-Kyoko Hida-Battaglia, oboe faculty, MCMS

How did you choose your instrument?

I started playing oboe in the 5th grade, where my elementary school band teacher had a variety of instruments to try out to see which one best fit me. I tried a wide range of instruments, from flute all the way to French horn, but after listening to professional oboists, the unique sound caught my attention and drew me to picking it. Despite not being able to produce a quality tone for the first couple of months of playing, I eventually overcame these challenges and have developed my tone on the oboe.

What have you learned from your teacher?

My instructor Kyoko has taught me so much in terms of technique on my oboe, but one of the most important things she has ever taught me is persistence. She helped motivate me into becoming a better musician and has taught me to never give up.

What is your favorite piece?

My favorite piece is First Suite in Eb by Gustav Holst. It’s a very enjoyable piece, and I like how each of the three movements contrast each other. The high woodwind features are very fun to play, and the blend all the instruments create together makes the piece what it is.

How would you define music?

I define music as art in the form of sounds. The vocal and instrument sounds that shape music make it colorful, allowing it to convey emotion and ideas. Music can show feelings, and helps shape the world around us and bring us closer together.

What do you like about taking lessons?

I like the individual feedback I get from taking lessons. When in band at school, it can be difficult for a director to pinpoint every single person’s individual weak spots. When taking lessons, I can see what specifically I can improve on, and it’s great getting another perspective on my playing from someone who is a professional oboist.

What are your hobbies?

Some of my other hobbies are painting and photography. I am also a competitive fencer, and I also play guitar. I am also in my school’s marching band, where I am a drum major.

Do you have any future plans for music?

I am definitely going to pursue music for the rest of high school and will hopefully be able to continue it in college and during adulthood.

October Musician of the Month

Meagan Wolf
Age: 29 
Hometown: New Boston 
School: Adult Learner 
Years at MCMS: Been playing in ensembles for over 7 years, taking lessons for 1 year 
Years with Teacher: 1 year with Ryan Striker (bass clarinet, saxophone, clarinet), 6 months with Shannon Laine (piano) 

“Meagan is a talented musician and hard worker. She’s committed to her own musical growth and has gained tremendous skill on the piano since starting last year.” Shannon Laine, Music therapist MT-BC, piano faculty  

“Meagan shows a clear passion for music that is easy for anyone to see. I admire the hard work and passion she shows for music. This is exemplified by the fact that she is playing four different instruments in multiple ensemble!” Ryan Striker, saxophone faculty  

How did you choose your instrument?  

I started playing bass clarinet back in high school because I loved the sound of it. When I started lessons at MCMS, I really wanted to work with Ryan. In the past I’ve taken lessons with other instructors and it didn’t work out. 

 What have you learned from your teacher? 

Ryan is a funny teacher and he creates a comfortable lesson environment. He works with me to develop a plan for each lesson, and we work on rhythm, technique, or music theory. 

 What makes you want to play music?  

I love to play any of my instruments. 

 What do you like about taking lessons?  

I have a lot of support between my lesson teacher and support staff at the music school and this has led to a lot more success with my music learning. 

 What are your hobbies?  

I play in a number`- of community bands/ensembles. 

I am part of the New Hampshire Special Olympics Track and Field Team. 

I love archery. 

 Do you have any future plans for music?  

I just want to keep learning and growing as a musician. 

June Musician of the Month

Jonah Petro
Age: 11
Hometown: Manchester
School: Smyth Road School
Years at MCMS: 3 years
Years with Teacher: 3 years

“It’s been a great joy to watch Jonah grow as both a musician and person over the years. He practices and is always interested in learning about different kinds of music—especially from soundtracks. Jonah enjoys the challenge of a new Jazz or Star Wars piece as well as those from the Baroque period. I’m excited to see where his musical journey takes him!” -Liz Hodges, Piano Faculty

How did you choose your instrument?

My parents chose when I was five.

What have you learned from your teacher?

Lots of new musical elements!

What is your favorite piece?

Star Wars Imperial March

How would you define music?

It is a combination of notes and different elements.  It is something that is different every day.

What do you like about taking lessons?

I learn something new every time. Miss Liz is nice and patient.

What are your hobbies?

Playing piano and saxophone. I like to play on the computer, read, and ride my bike.

Do you have any future plans for music?

Keep playing it!  I plan to join the band next year at Hillside Middle School.

May Musician of the Month

Wendy Dee

Age: 59
Hometown: Manchester, NH
Years at MCMS: 6 months                      
Years with Teacher: 6 months

“Wendy is an excellent Musician of the Month candidate as she wonderfully represents a key demographic of our students here at MCMS – adult students (of which I am also one).  

 Wendy is motivated, engaged, practices regularly and is a pleasure to know and work with.  Bearing witness to Wendy’s progress on the violin has been especially sweet!” -Ashley Freeman, MCMS String Faculty

Why did you choose your instrument?

I have always loved the sound of the violin.  The instrument evokes such emotion.  I hope to one day be talented enough to reach that level when I play. 

What do you think of your teacher?

I absolutely love working with Ashley.  We just started together in mid-November of 2021 and I feel like I have already learned so much from her.  Her teaching style is very hands on – both explaining and demonstrating new pieces.  She provides constructive feedback and is always encouraging.    

What is your favorite piece?

I’m in the early stages but so far, I would say I enjoy ‘Simple Gifts,’ ‘Can’t Helping Falling in Love’… and a couple of Christmas songs Ashley has worked on with me – ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’ and my favorite – ‘O Holy Night’ – which still needs a lot of work – but I enjoy the challenge of practicing the piece.  Ashley has been great at walking me through all of these.   

How would you define music?

I think music is an expression of your soul.  If you are talented enough to be able to play an instrument or to sing, that’s a beautiful gift.  Even if you don’t play an instrument or sing, just listening to music can conjure up so many emotions.  With all the music genres available, there really is something out there for everyone. 

What do you like about taking lessons?

Lessons are a great checkpoint each week to build on previous lessons, add new skills and receive constructive feedback.  I have to remind myself to be patient with the learning process. My lessons give me a boost of confidence and keep me determined to move forward.

What are your hobbies?

Other than practicing my violin, I would say watching any Boston/New England sports team.  I am a huge sports fan and love watching them all. I also enjoy traveling, skiing and spending time with family, friends and our pets.

March Musician of the Month

Maya Gascoyne
Age: 13
Hometown: Amherst NH
School: Amherst middle school
Years at MCMS: 2
Years with Teacher: 2

Maya is a wonderful student — she is enthusiastic, practices diligently and is open to playing a variety of styles of music.  She loves music and is active in many programs in her school and community.  I have enjoyed working on jazz pieces with her and was very proud of her involvement in the MCMS youth jazz program last summer!”


Elizabeth Blood, MCMS Piano Faculty

Why did you choose your instrument?

I was exposed to music from a young age. My family would always have the classical radio on in the car and I loved it. I chose to play piano because I really like the sounds and different tones. You can make so many different sounds on this one instrument and I really love that. I also like how you aren’t only learning the melody like on many other instruments but instead playing both the melody and the accompaniment.

What do you think of your teacher?

       I really like my teacher. She is always pushing me to do my best and makes sure I play everything correctly, especially little dynamic marks that make songs sound finished and beautiful. She is also the one who introduced me to jazz music which has become my favorite genre of music to play and listen to.

What is your favorite piece?

       I don’t really have one favorite piece. All the pieces I play are so fun! Some of my favorites throughout the years have been Fur Elise, Minuet in G major from the notebook for Anna Magdalena, Slippin’ around, and Red rose rendezvous.  

How would you define music?

       I define music as a form of expression. You can make people feel so many different emotions using music. It is a way for people to connect with each other and feel each other no matter where you are from.

What do you like about taking lessons?

       I like taking lessons because I like refining my skills and pushing myself to be the best that I can be. 

What are your hobbies?

         Besides playing piano I also play ukulele, guitar, saxophone and flute. I also enjoy singing, musical theater, crafting, sewing and Nordic skiing and reading.

February Musician of the Month

Serenity Newton 
Age: 15
Hometown:  Manchester, NH
School: Central High School
Years at MCMS: 2 Years with teacher: 2

“Serenity has responded to the supports we offer in Queen City Music & Leadership with gratefulness and enthusiasm.  She has been diligent and focused in digging deep to learn all she can about playing the bass.  She is also willing to be guided and has trusted my recommendations as to what will be best for her music career.  Serenity is excelling on her instrument and becoming an accomplished musician in multiple styles of music.”

Frank Albert, Co-Director, Queen City Music and Leadership Program

“Serenity always comes to the school with a positive attitude and a friendly demeanor. She shows a strong passion for playing music while also being patient with the learning process. She is an excellent example of the type of student any music teacher would enjoy teaching.”

Ryan Striker, Co-Director, Queen City Music and Leadership Program

Why did you choose your instrument?

My orchestra conductor first suggested that I start upright bass. I was interested and felt like I was holding power when I played it, because of its depth and loudness. I also like appearance and color of it.

What do you think of your teacher, Scott Kiefner?

For being my first private teacher, he is very patient and makes me feel like it’s okay to make mistakes. He lets me be the one in control of what we practice in lessons. He is a very kind person and makes me excited to play bass.

What is your favorite piece?

Elegy op. 24 by Gabriel Faure

How would you define music?

Pleasant sounds that come together.

What do you like about taking lessons?

I can work on what I want to, such as music I actually like playing on the bass. It makes me feel like playing the bass is something special.

What are your hobbies?

Learning new kinds of music, such bass solos and jazz. Playing new instruments, like electric bass. Eating snacks.

January 2022 Musician of the Month

Ben Lu
Age: 12                                                                                             
Hometown: Bedford
School: Ross A. Lurgio Middle School
Years at MCMS: 7 years                
Years with teacher: 1 year

“Ben Lu is a very hard-working person at both music and tennis. He maintains a consistent practice schedule and continues to develop musically as a result.”

– Valerie Walton, MCMS Saxophone Faculty

Why did you choose your instrument?

I chose the saxophone in 5th grade, when we had the option to play in the school band. My main 3 instruments of choice were, 1. Saxophone, 2. Trumpet, 3. Flute. The main reason I chose Saxophone over Trumpet was because I heard that the Trumpet was hard to play. In hindsight, this was the correct decision, as I have 3 good friends in the saxophone section at school.

What do you think of your teacher?

I really like my teacher. I think she is kind, not too strict, and very wise and knowledgeable. I think she really nails all of the technique aspects down.

What is your favorite piece?

I would say my favorite piece is Cantina Band, from Star Wars, Return of the Jedi.

How would you define music?

Music is a form of art. It is a way of expressing yourself. For the composer, it can express sadness over a loss, for example a heartbreak, or a death. On the other hand, music can express happiness. A difference in tone, key, major and minor, can change the whole entire piece.

What do you like about taking lessons?

I really like playing the saxophone. At lessons, you just get to play, and be supervised. What’s not to like?

What are your hobbies?

My main hobby is to play tennis. I’ve been playing for around 4 years now. But when I’m not playing tennis, I love listening to music. I also enjoy reading, playing piano, and playing basketball.

November Musician of the Month

 Name:  Betsy McMahon 
Age:  38 
Hometown:  Merrimack 
Years at MCMS: 10 
Years with teacher: 4 

“I nominated Betsy as Student of the Month because she brings so much passion and motivation to her lessons.  She is enthusiastic about learning new skills, generalizing her skills and musical knowledge to new songs, always has ideas for what she wants to learn next, and works hard; sometimes she practices multiple times each day.  We recently have started working on making music together, instead of solo playing, and Betsy has enjoyed this so much she has started to play duets with her nieces and nephews at home!” Shannon Laine, MT-BC Music Therapist

Why did you choose your instrument? Because my niece and nephew were taking lessons and I heard them play and decided I would like to sound like them. 

What is your favorite piece? The Muppet Show Theme Song 

What do you like about taking lessons? I like the job – I just want to get good at it. 

What do you think of your teacher? Shannon is the best teacher ever! 

What are your hobbies? Jazz class, driving horses, playing piano, cycling, kayaking, downhill skiing, art class, volleyball, scrabble, sports, and news.

October Musician of the Month

George Taggart 
Age:  12
Hometown:  Concord, MA
School: Fenn School    
Years at MCMS: 2
Years with Teacher: 3

“George is very talented student and has a true passion for music. He was always prepared for his lessons and he is always willing to learn new things.” Romeo Melloni, MCMS Piano Faculty

Why did you choose your instrument?  My oldest sister at the time was playing piano and I didn’t know a lot of other instruments, so I chose to play piano as well.  I started taking piano lessons when I was in kindergarten.

What do you think of your teacher? 

My teacher, Romeo Cesare, is so fun and energetic and always brings positive energy to every lesson.  He always encourages me to try challenging pieces and makes sure that I push myself to achieve my own goals.

What is your favorite piece?  

 I do not have a favorite piece.  I enjoy what every piece has to offer and I also enjoy exploring the rhythm and dynamics of each piano piece.  I like to push myself to understand the concept and meaning behind each piece. 

How would you define music?  

 I would define music as developing oneself through playing and practicing a musical instrument.

What do you like about taking lessons?  

I like how my teacher always shares his experience and knowledge of piano and further deepening and strengthening my ability to practice and connect with the instrument.

What are your hobbies?  

My hobbies are playing piano & saxophone; stargazing, fishing, skiing, playing soccer and tennis, reading, metal detecting and boating.   

September Musician of the Month

Emily Seiler

Age:  17
Hometown:  Bedford, NH
School:  Academy for Science and Design
Years at MCMS:  14 years
Years with Teacher:  5 years

Why did you choose your instrument?  

When I was younger, my mom used to put on live orchestra performances on the TV, and I was completely obsessed! I fell in love with the violin, and begged my mom to let me start violin lessons. I started playing when I was 6 years old, so I have now been playing the violin for almost 12 years!


What do you think of your teacher?  

 I study with Mr. Elliott Markow. He is an amazing teacher – he has helped me tremendously in developing my technique and pitch. He pushes me really hard, but in a nice way, and I learn so much from him. I always look forward to my lesson each week!

What is your favorite piece?  

 I have so many favorites -it is hard to choose! I think my favorites are “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber, Meditation from “Thais” by Jules Massenet, and “The Planets” by Gustav Holst.

What do you like about taking lessons?  

 I like the challenge of learning new techniques and pieces. I enjoy working hard during my lessons, and then leaving feeling accomplished!

What are your hobbies?  

In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching movies, biking, swimming, hanging out with friends, and practicing my violin!

July Musician of the Month



Elise Ducas
Age 8
Hometown: Manchester
School: Weston
Grade: 3rd
Years at Mcms: 1
Years with teacher: 1

“Elise is such a pleasure to teach! She is always enthusiastic about learning and is very diligent about her practice. She is extremely creative, is a natural performer, and isn’t afraid to work hard and take risks. Great job, Elise!”  Kathleen O’Boyle, MCMS Voice Faculty

What do you like about your teacher?

I love my teacher. She is so nice. She really helps me learn and improve my singing. She makes everything fun.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are singing, dancing, swimming, tennis, and riding my bike.

What is your favorite song?

My favorite musical piece so far is The Cat in the Hat Seussical musical. 

Why did you choose to take voice lessons?

I chose to take pics lessons because I love singing and I wanted to get better and learn new songs. 

June Musician of the Month

Nora Laine

Age:  8.5

Hometown:  Hollis

School: Hollis Primary School

Years at MCMS: 2

Years with Teacher: 2 

“Nora is bright, inquisitive and hard working.  She has excelled at her music this year, and brings so much energy and passion to everything she does.   She tried new things, including the performance competition, and we are so proud to have her has a member of our community!” Piper Runnion-Bareford, Executive Director

Why did you choose your instrument?  

I liked the sound of the piano when my mom played it.  I liked to have an instrument that my mom could help me with if I got stuck on something while I was practicing.

What do like about taking lessons at the music school?

I like that my mom is there to guide me, as well as my teacher.  I feel really comfortable when I’m at the music school when I’m taking lessons that day or not.

What is your favorite piece?  

The first minuet of Bach.

How would you define music?  

Music is really soft, soothing, and beautiful all at once.  I love hearing it played.  It just calms me. I love it.

What are your hobbies?  

I love to read.  I also like dancing and playing the piano with my mom or dad.  I also like to play with my brother, as well as spending time with my cat or my family or my friends.


May Musician of the Month






Name: Brianna Mercier 
Age: 23 
Hometown: Franklin, NH 
Years at MCMS: 2 
Years with MCMS Flute Teacher, Aubrie Dionne: 6 

“I have had the honor and the pleasure of watching Bri grow from a young freshman in college who had never taken private lessons to an emerging concert artist pursuing a master’s degree in orchestral flute performance and a kind and enthusiastic music educatorHer transformation has been truly inspiring.”   Aubrie Dionne, MCMS Flute Faculty 

Why did you choose your instrument? 

I chose flute because my cousin played it and I liked the way it sounded. 

What do you think of your teacher? 

Aubrie is a kind, positive and extremely supportive teacher. She only wants the best for her students whether that involves flute or not. I wouldn’t be where I am without her. Even when I’m having a difficult day, she finds a way to turn it into a positive learning experience. 

What is your favorite piece? 

I enjoy playing both as a soloist as well as in an ensemble. I think my favorite solo piece to play would be Winter Spirits by Katherine Hoover. There’s a lot of imagery within the piece that makes it both challenging and enjoyable to play. If I could pick a favorite ensemble piece, I think it would be Shadow Catcher by Eric Ewanzen. 

How would you define music? 

Music is a language that requires no words. It allows people to connect with one another regardless where we come from and what language we speak. For me it is my way of expressing my thoughts and feelings when I cannot find the words. 

What do you like about taking lessons? 

I like taking lessons because I can see and feel myself progressing each week. I also enjoy getting feedback each week and learning new skills and tricks to make playing easier. 

What are your hobbies? 

I don’t have a lot of free time but I enjoy skiing and taking trips to the beach with my mom. 

Tell us about your future plans… 

This fall I will be attending Southern Illinois University to pursue my master’s in Orchestral Instrument Performance focusing on Flute. 

April Musician of the Month

Name: Morgan Loomis
Age:  18
Hometown:  Pembroke
School: Pembroke Academy
Years at MCMS: 3
Years with Teacher: 2

“I nominated Morgan for Musician of the Month because of her unwavering dedication to her instrument, work ethic and ability to balance it all with school and a job!” Matt Dickey, MCMS Faculty

Why did you choose to be a violinist?  

My primary instrument is actually piano, so I really grew a love for classical music. When I got into high school I really wanted to join the school band (we don’t have an orchestra yet) so I picked up a violin! It was a great choice, as I’ve made friends with two other great violinists and two awesome violists!

What do you think of Matt as a teacher?

He’s wonderful. He really knows what he’s doing and is able to help me improve by being honest and supportive. He’s really helped me grow as a musician these past few years with him and I’m very grateful.

What is your favorite piece?  What kind of music do you like to listen to? 

Telling you my favorite piece is impossible. However, Chopin will ALWAYS be my favorite composer, followed close by Prokofiev and his Romeo and Juliet ballet. As for other music, I love jazz, soul, indie & rock.

How would you define music?  

To me, music is like pages of a diary. You can get so deep and personal within music and it’s easy to let the emotions take over, but it’s just so beautiful and a wonderful reflection of our lives and our feelings. It’s something everyone can enjoy and relate to.

What are your hobbies?  

Outside of music, I love film and photography and being able to capture moments and hold onto them. I also love education, specifically watching people learn and grow and hopefully being able to have a lasting impact on them. Last year I was able to spend a semester teaching in the music classrooms of my old middle school, and currently I’m assistant teaching at the high school in an intro to piano lab and music history class.

What are your plans after graduation?

This fall I’ll be in the Manchester School District serving with City Year Americorps! It will be a really great experience and a wonderful opportunity to make connections and life long impacts for the students. Next fall I plan on attending Bennington College with a focus on music and education.

March Musician of the Month


Name: Spencer Laine
Age:  9, turning 10 in April
Hometown:  Hollis
School: Hollis Upper Elementary School
Years at MCMS: almost 2
Years with Teacher: almost 2

Since our first lesson, Spencer has shown a high level of drive and hunger to learn any musical information I throw his way. He is obviously passionate about learning music and always practices what the material I give him. I have been constantly impressed by his overall comprehension and work ethic.”

 Ryan Striker, MCMS Faculty

Why did you choose the saxophone?

A couple summers ago, I heard the song Overexcited” by Guster. I was fascinated by the saxophone part.  My mom is a musician and works at MCMS, but doesn’t know how to play any woodwind instruments.  I thought it would be cool to learn an instrument she couldn’t play.

What do you think of your teacher, Ryan?

I love taking lessons with Ryan.  Hes a really good teacher.  He explains things in many ways so that I understand.  He’s patient and we have a lot of fun in our lessons.  Ryan also lets me learn music that I want to play, but shows me how to do it in really neat ways.

What is your favorite piece and what are you working on right now?  My favorite piece to play on the saxophone is Blue Monk.  Its really fun to play, with a lot of neat notes and I have to do some fun fingerings to play it.  It sounds really jazzy when I play it fast.  I’m learning my Blues Scales in C and G and I’m learning how to improvise.

What does music mean to you?

Music helps me with my feelings and emotions, thinking – because it’s just how I am and how I work.  I feel my music deep down.  When I play my saxophone, I feel happiness and joy, like I’m reunited with an old friend.

What do you like about taking lessons?

I like to know how to play the saxophone, and love learning new concepts and techniques in every lesson.

What are your hobbies?

I have studied karate for two years.  I love to take things apart, put them back together, and try to fix electronics.  This spring, I plan to build my own computer.

February Musician of the Month




Theodore Collins 
Age:  Seventeen years old 
Hometown: Londonderry 
School: Homeschooled 

“Theo is willing to explore instruments that are out of his wheelhouse. He works on them until he is competent, then invokes his musicianship. He’s a monster talent!”  

 Jared Steer, MCMS Percussion Ensemble director  

Years at MCMS: I’ve been participating in a few groups and taking lessons at MCMS for two years, starting in the spring of 2019. 

Years with Teacher: I’ve performed in Jared’s percussion ensemble for half a year now

Why did you choose to be a percussionist?   To tell the truth, I didn’t. My sister joined the ensemble and my mom signed me up too so we could play in an ensemble together. If I were to get really technical, I actually decided to become a percussionist when I decided I wanted to play piano like my brother. I started playing at age six

What are your experiences with the Percussion Ensemble? I’ve had pretty good experiences so far. I’ve learned how to read some basic percussion notation, how to play quite a few percussion instruments, and I’ve learned a few fun songs, too.

What do you think of Jared as a teacher/ensemble coach? Jared is an outstanding teacher. He encourages us to experiment with our melodies and instrumentation, he has us try things we’re not familiar with, he’s extremely accommodating, and he just has fun with the group. I haven’t had any one on one lessons with him, but my sister has and she’s learned a lot from him. He’s great at what he does and he loves what he does. I believe he does his utmost to help us do the same. 

What is your favorite piece?  What kind of music do you like to listen to?  If it’s concerning the music we’ve played in class, my favorite piece is most certainly Brazil. If the question was regarding music in general, I really can’t pick a favorite. My taste in music is pretty eclectic, to the point where I can only think of maybe one or two genres I don’t like listening to. Even then, there are exceptions in each of them. I like songs in many different genres for many different reasons, and I think it’d suffice it to say that I just like music. 

 How would you define music?  There are a number of universal languages that people can understand regardless of nationality. Mathematics, love, and food, for example. I would say that music is the best and most expressive of all universal languages. There’s just an amazing range of emotions, ideas, and values that can be expressed through song, and elements of other universal languages like math can be found in music as well. In short, I would define music as the best language.

 What are your hobbies? Making music is definitely one of my larger hobbies, but others I enjoy a lot are gaming, drawing, animating, and airsofting. Hopefully I can add car modification to the list soon, but I have to save money for a while before that can happen. I’ve noticed that pretty much all of my hobbies tend to eat up my wallet pretty quickly. 

December Musician of the Month

Gail Schuman, adult

Gail has been studying oboe with Kyoko for 1.5 years. She is a pediatric neurologist with master’s degrees in physics and mathematics. Gail attended medical school when she was 50 years old, and is a brave supporter in trying new things at any age! She sings in the church choir at Grace Episcopal Church in Manchester and also takes the intermediate Music Theory Class at MCMS. She has enjoyed learning about intervals and how to sing them.

“The oboe is one of the most difficult wind instruments to learn. When Gail came to my studio, she had a hard time reaching all the keys on the oboe. However, she has never given up. She is the most positive person I have ever encountered. It is such a pleasure to meet adult student like her. She teaches me so much about life. Thank you, Gail.” Kyoko Hida-Battaglia, MCMS Faculty

Why did you choose your instrument?

I attended a Music’s on the Menu concert a few years ago and watched Kyoko perform. I spoke with Kyoko’s adult student at the time and was inspired to pick up the oboe myself!

What do you think of your teacher?

I love Kyoko! She is such a pleasant and lovely person. Kyoko is very enthusiastic and always open to explaining details, especially for a scientific minded person like myself. We worked on building a device made from felt to help small fingers reach the keys of the oboe.

What kind of music do you enjoy playing?

Gail loves anything by Handel, in particular, the Largo movement from an oboe sonata. She also enjoys playing church music and has performed the Ode to Joy from the hymnal. She also loves Gabriel’s Oboe by Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Gail listens to music all of the time. If a piece sparks her interest, she decides if it is appropriate to play on the oboe and if she can do it!

How would you define music?

Music has always been important in my life I’ve sung in church choir since middle school. It doesn’t matter what language a person speaks, the music can speak for them. I also talk to my patients about music – it is a topic that helps develop common ground.

March Musician of the Month







Friday’s Sprouting Melodies Class

“This class is such a wonderful class to work with.  The students are all around the same age and really love music!  We spend a lot of time exploring instruments, sound, our voices, and movement, and giving even our youngest students the opportunity to share the music.” – Shannon Laine, Music Therapist and Sprouting Melodies Teacher

Interview with The Sprouting Melodies Class 

Name: Sprouting Melodies 1&2 Class, Friday Mornings at 11am

Age: 10-13 months

Hometown: Nashua, Alton Bay, Manchester (2 families) 

Why did you choose your instrument?

We love to make noise!

What do you think of your teacher?

We love her. She’s the best!  She gives us lots of non-music tips too, which is helpful.

What is your favorite piece?

Scarves and Peek-A Boo Song, Wiggly Jiggly Car

What do you like about the class?

Being able to explore instruments, noises, teach our caregivers new tips and tricks, and being with other babies.

What are your hobbies?

Crawling, learning to walk, napping, snuggling with Mom/Dad/Grandma/Grandpa


February Musician of the Month








Emerson L.
Age: 13
Hometown: Bedford
School: Homeschooled
Years at MCMS: 6 years
Emerson began her lessons at MCMS on harp with Piper Runnion-Bareford. She has studied piano with Rebecca for 4 years.

I nominated Emerson for Musician of the Month because of her willingness to go the extra mile to get a piece finished.  She really works hard and doesn’t give up!” 
Rebecca Plummer, Piano Faculty MCMS

Why did you choose your instrument?

The piano has a pretty sound and I like the pedals. It makes me use my fifth finger, unlike the harp! It’s a very educational instrument; good for your brain and helps in school.

What do you think of your teacher?

Miss Rebecca is an extremely smart teacher and really helps me to do my best. I’m improved a lot. We work on rhythm and developing a well-rounded repertoire.

What is your favorite piece?

Nocturne in C by Chopin.

How would you define music?

I love music because it lifts my soul and makes me feel as if I was floating on a cloud.

Emerson enjoys playing harp as well as piano, horseback riding, reading mysteries, books by Jane Austen and anything funny. She also likes to draw and to travel.

December Musician of the Month








Samantha C.
Age: 17
Hometown: Pembroke
School: Pembroke Academy
Samantha has studied at the Manchester Community Music School for the past 3 years. She’s studied with Paul for 4 years.

“Sam is a conscientious member of every ensemble. She’s the first to arrive and the last to leave. She comes to each lesson a better player than the one before.” 
Paul Pinard – MCMS String Faculty

Why did you choose your instrument?

Because its in between violin and cello.  

What do you think of your teacher?

He gives good feedback and corrections. Hes tough but in a good way. In lessons, theres always something to improve.

What is your favorite piece?

The Finale to the Fifth Symphony by Shostakovich.

How would you define music?

A language that can be heard and understood by everyone. 

Samantha loves playing in orchestras. She plays with the Dino Anagnost Youth Symphony of New Hampshire and the SNHU Orchestra.

November Musician of the Month









Ilya B.
Age: 14 years old
Hometown: Derry
School: Pinkerton Academy
Ilya has studied oboe at MCMS with Kyoko for 3 years.

Ilya listens carefully to what we talk about in the lessons and practices very well.
After he joined the MCMS orchestra, he is even more motivated to improve his skills.
I look forward to seeing him every week!

Kyoko Hida-Battaglia – MCMS Oboe Faculty

Why did you choose your instrument?

I started in middle school band because I liked the sound and look of the oboe.

What do you think of your teacher?

Kyoko is great! She is very helpful and picks good music.

What is your favorite piece?

I like orchestra music, especially Russian composers.

How would you define music?

Music is an art form of making nice sounds and melodies to make a theme.

What do you like about taking lessons?

Lessons help me learn. I think lessons are important to learning an instrument and I enjoy improving.

Ilya also enjoys robotics and skiing. He skis a double black diamond.

October Musician of the Month

Elli H.
Age: 9
Hometown: Auburn
School: Auburn Village School
Years at MCMS: 2 years
Years with Teacher: 2 years

“Elli always comes to class prepared, excited, and ready to learn. Through her hard work and perseverance, she continues to show great progress!”
-Terry Barton, Piano Faculty, MCMS

Why did you choose your instrument?

My mom and dad started me and my sisters on Suzuki piano when I was five.

What do you think of your teacher?

She is very nice and helpful when I’m struggling with a song. She even plays upside down! She likes to say, “It’s not a race, it’s a process.” It’s fun to learn new things.  

What is your favorite piece?

Allegro by Suzuki

How would you define music?

Music is beautiful and I love to play it.

Elli enjoys softball, reading, swimming, and playing outside.

August Musician of the Month

George Hunt
Age: 74                                                       
Hometown: Manchester
George takes two 1 hour lessons back to back from MCMS faculty Tony Zannini- one hour for classical and 1 hour for jazz guitar. He has been studying at MCMS for 7 months.

“George is absolutely dedicated to playing and deserves his day in the sun.”   Tony Zannini- MCMS guitar faculty

Interview with George

Why did you choose your instrument?

I played guitar and mandolin for about 40 years on and off while I was a Software Development Project Manager in Virginia. Now that I’m retired, I can focus on my music full time. I play mandolin with a friend, and I’m also learning fiddle.

What do you think of your teacher?

Tony is a great guy. We have a lot in common because we are contemporaries. I can mention the name of a guitarist from 1971 and Tony knows whom I’m talking about. Tony is a very methodical teacher and brings in a lot of ideas that I’ve never considered. He points out a Spanish Phrygian mode and explains how to see chords through the eyes of a jazz musician.  

What is your favorite piece?

Right now I’m working on a Handel minuet. I love to play “Guardame las vacas” by Luys de Narvarz. I brought it in to my lesson. That tune lights me up every time I play it.

How would you define music?

Putting one note after another.

George enjoys outdoor activities. Hes about to climb Mount Eisenhower in the Presidential range this summer. He also enjoys kayaking and boxing. He is originally from Weymouth, MA.

June Musician of the Month

Faith G.

Age: 17
Hometown: Hooksett
School: Londonderry High School
Years at MCMS: 5 years
Years with Teacher, Krystal Morin: 5 years

“Faith is super dedicated and it’s very obvious in lessons how passionate she is. She is always looking for new repertoire and performance opportunities.” 
Krystal Morin, MCMS Voice Faculty

What inspired you to take lessons?

I’ve sang my whole life since I was 2 years old. I sang all of the Disney songs growing up. My favorite one is Part of Your World from the Little Mermaid. In middle school, my voice was in a lull and I wanted to make it stronger, increase my range, and learn a variety of styles.

What do you think of your teacher?

Krystal is awesome! She’s taught me so much over the past 5 years. I enjoy our siren exercise – where you replicate a siren noise with your voice very high to work on a consistent tone color across the full range.

What is your favorite piece?

There are too many to name just one. I have so many rep ideas – one lesson I brought a list of 15 new songs that I wanted to try.

What has your Experience Been at MCMS?

I have a great memory of doing the Performance Competition in 2016 where I won a trophy.

Faith sings in the Londonderry Chamber Choir and made the All-State treble choir this year. She enjoys community service and is part of the Community Service Club where she helps with senior citizen lunches and the Special Olympics. She will sing for the Fisher Cats this August.

May Musician of the Month

Johandry V.

Age: 12
Hometown: Manchester
School: McLaughlin Middle School
Years at MCMS: Sept. 2018
Years with Teacher: 2

“Johandry comes prepared to his lesson each week and is very eager to learn.  He is progressing very well and I can tell that he really loves music and the guitar.” John Zevos, MCMS Faculty

Why did you choose your instrument?
I played violin and I thought it would be an easy switch.  

What do you think of your teacher?
Mr. Zevos is nice, patient and gives good instruction.

What is your favorite piece?
Horse with No Name

How would you define music?
Music is calm and peace. 

What do you like about taking lessons?
I would like to get better and be able to perform one day.  

Johandry also enjoys playing soccer and likes video games.

April Musician of the Month

Rachel R.

Age: 9
Hometown: Manchester
School: Northwest Elementary
Grade: 4

Rachel is kind, curious, and is always excited about music!”  – Michelle Weber, Violin faculty MCMS
Rachel has been at MCMS for one year. Shes studied with Michelle Weber for 2.5 years.

What inspired you to take lessons?  

My Aunt gave me a violin for Christmas. She plays French Horn. I had been asking for a violin for a long time.

What do you think of your teacher, Michelle?

Shes kind and I know her very well. She would be my friend, actually she is my friend.

Do you play in a group or ensemble?

I play in my school orchestra.

How would do define music?

Music is a fun thing. 

Rachel loves fishing, camping, and likes to build things. She is also a talented painter and very good at origami.

March Musician of the Month

Photini W.
Age: 10
Hometown: Windham
School: Windham Center School
Grade: 5

Photini has taken ukulele and guitar lessons with John Zevos at the Manchester Community Music School for the past 5 years.

Photini has shown her love of music and desire to play from her first lesson.  She takes lessons on two instruments, classical guitar and popular music on ukulele, and is consistently improving on both.  I look forward to her lesson every week.”  John Zevos, Guitar Faculty MCMS

Interview with Photini

What inspired you to take lessons?  

My brother plays the violin and I wanted to play an instrument as well.  I saw a pink ukulele in the music shop and wanted to play it. I liked how it had four strings.

What is your favorite piece?

For guitar: Moorish Dance. For ukulele: Stand by Me

What do you like about your teacher?

He teaches me a lot about the instrument and gives me opportunities to perform. We went to the library in Windham and I played two songs with his band: Ben Rudnick and Friends. It was a great playing experience.

Photini likes to compose music. She won 1st place in her school, and 3rd place state-wide in the Reflections contest for her piano composition titled, Reflections.

February Musician of the Month

Kaitlin T.
Age: 11 months
Hometown: Amherst NH
Kaitlin has attended Sprouting Melodies since September 2018.

“Kaitlin just lights up in our Sprouting Melodies classes! It has been so wonderful to see her explore and grow over the last few months, reaching a variety of developmental milestones within our music settings. What I love the most about having Kaitlin in Sprouting Melodies is how her mom carries over using the songs at home to bond with Kaitlin as well as to help with transitions in their day-to-day activities.”  –Maureen Young, MT-BC, Music Therapist

Interview with Kaitlin’s mom, Terry

What has her experience been like at MCMS so far?  

Kaitlin loves music and responds well to the class. She doesn’t like to get dressed in the mornings, but when I sing “The Hello Song” from class, she gets moving. The class has provided me with a positive way to transition her from activities. We play the Sprouting Melodies CD in the car and she loves it.

 What do you think of her teacher, Maureen?

We love Maureen. She is very sweet and good with kids. She has a calming voice.

 Do you think Kaitlin will continue with music?

I hope she plays an instrument someday.  

Kaitlin loves to play with toys that make noise and light up. She loves books. Her favorite book is Brown Bear.

January Musician of the Month

Jacinta S. 
Age: 14
Hometown: Derry
School: Sophomore at Holy Family Academy in Manchester
Jacinta has studied piano at MCMS with Rebecca Plummer for 4 years. She played piano for one year prior to her studies at MCMS.

I nominated Jacinta for Musician-of-the-Month because of her “quiet persistence” approach to learning piano.  Jacinta is a deep thinker and takes an introspective view of her pieces.   She’s made significant progress in both technique and musicality and I look forward to her lessons every week!”  -Rebecca Plummer, MCMS Piano Faculty

Interview with Jacinta

Do you play in any groups?  

I accompany Debbie Markows Preparatory String Ensemble. Im learning a lot about string instruments and the sound of the piano adds depth to the ensemble.

What inspired you to take lessons?

Im the youngest of 9 siblings, and they all took lessons. You can do a lot of different things with the piano, it can make a variety of sounds. My favorite piece is Chopins Prelude in G minor. I enjoy it because its really loud and fast!

Why do you like studying with Rebecca?

The lessons are very positive. They are less of a test and more of a coaching or a weekly check in.

How would you define music?

Music is different than what I usually do. Its an escape separate from everything else.  

Jacinta enjoys animals. She has rats, pigs, chickens and turkeys all with mythological names such as Hades and Poseidon! She also enjoys gardening.


December Musician of the Month

Marty Lennon

Age: 82 years old

Hometown: Hooksett

Marty started playing trombone in 7th grade. She continued to play until her sophomore year of college and then didnt pick it back up again until October of 2017. She has been studying with Russ Ryan for a year.

Marty has come a long way since she picked up the trombone after 40+ years of not playing. Within a year she has played and performed with three different ensembles! She is a great example that it’s never too late to learn or re-learn an instrument.” – Russ Ryan, Trumpet Faculty

What inspired you to take lessons?

I needed a new enthusiasm. Id heard about the Music School through a friend and decided to give it a try. When I signed up, I wasnt even sure I could still blow. When I took the trial lessons, I was amazed at how much I recalled! I remembered notes and positions.

What has your experience been like at MCMS?

I love my lessons. Russ is my inspiration. I also play in the MCMS Community Wind Ensemble, and the conductor, Dave Bresnahan, is my motivator. When I first signed up, my goal was to be able to play in a band in the summer. This past summer, I played in two bands! Playing with young people is totally energizing and rejuvenating. I love making new friends and having something to focus on.

Marty also participates in zoomba, and she is the past president of the Hooksett Garden Club.

November Musician of the Month

Penelope van der Meer

Age: 16

Hometown: Bedford

School: Bedford High School     Grade: 11

 Penelope has studied harp with Erica Driscoll at MCMS for three years. She has played harp for six years. She has also performed with the MCMS Flute Choir.

“Penelope exudes happiness and it’s always a pleasure to work with her. We share the love of harp – and crafts!” – Erica Driscoll, Harp Faculty

What inspired you to take harp lessons?

I wanted a more unique instrument than the piano and harp is a beautiful alternative. MCMS is great because I get to connect with other harpists.

What is your favorite piece?

Rigaudon by Benard Andres because it has a unique rhythm with syncopation.

 What do you like about your teacher?

Erica is really supportive and gives great feedback.

 What does music mean to you?

Its a way to express your feelings without words and without having other people judge you. Everyone can have their own interpretations and you can still express your own emotion.

 Penelope enjoys calligraphy and craft making.

October Musician of the Month

Josiah D.

Age: 9
Hometown: Londonderry
School: Windham Academy        Grade: 3 

Josiah has attended MCMS for the past 3 years. He has played piano and studied with Terry Barton for 3 years.

I nominated Josiah because he has a positive attitude, works hard, and often goes beyond the assignments.  I love the enthusiasm and excitement he brings to each lesson.” –Terry Barton, piano faculty

What inspired you to take lessons?

I saw people playing and I wished I could play.

Why did you choose the piano?

It’s fun because it exercises your fingers. It also gets people to play for their families.

What is your favorite piece?

Minuet in G by Christian Petzold

What do you like about your teacher?

She teaches me how to play the pieces perfectly and in the right way. She shows me the meaning of the pieces and how they work.  

How would you define “music”?

An exercise for the hands that plays beautiful sounds. 

Josiah likes school, baseball and soccer. He looks forward to continuing his piano studies as well as violin and guitar.

June Musician of the Month

Charlotte L.
Age: 9
Hometown: Bedford
School: Peter Woodbury Grade: 3

“I chose Charlotte because of her great attitude and her work habits. She accomplishes what she is asked. We have a lot of laughs in learning and making music.”  –Chris Cavanaugh, violin faculty

Charlotte has attended MCMS for the past year. She has played violin for 3 years and studied with Chris Cavanaugh for 1 year.

What inspired you to take lessons?

When I was 5 years old, I used to listen to videos of music.

Why did you choose the violin?

At first I wanted to play piano, but then I heard a song I really liked on the violin. It sounded like a lullaby.

What is your favorite piece?

Concerto for two violins in G minor by J.S. Bach.

What do you like about your teacher?

He’s funny. He’s helped me work on my hand position, learn more notes, and play in tune.

Charlotte also enjoys gymnastics and reading a series of books about cat warriors. She won the MCMS Performance competition this year in the Preschool-Elementary Strings category.

May Musician of the Month

Beatrice H.
Age: 11                            
Grade: 5th
Hometown: Warner     
School: Homeschooled
Beatrice has been studying with Heather Bond for 1 year at the Manchester Community Music School.

“Beatrice has a wonderful ear for music. She has a happy dedication to her music and boundless creativity. Beatrice always comes to lessons with a smile and has clearly practiced and improved each week.” Heather Bond, violin faculty

Interview with Beatrice

Do you play in an ensemble?

I want to play in an ensemble someday. Right now I sing in the Schola Cantorum at St. Josephs Cathedral in Manchester.

What inspired you to take lessons?

My brother was already taking violin lessons. Playing another instrument (other than violin) never crossed my mind.

What is your favorite piece?

The Two Grenadiers by Schumann. I like how joyful it is. I performed it at a talent show at my homeschool co-op. I researched information on the grenadiers and made a grenadier hat to wear at the talent show.

What do you like about your teacher?

Shes really good at getting me to practice. She writes down everything that I need to practice in a notebook.

Beatrice also enjoys crafting using recycled material, origami, and reading classics such as Anne of Green Gables and Nancy Drew. She likes to be outside and play with her dog.


April Musician of the Month

William L.
 Age: 10                           
Grade: 5th
Hometown: Bedford        
School: Mckelvie Middle School

William has studied violin for 5 years and flute for 3 years. Hes worked with Mark Latham for 4 years on violin, and Aubrie Dionne for 3 years on flute.

William takes his flute lessons very seriously and works hard on everything I assign. He has a natural technical ability and produces a clear and confident sound for his age! I enjoy trying to make him laugh, and giving him new challenges in every lesson.” -Aubrie Dionne, Flute Faculty 


William has a great ear, a good sense of rhythm, and plays with great maturity for his age. Hes smart and fun and I always have a good time teaching him.  -Mark Latham Violin Faculty


Interview with William

Do you play in an ensemble?

I play in the concert orchestra. I like how Mr. Pinard chooses good pieces and explains things well.

Youve won the MCMS Performance Competition several times. How does that feel?

I like participating in this competition because it gives me something to work for. Ive won twice on flute and once on violin.

Why did you choose the flute and violin?

My mom suggested I play violin. I heard flute being played at the school, and I liked the sound of it, so I choose to play flute in addition to violin.

What do you like about your teachers here at MCMS?

Aubrie prompts me to play the piece well instead of just okay. She has an ability to motivate me to practice. Mark explains things well and I like when he gets off topic and talks about history and science.

William recently qualified for a state-wide Chemistry Tournament. He enjoys reading science fiction and mysteries and gardening.

March Musician of the Month

Nathaniel M.
6 years old
Hometown: Bedford
Nate has taken lesson with Miss Terry for two years.

Nate has always been a joy to teach.  He is bright and conscientious.  He is a careful listener, which is crucial to the Suzuki method, but is a valuable asset to every musician.  He does not back down from hard work and practice.  Even for one so young, he is able to create beautiful music and build a repertoire that continues to improve and increase.  I also love Nate’s great attitude and delightful sense of humor.” – Terry Barton, MCMS Piano Faculty

What inspired you to take lessons?

I really like piano lessons because Miss Terry has a nice smile and she teaches me a lot! She teaches me new notes, scales, songs, and where to place my fingers.

Why did you choose the piano?

I enjoyed playing my electric keyboard at home. So, I thought I piano would be fun.

What is your favorite piece?

Goodbye to Winter. Its a folk song. It has a lot of cool notes and I like the sound.

Nathaniel enjoys reading, especially Nate the Great books, with a character who shares the same name! He also collects rocks, minerals, and gems. Some of his favorite pieces in his collection are Tigers Eye and garnet.

February Musician of the Month

Caroline D.
Age: 15
Hometown: Manchester
School: Derryfield   Grade: 10
Years at MCMS: 15

Caroline started taking the early childhood classes at MCMS when she was a toddler, then moved on to guitar and piano. Shes studied with Donna Lombardo for 5 years.

“Caroline is in her fifth year of voice study with me, and she has always been a joy to teach.  Even though she was ten when she first came to me, I agreed to take her on because from the first she seemed so earnest in her desire to sing music theater, she was obviously musical, and she had already had years of experience with music classes and lessons.  She had participated in the Manchester Community Music School’s early childhood programs as a baby and toddler, and at age six, she sang in our Prelude Children’s Choir.  By age 7, she was taking piano lessons here at MCMS.  Caroline was also an accomplished dancer, as she had taken dance classes from a young age.  I knew that the discipline she had learned for dance would serve her well in her study of voice.  I insist that all my students learn basic classical singing technique and require them to learn classical art songs along with their music theater songs, and Caroline embraced this philosophy.  This classical foundation has enabled her to understand how the music theater mixed-belt is produced in a healthy way, while also having the flexibility to sing “legit” roles.   Music theater singers need to be adept in several in singing styles, be proficient dancers, and be talented actors; Caroline has the intelligence, talent, determination, and capacity for hard work that achieving that goal requires.  Finally, she communicates an indisputable joy in performing.  I have watched Caroline grow in ability and self-confidence, and if she continues to develop the qualities she has exhibited so far, I have faith that she can become a formidable “Triple Threat”.” -Donna Lombardo, Voice Faculty

Do you sing in an Ensemble?

Im in concert choir and select choir at Derryfield. I also sing in an all girls a cappella group. Ive made classical All State for 2 years in a row.

What inspired you to take lessons?

Ive danced competitively since I was 3 years old. When I started to try musical theater, they recommended I work on my singing. I choose to study with Donna because I sang in the childrens choir which she directed at the time.

You are singing the National Anthem for the Monarchs game on March 3rd. Are you excited?

Its a really cool opportunity. Im very excited. Im never afraid to be on stage because I started performing at such a young age. I enjoy showing what Ive been working on.

Do you enjoy your voice lessons with Donna?

Donna has always been open minded to whatever I want to work on. She is always very kind.

Caroline is a competitive dancer. She enjoys performing in musical theater and is on the State Championship Tennis Team.

January Musician of the Month

Charlie S.

Age: 6
Grade: Kindergarten
Hometown: Merrimack  
School: Thorntons Ferry

Charlie has an amazing ability to listen and repeat rhythms and pitches. He always completes his assignments and more! Charlie is also a great performer and enjoys sharing his talent in recitals.”  Liz Hodges, Piano Faculty, MCMS

Charlie has played piano and studied with Liz Hodges at MCMS for 1.5 years.

What inspired you to take lessons?

I heard the organ in my cousins church and I wanted to play organ. I like how its really loud.

The organist allowed Charlie to play the organ, and Charlie played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

What is your favorite piece?

Allegretto No. 1 by Czerny

What do you like about your teacher?

I like how Miss Liz teaches games. I like note games like the Halloween Board Game, and I learn intervals with musical Jinga.

Have you played in recitals?

Yes, twice so far.

Charlie enjoys Irish dance, skiing, and pizza

December Musician of the Month

Derek D.

Age: 13 Grade: 8

Hometown: Bedford   School: Lurgio Middle School

Derek has studied with Matt Green at MCMS for 4 years. He has played the violin for 7 years.

“Derek is very deserving of this honor not for having had one very good month, but for having a very long string of consecutive good months of progress, practice, and discipline.  Derek uses his intelligence to solve the challenges of violin playing, and is keenly inquisitive, always asking excellent questions about music and violin technique.  He has always been willing to work, and not only on the repertoire pieces which are the most entertaining for most students, but also on the skill developing exercises, which by his good attitude and desire, he turns into interesting, fun challenges.  He comes to his lessons consistently well prepared.  He remembers both what his assignments are and how to execute them.  The pathway towards becoming a highly accomplished violinist is wide open for Derek, and I am looking forward to his next years with great anticipation.” Matt Green, Violin Faculty, MCMS

Do you play in any groups?

I play with my school band. I usually play the flute part because that is the closest to a violin part. I also play in Concert Orchestra here at MCMS. Its a lot of fun and Paul is a great conductor. He explains all of the parts and makes sure we are challenged.

What inspired you to take lessons?

When I was little, I loved listening to pieces that sounded really difficult.

How did you pick the violin?

I went to a music store in China. A lot of violins were hanging all around and the smaller ones looked really cool. I wanted to play the violin even though my mom wanted me to play piano. I love the sound of the violin.

What do you like about your teacher?

Mr. Green is really nice and very patient. He always wants me to be the best I can be on each piece. He explains how to practice and guides me through it. I was so excited when I knew I could continue to study with him online after he moved away. We do Skype lessons, and the sound comes out perfectly fine. The biggest challenge is the visual time lag. Mr. Green makes sure he is really close to the screen when he shows me hand positions.

Derek enjoys tennis, ping pong, and playing video games.

November Musician of the Month

Aidan L. 
Age: 10
Hometown: Manchester
School: St. Catherine’s     Grade: 4

“Aidan works hard, listens well, and strives for excellence.  He often goes above and beyond what I have assigned him.  I have seen consistent progress in his repertoire, musicality, and technique. What I enjoy the most is his genuine excitement and joy at making music. He’s a terrific student!” -Terry Barton

 Aidan has attended MCMS for the past 7 years. He began taking the early childhood classes and graduated to Suzuki piano. Aidan has studied piano for five years. He recently completed his first year studying with Terry Barton.

What is your favorite piece?

I can tell you what my least favorite piece is! French Childrens Song. It is very tricky and always kept coming up when I picked a card! My favorite song is Allegro by Suzuki. I like it because it is fast.

What do you like about your teacher?

Terry is kind and fun. When we practice music, we play a game called “Sad Stickley.” It’s a cumulative rhythm game so you keep adding to the rhythms until you mess up!

Do you enjoy playing in recitals?

So far I’ve played in 4 recitals. I get a bit nervous, but once I start playing I’m not afraid.

 Aidan also enjoys Legos, cross country, and he is a Ninja Warrior at the USA Ninja Challenge Gym.

October Musician of the Month

Marcus Z.
Age: 8
Hometown: Manchester
School: St. Catherine’s     Grade: 3

“Marcus is a fantastic student. He is always prepared and picks up musical ideas with ease. He has a deep respect for his teacher, and he corrects his mistakes very quickly. I was most impressed when I asked him to play a G7 chord, and he played it and understood it without help!” -Liz Hodges, piano faculty

Marcus has studied piano with Liz Hodges at MCMS for two years.

I enjoy the music theory part of my lessons with Miss Liz. I like how she shows me the notes on the floor and we toss a bean bag to the correct notes on the staff.

Why did you choose the piano?

Because you just have to press the keys. I like how there are different kinds of pianos. I like how the piano can play softly, and smooth and connected. I also like the high register.

What is your favorite piece?

Cuckoo from the Suzuki Book

Have you played in a recital?

Yes, I’ve played in one recital. I like playing in front of everyone.  

Marcus also enjoys karate (he is an orange belt), Legos, and solving the Rubiks cube.

September Musician of the Month

Carol Kelly

Semi-retired middle school teacher at St. Casimir School, Manchester             Hometown: Goffstown  

“Carol has such pure joy when she plays the flute, and has a high level of dedication and determination. She has already used her music as a tool for relaxation, motivation, and to connect with her son who is a music teacher in Vermont. She has a high level of respect for classical music, and is a pleasure to work with.” -Aubrie Dionne, flute teacher

Carol has studied flute with Aubrie at MCMS since July of 2017. She started with the 6 week trial period and decided to continue this fall.

My teacher, Aubrie, handles me with respect, has interest in my progress, and is a task master. I enjoy her teaching style very much.

Do you play in any groups?

I am looking forward to joining a group.

 What inspired you to take lessons?

A STRONG DESIRE to play the flute.
I have played a double reed and a single reed instrument, and the flute, having no reed, seemed a good challenge; also, it is small and lightweight to carry.

 What is your favorite piece?

 I have two favorites which I am presently working on: 

LARGO by Vivaldi and RONDO by Pleyel.

I hope to experiment with jazz in the future.

 What has your experience been at MCMS?

My experience with MCMS has been upbeat and pleasurable. 

 Carol enjoys rooting for the Red Sox and gardening.     

June Musician of the Month

Gavin P.

Age: 12- will be 13 in June! Grade: 7

Hometown: Goffstown   School: Mountainview Middle School

Gavin has studied at MCMS for 11 years. He has taken piano lessons for 7 years, and cello lessons for 5 years.

“I nominated Gavin for Musician-of-the-Month because of his intense curiosity, tenacity for accuracy, his musical integrity and extreme talent.  It’s not enough to have talent in any field – you have to learn how to work hard and keep striving for the best results.   Gavin epitomizes this work ethic.   He’s also a great student and a lot of fun!!” – Rebecca Plummer, piano faculty

Interview with Gavin P.

Do you play in any groups?

I play in my school orchestra and Jazz Band. I am hoping to play in the MCMS orchestra soon!

What inspired you to take lessons?

We had a piano sitting in my house and ever since I was young I wanted to play. When I was 4 years old, I asked my mom to play the piano. My mom gave me lessons for a year, and then I started taking lessons at MCMS. In 3rd grade, my school offered orchestra. I wanted to play viola, but there werent any violas, so I went with cello, and it was certainly a good decision!

Why do you enjoy studying with Rebecca?

Rebecca knows how to help me when Im having trouble. She knows my strengths and weaknesses. She is also flexible with lesson times.

What has your experience been at MCMS?

I started going to MCMS when I was 2 years old for Music for Little Ones. MCMS has a lot of opportunities to perform.

Gavin is in the Robotics Club. He is very interested in airplanes and would like to become a pilot someday.

May Musician of the Month

Joe G. 

Age: 16, Sophomore in High School (homeschooled) Hometown: Hooksett

Joe has studied music at MCMS for 7 years. He has played a string instrument for 11 years. He started on violin before switching to viola. He has studied with Rebecca Carle for 4 years.

Joe has risen to the occasion in the challenges of playing in the contemporary group for his church- which includes reading a lead sheet and creating his own harmony.” – Rebecca Carle, Viola Faculty 

Interview with Joe G. 

Do you play in any groups?

I play at my church. It is a mixed instrumental group with saxophone and guitar. We play contemporary Christian music.

What inspired you to take lessons?

I started playing an instrument because all of my siblings played an instrument. I have three brothers and two sisters, and they play organ, viola, piano, violin, and cello. I like the viola because it is not a common instrument.

Why do you like studying with Rebecca?

She listens to me and always figures out some way to help me. She understands all of the tendencies of the viola.

What has your experience been at MCMS?

Pretty cool. MCMS has really great teachers, and I enjoy playing in recitals. I like showing what I can do.

Joe is on the track team. He enjoys running, and has attended National Youth Leadership Training camps. He is in the honors society and has been a boy scout for 5 years.

April Musician of the Month

Kathy D.
Hometown: Chester

Kathy has studied music at MCMS since the late 1980s and on and off for the last 30 years! She studies voice with Jill Pennington, plays in the Tuneful Trio coached by Kyoko Hida-Battaglia, is one of the founding members of the NH Recorder Consort, and has taken cello lessons with Harel Gietheim.

Kathy has a great dedication and love for music. She is a retired school teacher and has made a second career with music. Her musical tastes have broadened and grown from classical music to some contemporary music. She has also grown as a performer and is no longer afraid to perform. She enjoys it! Kathy is a role model for everyone. She proves that it is possible for anyone to grow as a musician anytime in their life- even in their retirement!” – Kyoko Hida-Battaglia, Tuneful Trio Coach, faculty MCMS

Interview with Kathy:

What is Kyoko like as a coach?

Kyoko is delightful! She speaks from experience. She is gentle but exacting. It is fun to watch her dance while shes listening and conducting our ensemble!

Who are some of your favorite composers?

Vaughn Williams- both for voice literature and for ensemble literature. I was surprised that I enjoyed his music because most of the music I tend to enjoy is classical, especially Mozart.

How is it different taking lessons as an adult?

I am far more critical of the decision as to who to study with. As an adult it is especially important that you click with your teacher and have a good rapport. Also, as an adult you are paying for your own lessons. You decide how hard you practice.

One thing I want to stress is how special the Manchester Community Music is! I tried to find another music school on vacation and I couldnt find one that has such a broad offering of skill levels, instruments, and age levels.

Kathy is a former High School math teacher. She taught math at Central High School for 37 years!

March Musician of the Month


Henry A.
Age: 21
Hometown: Canterbury, NH

Henry has come to MCMS for the past 8 years. He has studied piano with Elizabeth Hodges since the fall of 2016. He also works with Christina Grandoni-Barlow, MT-BC in our Music Therapy Department.

“Henry picks up music by ear almost instantly. It’s amazing! He constantly surprises me with his talent and abilities.” -Liz Hodges, piano faculty 

“Henry enjoys the vibrations of the piano when he plays. In fact, he communicates better with music than with words. Music is a way of expressing himself that he didnt have before. He is always singing and humming. Music is such a big part of who he is.

Henry likes how flexible Liz is. She is always willing to go over what he wants to play. -Mae Lynn (Henry’s mom)

Henrys favorite songs are Youve Got a Friend in Me, Go Tell Aunt Rhody, Honeybee, and the music from Toy Story. He has performed in a number of recitals at MCMS.

February 2017 Musician of the Month

“Safija is always prepared for her lesson. She takes lessons very seriously but still has fun, especially when we play together.” John Zevos, guitar faculty

Interview with Safija B.

Age: 8 years old

Grade: 3

Has studied guitar with John Zevos for two years.

What is your favorite solo to play?

I like Country Dance and Waltz in E minor. There are a lot of fingerings and Im learning how to play without a pick. I really want to learn Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Why did you choose the guitar?

I like how it sounded and that its a string instrument.

What do you like about lessons with John?

John is patient and nice.

Where do you like to practice at home?

I practice in the living room where everyone can hear it.

Safija also spends her time reading graphic novels and going outside.

January 2017 Musician of the Month

“Lauren takes everything I tell her to heart. She has made so much progress reading music and works very hard for every achievement.” -Terry Barton, piano faculty 

Interview with Lauren H.

Age: 13 years old

Has studied piano for seven years, and has studied with Terry Barton for six years.

Why did you choose the piano?

I needed structure in my schedule, and I thought practicing piano would help. I like how the piano can create a lot of different sounds. Piano has helped me get out of my comfort zone, especially with recitals!

What are some of your favorite pieces to play?

Hes a Pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean.

What do you like about lessons with Terry?

Terry explains things very well. If I dont understand, she makes it simpler. Shes also very funny and laughs a lot.

What are your plans for music in the future?

I plan to play piano my whole life. Even if I decide to take up another instrument, I will still play piano.

Lauren also spends her time horseback riding and competitive swimming.

December 2016 Musician of the Month


“Matt has been working very hard and making great strides. He’s been with MCMS for 12 years and started with music services as a child. He is now an adult, continuing to improve his musicianship.” -Emily Todd, Music Therapist

Interview with

Matthew W.

Has come to MCMS for 12 years, and has been with Emily for three years.

Why do you enjoy about music with Emily?

I like American songs and cowboy songs.

Matt enjoys writing his own songs as well.

What are your favorite songs?

Happy Trail by Roy Rogers, Old Uncle Bill, and Home on the Range. Any folk songs.

What instruments do you play?

Guitar, piano, and singing.

Matt’s hobbies include watching historical documentaries about trains and visiting the Denver Public Library website to view their historical photos. He’s visited many train museums across the United States including Pennsylvania, Illinois, Washington

November 2016


I really appreciate what a well rounded musician Katie is. She is very enthusiastic about piano and always willing to try new things. She is also very active in recitals.” -Elizabeth Blood, piano faculty

Age: 14 years old

Katie has studied music at MCMS since 2005, starting in Music for Little Ones, Triple Treat, Piano Explorations, and then piano lessons. She has studied with Elizabeth for 4 years.

Tell me about lessons with Elizabeth.

They are fun and entertaining. If I have a difficult time with something, she really works it out. I was introduced to piano when Elizabeth came to babysit a long time ago. She said I had a good ear for music and she warmed me to the idea of playing piano.

What are you working on in your lessons?

Im learning a Bach minuet and a Beethoven Sonata. The Bach minuet is in a minor key- which I like- and flows nicely. The Beethoven Sonata is a little more challenging. They go together very well and sound peaceful.

Katie also sings in 2G with Krystal Morin. She likes fashion, writing futuristic stories, and she likes to read. She is also into history. Katie has performed in the MCMS Performance Competitions and been awarded an honorable mention for her work with arpeggios.

October 2016

“When Kacey plays, you can see her love for the instrument. She really enjoys it and has so much joy in playing. She is a hard worker who is attentive to details. She has accomplished a lot of physical achievement with her tone. She really pushes those notes out!” -Judy Teehan, Suzuki flute teacher

Age: 8 years old

Has studied Suzuki flute with Judy Teehan for 1.5 years

Why did you choose the flute?

I studied piano before. But after a few years, I realized it wasnt a good fit for me. Miss Judy invited me to try flute. After I tried it, I thought it was the perfect fit. I like that you can be more active when you play instead of sitting on a bench. Judy comes up with creative ideas and games to practice and review songs.

 What are some of your favorite songs that youve studied?

I like minuets, and a song called Amaryllis by J. Ghys. Its jumpy, has staccatos, and high flute notes.

 What are your future plans for flute?

I am planning to do a recital. Also, my teacher is doing a unit of recorder and she invited me to play flute for the class.

 Kacey likes art, swimming and reading detective books.

August 2016


“Daniel is exactly the kind of student I love to teach. He comes prepared and is open to new ideas. It takes being brave and coming out of your shell to experiment with the French horn and figure out what works.” – Jen Larson, French horn instructor

Interview with

Daniel D.

Age: 14

Has studied French horn for 7 months and double horn for 6 weeks.

Why did you choose the French horn?

I like the deep, rich sound and my school needed a French horn player. Its harder than I thought it was because its so different than piano which is my first instrument. Ive studied piano for 7 years.

What are some of the songs youve studied?

Im working on etudes for the All State auditions in the fall. This is my first time playing standard repertoire. Ive also studied Green sleeves.

What do you like about Jens teaching style?

Shes an awesome teacher. She has me think of the answers on my own.

Daniel is also on the executive swim team and plays tennis. Next year he will be taking all honors classes.

June 2016

IMG_0260 IMG_0264


Charlie T.

 Age: 9 years old

Has studied percussion with Jared for 8 months

“Charlie is always prepared and eager to learn. He comes in totally knowing his assignments.” – Jared Steer, his percussion teacher 

Why did you choose percussion?

Ive always been a natural at percussion because I like to drum my fingers on surfaces.

What do you like about the drum set?

It has different parts to it. I think its really cool how different parts can do different sounds at different times to make a piece of music.

What are some of your favorite songs to play?

Come Together and Yellow Submarine by the Beatles. I can use lots of symbols and different rhythms.

What do you like about having Jared as a teacher?

I like his teaching style. Hes nice.

Charlie also played the piano for two years prior to taking percussion. He enjoys Legos, brain teasers, and board games.

May 2016


Dylan F., Student of Terry Barton 

Age: 10 years old

Has studied piano with Terry Barton for 4 years

 “Over all of the years that I’ve taught him, I’ve seen a lot of progress. He is conscientious and hard working. When something doesn’t come easy for him, he really works on it over time. He has learned the benefit and reward of hard work and making beautiful music.” -Terry Barton

Interview with Dylan:

Why did you choose the piano?

When I was younger, I had a fascination with pressing buttons. I used to go up to the piano and press the keys. I asked my mom for piano lessons. I plan to do lots of recitals, and maybe piano in college.

 What are some of the songs youve studied?

I worked on the theme song to Charlie Brown and Dont Cry for Me Argentina from Evita. I am currently working on compound meters and swing music. I like classical music that is fast with lots of changing dynamics.

 What do you like about Terrys teaching style?

Shes funny and nice. If there is something hard, she will figure out a way to make it easier.

Dylan is also on the swim team and plays the recorder. He like to read science fiction books. One of his favorite Star Wars characters is BB8.

March 2016


Nate Baxter, Student of Claude Fried

“When Nate plays his best, his sound is as good as any jazz player I’ve heard.” -Claude Fried

Interview with

Nate Baxter

 Age: 18 years old

Hometown: Londonderry

Has Played Trombone for 9 Years

Why did you chose the trombone?

I was in 4th grade, and the trombone was big and shiny. I had started with violin before trombone. I liked the trombone much better.

 What are some of your favorite pieces?

I love playing Jazz Ballads. I also really like Opera Four by David- the piece I used for college auditions. I am auditioning for a Music Education major with a minor in jazz studies.

 What do you like about Claudes teaching style?

He challenges me more than anyone has. He makes me work hard.

 Nate has been studying trombone privately for two years. This past fall, he started lessons with Claude Fried.

February 2016


Hyla McGovern, Student of Donna Lombardo

“Hyla is one of the most dedicated students I’ve ever had. She’s taken lessons with me for 21 years! As a mature singer, we always find interesting music to suit her voice.”

Age: 78 years old

Has studied voice with Donna Lombardo for 21 years

What do you like about studying with Donna?

I like the fact that she covers everything; how the voice works and the physical apparatus of the throat. Shes very thorough and works hard with you to do what she knows will help. She knows what it takes to sing well. She has an extensive knowledge of composers and music.

 What languages do you sing in?

English, French, German, and Italian.

 What is one of your favorite pieces?

La Vien Rose by Edith Pilaf. I heard it when I was very young. The song was popular in the 40s and it has stayed with me all these years.

 Hyla is a foster grandparent in the NHTI Foster Grandparent program where she takes care of infants during the week.


January 2016


Evan Swope, student of Russ Ryan, is Student of the Month!

What Russ Has To Say About Evan:

 “Evan always comes prepared for every lesson. The material I give him each week is always thoroughly practiced and well prepared. He is a pleasure to have in my studio!”

Interview with Evan Swope

Age: 13 years old

Has studied trumpet for 2 years

What do you like about the trumpet?

I like everything about it. It looks awesome and sounds awesome.

 What kind of music do you like to play?

I like to play jazz as well as classical. Playing in Wind Ensemble is a lot of fun, too. Mr. Cassedy is really energetic and funny and gets everyone involved.

 What do you think about having Russ as a teacher?

Russ is great. Every time I go to a lesson, its a lot of fun. Hes very funny and hes a great teacher. Its a good combination.

 Evan also likes basketball and football. His favorite subject in school is math. He comes from a music family- 9 people in his family have played or are currently playing music.

December 2015


Paige Patnaude, student of Erica Driscoll, is Student of the Month!

What Erica Has To Say About Paige:

 “Paige is one of my hardest working students who has a great attitude. She is a lot of fun to work with. We always have a great time in our lessons!

Interview with

Paige Patnaude

Age: 10 years old

Has studied harp for 4 years

What do you like about the harp?

I like the sound of it. I like how the strings feel.

 What is your favorite solo?

Elephant Parade by Ruth Inglefield. It is fun to play. I like the glissandos.

 What do you think about having Erica as a teacher?

She is awesome. I like how she makes me do it again and again until I do it right.

 Paige is also a 2nd degree Black Belt in karate. She has her own horse named Henry and she rides competitively. She was in the NH finals this year!


November 2015


Madelinn H., student of Elizabeth Blood, is student of the month for November!

What Elizabeth Has To Say About Madelinn:

 “Madelinn is an excellent student. She is hard working and talented and always prepared for her lessons with great questions. She is a pleasure to teach!


 Age: 16 years old

Has studied piano for 10 years

Why do you love about the piano?

I like the fullness of the sound and the range. I played clarinet for a while, but it wasnt the same as the piano.

 What are some of your favorite composers?

Debussy- I love his romantic style. I recently performed his Arabesque and I enjoyed the challenging rhythms of 2 against 3. It was my first impressionistic piece and it was very different than anything Ive played before.

 What do you think about having Elizabeth as a teacher?

I love the tips that she gives me for improving my musicality. I also love her sense of humor!

 Madelinn would like to thank Elizabeth for this honor of Student of the Month.

 Madelinn has been a student at the music school her whole life, starting with Triple Treat as a toddler. She is an avid concert goer, and recently saw a famous jazz pianist at the Sculler’s Club in Boston.

October 2015

Emily and Caitlin Seiler, students of Debbie Markow, are students of the month for October!

What Debbie Has to Say:

“Both girls have a high dedication to practicing. It is rare to come across two students who love the violin as much as they do.”


Age: Emily is 11 years old and Caitlin is 7 years
Emily has played the violin for 5 years and Caitlin has played the violin for 1 year.

Why did you choose the violin?

Emily: My mom and I used to watch orchestra videos on TV and I loved the sound.
Caitlin: My sister plays it so I heard it growing up. It’s a deep sound. It’s not a quiet sound.

What is your favorite song?

Emily: Mozart’s 40th Symphony. I like how it all works together.
Caitlin: Minuet #2 by Bach. I like how it’s jumpy but not too jumpy.

What do you like about having Debbie as a teacher?

Emily: She is happy and supportive and helps me practice for auditions. I like when she says if you practice a lot, you will get really good at it.
Caitlin: Very patient and supportive. I like when I’m working on my song and Miss Debbie plays the piano.

September 2015


Noah Richardson, piano student of Rebecca Plummer White, is Student of the Month for September! Watch him play on the MCMS You Tube Channel.

What Rebecca Has To Say About Noah:

“Noahs insatiable thirst for music is unbelievable.


Interview with

Noah Richardson

Age: 8 years old

Has studied piano for 2 years


Why do you love about the piano?

I like music theory and how Miss Rebecca helps me write my own music.

What is your own music like?

Its stuff I really want to write down. Happy and fast with a big ending.

What is your favorite composer?

Bartok. He has fun songs and I like how they sound. I also like Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.

What do you think about Miss Rebecca?

Miss Rebecca is very kind and patient and answers all of my questions.


Noah recently visited the police station and made the Bedford newspaper because he had called with concerns about crime! He learned how the booking worked and sat in one of the police cars and turned on the sirens. Noah is looking forward to playing French horn when he turns 10. He just received his very own baby grand piano at home

June 2015


Katelyn Mullikin, piano student of Justin McCarthy, is Student of the Month for June!

Age: 18 years old

Has studied piano for 13 years

Why did you choose the piano?

My mom played the piano. She started when she was about 5 and played until 18. My grandfather plays Indian music so I come from a musical family.

 How did your grandfather inspire you to play music?

I used to sit with him while he practiced. He plays bamboo flute and the tabla- a kind of drum. He doesn’t have sheet music, so he plays by ear with recordings.

 Where are you going to college next year?

I’m going to Tufts to major in Pre-med. I hope to continue piano in college depending on the scheduling.

 What do you enjoy most about piano?

When I started piano, I didn’t like to practice at all. I used to sit with my mom, and she would criticize me. I didn’t like to be criticized. In 7th grade, they had a talent show, and I decided to sing and play piano. I played “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. It went really well. People started to ask me to accompany them. I really enjoy accompanying.

What Justin Has To Say About Katelyn:

 “She gives her best effort to each piece I assign to her. She is unique in the fact that even though her schedule is very full, she is able to manage her time well and dedicate herself to her practicing. She continues to impress me with how well she prepares for each lesson. I never have to tell her the same thing twice. I will be sad to lose her next year….she is off to Tufts University to study pre-med.”

May 2015

IMG_0854This month’s student of the month is Ainsley Morehead, student of Debbie Markow.

Age: 7 years old

Has played the violin for 3 years

What did you choose the violin?

I picked the violin because I was riding inthe car one day with my mom and she put on classical violin music. I asked her if I could play the violin.

 What do you like about the sound of a violin?

It sounds like a bell.

 What is your favorite song?

O Come All Children.

 What do you like about having Debbie as a teacher?

She is patient and kind. I like that I’m always learning something new.

 You travel one hour to your lesson! What do you do in the car?

I like to read. I’m finishing the fourth Harry Potter book: The Goblet of Fire.

What Debbie Has To Say About Ainsley:

“Ainsley has persevered. She has had to work on learning how to slow down and listen and take directions. It was hard for her at first, and after the Suzuki camp last summer, she had a big turn around.”

Watch Ainsley Play

April 2015

IMG_0682This month’s student of the month is Olivia Fink, student of Terry Barton

Age: 15 years old
Has played the piano for a year and a half

What brought you to take piano lessons?
My whole family is highly musical. My uncle is a music Professor at UCLA and plays piano. Both my grandparents play piano and have a nice grand piano. My grandmother took lessons here at MCMS with George Lopez. Whenever I saw my grandparents’ grand piano, I wanted to play it. I also sing in chamber choir at my school. Piano is really exciting. I love it!

What do you think of your piano teacher, Terry?
She’s so much fun! She really cares about her students. She makes everything exciting. If I get anything wrong, she never makes me feel badly about it.

What is your favorite piano piece?
I like Night of the Tarentella. It’s about Italian folklore and how they used to dance vigorously to get the poison out of the bite. I like how it’s so fast and there’s this one part with broken arpeggios that sounds dramatic. It’s really fun.

Watch Olivia’s Video!

March 2015

IMG_0641This month’s student of the month is Jenna Kate Bisbee, student of Erica Driscoll

Age: 17 years old
She has played the harp for 7 years and studied lessons with piano

Why did you choose the harp?
I picked the harp because it was different and beautiful. When I was 9, I went to a mother-daughter breakfast tea and heard a girl playing the harp.

What is your favorite song?
My favorite song is the Handel Concerto in Bb. I like it because it’s happy and bouncy.

Will you keep playing in college?
I’d like to continue but not major in music. I’m going to St. A’s as a French Education Major.

What do you like about having Erica as a teacher?
She’s very fun and very knowledgable. We have a lot in common. We are both homeschoolers, have studied archery, and have similar tastes in music.

Watch Jenna’s video
February 2015

IMG_0611This month’s Student of the Month is Kirstie Koeppl, student of Donna Lombardo.

Age: 17 years old
Has sung since the age of 13
Studied with Donna Lombardo for 2 years

What do you enjoy about lessons with Donna?
Donna is a wonderful teacher. She asks me to go home and look up every piece I sing to find out what it’s about. She’s taught me how important it is to understand the emotion of the piece. She can explain how the mechanics of singing works.

What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to go into voice or early childhood special education. I’m looking at UNH or Manchester Community, which has the only fully licensed program for special education and early childhood training. 

What is your favorite song?
“Where the Bee Sucks.” It’s from a poem by Shakespeare. I love how upbeat it is.

How many recitals have you sung in?
Two recitals and a NATS competition in Boston where I made it to the semifinals.

What Donna has to say about Kirstie:
“Kirstie is an excellent student. I gave her five songs to learn over the summer, and she came back in September having worked on all of them and memorized two!”

“Kirstie has a very rich and full voice for a soprano of her age with a lot of color.”

Watch Kirstie’s video

January 2015

photo 3This month’s Student of the Month is Jordan Strickler, student of Rebecca Blom Carle.

Age: 17 years old
Played the violin since January 2014

Why did you choose the violin?
I always loved the violin. The trick was finally getting my mom to say yes. I just kept asking until one day she did.

What do you like about the violin?
There’s something about it I could always pick out when listening to music.

What do you like about your lessons?
I like how they’re challenging. I like playing different pieces because each song has something new to learn.

What do you think of Rebecca as a teacher?
She’s really nice. She comes up with all of these different exercises that I need to play a piece. She’s encouraging. She points out my strengths.

What is one of your favorite solos?
Gavotte by Gossec. I like how challenging it is. I like how it makes my fingers move fast. The harder the better.

What Rebecca has to say about Jordan:

“Jordan arrived for her first lesson with absolutely no experience with violin. However, she impressed me immediately with her drive, her greater music background, and her spark to learn. It is fascinating to watch her actively draw connections between the violin and her years of vocal training; connections that develop her greater understanding of music as a whole. During Jordan’s years of choral experience, she has developed a well-trained ear which helps her violin studies and she reports that her music reading skills have improved through her violin lessons and are helping her sight reading in chorus.

Jordan receives instruction with enthusiasm and puts any suggestions into practice as quickly and completely as she can. She comes to each and every lesson prepared, with questions and concerns regarding parts of that week’s assignment that may have proven challenging for her, and is eager for guidance on how to overcome the challenges. It is clear that a love of music and a thirst for musical knowledge and understanding is deeply part of who she is.”

December 2014

SOTMDec14This month we recognize a brother and sister, Daniel and Alison Ryckman, as our students of the month. Daniel and Alison have both been taking piano lessons from Tanya Shrago. According to Tanya, “They make a lot of progress. I’ve seen them grow so much.”

Here’s what each had to say about their experience at MCMS.

Daniel, 8 yrs old

How long have you been playing and taking lessons?

2 years

What do you like about piano?

I kind of like to hear the sound. 

What do you like most about your teacher, Tanya Shrago?

She helps me understand why I have to do something.

What is your favorite piece?

“The flight.” It’s mysterious and I can play the whole thing from memory.

How many recitals have you played in so far?


 Alison, 11 yrs old

How long have you Been Playing?

4 years

What do you like most about your teacher, Tanya Shrago?

She actually tells me what I do wrong which is a good thing. Because if she didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t get as good.

What do you like most about piano?

Piano is not hard to play, but it takes effort to sound good.

What is your favorite piece?

“The Waltz of the Flowers.” You can play it anywhere. I’ve played it at birthday parties. 

What do you like most about practicing?

If you practice you can play just about anything without it being too hard.