Summer 2017 will see the launch of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute’s Junior Strings Intensive (JSI)—a two-week experience that will serve students ages 10 to 13. This is BUTI’s first venture into educating students this young, and with it comes unique challenges and exciting opportunities. BUTI’s Administrative Director, Grace Kennerly, sat down with the Director of JSI, Margaret Cerjan:
GK: What is Junior Strings Intensive?
MC: Junior Strings Intensive is an exciting new BUTI program offered to violin, viola, and cello players in grades 5-8. These talented young students will take part in a rigorous and exciting curriculum that includes chamber music, string ensemble, solo lessons, chorus, enrichment classes, and recreational activities. A cast of talented faculty will not only coach and teach JSI students each day, but will take an active part in cultivating a vibrant JSI community—participating in recreational activities, providing opportunities to ask questions about effective practicing, musicianship, and life as a musician, and being mentors while guiding students toward the next steps in their musical development.
GK: And we are so proud to welcome students of this age group to BUTI. What makes JSI important?
MC: BUTI is an experience that is proven to launch students into the next level of motivation and commitment to their music making, and JSI will offer younger students this same opportunity. And it’s so important to start at this age. Many people experience their very first sleep-away programs at this age, and BUTI is the perfect place to begin the festival experience because of its unparalleled high-level teaching, beautiful surroundings, and access to incredible performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Center Fellows.
Being a musician is unlike almost any other profession in that the arc of one’s training begins at an exceptionally early age, sometimes before formal schooling even begins! By extending BUTI programs to encompass middle school students, we are embracing the reality of our field and hope to enhance the trajectory of learning for these young talents during this pivotal time in their development as humans and artists.
GK: How do you expect these students to grow during these two short weeks?
MC: Many students in this age group are very familiar with solo and orchestral studies from their home programs, but less familiar or comfortable with chamber music. Because of this, JSI will not only concentrate on solo playing, but will give the opportunity for students to grow as chamber musicians as well. One tool we use is choral practice, as this builds aural skills and community, enhancing listening skills and harmonic awareness.
JSI is an opportunity for students to work hard to become well-rounded musicians—musicians who listen as well as they perform technically, and understand how to communicate with their peers to solve musical and technical challenges effectively. These skills will provide the foundation for endless future musical opportunities.
GK: As the director of this new program, what are you most excited about?
MC: I am most excited to get out to Lenox and watch each student grow in skill, musical confidence, and motivation by the day! I’m also excited to see the skills they develop at JSI continue to grow as they attend other programs in future years. Maybe it’s the BUTI Young Artists Orchestra in high school, or the Tanglewood Music Center in college. And maybe, like many BUTI alumni, perhaps even the Boston Symphony Orchestra as a professional. I am so pleased to be part of these student’s lives at this point in their musical development!