Music Blog

The Official Blog of the Music Conservatory of Westchester

Calling all Piano Lovers! Prized Antique Piano Collection isn't Far

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The small town of Ashburnham in north/central Massachussetts is the home of one of the most prized collections of antique grand pianos in the world. Michael and Patricia Frederick have lovingly gathered and restored an amazing array of gorgeous instruments, each one in mint playing condition. Housed in a historic former library building, the collection is open to the public on Thursdays and Saturdays, or by appointment.

The Frederick’s are endlessly knowledgeable about piano history, composers, and performers. They will personally escort you through the collection – and demonstrate each instrument! Ashburnham is close to a number of state parks, including Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire, so a visit to the area makes a nice family trip. Check it out at

From the Director: New Dean of Students & Faculty, Doug Bish

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Dear Conservatory Students, Families and Friends,  

I’m so very pleased to announce the appointment of Douglas Bish as our new Dean of Students & Faculty. Dr. Bish, who returns to the Conservatory after serving on our faculty from 2006-2011, has enjoyed a multi-faceted career as an academic leader, conductor, clarinetist, educator, author, lecturer, and music clinician. Most recently, he was Dean of the School of Fine, Applied and Communications Arts at the City College of San Francisco. Previously, he served as Chair of the Department of Music for the Nyack Public Schools. He has conducted professional, amateur, and student orchestras and wind ensembles around the world.

Dr. Bish holds a master’s degree in clarinet performance and music education from the University of Oregon, and a doctoral degree in music education and conducting from Boston University. As a Fulbright Scholar, he earned an Artist Diploma in clarinet performance from the Vienna Music Academy. He lives in Beacon, NY with his wife, Kathy Sireno, a public school music teacher and professional flutist.

Doug Bish will start in his new position on Saturday, April 30, and looks forward to meeting each of our students, families, faculty members and friends. We will be scheduling a number of “meet the Dean” opportunities, and also invite you to stop by the dean’s office when you are in the building.

All my best,
Jean Newton
Executive Director

Nurturing Your Child's Creativity

Friday, March 11, 2016


All children are little artists.  From a very young age, they love to sing, dance, draw, and play-act.  Even the earliest infant babble has a rhythmic, sing-song quality, as they practice syllables and learn to form words.  As parents, our first job is simply to encourage and support their natural artistic inclinations.  And because our children love to have our attention, it’s important that we take time to join in their creative fun.  

Shinichi Suzuki believed that all children are born with innate musical ability, and in our role as parents we can nurture this.  Sing to your child, and play recordings of a wide variety of music, from classical to jazz, rock, pop, and world music.  Take your child to live music performances – especially children’s concerts where they can see, touch and hear different instruments.  Sign up for parent-child music classes – these start as early as 4 months. 

By age 4-5, your child may be ready for Suzuki-based instruction in violin, cello, guitar, or piano (other instruments come later – starting at age 7 or 8).  Bringing your child to a music school offers a wide range of musical opportunities, as well as a wonderful social environment, broadening his/her horizons (and yours) in a community of families who share a common interest.

For young children, the creative arts are the entry point to learning. Many research studies have documented the benefits of music training starting at a young age: creativity, critical thinking, teamwork, self-confidence, self-expression, and self-discipline, to name just a few.  These are the characteristics that promote future academic and professional success.  Early training also uncovers a child’s talents and may reveal the potential for a career path.

But perhaps most importantly, music touches our hearts in a language beyond words, and offers something parents and children can share and enjoy.  So – ready, set, play!

by Jean Newton, Music Conservatory of Westchester, Executive Director 

Conservatory Receives Accreditation and Applauded for Commitment to Community

Wednesday, March 02, 2016


Music Conservatory of Westchester announced this week the successful renewal of its accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).  As one of only 16 NASM-accredited non-degree-granting music schools in the nation, the Conservatory undergoes an accreditation review every 10 years.  The rigorous process involves preparing a comprehensive self-study document and a two-day site visit by NASM evaluators.    

In their site visit report, the evaluators commented that the not-for-profit community music school’s “teaching was inspired, leading to active learning and engagement, and joyous music making,” and that “the faculty are deeply committed to challenge all students and provide them with the best possible instruction.”  They commended the school for its “commitment and awareness of its place and function within the community as a needed resource for quality arts education and as an opportunity center for cultural and community development.”  

Conservatory Executive Director Jean Newton commented, “Our accreditation is a hallmark of our dual commitment to high quality instruction and access for all.  If you want to explore your passion for music and learn something new at any age, the Conservatory is the place to be!”


Music of the Spheres

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Jean Newton, Executive Director 

A few days ago, physicists announced the successful recording of the sounds created by gravitational waves resulting from the collision of two black holes in a remote corner of the universe (listen to it here). The scientists described these sounds as musical – a series of pitches culminating in middle C. The experiment helps confirm the nature of gravity – it’s not a force, but rather the result of “wrinkles” in the space-time continuum caused by the movement of objects out there in the universe.  Score one for Albert Einstein and his theory of relativity.

In the 6th century BC, the Greek mathematician Pythagoras theorized the relationship between mathematics and music, having discovered that string length and thickness determine the pitch it creates, and further discovering the proportional relationship between pitches. Those that sound in perfect proportion – the octave (2:1), 5th (3:2), and 4th (4:3) – were considered the most pleasing to the human ear.

Pythagoras and his disciples, among whom Plato was one, theorized that each of the celestial bodies produce a musical pitch as they revolve around the earth (thought to be the stationary center of the universe). These pitches sound in perfectly proportioned intervals, creating celestial “music” which humans cannot hear. 

Not surprisingly, this idea took root and flourished over the centuries. Johannes Kepler, the 17th century mathematician and astronomer best known for his laws of planetary motion, wrote about the music of the spheres in his treatise Harmonice Munde, making the analogy between our musical harmony and the harmony of the heavenly motions, created by God and beyond human understanding.

But perhaps, with this ground-breaking experiment, we’ve uncovered the “music of the spheres” and made it audible to human ears.  The wonders of the universe are perhaps a little less unknowable, although still wondrous, and – yes - poetic. 

Lawrence Krauss summed it up beautifully in his piece “Finding Beauty in the Darkness (NY Times, Sunday February 14, 2016): “Too often people ask, what’s the use of science like this, if it doesn’t produce faster cars or better toasters?  But people rarely ask the same question about a Picasso painting or a Mozart symphony. Such pinnacles of human creativity change our perspective of our place in the universe.  Science, like art, music and literature, has the capacity to amaze and excite, dazzle and bewilder.”

 by Jean Newton, M.A., Ph.D. Executive Director, Music Conservatory of Westchester