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Youth & Family

Ethical Arts: Living Legends

By June 4, 2024No Comments

Ethical arts have been blossoming at Ethical NYC!

A musical branch of these arts developments has been fostered by NYSEC member and Board representative Barbara Carlsen. She’s a lifelong musician and music teacher herself. We heard her play her own violin at a recent platform, and we heard a youth orchestra she brought together at the Intergenerational Spring Festival.  In fact, she has taken on Ethical Violin Students who meet weekly for lessons.  She is passionate about the upcoming platform on Sunday June 9th at 11am, with special guest Roberta Guaspari, a legendary music educator who is depicted by Meryl Streep in a movie, “Music From the Heart.”

This weekend the ETHICAL community gets to meet a living legend, Roberta Guaspari, and some of her students too!  Barbara shares inspiration below. See you Sunday!

From Barbara Carlsen:

On June 9, Roberta Guaspari and the students of Opus 118 (music school in Harlem) will play for us and teach us about the journey that Roberta took to create this amazing program.   The teachers and the students will speak to our members and our Young Ethical Explorers about the power of music and how it touches every aspect of their lives.   More importantly it will be abundantly clear that there is great joy and personal satisfaction that comes from making music and especially making music with friends.  In making music, teachers and students work together to create a common goal.   The strength of their community is inspiring!

As a young violin teacher in the 1980s I was aware of Roberta, who was starting this amazing program in East Harlem.   When I was called to start a similar program in East New York Brooklyn, I followed news that I got about this wonderful music program in the public schools that was much like my own.   At that time, I was determined to stay in East New York and work with the students who were benefitting so much from learning an instrument and growing together as a musical family.   I was happy with this work and the students and parents were really involved in this growing and thriving program. However, at each end of the year, I was called into the district office to learn that my program might be cut for lack of funds.   Finally, in 1990 I was offered a stable teaching job in Westchester County, and I left East New York.   Though I loved the new job, my heart broke for all the students that I left behind.

Roberta Guaspari stayed and fought the system.   She found ways to fund her program and thereby grew an amazing school that thrives today.   Many of her teachers, who we will meet on Sunday, are now master teachers in the program.   The story is so inspiring that in 1999 Wes Craven wrote a major motion picture about it.   “Music of the Heart” told the story of the Harlem music program and Meryl Streep played Roberta in the movie!

I do consider Roberta to be one of my heroes!  When I finally got to meet her, only about 3 months ago, I was absolutely tongue-tied!   What do you say to a person whom you’ve admired for your whole life?   She is still teaching, still doing her wonderful work, still such an inspiration to me!   Once you become attached to your instrument, playing it becomes a daily part of your life, and a lifelong friend.   Musicians find their community and their joy in playing together, making music together.  Teaching music is the same….once a string teacher, always a string teacher.   There is no reason to stop because that’s who we are!

When a student has an instrument in their hands and has a one to one lesson with a teacher, their lives change, one lesson at a time.  The communication between the student and teacher is deep and direct, straight from the heart.   In a good lesson, heart, mind and soul are connected to complete a chain of learning.   Love and trust is developed and when that happens, everything is possible.   I am a string teacher, and so I only know the power of the stringed instrument, which sings and vibrates on the body, and is another living organism in the process of making music.   I know that all music teachers feel the same way about their instruments.

I’m really looking forward to presenting Roberta and her students to our community!   I know that everyone will be inspired!

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Audrey Kindred

Audrey Kindred leads programming for youth and families at Ethical NYC

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