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The Power of Music in Worcester: Featuring Union Music, JOMP, and Music Worcester, Inc.

By Kristen Bosse

"The human relationship to sound starts early. The fetus begins to develop an auditory system between seventeen and nineteen weeks. Already, we are in a world of sound, of breath and heartbeat, of rhythm and vibration." These inspiring words come from Elena Mannes and her best-selling book "The Power of Music". In this book, she explores the human relationship with music, and how we are hard-wired to respond to it. With music stimulating more parts of the brain than any other human function, its no wonder it becomes such a big part of peoples lives. Whether you are using it to get your adrenaline going, relax after a long day, or even ease some type of emotional pain, music has the ability to change our mood entirely. Organizations all over Worcester are recognizing this and providing musical inspiration to their residents. Keep reading to find out where you can practice music in your area.

Union Music

Union Music is a well-known music retail establishment in Worcester, which specializes in instruments for experienced professional musicians, as well as students & casual players. The sales staff is comprised of veteran musicians who bring all of their professional experience as players and as technicians to the customers' service, guiding them to the perfect instrument or equipment to allow the customer to express their personal musical ideas. The store itself carries a huge selection of instruments, from drums, guitars, keyboards, amplifiers, and even sound systems. After you've picked out an instrument that speaks to you, talk to one of their experienced instructors about classes. Every visitor from beginner to experienced professional can utilize their superb teaching lessons.

Carl Kamp, Owner of Union Music, shared with us why he thinks music is important not only for growing children, but for us adults as well.
"The most tragic reason adults don't play today is because someone (a teacher, a friend, a child) told them they couldn't play and should quit. They would say they were tone deaf, or worse they had a teacher that told them they were wasting their time taking lessons. So I think it's equally important for adults to play as well as for children."

The owner and staff here at Union Music have a personal connection with music and are veteran musicians themselves. They believe that music, especially playing or singing music is beneficial to everyone for personal enjoyment. For over 100 years, this little shop has provided a welcoming environment for those curious about getting involved with music. Worcester residents have a great spot to go forth and pursue their musical dreams.

Joy of Music Program

The Joy of Music Program down the road is another organization spreading music to the residents of Worcester and surrounding towns. With over 40 experienced musicians/instructors staffed, and 20 classes offered, this Community Music School is dedicated to enriching the lives of their students and fostering community through accessible music education. Private lessons are offered in almost every instrument, with their most popular instruments being violin, piano, guitar, and cello. Other popular selections include a class with toddlers and their caregivers called Music & Movement to Children's Chorus, Creative Movement, World Drumming, and classical and jazz ensembles. Those interested in developing their musical talent are invited to audition for one of their five classical ensembles, or six jazz ensembles. The JOMP Youth Orchestra is also available and brings together some of Central Massachuetts' most talented musicians.

Wendy Ardizzone, Director of the school, explains her feelings on how the art of music benefits her students.
"Music gives us a powerful way of connecting with our feelings and with one another. It is one of the first things we turn to in times of sorrow and it makes our most joyous celebrations complete. Not a day goes by at JOMP that we don't witness the power of music to brighten peoples' lives as a source of focus, inspiration, beauty and healing."

The program's main goal has always been (and will continue to be) to help their students develop a life-long relationship with music. Not only do the instructors at JOMP provide students with the skills necessary to practice music, but they inspire them to continue with their dedication all the way into adulthood. Although lessons may start out as simply a learning experience, it can turn into a time of serenity for the individual. Twenty-eight years after they opened their doors, this same philosophy is still at the heart of this thriving non-profit community.

Music Worcester, Inc.

Music Worcester, Inc., originally known as the Worcester County Music Association, is a non-profit cultural organization that has presented great performances by world-renowned orchestras and guest soloists, chamber music, ballet, world music and dance, jazz and choral masterworks. The organization prides itself on providing premier classical music performances, especially of orchestras and distinguished soloists. Nowadays, their presence has evolved from the Music Festival to a whole week-long series of musical events. The Executive Director, Adrian C. Finlay, and Programming Committee of the Board of Directors work very hard to engage and bring the best artists to perform here in Worcester. Some of their most well-known performers include, Van Cliburn, Yo-Yo Ma, Leontyne Price, and renowned Jazz Pianist and Composer Dave Brubeck.

Music Worcester also proudly supports the Worcester Chorus, recognizing them as an integral part of their organization. The chorus itself is a volunteer group of adult singers with high skills, numbering 80-100 voices. High school singers in the area can participate in their "Festival Singers" mentoring program, where chorus members take the time to work with the students in their schools and during rehearsals.

Andrew Clark, Music Director from 2006-2009, explained what the Festival Singers program really does for its participants.
"The Worcester Chorus continues to benefit a great deal from our Festival Singers Project. The enthusiasm and energetic spirit of these young artists reminds us of the essential need to pass along the great tradition to future generations. I'm proud of the hard work and profound growth of these students, performing some of the most challenging works in our repertoire. We hope this program will only grow and become a model for other mentoring projects in the performing arts."

Perhaps the most inspiring words from the Music Worcester Organization, however, came from Marketing Director Midge Hamilton. "Music, as with any art, brings diverse groups together, no matter the differences in age, culture, economic status", she claims. "It is a common language that can define or enhance life." Their organization has done an amazing job at presenting extraordinary performances to the residents of Worcester, thereby perpetuating the legacy of these pieces.

Exploring Its True Power...

Music has the power to be many things for each persons who practices it, sings it, or just plays it on their car ride home from work. Without even realizing it, having a connection with music throughout your life can affect things you didn't think possible. For example, NAMM Foundation has done research that proves piano students are better equipped to comprehend mathematical and scientific concepts. Students who were exposed to music-based lessons even scored a full 100 percent higher on fractions tests than those who learned in the conventional manner. This is solid proof that music is one of the most powerful tools we have at our desposal. Students, and adults who have a musical passion should never be discouraged. You never know where it can take you.

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