Music is a collaborative art. People who play music together learn to work together and form the connections that result in strong communities. At Mascoma Bank, working to promote strong communities is an important part of who we are. That means, supporting organizations like the Upper Valley Music Center aligns perfectly with our philosophy.
Imagine a recital hall. The windows are open, but it’s stifling inside. Young musicians stand at the front with violins tucked under arms, ready to show off their months of practice, while in rows of folding chairs parents and grandparents flap programs to stir a breeze and fidgety younger siblings kick the seat rungs. At the music teacher’s signal, bows are raised and the music begins.
This image may be what comes to mind at the thought of a music school, and for 25 years, the nonprofit Upper Valley Music Center (UVMC) has been providing year-round music lessons for students throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.
But it isn’t just about violin lessons.
Located in Lebanon, New Hampshire, UVMC offers a breadth of offerings that encompasses concerts, events, programs, workshops, and, yes, lessons for students of all ages, “from birth to—let’s see, I think our oldest students are in their eighties,” says Erin Smith, Assistant Director at UVMC. “We do things for total beginners and also for advanced musicians.” The faculty of professional musicians at UVMC offers programming in a variety of instruments through individual lessons, group classes, ensembles, and workshops and master classes. The music school serves more than 1,000 students each year.
A core belief at UVMC is that everyone can make music and benefit from listening to music and that music is “an essential part of life because it nourishes us and helps us understand and share the lives we lead together.” At UVMC, they believe that music should be available to everyone. As part of making that possible, UVMC distributes more than $20,000 in tuition assistance every year.
In order to increase access to music education, UVMC has begun a series of drop-in programs that do not require a big commitment of time or money. Instead of signing up for a series of classes, interested people can come to a single, stand-alone class. Designed to be easier on budgets and schedules, these events will give music lovers the opportunity to come together to enjoy three different groups of programs—chamber music sight reading parties, CircleSinging, which is a type of choral singing without sheet music, and slow jams for people to come together to play traditional fiddle music at a slower pace.
When the Upper Valley Music Center began in 1995, it was a loose association of music lovers with no place to call home. Over the years, it has rehomed itself from location to location, at last outgrowing a space on Hanover Street in Lebanon. In 2017, the Kendrick-Wood house, a historic brick building on Colburn Park in Lebanon, came on the market and the Center’s board knew it was time to launch a capital campaign. In March of that year, they were able to purchase the building. This huge undertaking was made possible through generous grants, including a capital grant from Mascoma Bank to help improve the energy efficiency of the building.
In order to raise funds for their future in their new home, UVMC held the Secure Our Future campaign from January 2017 through June 2018. As part of that campaign, they held Sing & Play 50k, an event that saw more than 350 students, faculty, and community members performing, playing, and singing for 50,000 seconds of music—that’s from 7:04 a.m. to 9 p.m., if you’re counting. With contributions from over 1,000 donors, the campaign raised more than $100,000. In 2019, UVMC celebrated with the Sing & Play Festival, where hundreds of people spent the day singing and playing together.
To go along with their new home, UVMC has launched a new digital presence with a new logo. The logo features the two dots of the musical repeat sign next to a silhouette of a house. Together, the symbols represent the ongoing practice and learning of music students combined with UVMC’s role as a home and gathering place for music education and appreciation.
In 1864 German writer Berthold Auerbach wrote, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Mascoma Bank is proud to be a part of the important work being done by nonprofit organizations like the Upper Valley Music Center and invite you to join us in supporting groups that make our communities healthier and happier.
The Upper Valley Music Center looks forward to welcoming students as fall classes start September 9. Those interested in embarking in a musical education or progressing in their skills should visit https://uvmusic.org/registration. To help support UVMC in their mission to provide the best in music education and ensemble opportunities for people living in the Upper Connecticut River Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire, visit https://uvmusic.org/support/donate.