Peggy is well-known as a composer, with four of her tunes featured in the Sher Real Book series. Many of her compositions appear on her own CDs as well as others’ recordings.
Peggy has always enjoyed part-singing, and sang in several excellent classical choirs while at Eastman, and New England Conservatory, and later in NYC. What began as a musical hobby, writing for jazz choir, blossomed into a satisfying and well-received sub-set of her piano playing career. In the last few years, Peggy has been writing for and conducting several jazz choirs, both at home and abroad. She created the formidable River Jazz Chorus, as well as the excellent youth choir, the BlueBelles, both based in the Hudson Valley, NY. Most recently, she created the Capital City Voices, with the aid of saxophonist Jeff Antoniuk, in Washington, DC. Last summer, Sweet Sue Terry and Peggy gave concerts in Homer, Alaska, accompanied by the Homer Jazz Chorus, which they cobbled together, young and not so young, from the community - and who did a truly excellent job! Peggy will be returning for a third year to Stanford Jazz Workshop from July 17-22, 2011, where she leads the vocal program, and brings her graded choral compositions into the curriculum.
About her love of teaching, Peggy says:
“I have been a teacher for many years: I am a classically trained pianist, who switched to improvised music, but kept my classical roots. Having been there myself, I have created a method for getting from thru-composed music on the page to improvised music, using one or two chords to draw out the original ‘song’ that lies in each one of us. I love music theory, and I believe that the tools of music are there for the taking, and that study and practice yield tangible rewards. I find it particularly rewarding to share my knowledge and love of music with young people; it gives me optimism and energy to see how people blossom with music in their lives.”
Peggy has a Bachelor of Music from Eastman School of Music, and a Master of Music from The New England Conservatory. Peggy holds Permanent Certification in Music, from both New York State, and Colorado. She has extensive teaching experience, having taught in elementary school, secondary school, college, and graduate school. She has written, conducted, and performed choral music suitable for middle and high school students, as well as elementary and adults! This music has been published, and used in schools and workshops nationally, as well as Europe.
As part of her busy school days, Peggy composed and produced musicals and talent shows, created junior and senior choirs, bell choirs, recorder choirs, and percussion ensembles, as well as jazz bands.
How does my current practice reflect a belief that arts education is critical to the academic and social success of students? Music has always been a way to gather folks into a community: whether it be in chorus, voices together – from church to the chain gang, in bands – from garage to park gazebos to symphonies - Since recorded time, music has been used as a way to bring people together. I’ve always particularly enjoyed writing Alma Maters for my schools, and leading the children in songs that they all know at assemblies, and putting on talent shows, and musicals. It’s a great way to foster school spirit and unity, in a non-judgmental arena. No testing, no quizzes, all students and teachers welcome to participate and enjoy!
In a school environment, music enjoys a special place outside the rigors of academic pressures: it is an environment for self-expression, for learning about other cultures and traditions, and for creativity. Often the music class can be a forum for children to shine where they might not in other areas: I can think of one example: a little girl was being teased by her classmates as “stupid”, until they heard her sing; her special talent gave her a leg-up in the social stratum of her age-group, and did wonders for her self-esteem; the obvious outcome was that her other subjects improved.
In my music classes, I teach music reading and writing; I feel that music literacy enhances young people’s lives in countless ways, i.e.: arithmetical and spatial relationships, whole notes, half notes, quarter notes etc: it is a visible and audible use of fractions, but very simple and fun. In addition, reading notes from the staff is like learning a language, but again, because it only uses the alphabet from a to g, it is relatively easy to learn, and delivers a high return in terms of creative exploration.
As a musician, the value of Arts in Education is inestimable; I have devoted my life to the performance and teaching of music, and I have seen firsthand the contribution and benefits music gives to people’s lives.
MEAGHER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – 2 years part-time
General Music classes Kindergarten thru 5th Grade
Wrote & produced two original musicals
DWIGHT MORROW HIGH SCHOOL – 2 years full-time
Choral Director (Gospel/ Jazz/ Classical)
Keyboard Studies (lab)
General Music Classes
SUNY PURCHASE- 6 years total (including adjunct private lessons)
THE MASTERS SCHOOL – 4 years
CORNISH INSTITUTE of the ARTS – SEATTLE – 5 years
CAPE COD COMMUNITY COLLEGE – BARNSTABLE – 3 years
PRIVATE PIANO LESSONS – FOREVER