Harvard, MIT Part of $800 Million Deal to Push Access to Online Education - The Wall Street Journal

Harvard, MIT Part of $800 Million Deal to Push Access to Online Education - The Wall Street Journal Harvard, MIT Part of $800 Million Deal to Push Access to Online Education - The Wall Street Journal Posted: 29 Jun 2021 04:00 AM PDT Education-technology company 2U Inc., which runs graduate programs for dozens of top universities, is buying web-based course provider edX, a nonprofit founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for $800 million. The deal combines two major players in online instruction as universities around the world push more aggressively into digital offerings. Many schools scrambled to shift courses online when the pandemic shut campuses last year, and they are now expected to build on—and polish—the programs. The sale proceeds will go to a nonprofit, to be run by Harvard and MIT, that the schools say will focus on reducing inequalities in access to education. It will maintain the open-acc

Berks Sinfonietta's 2020 season continues online - bctv.org

Berks Sinfonietta's 2020 season continues online - bctv.org

Berks Sinfonietta's 2020 season continues online - bctv.org

Posted: 13 Nov 2020 02:39 AM PST

Berks Sinfonietta presents the fourth concert of its virtual Fall season on Saturday, November 21 at 7:30 pm. The performance will be streamed on Facebook and YouTube. Readers can watch the live broadcast by visiting www.berkssinfonietta.org.

This month the string orchestra, led by Chris Cinquini (Conductor of the Reading Symphony Youth Orchestra) performs Gustav Holst's wonderful "Brook Green Suite." Holst wrote the work for the St. Paul's Girls School Junior Orchestra in 1933, twenty years after writing the better known "St. Paul's Suite." During 1933 he spent a good deal of his time in the hospital, but there were very few weeks when he was too ill to go on composing. He conducted the dedicatees in their first informal run-through of the suite in the school hall in March 1934, two months before his death. The cheerful tune half-way through the last movement is one he remembered hearing played in a puppet show when he was on holiday in Sicily.

The strings will be joined by oboist Kirstin Myers to perform Emma Lou Deimer's "Lament." This short, lyrical work creates a pensive, despondent mood that stays with the listener long after its final notes have sounded. When Emma Lou was five years old, she taught herself to play the piano by listening to the radio, including Paderewski's Minuet. She began composing at six. On hearing her play the piano as a teenager, a visiting pianist foresightedly recommended that she attend Yale School of Music, which she did a few years later—one of only two women majoring in Composition at the time. She earned a master's degree from Yale and a doctoral degree from the Eastman School of Music, augmenting her studies on a Fulbright Scholarship in Belgium and at the Berkshire Music Center (Tanglewood). At the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), she was professor of Theory and Composition for 20 years and is currently professor emerita.

Sinfonietta's wind section, conducted by James Gilmer, performs Joseph Joachim Raff's charming "Sinfonietta." Born in 1822 in the small town of Lachen, on the shores of lake Zürich in Switzerland, Raff showed great natural talent as a pianist, violinist, and organist, and taught himself the rudiments of harmony and composition. He plucked up the courage to send some of his piano works to Mendelssohn, who was impressed and recommended them to his publisher, Breitkopf & Härtel.

Raff was the first composer to use the name "Sinfonietta" for an orchestral work in several movements like a symphony, but shorter and lighter in content. The name was used by many later composers, most notably Janacek. His single example of the genre he created is indeed symphonic in style with seriousness of purpose and technical brilliance. However, the work has a relaxed sunny nature and a lightness of touch.

Viewing is free and open to all, though the orchestra asks for donations equaling its usual ticket costs of $15/Adult and $5/Child. Join us for an evening of fabulous music, Saturday, November 21 at 7:30 pm. Streamed live on Facebook and YouTube – for more information, visit www.berkssinfonietta.org.

Rich Stillman: Learning the Music, Not Just the Song - Patch.com

Posted: 12 Nov 2020 08:28 AM PST

Bluegrass is happy music; it can boost your mood or calm our nerves. It's reflective, energizing, and head-bobbing music. Most of all, it's a social music genre. Of course, that's why CCM faculty member Rich Stillman loves to play and teach bluegrass!

Interestingly enough, it wasn't the banjo that Rich first picked up. He first learned fingerstyle guitar and classical piano, but it wasn't until after college that he picked up the banjo. He also confessed to a disastrous stint playing flute in his high school orchestra, but we won't concentrate on that since he's compiled a stack of banjo awards, including two times as the New England Banjo Champion. He's taught banjo for years at various schools, and we're so fortunate to have him on our faculty.

Rich has been a member of many well-known New England bands, most recently with the bluegrass band Southern Rail, and before that, he had founded Waystation, a band which played a hybrid of folk and blues music. Although Southern Rail shelved live performances, for the time being, Rich has been plenty busy with his YouTube Banjo Tune for the day and Southern Rail's upcoming pre-recorded online concert on December 5, sponsored by the Rose Garden Coffeehouse.

Rich confessed that the music he listens to could dictate his playing at the moment. He says, "I listened to ragtime long before I played banjo, and I've adapted ragtime pieces like The Entertainer and Ain't Misbehaving. I played classical piano at one time and have adapted pieces like Bach's Cello Suite #1 for banjo.'t>

Not one to back down from a musical challenge, Rich occasionally branches out to play a musical style that he may not usually choose. For instance, he was once asked to play Copland's Hoedown with the Arlington High School symphony. But when asked what his favorite type of music is, Rich says, "Mostly I enjoy playing bluegrass. I love the music itself and the social aspect of the style – jams and festivals."


Luckily, the pandemic didn't slow down Rich or his Banjo II Group Class students. His classes continue to meet online as Rich inspires them to master techniques and perfect their banjo sound.
Music truly connects us, and learning an instrument in a group creates an ideal supportive environment to develop skills. Rich believes that group classes, where people are often at different levels, can be challenging but exceptionally rewarding. "I feel lucky that we've got a group of people who are more or less at the same point in their development. Even the people who joined the class in later semesters knew enough banjo to join in right from the start of their time with us. They learn from each other as well as from me, and I learn from them."

He makes sure students learn a sequence of tunes to teach specific playing techniques and musical concepts for beginners. He says, "Once those are in people's fingers, we move on to music that engages people in the class. I may nudge here and there, but we've been tackling tunes that have been requested by the students for quite a while. It's a great real-world experience, and it exposes all the students, at some point, to the music they might not have listened to otherwise."

Rich knows that it's not enough to know how to play bluegrass and the banjo. He says, "People have to be able to listen and respond to the other musicians around them. The pandemic has kept people from getting practical experience playing with others, but when the time comes, they will be ready!"

Having taught the CCM banjo class for several years, and he's seen firsthand how his banjo students have progressed. "The primary objective from the start has been to teach music through the banjo and to teach the mechanics of the instrument, and it's been thrilling to watch the students turn into musicians as well as banjo players."

Banjo II Group Class Members Weigh-In

To show how valuable a group class can be, we posed a few questions to two of his adult students.
Nancy Cooper, who played for 4 or 5 years, fell in love with the banjo one year during a bluegrass festival. She says, "I feel that it is a pretty forgiving instrument on some level, but getting good sure takes a lot of work and dedication."

What's the one thing that stands out as the benefit of learning banjo in your CCM class?
I have enjoyed the group aspect of Rich's banjo class. Learning in a group has been fun. We all enjoy each other and gathering in person and now remotely each week. We learn from Rich and listen to each other and hear the different approaches we each bring to whatever song we are working on. It's a very supportive group, and I am learning to feel more comfortable playing in front of others.

How have you improved?
I have improved and have learned how to pick out melodies and put together banjo solos. This was something that I couldn't do before that is becoming easier as time goes on. I have recently found that hearing the melody of a song that I don't know well and then recall it enough to play it is more challenging than I realized. I'm working on my active listening!

Your favorite part of the banjo class?
There are so many wonderful things about the class, from Rich's stories about banjo history and banjo players to learning new licks, playing up the neck, or Rich showing us how to develop or expand on a solo. It's always exciting to figure out how to play a song, then work on it, and create an interesting solo. We do this as a group and on our own during the week.
He is exceptionally patient, explains things well, and is genuinely committed to helping each of us. He approaches the class from many different angles and is open to working on something that we are interested in or songs that we like. He's always supportive and very giving of his time and attention. I feel fortunate to know and learn from him.

Steve Lillis has been playing for about seven years. He told us that he had tried taking lessons before but always dropped out because he didn't find teachers who explained things as well as Rich does. Loving bluegrass music and the uniqueness of the banjo got him hooked.

What's the one thing that stands out as the benefit of learning banjo in your CCM class?
I feel very comfortable with Rich and the other students in the group. We are all learning and trying to grow—I gain comfort watching us all improve. We encourage each other and also get good coaching and encouragement from Rich.

Your favorite part of the banjo class?
My favorite part of the class is listening to Rich explain the different methods to play the same thing. Plus, the camaraderie with Rich and the others!


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