More and more I find myself working in Princeton! I love its small-town feel, cozy coffee shops, tree-lined streets, and the diversity of people. You can find me every Sunday singing in the choir loft at Nassau Presbyterian Church, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays teaching for the Princeton Family YMCA. There, we are blessed to have a beautiful classroom to use at the world-class Westminster Choir College. Yesterday, my studens had access to technology they don't have at home...they were able to Google "Shosholoza" by request and sing it for the class. You may not know that this song is considered to be the second national anthem of South Africa. Were those students from South Africa? No...so I think it's amazing that they are aware of music like this. One of my students is in the Princeton Girl Choir, and she sang beautifully while her brother tried to play the notes on the piano. I'm so happy to be able to offer this time of music exploration for them. We have one uninterrupted hour of music play and discovery with a piano, projectors, speakers and computers. The whole world is at our fingertips and I'm so excited that these kids dive right in.
You know...when I moved up to the northeast, this southern girl didn't know what to expect...but I have so much respect for Princeton and the cultural community it creates.
*stay tuned for another venture in Princeton to be announced in the next couple of weeks!!!
I don't know about you, but some of my biggest inspiration comes from the smallest among us. I've just started working with 2 childrens' choirs sponsored by the Princeton Family YMCA, and when I leave our rehearsals I feel so happy. These kiddos bring so much (and I mean SO much) energy and enthusiasm for not only singing, but life itself. Seeing music through their eyes keeps me humble, and reminds me of my own musical beginnings. Music instruction is incredibly important for these young people not only because it gives them an outlet to channel their energy, but it also encourages working together and lifting each other up. These basic life lessons are so important, and I like to think that because I am a musician, I am able to connect with people in a meaningful way, even in my daily life. I am so grateful for my early music teachers and their skill, creativity and huge hearts.
Yesterday, I met a new singer for one of my childrens' choirs and she didn't speak any English. She's been in the US for 3 months, and she loves to sing. With the help of a student translator, I discovered that she loves the singer Gloria Trevi. I am unfamiliar with her songs, but I let her sing to one using the YouTube app on my phone. I tried to teach her one of my favorite songs in English, but we quickly determined that the words were going to take some time. I had her teach me "How Far I'll Go" from Moana in Spanish. We found a great "Spanglish" video and had so much fun teaching each other the verses! I can't wait to go back next week to sing with her again and help her use her beautiful voice.
Frequently adults come into the Finely Tuned Voice Lessons studio and they say that someone in their childhood told them they "couldn't sing" and it has deeply affected their self-confidence. When teaching young kids, we have an enormous responsibility to approach everything from a place of love and encouragement. I don't know where these kids go when they leave my rehearsal, but I will do everything in my power to make sure they have wonderful music instruction and a safe, loving, happy place to stay during that time.
Thank you, Princeton Family YMCA, for allowing me to be a small part of some pretty amazing kids' lives. I smile when I think about How Far They'll Go....
Maria Palombo is a Voice Instructor and Singer living in Central NJ. She is the founder of Finely Tuned Voice Lessons, a private voice studio in Mercer County, NJ.