As a lifelong music lover and sometimes performer, it was my pleasure to speak with another music aficionado, Nashua Community Music School Executive Director Lindsay Rinaldi. Lindsay has been a part of the Nashua community since she was 10 years old. After receiving advanced degrees in opera performance, she returned to New Hampshire to teach as an adjunct instructor of Voice & Music Education at Southern New Hampshire University. Having always been passionate about music and community service, Lindsay has also been a voice instructor at NCMS for the last six years, and two years ago she was invited to become Executive Director to help further the mission of NCMS.
For over 32 years, the nonprofit Nashua Community Music School has provided Greater Nashua and the Southern New Hampshire Region with high quality, affordable music education opportunities. The mission of NCMS is to provide a broad spectrum of learning, performing, and listening opportunities in music and to provide vocal and instrumental lessons with the finest teachers available.
Music Education is a regular part of public schools in the Greater Nashua area, however schools are limited in what they can offer in terms of individual student attention and breadth of curriculum due to the restrictions of their annual budget.
“Often one music teacher is asked to teach or manage the music administration at multiple elementary schools, which often limits the amount of time an instructor can dedicate to cultivating a consistent creative musical environment,” Lindsay said.
She added that music is an important component to a well-rounded education. It teaches discipline, patience and supports create thought. As such, Nashua Community Music School is an active supporter of the existing music programs in local schools. “NCMS strives to compliment and enhance the music programs in local schools and fill the musical void for students who would otherwise not have access to such programming.”
The Nashua Community Music School constantly strives to expand its offerings, which include private music instruction, group classes, performing ensembles, music outreach programs, public concerts, summer programs, and music therapy. Because music education is an important factor NCMS works hard to make programming financially accessible through reasonable tuition rates, corporate sponsorships, fundraising events, and their Music For All! Scholarship campaign.
Music For All!
Nashua Community Music School serves “mostly families and school-aged children, however pre-professional adults and retirees make up about 15% of the student body,” Lindsay said. NCMS created the Music For All! Scholarship program to help students of any age and socio-economic background take advantage of their music education programs.
Music For All! is entirely donor supported, with funds coming in the form of one-time donations and annual gifts. It is also possible to sponsor a specific student’s tuition.
Programs include private and group instruction in voice, piano, woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion; half-day and full-day summer camps in flute, percussion, strings, Broadway, and music composition; mobile music outreach; and a music therapy program that “uses music to heal and resolve individual social, emotional, and communication challenges.”
A Music Revolution
“Nashua Community Music School stands apart from other area nonprofits as the only nonprofit focused on a broad spectrum of music education,” Lindsay explained.
She went on to explain that other local nonprofits in the Nashua area have similar goals of community service and enrichment, but few others offer the joy and personal enrichment of music while also instilling discipline and learning techniques that can be applied in school, sports, work, and every aspect of our lives.
The success of their programs is evident in the quality of music instructors and music therapists who are drawn to work with Nashua Community Music School — “all of the faculty at NCMS are university trained, many with masters and doctoral degrees” — and because a majority of their students return to NCMS after high school and college to continue their involvement with the school.
Play It Forward
NCMS hosts many events throughout each year, but the biggest is their annual Play It Forward: A Benefit Rock Concert for The Nashua Community Music School. Co-sponsored by NCMS and corporate sponsors, Play It Forward is a concert featuring local rock legends, Aces & Eights. Aces & Eights are technically retired, but they come out of retirement each year specifically to perform for NCMS at Play It Forward. They are joined by other local bands like The Jivekats.
Possibly most impressive about the event, “the most advanced NCMS students are given the opportunity to play on stage with the professional bands. It’s a great way to reward their musical achievements, and they learn what it’s like to play at the professional level.”
This year’s Play It Forward drew around 300 people, a new record.
Other events hosted by NCMS include free community recitals every two months, as well as open mic nights, family African drum circles, and piano karaoke events where you can sing your favorite songs accompanied by a professional pianist.
How You Can Be Involved
Because NCMS offers their programs at very reasonable rates, their tuition does not cover all of their operating expenses. Lindsay is excited to explain the city’s contributions to NCMS programs.
“For the past three years, the City of Nashua has awarded NCMS a grant to support our scholarship campaign; seeing the city support music education in this manner helps encourage individual contributors’ generosity and involvement as well.
“Most donors [to NCMS] have a personal connection to the music world,” she said, “either as a musician themselves or honoring a loved one who is or was a musician. We also get support from educators who understand the role of music in a well-rounded education.”
Donations aren’t only monetary; some donors provide instruments so low-income students have equal access to playing music. Others choose to sponsor pianos, covering the costs of their maintenance during the year; yearly maintenance and tuning for a single year can be as much as $2000.
NCMS is currently the host home of a Seiler Concert Grand Piano from Darrell’s Music Hall, a local piano sales and maintenance provider. As Lindsay notes, “Not every pianist has the opportunity to play a grand piano during their careers, so this was quite a generous gesture!”
Visit the Nashua Community Music School website at www.nashuacms.org to learn more about how you can be a part of NCMS.