Students explore artistic interests through summer music programs


Credit: Courtesy of Madi Schwartz

Madi Schwartz spent three weeks this summer taking a class at the New York Film Academy and produced two films.

By Ella Jones, Julia Thomson, and Jordan Miller, Staff Writers

Over the summer, many Hackley students were able to explore their passions for the arts outside of the classroom. Maggie Broaddus, Oren Tirschwell and Madi Schwartz had opportunities to do so, pursuing their interests in various arts through different summer programs in the Tri-State Area.

Sophomore Maggie Broaddus attended a Jazz workshop at The Calhoun School, an independent K-12 school in New York City. Maggie has been playing Jazz guitar for six years and is an experienced and devoted player. She felt the program helped develop her soloing and chord changing skills. “I would definitely recommend the program to any aspiring Jazz musicians. The Calhoun School had a great staff to work with and I learned a lot,” said Maggie.

Maggie noted that the program was simultaneously intense and fun, and that the performance at the end of the week was a great opportunity for each student to improvise. Maggie described the performance as “stressful but a great way to show the new skills we learned that week.”

Maggie has performed at both Bridge and Tunnel and Coffeehouse performances during her freshman year and she looks forward to continuing to share her music with the Hackley community using the skills she used this summer. Maggie loves playing and performing guitar because “There is no point where you can’t learn more, you can always improve.”

Senior Madi Schwartz also felt she had more to learn when she enrolled in a filmmaking class at the New York Film Academy. Madi had little experience behind the camera before enrolling, and was looking to expand her knowledge and explore her passion for filmmaking. “It was fun, yet challenging,” described Madi. She improved her filmaking skills working on weekdays from 9-5 for three weeks in July. During the first week of the course, Madi spent time mastering various filmmaking techniques. From there, she moved on to making her own movies.

While filming Madi feared that her ideas would not be portrayed on the screen as she imagined. “Long hours were spent on set… while we were editing our films I realized that it would all come together.” By the end of the program, Madi had planned, directed, and edited two movies herself.

The course focused specifically on visual storytelling, or making films without any dialogue. “This meant that we had to learn how to express emotion and show plot twists without using words,” said Madi. Using this tactic, Madi was able to create a film utilizing the actor’s expressions as well as the film’s soundtrack to tell a story. In addition to a movie with no dialogue, she used a narrator in her second film which enabled her to create another layer of dimension.

Madi’s favorite film of the two features two girls wandering a bookstore who find themselves eyeing the same rare book. A tug of war breaks out and it’s left to the film’s narrator to solve the conflict. “I don’t suppose you could share it?” chides the narrator. Reluctantly they agree to share the book, and the film ends with an upbeat song, as the two have found a way to get along.

While filming, Madi and her fellow classmates had free range of New York City, as long as they asked for permission from their teacher ahead of time. This opportunity gave Madi and her classmates an extreme sense of independence and freedom. “Filming in NYC is really an amazing experience,” she said. Through these three weeks at the Film Academy, Madi was able to expand her knowledge of filmmaking and use intricate techniques that furthered her interest in the subject.

Sophomore Oren Tirschwell traveled to  Englewood, New Jersey from Dobbs Ferry to work at a music camp for one week. Inspired by his love of cello and music in general, Oren helped young musicians ages

Photo credit: Courtesy of Maggie Broaddus
Maggie Broadus spent three weeks at The Calhoun School in New York City working on her guitar and improvising skills.

4-14 further develop their musical techniques. During the day he worked with the junior ensemble, who were ages 4-7, and played music with them while also helping them correct parts of the songs they were struggling with.

When campers were falling behind or having trouble with the music, the camp directors turned to Oren to give them one on one lessons. “It was tough,” he said, “Sometimes we would have to go over a section a hundred times before they got it right.”

The director of the camp, Amelia Gold, shared a quote from Martin Luther King with Oren and the other counselors on the first day, explaining that it encompassed her goals for the week. The quote reads: “We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the earth as brothers and sisters.” Although the camp revolved around musical development, Oren said, “she wanted us to come together as one unit and one musical community, and walk the school like brothers and sisters, like equals, and as people who all have a common goal of making amazing music.” Oren felt that working at the camp was rewarding in that it made him a better and more versatile player, and was a learning experience for both him and the campers.