Tuning Up March 2021
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volume 59 no.5   PO Box 283, New City, NY 10956

A Study for Self Restoration

Member-led Program
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021
ZOOM: 10 am - Noon

Let's explore, as a group, the journey through this unprecedented time and share our findings of ourselves.

What kind of outer and inner conditions have been laid upon us during this period, and what inner resources and responses have offered new experiences of ourselves?

What are we learning through the challenges and the changes we experience? Are our goals and wish lists the same as before? Has anything been renewed or has anything dropped away?

Has my relationship to music or my instrument changed
or come into question
during this time? Has my valuation of being a musician gone through any transformation?  

Everyone is invited to gift us with their own perspectives, and their own unanswered questions!

Please RSVP to Steve Cohen (

Dear Colleagues,

What is it that makes our guild so special? It's the teachers 
who dedicate themselves to bring enjoyment, understanding and love of music to those they teach. This guild over the years has continuously brought interesting monthly programs that also benefit it's members in so many ways.

By providing scholarships, auditions and a Music Marathon that raises considerable donations to those much less fortunate than us; the guild continues to be a needed resource to our community.

In this time of a pandemic, with all it's stresses, our teachers have  
found new ways to bring music to so many lives. 
With vaccinations becoming more available, life will eventually become "normal", or close to normal. As working musicians and teachers, I speak for all, that we are certainly looking forward to that day. 

Stay well and stay safe,



The Audition Committee has made some specific decisions regarding our alternative to holding regular auditions resulting from the impact and restrictions placed on us by the pandemic.

Both the Guild Scholarship and the George Bryant Scholarships will be offered.  In lieu of in-person auditions and judging, the Scholarship applicants must meet the existing requirements by submitting a video recording of their performance to the Guild. Either the Guild Board and/or the Audition committee will act as judges and make the decision as to whether the Scholarships will be awarded.  Scholarship application videos must be received by April 30th. 

In lieu of the in person regular auditions, teachers may have their students prepare a piece or pieces that fit within a 10 minute time frame and are of a performance standard equal to that which a teacher would approve for in person auditions. The videos to be submitted should be viewed and approved for submission by the students teacher. The videos can be submitted through the Guild website between April 23rd and May 7th.  The videos will be available for viewing within a day or two after submission and up until May 14th.  

contact Christine Renstrom with any questions:
Telling Our Stories –
January Jamboree: January 30, 2021
We stacked up on the Zoom call that substituted for our annual Winter Potluck supper a few weeks ago and our stories emerged, stitched together with the common thread of music: as teachers, performers, students, and devotees. Two hours was barely enough time for all voices to be heard.  Until the very end of the evening, each speaker was given whatever measure of time he or she seemed to want. At the very last, one story did not receive a full airing: that of former member, former Vice President Jennifer Eyges. So, in a spirit of full sharing, I asked her to send her biography so that she could be heard here. This way, it is hoped, all of you have been enabled to share your stories, to be known in your own voices, to be in community. Jennifer’s story follows below:
from Jennifer Eyges:
"I was born on the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago and at that time it was a colony of Great Britain. I remember singing as far back as I can remember being me.  My dad had a beautiful voice and like his mother and grandmother on his mother’s side, he inherited their musical talents.  My great grandmother, Eugenie Brouet, emigrated from France to Saint Lucia at the turn of the century and was the organist and soprano at a church in the town of Castris in Saint Lucia.
Each morning I woke up to the sound of my dad singing in the kitchen before he left for work.  His voice made me feel that the world was a good place to wake up to and I have been very fortunate as all my life luck walked with me. Once we moved to the United States, I was the favored singer in my high school, where I was asked to sing the solos and perform in the High School concerts.  I was also asked by the principal of my high school to perform at his retirement ceremony.  I went on to study at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music where I was chosen to sing solos at many organizations including The Women’s league of Israel, Hadassahs, Tavern on the Green etc. I gave my first solo recital at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. I auditioned for Manhattan School of Music, singing the beautiful aria “Io son l’umile ancella” from the opera “Adrianna Lecouvreur” at my audition.  I was accepted as a scholarship student for the next four years. 
I had many opportunities to perform in the MSM opera workshop under conductor Anton Coppola.  I sang excerpts from Aida performing the lead role, Mimi, in La BohemeMadama Butterfly as well as Suor Angelica all favorite roles. A performance in 1971 at the United Nations was a very emotional one for me. When I was a student at Manhattan School of Music in 1971, the school's chorus was invited to sing at the United Nations to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the UN. We had been invited to sing a song written by the world famous cellist Pablo Casals, entitled: "Eagerly Musicians Spread Your Wings." Pablo Casals attended this event, and after we sang, Maestro Casals stood up, getting ready to play a solo. He told the audience in his very emotional voice, that he was about to play a Catalonian song called "El cant des ocels." It is translated: "the song of the birds." Pablo Casals, aged 94 in 1971, was in tears as he spoke to the audience: "the song says the birds in the sky are crying peace, peace, peace” and with that he began to play and cried as he played, trembling. I am sure the entire United Nations was shaken up crying along with him. I know I was. This event was televised all over the globe, and you can still Google it!
In the summer of 1972, I was given a scholarship to study at the Jeunesse Musicale in Montreal, with world renowned French baritone Pierre Bernac and Tom Grubb.  Tom became my mentor, my vocal coach and my accompanist.  Tom was decorated as Chevalier de L’Ordre des arts et lettres by the French Ministry. He is now professor emeritus after 30 years at The Juilliard School. Tom and I did a concert together at Howard University where we were well received.  I was also invited to sing at Raritan Valley Community College celebrating the accomplishments of the amazing Paul Robeson. After four years at MSM, I did my graduation recital and began auditioning around the city where I sang several operas with the Amato Opera Company, then The Stuyvestan, where I sang the title roles from Anna Bolena and Madama Butterfly.  One of my favorites was singing Violetta in La Traviata with the La Selva opera in New York City. At the Amato opera I sang the lead role of Massenet’s Manon, Pamina in Magic Flute.  In 1977, I auditioned for The American Institute of Musical Studies and was accepted to spend the summer studying and performing in Graz, Austria.  I was offered the title role in Schubert’s opera, Fierrabras.  Each morning I took the strassenbaum from the Hauptplatz to the Studenheim where classes were held.  I later found out that the Hauptplatz was once called the Adolf Hitler Platz and it was the first time World War II became a reality and not just words in a history book for me. That summer I had the opportunity to sing in master classes coached by Metropolian opera stars Sherrill Milnes and George London. 
After a wonderful summer, I decided it was time to get my master’s degree. I applied and was accepted to Columbia University Teachers College for my M.A. During those years I was asked on several occasions to perform at several V.I.P  events at Columbia University attended by the then President of Columbia University, Michael Sovern.  At Columbia, I worked as an assistant to Schuyler Chapin, who was at the time the General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera. He arranged an audition for me with Risë Stevens who was once one of the Met’s top artists and the most famous Carmen. Although my vocal technique was not ready at that time, it was an amazing experience to audition in the Metropolitan Opera house for Risë Stevens. In June of 1983 I sang my graduation recital in Miller Theatre, Columbia University, after receiving my masters degree from Teachers College.  
In April of 1984 when I was four months pregnant with my son, Eric, I made my debut at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall. I had a grant given to me by one of the professors at Columbia University which was matched by another donor. I received a standing ovation and went on to perform at the opening of a new music hall that was just built at City College, New York. I was asked by the President of the New York City Public Library to sing at a memorial for Lola Szladits.  She was in charge of the Berg Collection at the NYC Public Library. In attendance at this service was Vartan Gregorian, President of Brown University and other prominent V.I.P’s in NYC.
When my son Eric was three, I moved to Nyack and was introduced to George Bryant and Ed Simons. I auditioned for them both and George Bryant immediately invited me to sing at at several concerts. One in particular, held at the Rockland Community College, was advertised in the Sunday Rockland County Journal front page with my photo. George invited me to sing at events on several occasions while he accompanied. Upon meeting Ed Simons and auditioning for him, I was chosen to sing the lead role in a Mozart Requiem at Rockland Community College with the Rockland Community Orchestra. I sang many concerts at St. Paul’s church after auditioning for Bill Hargrove.  Best of all, I had the opportunity to perform at the opening of the former gazebo in Nyack’s Memorial Park, July 4th, 1991.  This was publicized in the Journal News with my photo, George Bryant’s photo, along with Ramona Perez-Finkelman.  These were exciting times. When my son was six, I performed at Upper Nyack elementary school, singing the aria “Dove Sono” from the the Marriage of Figaro.
1986 was the most extraordinary year in my life:
I went back to my country, Trinidad and Tobago, to perform in concert, in order to help raise money to build a nursing home.  The concert was packed and I performed at the College of Saint Mary, where I received a standing ovation and raised $11,000 to help build the nursing home, which stands today in Trinidad and Tobago.  Attending my concert was the president of Trinidad and Tobago, Ellis Clark.  Trinidad had gained its independence from Great Britain and was now an island nation. This event was publicized in the main paper, “The Trinidad Guardian,” along with my photo.  Across the stage was a ribbon saying “Welcome Home Jennifer”.  What a moment that was.  President Ellis Clarks fell in love with my performance and invited me to sing at an event at his home which was the former governor’s house attended by ambassadors from around the world.  As a child I had walked every day by Governor’s house which eventually became the President’s house, and there I would stop to watch the changing of the guard.  Now I was about to enter this house as guest artist to dine with and perform for world-wide ambassadors.  The evening arrived.  President Ellis Clarke sent his car and driver to escort me to his home. It was a very British style mansion and everyone was announced before entering.  The dinner was served all in the style of British elegance, with pomp and circumstance. After dinner I performed several arias. “Un Bel di” from Madama Butterfly, was the favorite of the evening. It felt as if I were performing in a sixteenth century living room and in fact I was. This was an amazing event. After leaving Trinidad and Tobago at age 11, I had been invited to perform for the President of my native land at age 39.
Back in Rockland County, in November of 1991, I was asked to perform at the inauguration of Sheriff Kralik.  He requested that I sing his favorite song : "The Battle hymn of the Republic", which I did and I also sang an aria from the opera La Rondine by Puccini at this special event. Sheriff Kralik was elated that I sang his favorite song, so he wrote a very warm and thankful letter for my performance. Inserted in the letter that he wrote to me, was a card and written on it was “Honorary Sheriff” signed by Sheriff Kralik himself. I remember him as a very warm person. Unfortunately, I never got stopped in Rockland, where I could have shown my card.  LOL
Eventually, in 1992, I moved to Dobbs Ferry and was invited to put on a show for the early elementary students.  My show was not just a big success but I was invited back for the next five years to perform.  My last and one of my favorite gigs was being hired to work as the Music Director for the Northern Westchester Center for the Arts.  When I began working there, there were only 39 students. By the time I left ten years later, I had recruited almost 500 students.  I not only directed the department, but I gave many concerts for and with my students developing their talents and helping them get into colleges of their choice.  After ten years, I began teaching at Soundview Prep School in Yorktown Heights.   One of my students got accepted to Juiliard’s prep program and other at various universities and conservatories including New England Conservatory and MSM.  But I am most proud of my student who received a $100,000.00 scholarship to Frost School of Music, University of Miami.

A few years ago I joined the Art Song Preservation Society of NY where I had the opportunity to share my musical experiences with world renowned French baritone, Pierre Bernac, and perform once again with Tom Grubbmy former coach and pianist. The audience was mostly made up of aspiring young artist.  I also had the opportunity to meet Marni Nixon the ghost singer for Westside Story and My Fair Lady among others. This was surreal as I was 14 when I first heard Westside story never knowing who that beautiful voice belonged to."
all meetings begin at 11AM, second Wednesdays on Zoom
3/10, 4/14, 5/19, 6/9 
If you have something you wish the Board to discuss please contact Steve Cohen (
We are working hard to make RCMTG work for you!
Message from your Editor:
After the June Issue, I will be resigning as Editor of Tuning Up, and I'd love to pass the torch!

If one of you has an interest in continuing this newsletter, please contact me:

RCMTG 2021

Wednesday, March 3 - 10 AM
Zoom Meeting
Speaker/Performer Member Marti Sweet (Violin)
"The Zen of Quarantine: A Study for Self-Restoration"

Wednesday, April 7 - 10 AM
Zoom Meeting
Speaker/Performer Member Ben Riley (Guitar)

Wednesday, May 12 - 10 AM
Zoom Meeting
Lecture/Recital with Pianist Lisa Yui

Board of Directors and Event Chairpersons
RCMTG  2019-2020

President: Steve Cohen

Vice President: 
Carole Tilson

Treasurer: Rosemary Waltzer

Recording Secretary:
Marti Sweet

Corresponding Secretary: Suzanne Coletta

Marathon: Carole Tilson

Auditions: Christine Renstrom

Membership: Marilyn Hazan

Website Manager: Ben Riley

Hospitality: Arlene Linke

"Tuning Up" Editor:
Tedo Wyman
Copyright © *2019, RCMTG*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 283, New City, NY 10956

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Rockland County Music Teachers Guild · PO Box 283 · New City, NY 10956 · USA

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