When I heard that FSM Director, Dan Carlucci was going to be sitting down with Jonimgres Noyes for an interview, I knew that we were all in for a treat.

Jon Noyes founded the Fairfield County Children’s Choir, and currently serves as the Music Director. He is one of the most eminent choral conductors and music educators in New England. The work he’s done there (as many of our FSM parents and students can attest to) is nothing short of inspiring and impressive. With Maestro Noyes at the helm, the FCCC has traveled the globe – from Austria to Ireland to Carnegie Hall – and has grown to consist of four full choirs.

Recently, the FCCC was featured in a flashmob event to support those affected by cancer, and the mission of the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven. Just be sure to grab a box of tissues before watching the video.

Jon also teaches music at Holland Hill elementary school in Fairfield, where he dedicates himself to the growth and development of students from kindergarten to fifth grade.

In talking to Jon, his message was as powerful as it was simple: The music speaks for itself. Let your actions be the message. We jumped right into the interview by asking Jon, “What is the message that you are trying  to send about the importance of music in modern society?” Jon replied:


“I want that message to be transmitted not so much in words, but in action. To be transmitted by DOING that great art of music. Whatever we can say with words, whatever that message is, is secondary. It’s about just doing music with the kids.


That makes a lot of sense. It actually reminds me of when I was starting to learn guitar. It wasn’t because of anything other than the fact that I loved the music. The sound. I didn’t even read music at that time. I did everything by ear.


That’s what I’m talking about. Now as an educator, I have to be able to talk about that; to talk about the importance of music. I would say that with music, we have the opportunity to expose young people to new and different things. We have to start from what they know and experience everyday, and to then take them to new places and new experiences. You know, music stimulates more parts of the brain at the same time than almost any other human activity. That’s significant.”


It seems like everything happens in our lives so rapidly today. The whole world is on YouTube, we master video games in 10 hours, we have all the knowledge we need right on Google. I’ve always felt like music has been an antidote for the hectic pace of our lives, and the digital age in general.


It’s interesting. I’m still learning too. Music isn’t about getting to a certain point and then you ‘get it’. Everytime I work on a piece of music, I’m learning. Even if I’ve already performed it 5 times. Everytime I get in front of the choir, I learn something. We’re always growing with music. We’re always students.

John Ruskin said, “The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it”. That’s in our mission statement. With music, we are taken out of that paradigm. Our work is its own reward. Beyond the human development aspects, and the quality of life, music has intrinsic value. I’m lucky to be a lifelong student in that respect, and to pass on this cultural heritage through teaching and performing.


I love it. So what about the Children’s Choir? How do FSM students – or anyone – get involved?


We’re always looking for more voices. In fact, we’re already gearing up for auditions for the 2014-2015 season. If you go to our website, there’s an “audition” link with more information on what, when, and where those auditions will be. Keep in mind we have four choirs, so there is a place for just about any young person who is interested.

Did you enjoy this excerpt from our interview with Jon Noyes? Is there anyone that you would like us to interview? Shoot me an email at blogs.fsm@gmail.com and let me know. Stay tuned for more interviews and even some podcasts coming up in the future!


Are you Talented Enough to be a Musician?

LE1C100ZHave you visited the self help section at Barnes and Noble lately?

If you have, you’ve noticed that the shelves are dominated by books about talent. Yes, talent. What it is, why you have to have it, and how you can get more.

This genre of self-help books can be summed up like this: “Mozart was really talented. You aren’t as talented as him. But thanks to new research, we’ve cracked the code to talent and now YOU can be the next Mozart if you just: Continue reading

A Special Message to our Adult Students

To our adult students,Never too late

When we opened our doors in September, we set out with the goal of providing excellent musical training to as many people from as many backgrounds as possible. We’d just like to say that we’re honored to have you on board with us.

We have always believed that with the right method and the right teacher, anyone, at any time in their life, can learn to play (and enjoy) music.

Before we founded FSM, this was just a warm and fuzzy idea. But your enrollment and the work you’ve done has been like a social experiment, and together we’ve proven it to be true. It’s never “too late” to start enjoying music.

So thanks for trusting us and choosing to work with us. We hope you’ll decide continue to cultivate your love of music and your musicianship with us in the coming 2013/2014 season.

And if your time here has been truly valuable, then help us further dispel the myth that playing great music is only for kids. Tell a friend or family member about us.


Dan and Tracy

What happens when your instrument collects dust all summer??

Does your piano look like this in September?

Does your piano look like this in September?

So when I was in 6th grade, I left my trumpet in the Newtown Middle School band room for the entire summer.


My parents were peeved, but I wasn’t deep into my studies, so they let it go. What they (and I) didn’t realize at the time is a fundamental principle of skill development:

Developing skills differs from fact-learning, in that there is drastic deterioration of the skill when practice is suspended – even if only for a few days.

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Students are so weird about talking to their teachers…

Baroque Trumpet, ca. 1720

So when I was in high-school, my trumpet teacher was a very high-level soloist, who made a living performing on a baroque trumpet (the hardest thing EVER…see picture). He taught primarily by example: He would play a passage, and I would mimic him.

This method worked most of the time. But he wasn’t much for words. And so if I didn’t understand something, I wouldn’t ask.

Looking back, I think to myself “SAY SOMETHING! SPEAK UP! ASK A QUESTION!!”

I think as students, we sometimes forget that we also play a role in the student/mentor relationship, and that role goes beyond just nodding, smiling, and practicing. So what is that role? How do we engage with our mentor in order to get the most out of the lesson?

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What do Yo Yo Ma, Helen Keller, and Albert Einstein have in common?

Yo-Yo MaNote: Before you go on to read this article, I just want to say…WOW! I am blown away by how many people have already been emailing, discussing, and commenting on the blog. In no way did I anticipate that FSM: Music and Ideas would be such a hit from the start. This post particularly has been all the buzz at FSM. It’s so interesting to see what type of content people really eat up…it’s always different than what one can possibly predict. Here’s a few of the comments/questions that have come up already from this post:

  • How do I get the most out of my relationship with my teacher?
  • How do I find a great teacher?
  • Are one-on-one apprenticeship better than a group settings?

I can’t WAIT to answer these questions in future posts. If you have specific questions that you’re eager to have answered, you know that you can shoot me an email; or if you’re studying at FSM, you can always ask Dan, Tracy, or your teacher!

But I am really itching to answer one question that has come up a few times already: “Are one-on-one apprenticeships like you described in the blog better than a group setting”? I’ll answer with a story from my own experience:

I am constantly contacted by young aspiring trumpeters who are moving to NYC to pursue a music degree. They’re looking for all kinds of advice about their studies and about life in the Big Apple. But the question I get more often than anything else is: “Who should I study with?” The choices are endless…Mr. Penzarella? Mark Gould? Ray Riccommini? Tom Smith? I understand the urgency. I get it. It’s like picking a dessert out of the case at Lady M…MMMM so many choices! (the green tea cheese cake is my personal weak spot…) ANYWAYS, BACK TO THE QUESTION AT HAND.

I always answer the same way, and it is this: All of those teachers are excellent educators and musicians. But you will learn more from your musical peers than from your teachers. Your peers are the people who you will learn and grow with, side by side. They’re the ones who will push you forward when you struggle. And when they struggle, you will learn to put your hand out to them.

So build a strong relationship with your teacher, yes. But build an even stronger community around yourself. Attend recitals. As a participant and a listener. Get together to jam or play chamber music with your peers. Go to open mic nights. If you play a solo instrument (pianists raise your hands!), look into how you might be able to get involved in chamber music, group lessons, accompanying, or playing piano pieces for 4, 6, 8, or even more hands!

So that is my response to that very important question. Sometimes we want a yes or no, but it’s usually not that easy. Again, I’m so thrilled with the huge response to this article and warm reception that Music and Ideas has received. I have NO IDEA what the next big conversation is going to be on, but for now let’s get to the topic at hand..

What do Yo Yo Ma, Helen Keller, and Albert Einstein have in common?

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Welcome to Music and Ideas!


Thanks for stopping by. The fact that you’re here right now means that this is going to be a great way for us to stay in touch and communicate about our worlds.

Take 3-5 minutes out of your day right now to click around the blog, and get acquainted.  **If you are pressed for time, scroll to the last few paragraphs and respond now! We want your feedback.**

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