People at Pakachoag

Congratulations to Akshaya of Northboro for her recent acceptance into the Mass. Jr. Central District Orchestra.

Akshaya writes:

“I started playing violin at the age of 5. Hearing the older students playing all these difficult pieces I only dreamed of playing myself. After almost 10 years, I’ve played and started learning all the pieces I grew up listening to at concerts. I love being able to play the violin and share the music I make with others. At every concert I attend I remind myself what an amazing thing it is to know how to play music. And accomplishments like getting into Junior Districts are what push me to keep going and try new things in the field of music.”

Teacher Amy Matherly notes:  “I’m very happy for Akshaya. She plays beautifully and deserves to be recognized for her work.  I’m looking forward to the year when she will be able to experience the Festival Orchestra in person.”

This year’s festival is remote.

The Mass. Central Districts and All State festivals are sponsored by the Massachusetts Music Educators Association.

This season’s student spotlight is Seth Boudreau, high school senior and student of Amy Matherly.  Seth first came to Pakachoag as part of our Music Together program all the way back in 2005 age 1!  He began violin lessons in 2009, age 5.  As part of the School’s Suzuki program, Seth began lessons with Sheila Reid and a few years later continued with Dr. Leah Zelnick.  With schedule challenges and teacher transitions, Seth eventually landed with Amy Matherly.

What do you like about your lessons?

I’ve had Mrs. Matherly as my primary violin instructor for most of the years that I have been there, [at Pakachoag].  What I enjoy most about my lessons with Mrs. Matherly is her style and acceptance for the variety of pieces that I like to play and perform. She has always encouraged and allowed me to experiment with different styles of music. I have frequently switched from Fiddle style music to Jazz to Classical and she is always willing to work it into my lesson.  I have played in many Middle and High School performances, and she helped me practice the pieces that I would be playing.

Do you have a favorite piece?

Fall 2019: Pre-pandemic. Sophomore Year, with fiddler friends.

It is challenging to pick a single favorite song out of all the different pieces I have played. However, I am excited [to be performing soon] the Bach Double Violin Concerto with a group of students and teachers from the school.

Do you have other interests outside of music?

As a student who has always been busy with club and High School sports and would often come from sports activities, such as soccer or track practices and games, directly to violin rehearsals and concerts, it has made it challenging to keep up with music.  But ultimately, I’m glad I have stuck with it and continued my lessons with Mrs. Matherly, especially since they are now in person again. Music has been a big part of my life ever since I started at 5 years old, and I am glad that I have continued to grow through my violin playing at Pakachoag Music School.

You are a high school senior this year.  What comes next?

After High School, I plan to attend college and will major in Computer Science.  I am currently looking at my options for college.   I am currently taking an Advanced Placement Music Theory course in High School that I enjoy very much and may continue when I am in college.

From Teacher Amy Matherly: Working with Seth

Seth and I have fun working on a wide variety of musical styles including fiddle, classical and jazz.  He loves music that is flashy and dramatic. Pakachoag recital audiences have been treated to his performances of pieces like Csardas and Funky Hippo along with years of appearances with the Fiddle Band. He is a true music lover who participates in jazz band, show pit band and music theory classes at school.  I have enjoyed watching him learn and grow over the past 10 years.


Dear Seth, we love that you have been able to take AP theory and ensembles at School; and been involved for so long here at Pakachoag.  As I reflect back on the pictures at top of page – wow.  I remember you had taken a year or so off at one point.  I think I remember your mom saying you were begging her to come back — you realized you were missing violin [and perhaps us too]. 

I sincerely congratulate you on sticking with your music for so long while juggling sports and academics.  You have reached the 10 year milestone for lessons recently which means you join a select group of students who have reached “10”.  We wish you much success as you prepare for this next stage of life.   I hope you will continue to make and find friends in music. 

 Sincerely, your friends in music, Sarah S., ED and all at Pakachoag.

This winter/spring season, Kelsey Grey will be working with Pakachoag’s Director of Programs and Community Engagement Kristjon Imperio to learn and support the School’s admin work.

Kelsey holds her undergraduate degree from Westfield State University in Music Education.  She is currently working on her Master’s in Arts Administration & Cultural Management with Colorado State University.  Kelsey is originally from Webster.

Kesley writes, “I am interning with Pakachoag to complete my Masters in Arts Administration. Kristjon has graciously taken me on to learn from him and other school staff. Pakachoag has welcomed me in and has already taught me so much in no time. I am looking forward to the next few months with Pakachoag!”

We can’t take all the credit, but the science confirms that when you make music for a sustained period of time, your brain literally grows!

Bridget O’Leary is one student currently excelling as she finishes up her Bachelor’s degree at Johns Hopkins University with accolades, community service, and dreams for the future in place.
Bridgette is double majoring in Romance Languages and Creative Writing.  That includes studies in four languages: Spanish, French, Russian, and Hebrew.  Bridget says her favorite activity at Johns Hopkins is serving as a writer for the Witness Theater Company.  She is now serving on the executive board for the group.  Her plays have been selected for performance on an annual basis.  During COVID, Bridget has been tutoring middle school children in creative writing, on-line.

Bridget says her favorite has been French Detective Fiction (sounds like fun!).  Her mom reports:  “Bridget is TEFL certified and was recently invited to join the Beta Circle of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Honor Society for her high academic achievement and  leadership.”

And the future?  Bridget hopes to live in France next year while teaching English (application now underway), wants to spend a year working for AmeriCorps, and then move on to graduate school.  Her long term plan is to secure a Master’s Degree in Library Science and perhaps from there a Doctorate in Linguistics. How’s that for a plan? !!

We are happy to know that Bridget is working very hard and, as her former flute teacher, I like to think that flute practice skills (like lots of repetition for technical mastery and all those other good goal setting practice strategies) have contributed to her success in college.  This photo is from 2014.  We played a duet for a December recital.  Bridget graduated from Marianapolis Preparatory School in Thompson, CT in 2018.  She is originally from Leicester.


Pakachoag Music School is pleased to announce that two students have been selected for the 2021 Reinburg Award for Effort, Commitment and Attitude:  Mai Caslowitz, voice student, of Sturbridge and Ksheeraja Ramanujum, violin student, from Shrewsbury.

About Mai Caslowitz of Sturbridge

Mai Caslowitz, from Sturbridge, is a senior at Tantasqua High School.  Mai has been enrolled at Pakachoag for over 10 years, first starting at age two! Mai began her musical journey with Pakachoag in 2005 as a participant, with mom, in the School’s early childhood Music Together program.  Mai later enrolled in the School’s Suzuki Program as a violin student, and in 2018 narrowed her focus to private vocal studies.

Mai has excelled during her music studies, most notably being selected for the 2021 All Eastern Music Festival Chorus which draws vocalists from across the northeastern US.

Mai’s private voice teacher, Pakachoag faculty member Silvia Irving, formerly a professional vocalist with Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society, writes:  “These four years with Mai have been an inspirational journey with a blossoming young artist. From the beginning she has been an exceptionally self-motivated student, always being open to learn, explore and share new ideas and literature. Mai’s consistent focus and effort has allowed her to gain richness and flexibility in her vocal expression and to sing an impressive array of songs from classical to music theater.”

Mai will enter Ryder University in the fall pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre.

About Ksheeraja Ramanujam of Shrewsbury

Ksheeraja Ramanujam, of Shrewsbury, the second recipient of this year’s Reinburg Award, studies violin at Pakachoag with Amy Matherly.  She has been enrolled for seven years and is currently completing her junior year at Shrewsbury High School where she plays in the school orchestra.

Teacher Amy Matherly comments, “Ksheeraja loves playing the violin and views it as a pleasure to be enjoyed. She listens to music with interest and sets goals for herself. A dedicated and enthusiastic student, she practices thoughtfully and comes to her lessons well prepared. I am pleased that she has received this award!”

In addition to her activities at Pakachoag, Ksheeraja participates in the Shrewsbury High School Orchestra and studies the Carnatic style of classical Indian violin at the Anubhava School of Music. She was also accepted into the 2021 MMEA Senior Orchestra.

Ksheeraja is interested in biochemistry and plans to pursue a career in that field.  She plans to continue playing the violin in college and would like to set up a multi-instrument fusion club where people from different backgrounds and cultures can come together to learn from each other and enjoy music.

About the Peggy Kelley Reinburg Award

The Peggy Kelley Reinburg Award for Effort, Commitment and Attitude, named after the School’s second director who strove to instill an appreciation for excellence among all School students, is awarded annually, each spring.  With the pandemic closures in Spring 2020, the School did not present an award last year and is thus happy to be able to acknowledge two very deserving students this spring of 2021.

Prior recipients of the PKR award, which dates back to 1992, include students who have gone on to excel in the sciences, law enforcement,  engineering, aviation, education (both k-12 and higher education), social work and professional careers in music performance, music education, and musical theater.

Harmonies From Home

As we wrap up the 2020-2021 pandemic School Year, here in office and families at home have had the pleasure of observing the progress of a number of students who chose, with teacher support, to submit videos for year-end performance classes.

Monthly performance classes (less formal than recitals) are a staple of the School’s private lesson program.  Teachers help students set goals and worith with them to polish special pieces so they are ready for public performance.

Congratulations to the over 50 students who participated in remote performance classes during the course of the current year.

Here, we present three classes.  Each features students of varying ages, instruments and levels.  The focus is on understanding how to present on-stage/in public.  ‘Polish’ is always our keyword for student performances, never ‘perfection’.

Many thanks to our skilled faculty who have invested effort in preparing students for performance; and Kristjon Imperio, Director of Programs & Outreach, whose tech savvy is bringing us together.

June Class No. 1

June Class No. 2

June Class No. 3

We encourage you to visit Pakachoag on YouTube AND click ‘subscribe’.

You can find a full array of videos, from special events to students in performance over many years, to early childhood Music Together class introductions.




Michael Stubblefield is wrapping up school-year lessons and now preparing for summer lessons, remotely.  Come September, he’ll be entering his third year at Pakachoag teaching Guitar and Ukulele.  Michael has proven popular with his students who currently range in age from 10 to 21 – although Michael teaches younger and older students too.

We hope you’ll take a quick 2 minutes to get to know a little more about Michael from how he came to play the guitar to his favorite car.

If you would like more information about lessons remotely this summer or hybrid in Fall with Michael, send us an email at info@pakmusic.org.

We are fortunate to have a large roster of capable, skilled, and committed music faculty here at Pakachoag.

“It was love at first sight.”  We invite you to enjoy meeting Marilyn Butler, violin faculty.

We are fortunate to have a large roster of capable, skilled, committed music faculty here at Pakachoag.

Meet Connor, This Month’s Student Spotlight

Connor, Age 14, from Auburn
Two Year Piano Student of Debby Sedgwick

Connor Dion, our October Student Spotlight, is a freshman in high school who loves playing the piano. His biggest musical inspiration is Will Wood whom Connor feels “has an amazing talent and personality”.  Thanks to the Pakachoag Connect program, Connor is continuing to enjoy taking piano lessons remotely during the pandemic with his Pakachoag piano teacher Debby Sedgwick.

Connor’s mom feels that the school and his teacher have made it possible for Connor to pursue his passion and the transition to online lessons was very easy.   She has been able to observe Connor learning a couple of songs in a very short amount of time. His teacher Debby eases him during his online lessons while also not making it boring.

Connor is very proud of his performance this past summer 2020. He can continue to create such memorable performances this year too thanks to Pakachoag’s unique online performance programs. Pakachoag continues to think about student needs and strives to create a well rounded musical program for all its students during this pandemic.

Connor’s teacher, Debby Sedgwick, shares, “I always enjoy Connor’s  lessons.  He is a quick learner, eager to try out new pieces on his own.”

In the words of Connor, “Even when it’s hard or stressful, don’t give up. It goes a long way.”

Anyone, living anywhere, can learn to play online with Pakachoag Music School.

Brian Perry has been able to continue his private lessons this Fall of 2020 thanks to Pakachoag Music School’s quick adaptation to online lessons. Now in his retirement, Mr. Perry practices daily because he knows “learning to play the violin well takes time, in fact, a lifetime.”  Along with learning violin, Mr. Perry also volunteers his time serving as a board member for the Music School.

Mr. Perry is inspired by American Folk Violinist Hanneke Cassel, telling us that he “wants to play like [her].”  We are inspired by Mr. Perry’s dedication to his music and his community, as he strives “to play Irish and Scottish Fiddle Music well enough for people to dance to my tunes.” Reminiscing on playing live in our recitals, Mr. Perry says the applause and encouragement are “the proudest, happiest feeling.”

We have a diverse student body at Pakachoag Music School, and we are grateful that Mr. Perry brings his unique background to our music community.  Now that we are offering remote lessons, Mr. Perry excitedly says “anyone, living anywhere, can learn to play on-line with Pakachoag Music School.”

One final piece of advice from Mr. Perry: “I suggest adults who are approaching retirement age or are already retired ask yourself ‘what can I do for one hour every day that is fun and stimulating?’  It’s music! There are so many cognitive, social, and personal benefits of playing a musical instrument I can’t describe them all here.”