Burr and Burton Academy Becomes Steinway Select School
Julie Freebern, music faculty at Manchester’s Burr and Burton Academy (BBA), was approached by Steinway and Sons educational services manager, Gary Girouard, in the fall of 2016 with the proposition of becoming a Steinway Select School. Girouard provided BBA with an assessment of its current instruments, and offered options for the school to craft a three-phase plan to purchase and incorporate new instruments into its program. The school began a fundraising program this past spring with the support of headmaster Mark Tashjian to upgrade the pianos in the music department. Since the arrival of the four new pianos in August 2017, there has been nothing but exquisite piano music pouring out of the Riley Center for the Performing Arts spaces – no more ‘Heart and Soul’ or ‘Chop Sticks,’ but Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and jazz standards!
The new pianos exert a gravitational pull on the students and lure them into the practice spaces. Lisa Li, an international student shared her thoughts; “It’s my first year here in the United States. These new instruments sparked my interest in playing the piano again, and as an international student, I have made friends when I’m practicing the piano. It made me no longer feel lonely here, and it helped me get used to the life in America more quickly.” Garret Sands commented, “It is so rare for a high school to offer instruments of such high quality. All BBA students should be extremely grateful for these new instruments. I know I am.” These new Boston Steinway pianos are used to teach private lessons, provide accompaniment for small and large group rehearsals and allow students to work on composition and ear training projects.
Having these quality instruments will also benefit the summer programs that Burr and Burton hosts each year. Professional artists from around the world use BBA’s facilities as part of the Manchester Music Festival and Taconic Music performances. They are also utilized by the Weston Playhouse Theater for its Broadway Boot Camp. The school’s designation as a Steinway Select School will also serve as an important recruitment tool for its thriving International program. “We are very fortunate to be able to live in a rural community and have the resources to help cultivate the musical growth of our students,” stated Neil Freebern, director of the Creative Arts Department. “As more professionals recognize the quality of our program, we gain access to a talent pool that can be shared with our students. Our adjunct educational staff continues to expand as a result of these connections, and our students are the ultimate beneficiaries.”
Girouard recently stopped by the music department to present a check for $1,000 to support BBA’s music scholarship program. This gift will be used to provide private piano lessons through the school’s adjunct staff program. To support the BBA Steinway Fund, contact Cynthia Gubb in the Advancement Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-549-8201.