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the Original Slacker Podcast
Music Mashtun 05 the Conservatory
December 04, 2018 Round Guys Brewing Company / the Conservatory

The Conservatory, a educational music nonprofit based in Doylestown, PA, will be performing a special student show at the Underground by Round Guys Brewing Company on Sunday, December 9th at 2pm. On this podcast, host Bill McGeeney sits down with Conservatory volunteer, Bill Gottshall and four of his students to discuss regional opportunities for parents in raising talented musicians. The show includes a special onsite performance of "the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Conservatory students. The Original Slacker Podcast Music Mashtun is presented by Round Guys Brewing Company. Music included in the show is under Creative Commons Commercial license and includes the following: Doctor Turtle ("Lets Just Get Through Christmas") and Greg Atkinson ("Losing Over Christmas"). The podcast was recorded before a live audience at the Underground by Round Guys Brewing Company on November 17th. Please follow the Original Slacker Podcast on Facebook at

Episode Transcript

Speaker 1:0:04Welcome to the original podcast music Mash Tun. Today we're going to be chatting with bill all of the conservatory and for student musicians that he's brought in a faith harden Tyler Sansi, Canberra Beecham and

Speaker 2:0:20ruin fear Wani. These four musicians are a part of an ensemble. It's me playing on December ninth here at the underground, and without further ado, let's jump right into the interview. Bill's gonna, be able to explain what the conservatory is, what they do, and how they helped

Speaker 1:0:34students.

Speaker 2:0:40Sort of the original slacker music Mash Tun today. I have with me some guests from the conservatory, a led by a physician who's been to the underground number of times, Bill Godshaw the conservatory. For those of you who aren't aware, it's a five zero, one C, three organization out in Doylestown that provides free and subsidized programs for disadvantaged youths, persons with disabilities and senior citizens. They rely on donations and grants from the individuals and companies in the area in foundations to make this accessible to folks. It's a phenomenal program and they'll want you to tell me a little more about what the students learn over at the conservatory.

Speaker 3:1:22We have individual lessons like any other music school and we have more than 500 students taking individual lessons, but in the last several years I've been pushing to get us to do ensemble groups were musicians learn to play together. You can take private lessons your whole life long, but it still won't teach you how to perform as part of a group. It's just like a sports. You need to have to learn certain things, a certain aspects of teamwork. And so we've been doing this now for four years. Um, in addition to our ongoing jazz groups, uh, we also have some classical ensembles which kind of meet on a now and again basis. I lead a orchestra camp during the year in the summertime, and this is one that goes year round. We've got three groups right now. We started out with just one row, Hon. uh, introduce everybody. He was here from the beginning.

Speaker 3:2:17Uh, what does real play Rohatyn for your wine? He plays trumpet. I'm going to do so everybody while I'm on the track here. Faith harden plays drums, Canberra beach, and plays piano. Hi, how are you? And Tyler sand, Thai place greetings, and as I was saying, we had one ensemble in the beginning. Roohan joined actually in our second year of that, the first year we only had guitar, Bass, and piano and that was it. And we started to add more instruments and uh, came to a second group a few years ago. And this is the first time we've gotten three groups. We broke them into the basic beginner, intermediate, and advanced. It's just an interesting coincidence that all of these students in the advanced now or at the exact same age, they're all 13 all in eighth grade. So I'm hoping I can keep them for at least another three or four years as together as a unit and we're trying to teach a building a team like that, listening to each other and playing as a group with, with one goal in mind.

Speaker 2:3:19It's all about communication. Exactly. In this case, music communicates a different level than say, just verbal, right? How does that, how do you see that progress as the students grow to learn each other and it can grow to get used to how one person plays and how they're going to respond today out? How's that? Have you seen that progress with these guys?

Speaker 3:3:40The first skill I haven't experienced that students need to learn is to listen to each other. You're so used to listening to yourself. Younger teacher guides you into kind of being your own self critic so you can get a sense of how you're doing within a song, but then it's a whole different thing to listen to other people to synchronize your timing when you're going to be loud or soft to the other groups who has the melody, so who should be more prominent and others who is playing a background line. That's all things they learn gradually working together as a group,

Speaker 2:4:14right? That's, that's so important for these musicians at this age. They can probably pick it up a little faster, I think. Then you get a little older or whatnot it. That'd be my guess. Yes and no.

Speaker 3:4:28One of the cliches that I tried to fight against actually is that young people learn faster than old folks like me, but it's actually a balanced because the older you are, the more life experience you have, so you can draw on other things you might've learned in another way and say, oh, this is kind of like that experience and you pick it up quickly where when you're younger you don't have as many frames of reference to pick up on. But yeah, I think their minds are probably more flexible in hours at picking up new things, which is why I hand them my phone and say how do I do that?

Speaker 2:5:01So they have to compete to get into this program. Is that correct? Yes,

Speaker 3:5:06yes. And it's tricky. I'm still trying to a quote unquote train my administrators that you can't have two bass players, you can't have two drummers and a group you can have as many a horn player is as there's room on the stage. But um, so it's, it's more competitive in that way for the rhythm section because we've had, like last year on a Canberra join us, we had a two keyboard players and I was able to divide them up. That's my instrument myself, so I know how to, to have them play something that's complimentary and not gonna compete, but generally, yeah, you have one of each rhythm section. And so they wait, they just happened. We had a whole crop graduate last year. We had a three high school seniors leave the advanced group and go off to college and so we had openings here and I'm in tyler and joined during the summer, have a summer short term program and he impressed me with his playing and I wanted to get him in on this group I'm Canberra was, was, was prime to go up to the next group.

Speaker 3:6:07Faith had already been been um, playing with us for awhile at that point. Um, in fact, faith is temporarily holding down both the intermediate and the advanced group until we train a new drummer for the intermediate because we lost our drummer there. One of the things that I'm private music schools have to compete against his public public schools kind of trump as a lot of times and that they can make demands on time. So we lost a few players this past year when they went to high school where all of a sudden now they have to sign contracts that say they're going to be available certain nights of the week for their band at school. I didn't realize that there are contracts for it's serious business now and actually the sports teams are even harder to compute against. They have you sign contracts as well.

Speaker 2:6:52I hope the students get some kickback in that. Well that's news to me. So are there other programs like this around the Philadelphia region?

Speaker 3:7:01Well, our biggest competitor is a school of rock and we try to think of it as a friendly competition as we'd lean more toward jazz. Uh, although they're there, a couple rock tunes, but I try to have them learn it through a jazz kind of interpretation in that way. A school rockets more straight ahead, you know, they start with know fifties rock and roll and move them up through the more complicated forms of rock.

Speaker 2:7:29So if all my, if I'm a parent, how would I get my child incidents and why don't you give me an overview of the progression through the stages. How do they move up through the levels?

Speaker 3:7:40Sure. We will always work with anybody. I mean technically we like people to start in September so that they can work as a unit for the whole year. But you know, we have a new drummer. I just auditioned for the intermediate group. Uh, she's going to start right after the holiday, so we'll work anybody in. We just contact us. We set up an audition now. I don't make it. I'm a scary counter process, you know, I always hated auditioning and when I was a kid, you know, it's felt like there was so much at stake. So I just get a chance to listen to strengths and weaknesses in a, in a students applying. Um, you know, my whole goal when I was coming through school was to be an orchestrator and arranger. So what's different about our program is that I write all the music for everything they do. I'll take a tune and I'll arrange it for this specific instance we have, where their skill level, if there's a certain player that might, um, have a weak point, I try to go around that, give that student time to develop that over over the long haul and not hand apart to that student that's going to be too challenging, but also arrange them in a way that they're going to be gradually moving themselves higher and higher. That's why I like having them over several years time because I can move them together as a group that way.

Speaker 2:9:06And so if they start out in the beginning, what did they need to do to get to the intermediate? Does that bumped up by age? How's that work?

Speaker 3:9:12No, that, that's a good question because that's a misconception a lot that the parents just don't have a frame of reference to understand. Um, when you face a good example here that uh, when she came in last year, she went right to the upper group because even though she was only in seventh grade, her maturity in terms of playing a comfort, knowing many different styles of jazz meant she could handle that right away. Um, every instrument has a different list of requirements in terms of what you need to do to be proficient, but generally it has to do with how fast learner you are. When it comes down to it, you know, the faster learners tend to move up more quickly, but over the long haul it all evens out. Right.

Speaker 2:10:01So the conservatory started up in the eighties, late eighties, correct. Friends. Now, when did you join the team? Over there? Two thousand seven. So you've been with them for quite a while

Speaker 3:10:11and started my 19th year in September. How have you seen it grow? It pretty significantly when it first started, I wasn't around for that, but I, I got to work several years with the founder. She had a been a piano teacher and she found her.

Speaker 2:10:30And the founder is

Speaker 3:10:31gross. Yes. Yup. It goes by Dolly Gross, honestly, that she had gone to Delaware Valley then college now university and asked if they could work out some kind of cooperative agreement. She needed more space than just doing it in her home and they didn't have a very big music program at that time, if any. And so it was a good partnership over many years. Eventually. Then she left there physical place, but still I've always cooperate over the years and we've been. I've been in three different buildings and we keep growing. Um, when I came on we had about 250 students. Now I think we're an upwards of 600 and so every time we move was just to get more, more space.

Speaker 2:11:20And you guys are staying put in Doylestown, right? You guys aren't looking to. Yeah, no, it's, it's a place. It's a good fit for what we do. You guys do a whole bunch of different programs within their right. They have like tours they have was the music cafe and stuff like that. But why don't you tell me a little bit about some of these, I guess tracks. Yeah. One

Speaker 3:11:43of the things I'm proud of is that it's a very outward looking organization working out into the community is not just, we have a building come here and take lessons. Um, we, we do have a program that we go out and perform. My friend and colleague Michelle, cause grow has been here just maybe six months less than I haven't been here. Runs a program where we go out to senior facilities, uh, both housing, senior housing as well as nursing homes and performs an act, can be any instrument, doesn't have to be an ensemble. We most recently started a partnership where we're working with this use that come to come in and they do all kinds of things. We haven't had camps there. We've had group classes. We've had one of our concerts here back in September at the underground. Uh, they're, they're called kindred arts. It's a organization that was actually founded in New York City. Um, I probably, I wasn't 19 eighties I think. Um, and it's, we're, we're kind of affiliated with the local chapter here in southeastern Pennsylvania. We've also, for a long, long time been providing services to people with disabilities. We've had a music therapy program for quite a long time. We've had partnerships with organization like the woods where they would come in with their residents and um, have a concert in lunch in our building. We've done that for an unlock and a lot of years now.

Speaker 2:13:18Great. This is a, this sounds like a phenomenal organization. It's good to see that a place so local bucks with Gemar county can, can grow and develop talents in every child through people who may not have the resources to help grow that talent. What? So that we got you four guys right here hanging out and you're going to play a tune. So we're going to play what's going to go on here and tell me a little bit about the development of how it was it take to get them to a point where they're old.

Speaker 3:13:54Well, I'll, I'll give my plug here to the other folks that are behind me. I'm in all ways. It takes really good parents. And um, because this is a relatively new program and I've been kind of taking the lead in this since its inception, um, I've been trying new things out in the parents have always been willing and the most recent one was to come here to the underground. We did a show here in September and I'm one of the other teachers who was onstage with us, came to me and said, I would love to do a holiday show back there again. He loves playing here. And so, um, I went to the parents and said, could we do another one? And so this is kind of a preparation for that, but we're going to play for you today is that holiday song? It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Speaker 3:14:43And the group, the same group, plus the rest of our ensemble players will be back again on a Sunday, December ninth. And uh, so that, this song will be a little preview of one of the ones we're going to do. How many hours of practice does it take to get them to be a coherent musical group? Oh, that's still in process or will say excellent. Now this, they, they, uh, just as a, as a measurement of that. We started working on this three weeks ago and they're up to what? Your guys are about eight songs already already for this concert?

Speaker 4:15:14Yeah. Good.

Speaker 3:15:16All right. So we try to get at least one new one every week. We meet once a week for two hours, maybe two, even two and a half songs in, in a, in a session.

Speaker 2:15:29Great. Well I want to thank everyone for coming out today. I know they had the Lansdale parade which made it interactive, make it low to shut down the streets and when I wasn't aware of that today, but sorry about that. But I want to thank everyone for coming out. How can people find out about it?

Speaker 3:15:43The conservatory? We have website. It's my And check on that. We have at all of our programs. Uh, I don't think I even mentioned that we have lots of group classes of all types in addition to our ensemble program and of course private lessons for all instruments and our phone number. You want to contact that way is two, one, five, three, four, zero, seven, nine, seven, nine. Excellent.

Speaker 2:16:13The show is December ninth, 2:00 PM. Look forward to seeing everyone out there. Uh, really appreciate you guys all coming through. Anyone have anything to add? You guys want to say anything? Shout out to anyone. Tyler

Speaker 3:16:26tolerance. I look at that and then he has something important to say.

Speaker 4:16:30I think that joining the conservatory will be a good experience. Everything we do here is epic.

Speaker 2:16:41All right. Thank you all and definitely thank you for listening to your podcast and a bill. Thanks for coming out again. Thank you. Really appreciate it man.

Speaker 2:17:03Here we go. Another great episode with Bill. Gotcha. I always enjoy talking to bill. Bill is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to music. He didn't necessarily. We didn't dive too far into it today because we're talking about conservatory, but, but he's just a great mind to pick out when you have questions and you want to hear a good story because the man has as most likely been there and the these children are, they're great. They're seventh graders in there. It's just great musicians and we're looking forward to that show on a knife at the underground lands all by round guys brewing company as reminder that the original slacker podcast is presented by round ghost brewing company with three locations. We have our glenside ale house. We have our Lansdale brew pub, and then we have the underground. The lansdale brew pub is a drafthouse that has 16 beers, Andrea plus a local spirits and local wise we have sandwiches and full range of full service menu there and then we have to go outside our house which has Mexican Hispanic style food with about eight beers on draft and full selection of local spirits and wines.

Speaker 2:18:02Now. I thought that was pretty cool. They, they did a performance after we interviewed them. And you're gonna. Hear it in a second. Corey, would you think about that? I think is pretty amazing. So Corey is our hand over here who is equally a talented musician and, and actually work in a board today for this here podcast. Thank you cory. You're welcome. All right. The further ado, let's jump right into the music now and we'll wrap this up and have a great, great time.

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