BMP Staff Spotlight | Natalie Boberg, Zhanbo Zheng, & NEC's CPP Program
Each year, Boston Music Projects partners with area colleges, conservatories, and young professional orchestras in the local Boston area to provide collegiate musicians with teaching and administrative internship opportunities. This year, we are excited to continue our partnership with New England Conservatory's Community Performances and Partnerships (CPP) program. Through this program, violinist Natalie Boberg and violist Zhanbo Zheng joined our team. This week, we sat down to learn more about their experience at NEC, CPP, and what inspired them to pursue music performance and education.
Tell us a little bit about the CPP program and how it brought you to BMP.
"We are current students and Teaching Fellows from the Community Partnerships & Performances Department (CPP) at New England Conservatory. This Teaching Fellowship program provides us
opportunities to teach in wonderful institutions and organizations in the Boston area that have a partnership with CPP, such as Boston Music Project."
Natalie, a current Sophomore,
was awarded the CPP fellowship and joined the BMP team in Fall 2019. Zhanbo, a first-year Master's student, received the CPP fellowship and joined the BMP team in Fall 2020.
What are you enjoying most about working with Boston Music Project as a Teaching Artist Intern?
Zhanbo enjoys how the process of teaching gives him the opportunity to relearn how to explain the fundamentals of his instrument. He said:
"Working with kids was something that initially intimidated me a bit. Of course, we musicians provide peer reviews for our colleagues all the time...However, it is almost completely different when you are working with people that are much younger than you and teach them something that they are in the process of getting familiar with. I have to explain all the basics about the music and the instrument which have already become something so obvious that I used to tend to skip during my teaching. This is a relearning experience for me as I almost forgot why those “obvious” things work as such and have had to rethink those fundamental logistics so that I can clearly explain them to the younger students. I have enjoyed this relearning process very much as it helps me build up the ability to combine things that I have learned from others and express them in my own way -- I guess this is part of the charm of teaching."
Natalie enjoys being part of her students' growth. She said:
"I am so grateful to be part of BMP’s unique program. Prior to joining BMP, I taught private lessons and now I get to enjoy leading a group. I have also worked with my colleagues to establish effective online teaching strategies. This mentorship has been so helpful. It brings me much joy to engage with young students and be part of their growth as musicians and individuals."
What ensemble(s) are you working with currently? Are there any fun projects that you are doing with the kids?
Natalie is currently leading the Rimsky Orchestra’s viola class. She said:
"We are working on some fun songs, and the students enjoy building their solfege skills with our 'Body Scale,' where we sing a scale and use our hands to mark each pitch. They love to lead this activity! We have also been learning about how our instruments are made and about the composers who write our music. They are a really engaged and fun group of students, it makes my day to make music with them!"
Zhanbo is currently working with the Vivaldi and Newbold Orchestras. He said:
"In Vivaldi, we just had a scale contest where I saw all the hard work the kids had done, making me very pleased! In Newbold, we are in the process of creating everybody’s original composition through Soundtrap led by Mr. Wareham. It was very creative and so fun!"
What are your future aspirations as educators & performers?
"I love teaching! And it is why I feel so thankful for being a TA Intern at BMP — I learned things that I otherwise would not have a chance to know. Besides, I love chamber music, so hopefully, it would also become part of my life in the future."
"After college I will pursue a career as a performing violinist in solo, orchestral, and chamber music engagements. I will build on my passion for contemporary music and innovative projects to initiate collaborations with living composers, dancers, and visual artists. I hope to continue my work with students in my private studio and in the classroom through continued partnerships with important organizations like Boston Music Project."