2017 Teachers of the Month

March, 2017

MusicLink's March Teacher of the Month is Mary Cumming of Ontario, Canada.

The 2016-2017 academic year marks the 33rd year of teaching piano for Mary Cumming of Williamstown, ON, Canada. Mary is a full-time mom who has homeschooled four of her five children, with the last currently in Grade 6 and the others out on their own in the world. She is also proud to be the wife of Alex Cumming, dairy farmer.

Mary maintains a studio of 25-30 students. Her first encounter with MusicLink was while searching Kijiji for an instrument for one of her students. There was an ad from a MusicLink teacher, looking for an instrument. After contacting this teacher and finding the website, an application was sent in to also become a MusicLink teacher.

"This was timely and exactly what I was looking for," Mary said. "A beginner student had sorrowfully informed me that she would be unable to continue lessons the following year, as her parents could not afford the lessons. I contacted them and encouraged them to apply to the program, offering them lessons at a much reduced rate. They agreed! This student has now been with me for five years, four years under MusicLink, and I believe she has benefitted by using music as her solace during some difficult times. I appreciate the covering that MusicLink gives me as a teacher. It is a privilege to be a part of this program."

In 2012, Mary established the "Cedar Grove Piano Studio Bursary Fund" to help account for bursaries given to students in her studio. Fifty cents from each lesson taught is funneled into the Bursary Fund and helps to provide books, and piano tuning for the studio's MusicLink student. In 2014, Mary began composing and established a blog, www.pianonoodles.blogspot.com, where she shares most of her music for free. In 2015, she self-published a book entitled "Tunes for Littles" where a portion of the sales is designated specifically to support the Bursary Fund.

Congratulations, Mary! We are so lucky you found MusicLink through our instrumental donation program and we are very fortunate to be collaborating with you in so many ways.


May, 2017

MusicLink's May Teacher of the Month is Amy Vanacore of Portland, Oregon.

Amy holds a BA from Brown University and has been teaching piano and performing as a collaborative pianist for more than 15 years. She is a member of the Oregon Music Teachers Association and an accompanist with the Portland Intergenerational Women's Choir and the Portland Peace Choir. She also serves on the board of MusicLink's Oregon chapter and is Chair of the Conescu-Doolin/Liming & Ulmer Music Scholarship Selection Committee for The Oregon Community Foundation.

In addition to her career in music, she has a background in community-based education and arts administration, having served as Outreach Director for Ethos Music Center and Program Director for Kukatonon Children's African Dance Troupe in Portland, Oregon; Recruitment Coordinator for The Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, Outreach Manager for American Conservatory Theater, and Vice President of Peņa del Sur, a Latin American cultural center in San Francisco, California.

Amy grew up working class in rural upstate New York and was the first person in her family to play a musical instrument and graduate from college. She says, "I have discovered that my passion for making the arts and education accessible to students from low-income backgrounds is unstoppable, and I am excited to be involved with MusicLink!"

Approximately one-third of the students in her studio are MusicLink students. Her fluency in Spanish and commitment to cross-cultural learning have enabled her to teach lessons in both Spanish and English and build a strong multicultural community through music.

Bravo, Amy! We're so grateful that you are sharing your passion and talents with MusicLink and helping us to make such a difference in Oregon and beyond. Best wishes for continued success!