Testimonials

Testimonials

These testimonials are from students who participated in the MAPS program.

  • “I really enjoyed the MAPS class. I felt like it was a great experience and it was a pleasure to get to work with other people. This class taught me skills that I will use for the rest of my life”  -Jack Silverman
  • “MAPS was one of the best decisions I made this year. It showed me a lot of new things one being that I’m a great singer. Tom was one of my best teachers. He showed me to open up and blossom. It was fun and amazing.”  -Imani Stevens
  • “Maps this year was such a great experience! It was so much fun and we got to do what we love! We wrote amazing songs that will play through my mind forever and ever. It was so much fun visiting the kids in New York and I loved seeing the smiles on their faces!” -Symantha Sartori
  • “My MAPS experience has been phenomenally awesome! It has been very interesting and a very positive experience. I feel like we all had our down falls, and we’ve been through everything together for the past months, vocally and emotionally too! I thought this was an exciting year and I really enjoyed having this opportunity. Going to Harlem was an eye opening experience and made me feel very positive and more open towards myself. I loved it and had fun!” -Alexa Rodriquez
  • “MAPS was a great experience for me. I thought that it helped me learn about the struggles through out that region through the poems the kids wrote. When I saw how happy the kids were when we performed the songs it made me feel great about what we had done.” -George Holt
  • “Overall, participating in MAPS has been incredibly positive, gratifying, and completely worthwhile. It was a great experience right from the start. Immediately, we got the poems and jumped right into songwriting. Seeing the poems was amazing. To be able to turn these works into songs was so cool and going to Harlem was such a treat! Meeting the kids who had put in so much time to write the poems and getting to know them was nice. I am so glad I was in MAPS.” -Isabel Oram-Brown
  • “I had a wonderful time this semester in MAPS. They brought poetry and we brought music. We collaborated and created a great opus filled with love. All of the students in this class got a great cultural experience. They got to meet and collaborate with kids from much different backgrounds and atmospheres. The bar and level of musicianship was raised considerably, thanks to Tom’s master training and technique assistance. Tom’s dedication and persistence to the class is awing and his love for all of the kids is overwhelming, as well as the TA. This class was a great gift to be excepted with open arms.” -Brahm Masla
  • “If you asked them, I’m almost positive the majority of my fellow classmates would tell you that MAPS was one of their most prized PVPA memories. Playing and writing music is the passion of all the students who were in MAPS. Being able to work on turning fourth graders original poems into songs, with the motivation of having to perform it for them, and wanting to make them happy, was truly a blessing. Of course our peers and teacher Tom Willits were supportive of everything we did. That is one of the things that made it able for us to stretch out of our comfort zones. Tom didn’t make us stick to the obvious format in terms of writing and playing music. In fact, he encouraged the exact opposite. However weird or eccentric our ideas were, he let us go forward with them and put them to the test. Having said that, I think the physical act of performing for the kids in Harlem was my favorite. Seeing the expressions on their faces when the lyrics came in for the pome that they wrote was something you have to truly see to believe.” -Aurora Amidon
  • “In MAPS this year I learned a lot about music composition! I improved in working creatively with others. I also improved my skills as a drummer and learned what challenges me and what I need to work on. I definitely expanded my general knowledge of music. I am honored to have taken this class. “ -Mark Friedman
  • “I walking. Knees trembling thinking to myself ‘why did I decide to audition. I didn’t even plan on it until today!!’ I tell them my name in a tone of uncertainty in the voice.  I take a deep deep breath in and begin. I sing “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. My voice cracks but I just focus on my friend Sophie and sing it all to her. A few days later I find out that I get in ‘Holy onion rings!! Are you serious!?!’  I say to myself. I go to the first class and don’t really know anyone, but I sit in between two people just as excited and nervous as myself. When we are told to go into group I am all of a student pulled into a group. Roci, Jacqueline, Zephra, George, Alyssa and myself. We picked the songs “Bully” and “Buttermilk.” I feel proud of my group. I feel like real art is being made and that a masterpiece in the making was blossoming and then BOOM it just happened. The songs that we made with our blood, sweat and tears is done. It feels so empty to say that we were done. But luckily it wasn’t the end; we picked a new song, Buttermilk. Now Buttermilk was a group that consisted of the same people in Bully except without George. We were the girl power group! Our gospel sounds and harmonies filled the halls with beautiful full sounds, and buttermilk was created. Just like Bully, BAM, it was done and had blossomed into a flower of awesomeness. But it wasn’t over yet, I was chosen to also sing Night, Night. We came up with a chill bass vibe and laid lack vocals as well as easygoing drums. The song was welded with the help from the lovely Lark, our TA, and we later added another element to the song that made it really shine, Jacqueline. All of the songs were done and the show was tomorrow!!! All my clothes were laid out, my snacks were paced, and the movies were packed. I fall on my bed and eventually fall asleep thinking about tomorrow and what it would bring. The day had arrived, the day that we pour our hearts and souls out to these kids that we didn’t even know. The bus ride was long but once we got to the school all of my troubles melt away. It was my goal, my job to make these kids happy and proud of their work, and that’s exactly what we did.”       -Madeline Green
  • “The anxious feeling. Sweat. Can’t breath. Shivers, can’t do it. Why am I going to audition anyways? To make a fool of myself. BOOOM! Phew, it’s over. It did it! What just happened?! Two days later! I got in, I did it! YES!!! I was so proud of myself. I was really excited! Finally, I’m on the bus, going to New York! When we get there, the kids were there to greet us. The experience of standing on stage, singing my heart out, I’ll never ever forget it. I made so many new friends and learned so much more about music and performing! Thank you.” -Rocquel Ackerman
  • “MAPS class has been a dream class for me. I feel I have made friends that I wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for this class. My teacher and friends were showing me how to improve my drumming and remember chords and passages in the songs!” -Zeno Doeleman
  • “I loved the whole MAPS ordeal, from writing the songs to performing them in front of the middle school and the kids from Harlem. What I liked most was that we were writing songs to the words of poems by fourth graders in Harlem. The idea that the songs that we wrote and performed were poems put to music. Then we got to meet the poets, hear them read their poems, and then perform the songs we had written from the poem.”   – Emma Conrad-Rooney
  • “In this MAPS class I improved my musical skill and met some nice kids. This class was very fun. I learned that we are all very similar and that music and poetry go very well together. The show was very fun. I really enjoyed MAPS.”  – Liam Andrews-Bancroft
  • “I thought this class was really fun. I’ve learned not only that I can create music with my classmates but connect with people from other places. I’ve also become closer to my friends and made new friends as well”  – Sophia D. Lewis-Nash
  • “Maps was fun, different, and all and all really great. I learned about writing music in a group and individually. It inspired me to start playing guitar and continue with ukulele. I met new friends and was introduced to a cool group of people from a different school. The performance was really great and meeting the kids from the city was really great. MAPS is a great place to grow for any musician or songwriter.”  – Mia Lloyd
  • “This MAPS class that I participated in this past semester was a very interesting experience. I am very glad that I did it because it was rewarding to make songs out of the poems that the kids wrote. The poems were insightful and wise. I am glad that I had the opportunity to do this.”  – Ivy Coles
  • “I had the experience of writing music to already written words and working with people I might not have otherwise. I met great kids from Harlem and improved as a songwriter in this class.”  – Elihu Jones
  • “This class has been a really fantastic experience. From choosing the poems to meeting the kids from Harlem, every second has been a learning experience. I learned about the mechanics of writing a song along with learning about the lives of children with lifestyles so separated from ours. In short, this course has been incredible and I’ve learned a lot more than just how to write songs.”  – Celeste Amidon
  • “I learned a great deal from MAPS and I also had a great time. I have had great experiences to help me along the road as a musician. I was encouraged all of the time and had great teachers to help me along the way. It was very moving to see the students from Harlem gaze up at the stage, hearing their poems turned into great songs. They were inspired to fulfill their dreams of whatever they wanted to be.”  – Brahm Masla
  • “This class has been so much fun. It was a rewarding experience to make these kids happy with the songs they wrote the words to. I learned different ways to make songs and to work in groups. The reaction of the kids when they heard their poems transformed into songs made me smile. I would definitely do MAPS again!”  – Rachel Howe
  • “MAPS was great! I had a lot of fun and got to meet some really nice and talented students. I had a lot of fun writing songs and creating something new with my friends. I learned that I can make some cool songs when I try my best!”  – Kyle Woodcock
  • “I had a great time in the MAPS class this semester. This was my second year in the MAPS program and my abilities in song writing grew. I had a lot of fun reading the poems from Harlem and turning them into a song.”  – Jacob Caplan
  • “I learned how to show my interpretation of my life through music. I learned to take pride in the work that I do. I learned how to collaborate with other people to make something that is beautiful. I found my voice. This class was a lot of fun and makes you think how the songs we hear everyday are made and the thoughts behind those songs.”  – Emma West
  • “From MAPS I gained a variety of skills, which I can apply both within my future musical experiences and all future life experiences. A very key element given to me from the program was the life skill of sharing and building upon other ideas. This skill of collaboration can be used within any environment to better the experiences of both myself and my fellow peers. These things have made my MAPS experience beneficial for me.”  – Mason Cheek
  • “I participated in the MAPS project for two consecutive years and found it to be a wonderful experience. The act of taking a piece of someone else’s creative mind and collaborating it with your own is truly inspiring. We never knew the kids whose work we were using and that seemed to make it all the better. After a few weeks of working with the piece and making it into our own song, we had something to look forward too. That thing was the look on the faces of all the kids whose poetry we put to life. They seemed always so incredibly excited to hear what we had made and that made it all them more fun for us. Overall it was a truly amazing experience and I am so sorry they do not offer it as a high school class.”  – Lark Wicinas
  • “My name is Gabrielle Bouyea and I was a sophomore at PVPA this year. I have had an incredible experience with the MAPS program. I took the vocal technique class one year, the songwriting class the next, and this past year I was the Teaching Assistant for the songwriting class. I have been able to go to Harlem to perform and I have gotten to play at PVPA for the kids from Harlem. The best part of MAPS for me has been being able to see the massive affect this program has on the students at PVPA, and especially on the students from Harlem. MAPS is so much more than just creating poems and songs. This program gives the students in Harlem the opportunity to see that there are people out there who respect and appreciate what they do. It gives the PVPA students the opportunity to be those people bringing hope to children’s lives. The influence this program has had on me and everyone involved has made MAPS a major highlight in my middle and high school careers and it was an experience I will cherish forever.”  – Gabbie Bouyea
  • “I recall a special poem I loved that one girl from Harlem had written. I helped in making it come alive through song. Later, we met and I told her how much I loved that poem. She was so touched. She read it aloud to the school later on around our performance. She felt so proud! Working with the MAPS program through PVPA has greatly changed my life. I made connection with the students in Harlem whose artistic creativity touched me in many ways. I felt the connection we were making between each other as well as the connection between our school districts. I am happy to have been a part of that experience.”  – Piper Pichette
  • “MAPS is my favorite class. It always will be. The class taught me about creating my own music, stage presence, and how to let go of fears. It taught me about culture shock and not to be afraid of talking to people I don’t know.” – Cat Way
  • “MAPS taught me to write collaboratively with fellow students and to give and receive feedback about our work.” – Ben Newman
  • “I learned how to write a song, which I had never done before. I learned how to work with others and make compromises. I met a bunch of cool people and bonded a ton in New York.” – Liana Heath
  • “I learned about music theory, different instruments, and harmonies.” – Jayla McCall
  • “I learned how to not be a statue while singing!” – Sarah Rose
  • “We got the freedom to write our own songs creatively; I liked every song that came out of this class.” – Ella Giordano
  • “I learned how to turn poems into songs, about music theory, and how to work with people I didn’t really know. The teachers have helped me progress in my singing abilities. I am so thankful and grateful to have gone to New York.” – Nyasia Garcia
  • “I played my first guitar solo in MAPS.” – Nina Devine
  • “One of my favorite things about the class is when you hear the poets read their own poem, because up until then, you’ve had your own ideas about the meaning and feeling behind each poem, but no idea how the poet feels about them.” Kai Harwood
  • “MAPS is great. You should do it. I learned about harmonies and writing music. I  wish it were longer!” – Emily Roberts
  • “Going to NYC was fun, learning about the culture there.” – Trace McLaurin
  • “Thanks to MAPS, I have grown so much as a musician and a person. I have had many unforgettable moments and made many memories. MAPS is not only an amazing program for us here at PVPA, but it is also awesome for the kids in NYC to be able to be apart of something where they can fully express themselves and be creative. It’s an incredible thing how we take poems written by people we’ve never met and turn them into our own pieces of art. We meet them to perform our songs, and there is a moment where these strangers feel like people we talk to every day. It’s indescribable. These kids don’t get many chances to say how they truly feel. But in these poems, they can. MAPS brings people together. It really does amazing things.” – Callie Damouras

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