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News Articles


Thursday, November 26, 1998 ; Page M06

This year's Christmas music began early, Saturday night at the World Headquarters of Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, with a program titled "Holiday Music Extravaganza" presented by the students, faculty and alumni of the Ottley Music Studio.

Extravaganza was the right word for a program that ran well over two hours and presented about 100 performers -- not to mention the large audience, which sang along lustily in such carols as "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Go, Tell It on the Mountain" and "Joy to the World," using texts printed in the program.

Performers on the stage (as opposed to those singing along in the beautifully furnished and acoustically excellent auditorium) ranged from very young beginners to professional-level performers.

The pros included not only the school's predictably expert faculty members but also quite a few advanced students and graduates.

The youngest performers, organized into "orchestras" of about two dozen keyboard instruments, often played tentatively and made some mistakes, even having to stop and start over at one point. But they compensated not only with a high level of cuteness but also with clearly perceptible dedication and determination.

It should be made clear at this point that the Ottley Studio is definitely dedicated to music -- piano, strings (including guitar), brass, woodwinds and percussion, as well as harmony, analysis, ensemble playing, history and sight reading. But music is not the only thing to which it is dedicated.

One clearly defined purpose of this institution was powerfully expressed near the end of the program when all of the students joined together to sing Anthony Q. Richardon's inspiring "I Can Be," as arranged by the Studio's founder and director, Nevilla Ottley: "I can be what I want to be. All I do is try a little harder . . . I can set myself free." When they learn music, these students are learning a lot more than music.

Recently, American school boards have begun trimming their budgets, and in cities all across the country, music programs have been among the first victims. Before then, in educational theory dating back at least to Plato and including non-Western civilizations as well as those in Europe and America, music has been considered an integral and important part of the training of children.

It may be a coincidence that the decline in student behavior, the arrival of weapons as a major menace in our schools, the rise of drug-dealing, gang conflicts and teenage pregnancy have coincided with the phasing out of musical studies, but Ottley clearly sees a connection, and her vision is embodied in her school.

While Ottley was getting performers together for the next number, a statement of her educational philosophy was read by the master of ceremonies, the Rev. Joseph Daniels Sr. He described music as a way to give children an alternative to drugs and to hanging out on the street. "If children are making music," he said, "you know where they are and what they are doing."

One study after another in recent years has documented the value of music studies for helping a child improve in other academic disciplines.

The serious study of music develops self-confidence and self-discipline, good work habits, ease in concentrating and the ability to work smoothly with other people. The students in this program showed such results.

The Ottley Studio was founded in Silver Spring in 1973, and for 14 years it was a one-woman operation: Ottley teaching private students, with an emphasis on piano. Then it began to grow, with added students and faculty members, moving into larger quarters several times until it reached its present home in Adelphi, two years ago.

Some of its students have already begun, or are clearly headed for, professional careers in music, as teachers, choir directors, orchestral players, soloists, etc. And dozens of them have won prizes in various competitions.

This is good news, of course, but it is not the best news about the Ottley Studio. The best news is that about 100 young people, many of whom will never be professional musicians, made music with poise, self-respect and carefully focused attention Saturday night, displaying skills and attitudes that will stand by them wherever life may take them.

Hyattsville Life and Times, July 10, 2010, page 6, "School proves that music benefits people of all ages", by Hannah Bruchman

Hyattsville Life and Times, March 2007 page 9,Students Honor Black History with Music and Song" by Laura Schwartzman on Black Composers concert given 24 February 2007

Hyattsville Life and Times, July 2007, page 16, "Ottley Music offering more than just a few notes" by Michael Martucci

Gazette Newspapers, February 2, 2006, Sounds from a Master:  Music School Features Renowned Violinist

Gazette Newspapers, February 2007  Ottley Music School Concert photos by Christopher Anderson 

MSAC, Maryland State Arts Council, Ottley Music School listing under Cultural Diversity Arts Registry.

Tax Exempt/Non Profit Organizations in Prince George's County, Maryland 


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