October 2022 Newsletter

Inspiring Hope!
October 2022

♩ Director’s Corner

For this month’s issue, allow me to share three items with you:


1.    College recommendations are due very soon. The requests for me to write on behalf of our high school seniors bring the challenge of considering each of them in my mind and heart and then finding words to express their enormous contribution to the Virginia and Maryland communities. It is a high privilege to envision the road ahead for each unique teen and to write to the college admissions officers about each volunteer’s contribution in community service and leadership. Each youth will need to draw upon those experiences and skills in college and in adult life. This is a daunting task indeed. Please add your thoughts and prayers to mine that all our teen volunteers enter the adult world solidly prepared in executive functioning, compassion, music and art to inspire healing, so they bring a strong sense of purpose to the complex and exciting road ahead.


2.    Piano Pals and Guitar Pals for Title 1 schools: As you may know, we can provide a limited number of one-on-one classes on piano and guitar. We depend on the number of teens who sign up for a year-long commitment. This fall five schools requested Piano/Guitar Pals for their Title 1 children. The story I sent to all volunteers comes from Clopper Mill Elementary School. The principal sent out a sign-up list for parents to enroll their children in our afterschool program, which was restarting after a long pause due to COVID. Within one hour of receiving the request, parents signed up 91 children!! The four new schools increased the demand even further. Hence, spread the word to your pianist and guitarist teens to inquire and sign up for an internship to provide half-hour lessons for children each week at the designated school. Any donations for Piano Pals are appreciated (on our website via PayPal). Funds are used for books, achievement wristbands, and supplies such as batteries and additional keyboards. The most valuable resources, however, are MENTORS at this point. Spread the word!


3.    We asked students of Composer’s Circle to write to our Board about their experience this past year with online classes taught by Michael Tacy. With their permission, we want to share below several of their testimonials.

I hope you are doing well. Composer's Circle has been a meaningful, enjoyable, and rewarding experience that has made a huge impact on me. Before, I never imagined that I would be able to create my own music, but through this class, I was able not only to learn about composing but also to improve as a musician. Mr. Tacy is a really good teacher who is also very encouraging. He lets us explore different styles of music, which has been really amazing. I have written a sonata, invention, and other pieces with him. I was interested in writing pop music, and he kindly introduced me to songwriting and different music software. I now love music even more because composing has become a way for me to use my creativity. I have even been able to use what I learned in class on other topics that I care about. For example, I am very passionate about environmental awareness and have written songs using what I learned from Composer's Circle to share my message. In the future, I hope to learn more and share my music with even more people to make a bigger impact.


I hope this helps as you are reviewing this opportunity.



Lumina Zhang

My name is Sean Wang. I have been participating in the Composer’s Circle held by Michael Tacy for about two years. I am very excited and honored by the opportunity to share the impact of the Composer’s Circle on my music life.


In the beginning, I joined the Composer’s Circle to learn how to compose. I attended the Composer’s Circle weekly. Gradually, music composition become a part of my life. The impact on my music life is that I would try to apprehend more deeply a music piece when I play piano, instead of just playing the notes of a piece. Besides, I would study what kind of emotion the piece conveys or relevant stories of a piece. To be specific, I would like to understand the composer more.


I learned so much from Michael in the past two years. Not only did I learn advanced music theory but also the style and form that a specific period of music should have. In addition, I learned major features of different musical instruments and lots of music theory. So far, I have composed several sonatas, string quartets, scherzos, and even one concerto movement for a full orchestra.


I really enjoy composing. It is so much fun. I also hope that by sharing the music that I composed, I can also bring joy to the community.

I hope all is well! Here are some of my comments on how the Composer’s Circle has impacted me:


I have been a pianist for 11 years, yet there are always new things to learn in music. One of these subjects is composition. Through the Composer’s Circle, I have learned to express myself not only through written classical music such as Chopin waltzes and Beethoven sonatas but also by creating my own music that I can be proud of. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Michael in the Composer’s Circle, and I am looking forward to continuing these sessions in the school year. These lessons are so great for expanding my musical knowledge. I even find myself looking for patterns in my own pieces, based on what I learned with Michael. Thank you for offering these classes to me and many other young artists!



 Alice Yacubovich

My daughter, Evelyn Trackman, currently a 10th grader at B-CC High School, has had the amazing opportunity to work with Mr. Michael Tacy through the Tacy Foundation. She asked me to share the following with you:


The Composer’s Circle with Mr. Tacy has been a wonderful outlet for me, and a time to work on music with someone who shares my passion for it. Mr. Tacy is not only a big inspiration but also very supportive of my musical and compositional journey. We work on all sorts of things – pieces that I write, improvisation, and music theory, to name a few -- and I always leave class feeling excited to continue to play and create music!  My confidence has increased significantly, and the Composer’s Circle is one of the main reasons. Thank you, Mr. Tacy!


Best wishes,

Karen Trackman (Evelyn Trackman’s mother)

This is Cathy, I'm David Wang's mom. I'm here writing our comments for Michael. 


We've been really thankful to Michael for coaching my son in composition. Michael has been teaching my son on his own time, very patient, encouraging, and motivating. My son really enjoyed every single time learning with Michael. He recently created another piece that he is really excited about, which has definitely benefited from Michael's teaching and motivation.


We want the Board members to know how wonderful Michael is and how much effort he has put into his students. We appreciate him so much!


Wish Michael more success!




My Journey with the Tacy Foundation
By Rebecca Fan
My journey with Tacy Foundation began in my 7th grade (2018), when I started performing music in the main lobby of Frederick Health Hospital. In the beginning, I followed the footsteps of my older and more experienced peers: I was a participant. I dipped my toes in the water as this was my first volunteer experience ever, and I didn’t yet have a clear appreciation of giving back to the community. But as time went on, I became more involved. In the 8th grade (2019), I became a Chief Intern in Frederick for the Tacy Foundation, leading and helping others start performing at Frederick Health Hospital and various senior centers.

I couldn’t have done this without the guidance of Ms. Charlotte Holliday. When I first met her, she warmly introduced me to the Foundation, and she has guided me throughout the years with her inspiring leadership. I’m forever grateful to Ms. Holliday, who taught me to open my heart and appreciate the beauty of healing others through music, which changed my perspective on both music and life.

In 2020, however, most hospitals and senior centers shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, I looked for other ways to make an impact in my community. In November 2020, amidst the COVID pandemic, I started a music club at my high school in Frederick to carry on the Tacy Foundation’s activities such as making and sharing cards for patients, recorded music performances, and puzzle books for seniors. In 2020 and 2021 we prepared more than 500 Christmas cards, which were delivered to various hospitals, senior centers, and Fisher Houses across the nation. We created a short playlist consisting of musical performances and Reading-Express videos that we sent to the Tacy Foundation for dissemination. In the midst of COVID, I also wanted to help out senior centers. I and other students from Urbana High School donated more than 400 items, ranging from canned foods to toiletries, to the Shady Grove Senior Center.

Carrying out this task was extremely difficult, as virtual communication and organization were challenging. However, more than a year later (2021), students from Urbana High School are willing to travel 30-40 minutes to perform music at Holy Cross Germantown Hospital for patients, staff members, and visitors. This type of commitment to perform heartwarming music stems from the students’ passion, not just for music but also for inspiring others through music.

Last school year (2021), I started tutoring local middle school students on music theories and their instruments. This summer, I wanted to bring back more elements from pre-COVID, so after numerous phone calls, emails, and communicating with volunteers, and with the help of Ms. Holliday, we started an instrument performance site at Citizens Nursing Home in Frederick. Despite strict COVID restrictions to this day, we started connecting with the seniors on a more personal level. In our future monthly visits to the center, I hope to bring more supportive elements, including letters and cards to seniors.

Approximately a year ago, I also shared how I started a club at my high school during a conference with the Community Service Organization at Cornell University and the Tacy Foundation. I wrote several newsletter articles about how I’ve made an impact in the community by starting a club. Many fellow Tacy volunteers and young leaders learned about this and reached out to both me and Ms. Holliday about starting clubs at their own high schools. I wrote back to Matthew from Massachusetts, Danielle from Walter Johnson HS, Matthew Kim from Thomas Jefferson HS in Virginia, and others, giving them advice and sharing with them my experience of starting a club.

Today, I’m looking for more ways to continue making an impact and inspire others. I plan to continue carrying out the activity at Citizens Nursing Home. I also hope to restart music performances at Frederick Health Hospital, if possible, although the COVID guidelines remain extremely strict there. As the school year is starting, I plan to continue COVID activities at my high school, including card writing, senior letter writing, Reading Express, recording instrumental videos. Throughout more than five years of volunteering under the Tacy Foundation, I have not only gained much confidence and communication skills as a leader, but also piano playing began to take on a whole different meaning. Instead of playing pieces to perform perfectly on stage, I began playing to connect and reach people’s hearts. I began to play to heal others, to inspire others. I grew so much as a student, musician, and leader, with Ms. Holliday’s encouragement and guidance and the Foundation’s unconditional support.
The Neuroscience of Music
By Susan Lin

This spring, I had an opportunity to organize a workshop for my middle school’s students on STEAM Day, an annual event that brings together members of the community to promote education in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. I was immediately interested. I wanted to do something about music and neuroscience, both because I love music and singing and because I was then taking a neuroscience course at my school. I reached out to my friend, Barbara, a fellow music-lover who was also taking neuroscience, about making a presentation together. She agreed, and after going through numerous ideas, we decided to explore why humans have evolved to create and listen to music as well as its effects and benefits. We titled it “The Neuroscience of Music,” and the final PowerPoint presentation included both academic and interactive elements, such as scientific diagrams, social research, and clips of music from different languages and cultures. 
Our STEAM Day presentation, shown to around 20 seventh and eighth graders, went amazingly. We were slightly nervous at first, but as the presentation continued, we grew more confident and began to focus more on the presentation than on our nerves. The middle schoolers and teachers who attended seemed to enjoy it just as much as we did. But after the presentation, both Barbara and I felt “empty” in a way. We loved the presentation, but we knew it wasn’t enough. Perhaps it was because all that effort we had put into the presentation culminated in just a single hour, or perhaps it was for some other reason, but something made us feel like this one presentation wasn’t enough. We wanted to do it again to let more people learn about the power of music.
After the presentation, I decided to reach out to Ms. Holliday about presenting to Tacy Foundation youth volunteers and possibly seniors as well, because I, as a Tacy Foundation volunteer and simply as someone who enjoys singing and listening to music, had found that making this presentation was inspiring and that it had helped me discover what music meant to me. I hoped others might find meaning in the presentation, too, and use it to benefit themselves and others. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to present “The Neuroscience of Music” to Tacy Foundation volunteers over Zoom twice and seniors from two different senior centers in person. We tweaked the presentation each time for the specific audience to make sure that the content addressed the interests of the seniors or volunteers. We were touched by the seniors’ and volunteers’ enthusiasm and willingness to learn more about the topic and apply what they had learned in their and other people’s lives.
I remember clearly that after we presented at a senior center, a senior stayed after to talk to us about how he had dementia and how music had helped him in both physical and mental ways. He appreciated our presentation, and we were really grateful and moved that he shared his story with us. We were strongly inspired by another senior who asked if it was too late for her to learn to play an instrument (We said, “Of course not!”) and talked about how she believed in musical therapy, which we found intriguing. 
Through creating, presenting, and reflecting on the presentation, I have recognized my role and responsibility as a student singer and learned how teaching others and applying what I know can help a lot of people, which I will continue doing. I have also realized that music transcends differences and can connect people of different ages and backgrounds. I am extremely thankful to have Barbara as a partner and joint presenter for all three groups of wonderful people: middle schoolers from my school, Tacy Foundation volunteers, and seniors. It was an invaluable experience. 

Music on the Street
By Charlotte Holliday
Two weeks ago, we were invited by the Volunteer Chief of the Germantown Volunteer Fire Station 29 to participate in an Open House. (I want to learn the story of how they knew to invite us...perhaps because of the handmade cards that we dropped off to say thank you to first responders.)
On the day of the event (September 17), traffic was blocked off, and tables set up in the street by various nonprofit organizations to raise awareness. Tacy Foundation volunteers played music in the street. We provided a table with information about the Foundation, offered QR Code cards, a children's book and wrist bands that said "Piano Pals," and other sundries. Audrey Benford, a senior at Winston Churchill HS, offered to manage the entire event, including setting up, table-managing, and packing up. We were so happy to find a full 88-key electric instrument last week at Music & Arts that would run on batteries! Several pianists of all levels, beginner, intermediate, and advanced, emerged to play. So did a cellist and a violinist play right in the street facing the passersby. 
Those stopping by were very interested in what we are doing in the community. One very interested businessman, a pop musician on the side all his life, wants to help kids learn how to improvise and how to play pop. He spoke from his heart about the presence of music throughout his life. He offered to meet with our kids to show them how to play pop and to remind them of the importance of what they are doing. He wants to share with seniors also.
A very affirming day for all of us! Parents of our kids are so supportive and helpful in every way. We are so fortunate (and a little sunburned.)
Left to right: Alexandra Rosenberg, Volunteer Fire Department Event Director; Charlotte Holliday; Audrey Benford, Chief Intern; Georgiana Lee; Ethan Hahn; Vincent Lee
Left to right: Georgiana Lee, pianist; Ethan Hahn, cellist; Vincent Lee, violinist; Audrey Benford, Chief Intern
I Did It, In the End
By Khoi Phuong Anh

When I was three, my musical journey started when I was exposed to the ABCs of music (pun intended), and I hit my first note. Since then, music has taken me through an emotional rollercoaster that continues to rumble on.

I remember when I had to play my first C major scale on the piano. The thumb had to go under the middle finger, and a few notes after that, the ring finger. It took me so much time to be able to reach that note. But I did it, in the end. 

I remember when I started using my left hand. Even though it was to play only one note, it took me so much time to be able to do it. I did it, in the end.

The first composition I played was a jazz piece. The rhythm was fun and irregular, so I was drawn to it. I played it and danced to the beat of the song. It wasn’t as much dancing as just twitching in place, but I was enjoying myself. 

For the next few years, I simply me played pieces and enjoyed my time. That wasn’t always true, however. The etudes were very annoying, and I kept tripping in the same place. I was surely mad -- slamming the keyboard, kicking underneath the piano, and throwing tantrums. But I did it, in the end. 

The piano brought me a lot of friendships. “Oh, you play the piano?” is a surefire conversation starter. The best thing is that it works with everyone, from someone my age to a senior. Music is the string connecting me with everyone else. 

I’ve grown a lot thanks to music. It taught me to think about what’s on the inside. After all, that’s what makes the sound as pristine as it can be. It taught me to keep persevering. That’s what refines the delicate techniques. The best part of all, it taught me to be creative. Each piece has its own story. It may be a bright, playful story, like Chopin’s “Butterfly” Etude, or as dark and tragic as “Erlkönig” by Schubert. It’s up to the pianist to interpret its story and weave it into a brilliant flow. Music really has taught me to be a better person.

Khoi playing at the Germantown fire station open house
The Tacy Foundation
Educational Mission: Foster youth development through music, story and mentoring
Philanthropic Mission Empower youth to discover and use their gifts in service to others
Social Mission: Build community partnerships and create intergenerational connections
      Whom We Serve
          Service members
          Economically disadvantaged
          Individuals who want to serve
     How We Serve (Programs)
          Live music concerts
          Reading Express®
          Piano Pals®
          Guitar Pals®
          Composers’ Circle
          Music USBs
          Musical equipment
          COVID projects: video, email, cards, puzzles for outreach to the community
Charlotte Holliday, Founder and Executive Director
Matthew D. Scott and Michael Tacy, Graphic Editors
Michael Favin, Chief Editor
Siddharth Kondam, Teen Editor
Ethan Schenker, Teen Editor
Donations are appreciated.  All adult and teen staff are volunteers.  No salaries or benefits. Every dollar you donate goes to supplies for all projects offered to the community. 
Thank you!  
Donate online via PayPal at:  www.tacyfoundation.org.
Or send your donation to: 
The Tacy Foundation 
Box 2334
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