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Did You Know? Profile Guy Mendilow, Music Specialist

By: Jenny Stodolsky, Lesley Ellis Parent

"Music belongs in everyone's life," says Guy Mendilow, Lesley Ellis School's Grades 3-8 Music Specialist. "When you go on a car ride and you are singing, it feels good.  It is visceral, purely experiential. Music is its own reward."

 

With that as a guiding principle, Guy encourages his students to give voice to - and delight in - their own creativity. At the same time, he teaches them that music is a language and like other languages should be studied. To do this, Guy treats the children as musicians. Starting with first graders, he facilitates musical improvisation. As his students progress through elementary and middle school, he emphasizes quality, challenging them to rise to the occasion - which inspired the idea for "RISE: The Voices of Lesley Ellis" as a name for the Grades 3-4 Chorus and subsequently Canto, the Grade 5-8 Chorus.

I say sing what sets you on fire!" explains Guy, "Our kids sing excellent music that resonates for them. When they master ambitious songs through hard work, they are infused with excitement and high self-esteem. They want to try for even greater heights.  They focus and develop group cohesion. As students move to middle school, I give them even more tools for refinement."

Guy literally brings a world of music to his students. As a child, Guy traveled extensively with his family, living in Israel, the UK, South Africa, and the US where he joined the American Boys Choir. As an adult, Guy spent time in Brazil and Mexico. Wherever home was, there was music.  He says, "In the living room, everybody made music - I carry that with me and share it with my students everyday." 

At Oberlin College, Guy earned his bachelor's degree in environmental studies. There he became fascinated with concepts of leadership. While those lessons were aimed at the policy and social issues he studied, they also resonated for him with music.  "I recognized that to be a leader and original thinker in any field, one needs certain ingredients: feelings of meaningful contribution to a group, feelings of competence, respect, authenticity and empowerment to solve problems in unique ways. I recognized that music education can be an agent of these things, and we can teach through the music." 

Guy received his master's degree in music, as well as the International Certificate in Dalcroze Eurhythmics [a teaching method used to understand music's fundamental concepts and expressive meanings through kinesthetic experience] from the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA.

Since arriving at Lesley Ellis seven years ago, Guy has built the music curriculum into a stellar program of participation and opportunity. All LES students have music class each week. Students in Grade 1/2 also sing in a training choir. Students in Grades 3-8 have the option to join RISE. Additionally, students in Grade 3 begin their LES Arts Block immersion course, working with Boston-area artists who share expertise in dance, music, theater, art, ceramics, animation and more. Guy stresses that LES' commitment to have students work with artists who are actively engaged and successful in their fields, provides a practical model and energy that is unique to this school's curriculum. "Working up close with the artists, our kids see passion, dedication, perseverance, creative problem-solving. I am very proud of LES. Its mission is centered on values that promote global thinking and leadership in students. Music and Arts are key to the success of that mission."

While teaching, Guy also continues to garner tremendous critical acclaim for his own compositions, albums and performances with The Guy Mendilow Ensemble. Widely recognized for interpretations of Ladino (the Judeo-Spanish language) songs, the Ensemble rouses audiences in joyous participation as it performs nationally and abroad. 

Guy can be reached at school, or through email gmendilow@lesleyellis.org. To learn more about Guy Mendilow Ensemble visit guymendilow.com