MEET THE STAFF
Britt Young grew up in Rockford, IL, where she studied the piano for 10 years. She studied Public Relations and Art and completed her M.S. coursework in Computer-Mediated Communication at Illinois State University. She worked in newspaper advertising, marketing, voice information, and new media for 15 years before moving to Boston with her family. She has been active in numerous community organizations and events, served as a media consultant, and received awards for her work in the business sector. Britt joined Making Music Matters as Program Manager in 2014, and is the mother of two boys who are both graduates of Making Music Matters.
Joan Chan started as a parent liaison with Making Music Matters in 2012 and became a program manager in 2013. She keeps the program running on a daily basis with duties that include overseeing the program’s instrument inventory and managing parent liaisons. She worked for many years as a retail property manager for Trammell Crow. Joan is the mother of two boys who are both graduates of MMM. Joan is an active parent volunteer at her children’s school, having served as co-chair of the parent council, and organizes a variety of events and classroom activities.
Grant and Fund Administrator
Laura Wigginton Bullock
Laura Wigginton Bullock joined the Making Music Matters’ team in June 2019. She started her career in the arts as a theatrical costumer before shifting into arts administration. Laura worked in various costume shop positions at such places as East Carolina Summer Theatre, Virginia Shakespeare Festival, Virginia Stage Company, New Dominion Pictures and The Lost Colony Symphonic Drama. Before relocating to Massachusetts, she worked for the Virginia Opera for over ten years as their Director of
Educational Programming. She holds a BS from Radford University and an MFA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
MEET OUR INSTRUCTORS
Becky Abbott Flute
Becky Abbott has been teaching and performing the flute in the Boston area for over 20 years. She has a Bachelors in Flute Performance from Temple University's Esther Boyer College of Music where she studied with Loren Lind of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Some of her other teachers have included Joan Sparks of the Delaware Symphony, Randolph Bowman of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and masterclasses with Julius Baker, Murray Panitz, Paula Robison and Jeffrey Khaner. She performed with the Hingham Symphony Orchestra, Salem Winds, and Metropolitan Wind Symphony among other local groups. She has adjudicated the New England Intercollegiate Band as well as the SEMSBA competition auditions. Her students have performed with SEMSBA, Junior and Senior District ensembles, Massachusetts All-State ensembles and other groups. Her flute ensembles have also excelled in the MICCA Solo and Ensemble Festival. Becky joined the Making Music Matters family in 2021.
Stephen Curtis Clarinet, Flute, Trumpet
Stephen Curtis has a Bachelor of Music Degree in Education from the Berklee College of Music. His Masters Degree in Performance is from the University of Massachusetts/Lowell. Stephen started his teaching career in 1978 in the small towns of North Stratford, Groveton, and Stark New Hampshire where he taught instrumental and vocal music K - 12. In 1979 He became the band director for the town of Southborough, Massachusetts. He served in this position until his retirement in 2017. Stephen came on board with Making Music Matters in the fall of 2017. Steve has performed with countless orchestras, choruses and bands of all types. He has sung with the Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and has played trombone and sung with the Sunnyside Swing Band. Steve played Euphonium for the Mad Bavarian Brass Band. He currently plays tuba with Boston’s own Roma Band and plays trombone with the New Magnolia Jazz Band as well as the Point and Swing Big Band.
James Foster Clarinet, Flute
James Foster is an accomplished musician who has worked in the music business as an entrepreneur/business owner, artist, and producer. James has performed in concert and in the recording studio with artists including Lou Rawls, Jack Faith, MFSB Orchestra, Leo Sayer, Melissa Manchester, Gato Barbieri, Dizzie Giliespie, Tower of Power, The Crusaders, The CBS All-Stars, Buddie Rich, Maurice Starr (producer of New Kids On the Block and New Edition) and Rodney Butler (formerly with Planet Patrol) George Karis (Rock Records and Sony Engineer) and Chris Bender (Epic Records). He has performed and assisted with the production of fifteen CDs with various Artists over the years. In addition to numerous appearances at clubs, jazz festivals and TV Shows, James has also been a part of the Green Planet Concert Series, where James teamed up with Livingston Taylor. Recent collaborations with James have included Richie Cole, Greg Abate, Rebecca Paris, Sam (Wiz) Cobb, among others. James is currently President & CEO of Hype Time Records, L.L.C., an independent record label in Boston and Philadelphia. A native of Michigan, he relocated to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music, where he studied Jazz performance and composition. An experienced educator as well as performer, James is delighted to be on the Making Music Matters faculty since 2016.
Russ Gershon Clarinet, Flute, Violin
Russ Gershon has been a pillar of the Boston music world for over forty years. As a Harvard student in the late 1970s, he was a radio DJ on WHRB-FM, spinning jazz records for the public. He and a group of classmates began a band called the Decoders which evolved into a touring unit, playing the famous punk clubs of the era, the Rat, CBGBs and the Mudd Club, and toured across the US. After further training at Berklee College, he founded a ten-piece jazz ensemble, the Either/Orchestra, which has played around the world, from Lincoln Center to the Monterey Jazz Festival to the concert halls of Europe. The group has released a dozen albums, and Russ received a Grammy nomination for an arrangement of one of his original compositions. The E/O has also become deeply involved in the music of Ethiopia, and has made historic tours of that country, collaborating with Ethiopian musicians and playing their own versions of Ethiopian songs. He has also toured North America with Ethiopian greats Mahmoud Ahmed and Mulatu Astatke.
In recent years, Russ has been the music director of the Latin Bugalú band Lookie Lookie, which revives Puerto Rican music of the 1960s. He has also directed or arranged projects devoted to David Bowie’s last album, Blackstar, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, and Rickie Lee Jones’ eponymous debut album. He has also played with luminaries including Cab Calloway, the Four Tops, Morphine and Medeski Martin & Wood. He will bring this broad range of musical styles to the jazz and rock ensembles of BMS.
In the '80s, Russ founded Accurate Records, a label dedicated to releasing over a hundred albums of jazz, rock and film music by artists based in Boston and elsewhere. He continues to produce recordings for various artists.
Russ taught elementary school band for nine years, as well as general classroom music. He has taught woodwinds, drums and violin to students of many ages, and he taught jazz, blues, pop and classical music history at Lasell College for four years. Starting in January 2021, he will be teaching Jazz History at MIT. He has also served as a visiting artist or clinician at colleges and high schools across the country, from Harvard, Berklee and New England Conservatory to the Universities of Massachusetts, Virginia, Vermont, Wichita State and many more. He also holds a masters degree from Tufts, where he concentrated on African music and on composing chamber music for classical musicians. Russ joined Making Music Matters in 2021.