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MEET THE STAFF

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Co-Director

Britt Young

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. 

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Co-Director

Joan Chan

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.


 

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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, Trombone

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. 

Tommy Chiu Trumpet, Trombone

A native of Hong Kong based in Boston, Tommy Chiu has made appearances in major cities across Asia and North America both as a performer and an educator. Outside of performing, he teaches brass instruments extensively, both in person and virtually, with more than a decade of international teaching experience. His students over the country continue to find success in the region/all-state auditions such as in the states of California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Texas, the practical examinations offered by the ABRSM, as well as performing with prestigious ensembles such as the BYSO. Locally, he serves on the faculties of the Dedham School of Music, the Performing Arts Center of MetroWest, the Note-worthy Experiences Music Studio, the After School Music Program at the Brimmer and May School, and Making Music Matters in the Boston Public Schools. Tommy is currently a doctoral candidate in brass performance at Boston University, where he was the recipient of the 2022 Brass Department Award. His primary teachers include Jarod Vermette of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Colin Williams of the New York Philharmonic, and Toby Oft, Principal Trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Tommy joined Making Music Matters in 2023.

Caroline Drozdiak Violin

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. 

Caroline Drozdiak has been an active performer and teacher in the greater Boston area since 2011. She holds a Masters of Music in violin performance from Longy School of Music, where she also studied viola. She regularly performs with Vista Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Ann Symphony, and Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra. She loves pit orchestras and has played with Ohio Light Opera, MassOpera, and Commonwealth Lyric Theater. In addition to Making Music Matters, Caroline teaches at the Wellesley Public Schools after school music program and maintains a private teaching studio in Somerville.  Caroline joined Making Music Matters in 2024.

James Foster Clarinet, Flute, Saxophone

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.

Tom Halter Trumpet

Tom Halter grew up in Denver and attended University of Nevada at Las Vegas, simultaneously launching his career as a professional musician in various Las Vegas house bands backing up such artists as Wayne Newton, Ginger Rogers, Robert Goulet and Bobbie Gentry.  He studied trumpet with Walter Blanton and John Carlson, improvisation with Ralph Towner, Paul McCandless, Ran Blake, George Russell, and Jerry Bergonzi, and theory and composition with Joe Maneri. He currently plays in, and is a founding member of the grammy nominated Jazz big band the Either / Orchestra having performed in 38 states and 13 countries since it's inception in 1986, and is the music director  of Mariachi Internacional. In addition to instructing with Making Music Matters, he also teaches in Braintree, Cambridge, and Brookline Public Schools, and has been on the faculty of Brookline Music School since 2001.  Tom has been with Making Music Matters since 2012.

Jessica Lynch Flute 

Jessica Lynch is a flutist and music teacher based in Boston. Originally from Pennsylvania, she earned her undergraduate degree in flute performance from West Chester University before moving to Boston and earning a master's degree at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. As an ensemble performer, Jessica currently enjoys playing with the Du Bois Orchestra, Horizon Ensemble, and the Lynch/Puente Duo, a flute and percussion duo which has performed at the Moby Dick Marathon in New Bedford, the Brasswood Inn in Provincetown, and the Cortona Sessions for New Music. She has also performed with the Mélomanie Chamber Ensemble in Wilmington, DE. Jessica began teaching music lessons in 2017 and loves sharing the joy of playing music and learning an instrument with students of all ages and levels. She was excited to join the Making Music Matters team in 2023.

Molly Shira Violin, Viola, Cello

Molly Shira began her musical studies on viola as a fourth grader in the public schools in Bloomington, IL. She received her BA in music and English at the University of Iowa and did Masters-level work at the University of Northern Iowa. Molly has received Suzuki training at the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point, WI, and The Hartt Suzuki Institute in Hartford CT. In addition to teaching violin for Making Music Matters, she teaches violin and viola at the All Newton Music School, maintains a small private studio, plays viola with the Cambridge Symphony, and freelances in the Boston area. Molly has been with Making Music Matters since 2014, and lives with her family in Roxbury.

Tina Tsai Clarinet

Dr. Tina Tsai is a clarinetist and an active music educator, having been teaching and performing throughout Asia,
Europe, and North America. She received the  D.M.A. degree from Michigan State University and M.M. degree from Boston University.


Tina has been teaching since 2017. Courses include clarinet applied lessons, piano lessons and music theory, and she has taught students ages 4 to adult with different cultural backgrounds. She is now teaching in Note-worthy Experiences music studio and Merry Melody Music Academy as a clarinet and music instructor in the Boston area. For her lessons, she focuses on students’ foundations to build a solid and safe learning environment for them. She always customize lessons to students’ different backgrounds and goals, which enables students to pursue their personal goals through learning clarinet.

 

Her teaching philosophy is encouraging people to explore further and deeper into music through repertoires and practices, whether they are experienced professional musicians or amateurs and enthusiasts.  She joined Making Music Matters in 2024.

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