As a passionate music educator, Mary Nebel has given the students of Northern Arizona valuable music opportunities through “Keeping Score with the San Francisco Symphony” and “Link Up with Carnegie Hall”. Last year more than 2500 students from the Grand Canyon, Leupp, Williams, Parks and Flagstaff enthusiastically participated in a concert that was organized and coordinated by Mary through the educational outreach programs of Carnegie Hall in New York. She wrote the grants for funding; she encouraged music teachers and school administrators to participate; she worked with FSO Artistic Director Elizabeth Shulze to obtain music materials for the orchestra; she arranged for transportation to and from the concert; she distributed classroom supplies to all of the participating schools; and she was an inspiring, extremely competent leader. And all of this as a volunteer!
When I first met Mary she was working with the San Francisco Symphony’s education outreach program. Through this program she trained more than 100 Flagstaff teachers to coordinate classical music with the elements of the Arizona curriculum standards and goals. Often using her own resources she gathered books, CDs, pictures, videos and musical instruments to make sure that every participating classroom had the necessary materials. This was a program for designed for regular classroom teachers, not music teachers. And the result was that teachers as well as students were touched by the magic of classical music.
Mary is always looking for opportunities to get music in the schools. She arranges for groups of musicians and singers to be in classrooms to support the integration of music principles with the curriculum. She coordinated a “Dear Mr. Beethoven” project in the elementary schools to merge language arts skills with a deeper understanding of an important musical figure. Students were recognized at an FSO performance. Her generous spirit and extreme talent models music appreciation for all students and teachers with whom she comes in contact.
Mary also brings music to Flagstaff outside of the classroom environment. For several years she prepared and presented sessions at the East Side Library focusing on the composers and compositions that would be part of an upcoming FSO concert. These delightful programs included auditory and visual material to enhance music appreciation. Again Mary did this as a volunteer.
Mary is also the driving force behind a program that works with the Flagstaff Juvenile Detention Center to bring music and social skills to many of the young inmates. Through this program students receive training to appreciate the music they will hear at the concert and the appropriate etiquette for a performance, and then with their parents they attend a concert.
Bea Cooley, FSO Education Committee member, says this of Mary, “She is the perfect composite of competent and caring musician, teacher, role model and humanitarian. She is an excellent musician with abundant knowledge of repertoire. With this background she is able to engage and excite young people. Her enthusiasm is backed by her compassionate and generous spirit. She seems to understand just which avenue might open a troubled child’s mind to the possibilities of music. And she gives so much of her own time and energy to interact with kids and to provide them with experiences that they could never get otherwise. Mary sets the bar very high.”