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Mermel and Lee Plant Seed of Music
sungmin hong 13 editor-in-chief
February 3, 2011

Walk up to the Choral Room of the Memorial Building on a Sunday afternoon, and you will find two students surrounded by eleven bright, talented youngsters eager to become Deerfield’s “Singing Stars.”

In September, Grace Mermel ’12 and Joseph Lee ’13 created a chorus for children of the Deerfield community.

The children are in good hands, under the instruction of two experienced musicians. Mermel participates in Madrigal Choir, Rhapso-Ds, and was a member of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. Lee won the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award and played guitar on NPR’S “From the Top.” He has also played piano for three years and participates in the chamber music class.

Mermel came up with the idea for “Singing Stars” late last spring.

“I love music and am a big fan of community service. This project incorporated the two,” she explained. Mermel sent emails to faculty at Deerfield and Bement, inviting their children to participate.

Nine Deerfield faculty children and two children from Bement now learn the repertoire by repeating after Mermel. A joke sprouted from this technique: “Monkey see monkey do,” said Mermel. “When I ask them to repeat a line, they burst into giggles and say that phrase over and over again.”

Nonetheless, “Singing Stars” is a tremendous time committment for Mermel and Lee. They have had to organize and prepare for two recitals, most notably the holiday concert this past December.

When asked about the extra workload, Lee shrugged in indifference. To him, planting the seed of music and showing kids how fun music can be is always worth an hour of every Sunday.

Mermel praised the children’s work ethic: “The kids know when to have fun, but we know when to get to work. It is great to work with small children who can differentiate between the two.”

After positive responses from parents, the strictly fall program will now be extended for the remainder of the school year.

Mermel and Lee claim the children spark the ongoing inspiration. “Even when I have five tests the next day, they respond in good moods and describe how they love the piece. I’ve even seen them practice outside of rehearsal,” Mermel said. “I’m so lucky.”