This coming fall, the Deerfield community will welcome a new music director: Ms. Maaja Roos.
While interviewing candidates for the position of music director, Dean of Faculty Mr. Taylor said, “We were looking for somebody who is primarily a choral director, and someone who can connect well with kids and get them excited about joining the choral program.”
In addition to having developed nationally recognized choral music programs at the Savannah Country Day School of Georgia and The Nightingale- Bamford School of New York, Ms. Roos is an award-winning concert pianist and organist. She is of Estonian origin and is a seventh-generation musician in her family.
Christie Jok ’16, one of the students in the class that Ms. Roos taught as part of the interview, said, “Normally seventy-minute chorus classes seem really long, but with Ms. Roos, it flew by. No one was bored, and you could tell that everyone was really excited to be singing. She really got all of us out of our shells. We loved her.”
The hope is that Ms. Roos will expand Deerfield’s choral program as she has done at previous schools. Mr. Taylor said: “More than anything, she is eager to excite as many kids as possible to sing.”
Generally, students involved in the choral program here at Deerfield have clear musical talent. But that doesn’t always have to be the case. Academic Dean Mr. Warsaw explained: “There are three central approaches to music pedagogy [the method of teaching music]: the Kodaly Method, the Orff Method, and Dalcroze Eurhythmics. These methods allow teachers to uncover and develop the innate musical ability within any student.”
“Having mastered all three of these pedagogies,” continued Mr. Warsaw, “[Ms. Roos] has the training and background to find all students where they are and help them develop their musical abilities to the fullest extent. Students don’t necessarily need any prior experience or known talent. We hope this quality will attract new students to the program.”
When Ms. Roos first arrived at Savannah Country Day School, there were only about 15 or 20 kids involved in the choir program. Flash-forward 13 years: as Ms. Roos is finishing out her final year there before joining us here at Deerfield, there are more than 85 kids involved in Savannah Country Day School’s choir program.
“The words I would use to describe [Ms. Roos] are: energetic, charismatic, funny, and collegial. She is a larger than life character,” said Jennifer Whitcomb, chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department.
Ms. Roos herself shared some of her goals in coming to Deerfield during a phone interview: “There is so much stress for students nowadays,” she said. “One of my goals in coming to Deerfield is not making the program this hoity-toity thing for singers, but having different levels. I want it to be something for everyone to participate in. A way to relax.”
Ms. Roos also hopes to increase the opportunities of performances for the students. She said: “You have to take people on the road and share it. It’s not called the performing arts for nothing.”
“In the end,” said Ms. Roos, “it’s not even about creating a pristine, perfect sound. I think that’s kind of cold. Perfection is boring. It’s about forming connections with each other.”