STEAM Bus Symposium
A virtual music workshop with the NY
STEAM Bus, completely free of charge!
Workshops will be Saturday, March 20th from 1-1:45 pm and Saturday, March 27th from 1-1:45 pm
Dear Members of the Music Department and Readers,
Hello, my name is Vera Amirbekian, and we are Niskayuna’s NY STEAM Bus here with our latest program: The Steam Bus Symposium. It’s our own musical workshop, giving younger up-and-coming musicians, mainly between grades 4 and 6, a one-to-one opportunity to work with high school students on their instruments. Our goal is to keep beginner students engaged with their instrument despite the harsh toll the music department has taken due to the pandemic. What we’ve noticed as a group is a slow decline in the interest of these students. As older students, we understand that there was always a lull in learning something new around that age, but it’s become more prominent in music. How we plan to achieve this is entirely up to the mentor and the student. Here are some ideas we have in mind:
Using SmartMusic, the student can spend some time finding a piece of music they enjoy listening to (best part is, it doesn’t have to be classical music!) and mentors can help them learn it.
Students are given the task ahead of time to use NoteFlight, a music-composing website, to create their own music and share it with one of us. We can help them learn to play it, and if they’re up for the challenge, they can compose a second part to be played as a duet. Obviously if the student is new to NoteFlight, mentors can help get them started.
If all else fails, mentors can prepare a set of pieces they enjoyed playing in the beginning of their musical careers and share them with students.
With the given circumstances, this program would need to start off virtually through a platform like google meet. Ideally, these would be short, in-person sessions at the high school. With that said, now would be a great time to get to know each other whether that means playing something for each other or just chatting.
Keep in mind, this program welcomes any and all students interested in learning an instrument, even if they physically don’t have one due to the pandemic. We are aware that there are certain grade levels who haven’t been given the opportunity to choose one yet. Hopefully, by seeing a wide variety of instruments, one will inspire them and it will help students make an easier decision when the time comes around again for them to pick an instrument.
The overarching goal as stated previously was just a starting point. We believe that these can be the start of unique friendships. Seeing examples of the pieces you could play one day is extremely inspiring. Similarly, having older students relate to the struggles that younger students are facing now will help them realize that struggling is part of the process of going somewhere greater. And that’s what we hope to offer.
If you have any questions, or think your students are interested and would like more information, please feel free to contact me at or Caleb Tysz at
Thank you so much for your continued support in musical education!
-Vera Amirbekian and the STEAMbus Team