The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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A change in tune

When Upper School Vocal Music Teacher and Musical Director Sammy Grob performed the role of The Baker in “Into the Woods JR” in middle school, he didn’t know that he would act in the same play in college, this time as Cinderella’s Prince. He just can’t seem to shake the play. He’s now the co-director of CESJDS’ upcoming fall production.

Grob chose to work at JDS because, despite going to Jewish school through eighth grade, he felt less connected to Judaism in recent years and believed that working at a Jewish school would be a good way to reconnect.

“I grew up Reform, and I never heard of a pluralistic Jewish community before,” Grob said. “I was interested in reconnecting with my Judaism.”

Though Grob is new to the JDS staff, music and theater education are very familiar to him. Last year, Grob worked as a substitute music and theater teacher at a middle and high school in Brooklyn, directed an adult community chorus, created and directed musicals for people with developmental disabilities, interned for the American Composers Orchestra and held different workshops and residencies, all at the same time.

Grob has a number of responsibilities in his new position. He teaches middle school choir and theater and will teach eighth-grade Rikuz in the spring. He also co-directs the high school musical with Director of Arts Education David Solomon and oversees the high school choirs, Shir Madness and Choral, with high school math teacher and choir director           Karen Pang.

Serena Gill, senior and member of Shir Madness and the high school musical, appreciates Grob’s enthusiasm in promoting the musical programs.

“Mr. Grob actively introduced a musical to the entire school at Kabbalat Shabbat, which I thought was really special because it brings it into the mainstream,” Gill said. “He also visited the grade-wide meetings. He explained what his job is, and he advertised both of the choir groups, so I think so far he’s been a good addition.”

In his classes, Grob hopes to develop an organized teaching style where he can focus on individual student needs by challenging them in different equitable ways, which is especially important as his classes are mixed between grades.

Gill is excited for Grob to bring stability and further organization to the music program as over the past few years there have been many leadership changes.

While Grob has already made changes, like the establishment of the choir Choral, and plans to make more, he appreciates the school’s traditions.

“I love how integrated [music] is into the daily life of the school; I love the Kab Shab performances,” Grob said. “I love that Mr. Prince especially adapts and arranges music to fit the ensemble. You’ll have a group with a trumpet player, cellist, electric guitarist and drums, which is not usually a combo you have, but he makes it work.”

Solomon is particularly excited to work on “Into the Woods” with Grob.

“Our goal is to provide a fantastic experience for the students,” Solomon said. “Also to put on a show that students are going to remember for the rest of their lives, that the audience will remember for a long time and everybody leaves and thinks of what a fun experience they had with this show.”

Music has been an important and valued part of Grob’s life for a long time, and he is excited to continue working in the music world and give back his talent.

“It brought me a lot of joy growing up doing music, learning it, performing it [and] studying it,” Grob said. “I think that arts education in general is one of the few spaces in education where you can make a lot of mistakes and there is no correct answer…There’s always room for somebody in music education and theater education.”

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Maiya Blumenthal, Reporter

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