Pasadena Unified Music Students Get “Notes” Fron Pros – Pasadena Now

The Pasadena High School Orchestra and its first chair violinist/concertmaster, Zen Glick, getting feedback from Conductor Richard Meyer. [Pasadena Unified photo]

There’s nothing quite like practicing with pros. Student musicians from the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) had an opportunity to get pointers from professionals at the 2023 Adjudicated Music Festivals for secondary schools last week. Middle and high school students performed with a choir, band, or orchestra and then received constructive feedback from professional musicians.

“My main approach is a climate of discovery. I let the students find things out for themselves,” said composer/director Richard Meyer, who taught at PUSD for 11 years and conducted the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra (PYSO) for over 16 years. 

Meyer says the festival allows students to hear other groups play and to perform in a large auditorium. One key benefit – getting input from someone who is going to “tell it like it is” while simultaneously allowing students to discover on their own and work in harmony with a group. 

“When Mr. Meyer steps up on stage and he gives us these tips, I feel like I improve a lot as a musician,” said Pasadena High School (PHS) senior Zen Glick, violinist and concertmaster for the PHS Orchestra. 

Glick also plays flute in the PHS marching band, for the Pasadena City College orchestra, and has guest conducted for the Pasadena Symphony in front of 5,000 people. The student musician sings the praises of his PUSD teachers at Sierra Madre Middle School (SMMS) and at PHS for helping him, especially Dr. “R” Anne Rardin, Chad Prado, and the late Amy McLean, who is dearly missed and did amazing things for the orchestra program at SMMS.

“All the teachers in my middle school career and my high school career – they were all incredibly accommodating and they were willing to spend extra time outside of school to help me,” Glick explained. 

Student singers also received feedback from seasoned pros. Choral students at the Music Festivals gained noteworthy advice from Jeffrey Bernstein, founding artistic director of the Pasadena Chorale. Events like these and teachers who go above and beyond are helping PUSD to hit all the high notes. 

“We’re really doing things right in PUSD. We have choirs and bands and orchestras at every school including our elementary schools,” said District Music Specialist Karen Klages.  “All of our high schools are doing full-on musicals with live music in the pit!” 

Unlike many school districts, PUSD provides music class as part of the school day, not just as a club after school. PUSD is planning another Music Festival for band, orchestra, and choir (this time for elementary schools) at 6 p.m. on May 10, 2023, at John Muir High School Early College Magnet.  For more information on PUSD music programs, visit:

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