Dr. Jamie Hillman is a conductor, singer, pianist, music educator, and composer. He is dedicated to bringing music to marginalized audiences and has done extensive work in prisons and schools. He is an active speaker and performer, and teaches conducting and music education courses at Longy School of Music.
One of the things I’m most passionate about is bringing music to people who aren’t able to come to a concert hall. That’s why Longy’s mission is so exciting to me. As a teacher of conducting and music education, I’m able to mentor students and walk alongside them as they make music more inclusive and accessible.
For ten years now, I’ve helped bring music into Massachusetts prisons, which has been a transformative experience for me—as well as for the incarcerated men and women I’ve worked with. When I’ve taken my students to sing in men’s prisons, we’ve had people come up to us in tears afterwards saying they’d never heard anything so beautiful. They were really moved because many of them had never been exposed to classical music before.
A prison is a very dark and dehumanizing place, and making music is one of the most human things we can do. That’s why teaching, advocacy, and mentorship are so important, and why I work with my students to bring music into places like prisons, homeless shelters, hospitals, and nursing homes. Making music with one another—whether one on one or with a hundred other people in a choir or orchestra—speaks to our humanity.
Longy’s programs prepare students to teach in hard places. Social justice, equity, and inclusion are built into the curriculum and discussed every day, even in classes like conducting. Longy isn’t afraid to have difficult conversations. Our students, particularly those in music education, are getting their hands dirty and getting prepared for the reality that’s really out there.
So many conservatories educate musicians for a world that no longer exists. Longy’s program prepares students for what’s happening now and what’s coming in the future. We’re not stuck in a bygone era, and we allow students to carve out their own paths.
Being first chair in one of the top symphony orchestras might be the gold standard for most musicians, but it isn’t the only way to succeed. At Longy, you’ll get access to great role models, but you’ll also learn that your career doesn’t necessarily have to look like someone else’s. It can be unique and based on all the things that make you who you are, like your desires, where you grew up, your early musical influences, and all the experiences you’ve had in life.