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New Hingham School teacher makes musical connections  

  • New Hingham Regional Elementary School music teacher Sasha Clare-Ayvazian rehearses the school chorus in songs from "The Lion King" and "Mulan" for an upcoming concert.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    New Hingham Regional Elementary School music teacher Sasha Clare-Ayvazian rehearses the school chorus in songs from "The Lion King" and "Mulan" for an upcoming concert.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • New Hingham Regional Elementary School music teacher Sasha Klare-Ayvazian rehearses the school chorus in songs from "The Lion King" and "Mulan" for an upcoming concert.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    New Hingham Regional Elementary School music teacher Sasha Klare-Ayvazian rehearses the school chorus in songs from "The Lion King" and "Mulan" for an upcoming concert.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • New Hingham Regional Elementary School music teacher Sasha Clare-Ayvazian rehearses the school chorus in songs from "The Lion King" and "Mulan" for an upcoming concert.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    New Hingham Regional Elementary School music teacher Sasha Clare-Ayvazian rehearses the school chorus in songs from "The Lion King" and "Mulan" for an upcoming concert.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • New Hingham Regional Elementary School music teacher Sasha Klare-Ayvazian rehearses the school chorus in songs from "The Lion King" and "Mulan" for an upcoming concert.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    New Hingham Regional Elementary School music teacher Sasha Klare-Ayvazian rehearses the school chorus in songs from "The Lion King" and "Mulan" for an upcoming concert.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • New Hingham Regional Elementary School music teacher Sasha Clare-Ayvazian rehearses the school chorus in songs from "The Lion King" and "Mulan" for an upcoming concert.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • New Hingham Regional Elementary School music teacher Sasha Klare-Ayvazian rehearses the school chorus in songs from "The Lion King" and "Mulan" for an upcoming concert.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • New Hingham Regional Elementary School music teacher Sasha Clare-Ayvazian rehearses the school chorus in songs from "The Lion King" and "Mulan" for an upcoming concert.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • New Hingham Regional Elementary School music teacher Sasha Klare-Ayvazian rehearses the school chorus in songs from "The Lion King" and "Mulan" for an upcoming concert.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

Having studied music since he was 7 years old, Klare-Ayvazian is now, at 24, in the teacher’s seat, surrounded by enthusiastic young students at New Hingham Regional Elementary School in Chesterfield.

“I love working with the students and letting them express themselves through music,” Klare-Ayvazian said.

The Northampton native attended Northampton High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in music theory at Oberlin College in Ohio. A drummer, bass player, pianist and composer, he also teaches kindergarten through sixth grade at New Hingham.

Klare-Ayvazian said that while the musical material may be technically different from grade to grade, his approach to teaching remains the same.

“It is about making a meaningful connection with each student,” he said. “They all express themselves in their own way.”

“The sixth-graders are fun because they can play more in-depth pieces, but the kindergartners are so in touch with life, they still haven’t been conditioned to be any other way and they are very eager to learn,” he said.

Initially hired as a long-term substitute teacher at New Hingham, Klare-Ayvazian was offered the full-time position of music teacher in April 2012 after then-Principal Michael Fredette urged him to stay on at the school.

“Michael was very supportive of me. He is responsible for me getting hired for the job,” Klare-Ayvazian said.

A part-time teacher, Klare-Ayvazian receives $19,735 annually.

Warm welcome

Klare-Ayvazian had thought that it might take time to adjust to being a new teacher and coming into a tightly knit school community, but he said he was welcomed with open arms.

“Everyone has been very welcoming and very positive and supportive,” he said. From Hampshire Regional Superintendent Craig L. Jurgensen to Hingham Principal Rosemary Larkin and other teachers, “everybody has been great,” he said.

Klare-Ayvazian recently brought his love of jazz to school by creating a jazz program for the school band. He is working on the school’s spring concert, which he says will be an “all-Disney adventure” that will include a bit of musical theater as well.

It’s not just students that he wants to get playing and singing. He also has his sights on recruiting more musicians from the ranks of the school staff and parents.

“I am very invested in the staff and community getting involved in the music program,” he said. “Last spring I got Michael (Fredette) to play the harmonica in the spring concert. I know that Rosemary (Larkin) plays the accordion, so I have to get her playing too.”

Last year, Klare-Ayvazian hired friend and fellow drummer Sara Icklan of Northampton to play at the school’s spring concert. In an odd twist of fate, Icklan, who is also a chef, was hired this year as New Hingham’s food service director.

“I was happy when she was hired, because now I don’t have to pay her to play,” he joked.

Larkin said the “little house band” Klare-Ayvazian is forming by enlisting musically inclined staff has already created a stir.

“I think the students get a kick out of seeing their teachers playing music,” Klare-Ayvazian said.

Klare-Ayvazian also coordinated the six-member band’s performance last December of “Ain’t Misbehavin,’ ” by late jazz great Fats Waller. He put together the event after attending a performance by jazz musician Clifton “Jerry” Noble of Northampton, who offered to arrange the piece after Klare-Ayvazian presented him with the idea for the concert.

Sixth-grader Hannah Labrie plays drums in the school band. She said she likes having Klare-Ayvazian as a teacher and, due in part to his inspiration, she is “definitely” going to continue to pursue drumming.

“I like him. He is very good at teaching. He makes it fun, and he is also good at keeping everybody together,” Hannah said.

Klare-Ayvazian credits his parents with supporting him “across the board.”

His father is Michael Klare, author of several books and professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College in Amherst. His mother is the Rev. Andrea Ayvazian, pastor of Haydenville Congregational Church and a Gazette columnist.

“My parents have always been there for me,” Klare-Ayvazian said. “They always tell me they believe in me. When I told them I wanted to major in music it wasn’t their first choice, but they sent me off to college with their blessings.”

“My mom comes to all my concerts and she helped me with my resume when I applied for this job,” he said.

When they get the chance, he and his mother, who plays guitar and has been a singer in the Valley for the past 30 years, enjoy performing together.

“We have a few opportunities to play together, and it has been great,” he said.

Klare-Ayvazian also teaches music privately.

On those rare occasions when Klare-Ayvazian, who lives in Florence, is not teaching, composing or playing music with his band Bunk, he can be found joining in on pickup basketball games on Monday nights at New Hingham.

“I love basketball. It’s fun and it is another opportunity to meet parents and people in the community,” he said.

The musician and teacher said that the basketball court could also be another venue to recruit more musicians into the ranks.

Legacy Comments2

He is a wonderful addition to New Hingham!

What a great teacher! But teaching six grades of kids for less than $20,000/year. That's tragic. But the article is confusing: two paragraphs before the part-time salary is given, the writer states that Klare-Ayvazian got the full-time position. If the salary is full-time, that is even worse!

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