Adam Calus builds relationships wherever he goes. He founded the music program at Charlestown High School and after six years there, he moved to become executive director of Education Through Music — Massachusetts (ETM-MA) so he could create more music programs for Boston Public Schools (BPS), especially at the many district schools that do not have them.
ETM-MA is a nonprofit that is committed to keeping music alive in all Massachusetts schools, starting in Boston. The organization partners with principals to create, strengthen and sustain music programs for schools that currently do not have them; and makes music a core subject in its partner schools. Calus says that another ETM-MA goal is to use music as a catalyst to support learning in other areas, including overall general development, motivation toward school and attendance, parent engagement and community investment in the school.
Presently, Calus oversees the development of three new music programs for BPS at Brighton High School, Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School and he supports the BPS music teacher at David A. Ellis Elementary School.
Through his prior role as a public school music educator, and his current work at ETM-MA and as a private music instructor, Calus talks and listens to his students, their parents, music teachers and the community. When it comes to repertoire, Calus recommends having a simple conversation with students and their families. “The music that students love and connect with should be one of the core components that drives a lot of learning,” he says. “Parents and students appreciate that they have agency in what happens in the music learning space. The music that students know and love is already inside of them. Parents and students enjoy when the music space taps into that love in order to learn and become proficient musically.”
He uses that same relationship-building model to find performance opportunities around Boston. “Students should get out into their community and make music regularly because that’s what musicians do,” Calus says. “They go out and perform in places they care about and are connected to. I talk with my students and encourage the teachers I train to do the same with regards to which community spaces mean something to them, then reach out to those spaces and find out how we can facilitate a student performance there.”