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2024 Yamaha "40 Under 40" educator Christopher Noce

Christopher Noce

Director of Bands and Orchestras
Concord-Carlisle High School
Concord, Massachusetts

“No cowards” may be a strange message to share with students, but Director of Bands and Orchestras Christopher Noce uses that phrase for students to know that they can safely and confidently make mistakes during rehearsals. “The biggest difference between a new student at Concord-Carlisle High School and one who has been in our ensembles for a couple of years is in how they handle making mistakes,” Noce says. “Our established members will quickly acknowledge their mistakes in rehearsal — often with a quick glance toward me — and we can continue our rehearsal knowing that we’re all on the same page.”

He goes on to explain that “no cowards” is a tongue-in-cheek way to remind students to own the inevitability of an error. “It’s also important for me that we are always pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones — whether it’s singing in rehearsals, performing challenging repertoire, hollering for soloists in the jazz ensemble or cheering on the football team at home games. We take what we do very seriously, but we try not to take ourselves too seriously,” he says.

Noce brings in conductors who will extend his students’ understanding and perspectives beyond what he can bring to the table. “I keep an eye out at festivals and conferences for folks who may enrich our learning,” he explains. “I’m very cognizant of my limited perspective and inherent bias, and I work to bring in as many varied perspectives as possible.” 

Some core values that Noce emphasizes in his class and throughout the program include:

  • Candor: Students know that he will be honest with them and expects the same from them.
  • Community and belonging: Everyone is welcome, and Noce means it. Concord-Carlisle sponsors multiple events throughout the year so musicians can just be together and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Living composers and new repertoire: Noce participates in consortiums and commissions to introduce students and audiences to new composers and repertoire nearly every concert cycle. “We perform a lot of repertoire by living composers, and one of the greatest advantages of this is that we don’t need a Ouija board to communicate with them, and the students love hearing about the work firsthand,” he says.
  • Musicianship outside our ensembles: Many of Noce’s students perform in outside bands, orchestras, chamber ensembles, hardcore bands and as singer-songwriters. All these pursuits are valued equally for the role they play in enriching the musical community within Concord-Carlisle ensembles.

Prior to joining Concord-Carlisle, Noce co-taught at the elementary and middle school level with Paul Halpainy for nearly a decade. They built a robust program that was more than just a feeder for the high school. “We wanted something that students could be proud of right there and then,” Noce says. “We set high standards, brought in clinicians, participated in concert festivals and even commissioned new works. The biggest investment was in the culture and community within and around our program, and it has paid dividends at the high school level.”

Now, Noce is reconnecting with those students who he remembers teaching how to put together their instruments. “Those 4th graders are now these incredible, passionate, driven, smart, funny and hard-working musicians filling the seats of my high school ensembles,” he says proudly.