Notable Neighbors: Reese Puchalski & Gretchen Hary

At Neighborhood Music School, we pride ourselves on supporting both our students and our faculty in their artistic growth.

Meet student Reese Puchalski and faculty member Gretchen Hary, who both believe strongly that the connections they have made with others at NMS have inspired them—and enabled them—to grow.

NMS has been a key source of inspiration for flute student Reese Puchalski.

“I like that there are so many talented musicians and great people to work with and learn from,” said Reese.

“From fellow students to teachers and staff, there is always something to be learned from the musicians around me and a new way to be challenged and grow.”

Reese, a senior at Guilford High School, first came to NMS six years ago.

“I was first introduced to NMS over the summer in middle school, which opened my eyes to a higher level of playing than I had experienced to that point, and it made me really fall in love with playing. That one week in the summer really inspired me to pursue high-level playing and performing over the years.”

Reese studies flute at NMS with Elaine Thoma. Elaine happily reflected on the years she and Reese have worked together.

“Teaching Reese has been so full of inspiration and joy for me! To watch him advance as a musician in many ensembles at Guilford High School, successfully audition for CMEA Southern Region Festivals each year, participate in several NMS recitals including the 2020 Spring Honors Recital, and be selected to play at the 2020 NMS Awards Ceremony. He is always prepared, loves to be challenged, is enthusiastic, and makes me laugh at how busy he is! Oh, and did I mention that he is a wonderful human being?”

Reese performing the first movement of Poulenc’s Sonata for Flute and Piano with accompanist Alexis Zingale

As accomplished as Reese is on the flute, he is an equally accomplished athlete. He was a captain of his high school’s cross country team during the fall 2020 season, and he was recently named the “Sports Person of the Week” by Zip06.

“I like to run (cross country and track), as well as bike, swim, lift weights—any kind of exercise I can do, really!”

In both his running and his music-making, Reese believes in the importance of connecting with the world around him

“Beyond simply hard work and perseverance, NMS has taught me to be connected to the moment and present in what I am doing at the time,” noted Reese.

“In music, it is important to find your own interpretation of every piece you play and find a way to connect to the composer in order to make notes on a page come alive in music. The same principle of mindfulness and connectedness applies to life, especially during an age of technology where it is so easy to become distracted and superficial, not really appreciating the emotion of the world around you.”

May we all connect with our art and with the world as Reese has.

Drumset and orchestral percussion faculty member Gretchen Hary has found NMS to be a collaborative, supportive home for the past 15 years. Both Gretchen and her students have benefited from the opportunities to connect with so many other teachers and students.

“I teach at NMS because it’s a community arts school,” said Gretchen.

In this video, Gretchen introduces herself and explains her approach to teaching:

Here, Gretchen teaches us how to play “the perfect roll” on the marimba: