Lansing at Large: Lansing Music Teachers Ally in MEDLnY


The usual arrangement for a recital involves the students performing for the teachers, but four Lansing music teachers turned the tables Feb. 2 to introduce their new professional group MEDLnY at the Congregational Church in Cayuga Heights.

With Rachel Hidlay on piano, Bob Keefe on guitar, Julia Phillips on flute and piano, and Susan Van Sickle on piano, the Music Educators of Lansing NY (pronounced “medley”) performed pieces ranging from Debussy to Sousa for an audience of 75 students, parents, and interested parties.

“We are glad that we don’t recognize everybody here,” Hidlay said in introducing the performance. “We know that people are confused about what they are going to see here. What is MEDLnY? A band?”

The group set out to support music education in Lansing by creating a community of learning and performance events.

Hidlay explained that the alliance was founded from her experiences with The Community School of Music and Arts in Ithaca.

“Our goal is to create a school atmosphere without a common building,” she said. “Groups can be created online.”

And so MEDLnY will have a Facebook page where the students’ hard work will be celebrated with a “featured student” story, a private YouTube channel where recordings of performances will be posted, a teacher blog with tips for practice, and annual recitals (in-person, of course). The first recital is scheduled for mid-May and will be followed by an ice cream social.

Hidlay said that a music festival was also in the group’s plans.

Van Sickle led off with “Sarabande,” a slow dance from Debussy and Keefe followed with “Moonlight in Vermont” from Suessdorf and Blackburn. A three-part sonata from Poulenc was next, with Phillips on flute and Hidlay on piano, and then Hidlay and Van Sickle played a series of stylized piano exercises known as “Hanon Goes Haywire.”

Phillips and Keefe played a special arrangement of “Gymnopedies,” played one half step down to allow Phillips to use her wooden Baroque flute. An “impromptu” from Shubert with Hidlay was next. The group wrapped their performance with Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

“Something that we can all play together,” said Phillips.

At the reception afterward, Keefe said that the group had been talking about the project for five years.

“It was only in the last that it came to fruition. We had to wait until all of our schedules came together.”

Hidlay has been playing piano since she was 6. At 16 years old, she was hired as an instructor at Bloomsburg University and opened her own home studio. She has a Bachelor’s degree in piano performance and credits in music education from Liberty University and a masters in piano performance from Ithaca College. She has about 40 students attending her home studio, is an accompanist for the Lansing Schools, and for the Ithaca Community Choruses.
Keefe holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University of North Texas and has more than 50 works to his credit, including three for orchestra, two rock musicals, and a string quartet. He has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. Today, Keefe continues his 40 years of performance work with the “Backtalk Band” and “Bob Keefe and the Surf Renegades” and teaches at McNeil Music, Cornell University, and Tompkins Cortland Community College.

Phillips learned piano from her mother. She took up the clarinet at 10 but switched to flute on the recommendation of her orthodontist. After earning a Bachelor’s in chemistry, she changed course to attend the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she received her Master of Music degree in flute performance. She now teaches private lessons in flute and beginning piano in her home studio; is the director of music, pianist, and organist at two area Catholic churches; and performs with and is board president of the Ithaca Community Orchestra.

Van Sickle has been teaching music for more than 30 years. She began with a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Pedagogy and has taught general music in both public and private schools. For 20 years, she taught, directed, and opened her own Music Together Center where she led classes for families with children from birth through kindergarten, and has accompanied the Lansing Elementary, Middle, and High School choirs.

“We are here to celebrate and encourage music,” Van Sickle said. “And make it fun for everyone.”

In Brief

Pancake Breakfast
The Lansing Lions will be hosting their annual Pancake Breakfast March 10 from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Lansing Community Center, 29 Auburn Rd., Lansing, NY 14882.

Breakfast includes pancakes with real maple syrup, sausage, scrambled eggs, home fries, juice, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Adults $7, children 6 to 12 $5, and children under 6 are free. All proceeds benefit community projects and the scholarship fund for graduating seniors at Lansing High School.

Groton/Lansing Seniors Plan Trip to Norfolk
Join Groton/Lansing Seniors on a trip to ‘The Parade of Nations & Virginia International Tattoo’ April 25 to 28 (four days, three nights).
‘Tattoo’ derives from the cries of the 17th & 18th century Low Country innkeepers in Scotland as the fifes and drums of the local regiment signaled a return to quarters.

Trip includes: Spirit of Norfolk Dinner Cruise, Virginia International Tattoo Show, 66th Annual Parade of Nations, NATO Fest Activities, Norfolk Naval Base Tour, MacArthur Memorial, Chrysler Museum of Art, and evening entertainment. Cost is $529 double occupancy. Call Sue Ford for more information at (607) 657-8285.

Food Pantry
The Lansing Food Pantry will be open Feb. 25 from 1 to 3 p.m. at The Rink, 1767 East Shore Drive. For more information, please contact Toni Adams at (607) 379-7245 or at

Lansing Library
The library will be closed Monday, Feb. 18 in observance of President’s Day.


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