Courage, Creativity, and Authenticity:
Transforming Education for Musicians

We help teachers and learners of all ages embrace music as a living language and develop their creative voice with courage and authenticity. Our approach to music education is full of life. It is playful and active, integrated and embodied.

Announcing the Winner of the 2023 Avivo Prize, David Pegel

David Pegel is in his second year teaching composition and music technology at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. Previously, he worked as a lecturer at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, where he received his Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA). Working closely with Avivo Teaching Artist, Dr. Shawn Crouch, David was one of the development leaders for Frost’s Experiential Music Curriculum, a theory, skills and composition/improvisation sequence, which focuses on bringing a deeper understanding of music through creativity. He is a contributing author to the Frost School of Music Experiential Musicianship digital textbook, a creativity-based approach to music learning, which is currently in production.

David is passionate about making music education more accessible in today’s rapidly shifting environment and plays a vital role in his music department’s diverse and forward-thinking program. “It’s clear we’re in a time that the way students learn and approach music is radically changing,” Pegel says. “And I want to be part of that change.” In addition to his teaching, David is working on a new music theory textbook.

Pegel also composes, arranges, and performs as a vocalist and a multi-instrumentalist. His social media channel, PlagalBytes, currently features multitrack recordings of arrangements he’s made with colleagues. David plans to use The Avivo Prize money to travel to conferences and performances this coming year, and to produce parts and a score for the premiere of a new work for wind ensemble.

Upon receiving The Avivo Prize, David responded, “Oftentimes working in academia and arts education can feel like a thankless job, especially when what you’re advocating for is in any way different from what people are used to. Receiving this prize has helped me realize that this hard work hasn’t gone unappreciated, and it has reinvigorated me while working on several of my current projects.” (website) (social media)

“David is a phenomenal multi-instrumentalist, musician, composer and educator. During his time on the Frost School of Music faculty David served on the Experiential Musicianship Curriculum (EMC) leadership team, wrote much of the EMC improvisation and keyboard harmony curriculum, and helped younger teachers through the EMC Teacher Training program. He is a wonderful teacher and an inspiration to many of his students.”
Dr. Shawn Crouch


"Dr. Pegel’s intense love of creativity and expression brought me to believe I was in good hands in terms of education and the growth of my love for music. Thank you Dr. Pegel, for being an inspiration, an amazing educator, an incredible performer and composer, and an undeniably kind and loving human being when I and so many others needed it most."
Former Student

An Interview with 2022 Avivo Prize Winner Erin Pearson

Erin Pearson, winner of The Avivo Prize 2022, recently released a new album of songs which she composed, performed and recorded. This interview on November 7, 2023 dives into her inspirations, challenges and the audience response to “FIRE”.

Read the interview of Erin Pearson by Pamela Quist

Listen to "FIRE" by Erin Pearson on:

Honoring Dr. Pamela Layman Quist — 50 Years of Musicianship

The world of music education has many luminaries, but few shine as brightly as Pamela Layman Quist. Her influence can be traced back to her days as an undergraduate student under the guidance of the visionary Grace Newsom Cushman. As a Peabody Institute faculty member, Mrs. Cushman founded the Junior Conservatory Camp, which taught the language of music through improvisation and composition. Grace saw the potential in two of her students, Pamela Layman Quist and David Hogan. She invited them to join the faculty of the Junior Conservatory Camp and expressed her faith to her colleague Lynn Taylor Hebden that they should carry forward her pioneering work.

True to Mrs. Cushman's vision, after her passing in 1972, a new era began. Pam, along with David Hogan (Hoagie) and Lynn Hebden (Mrs. H.), birthed The Walden School to perpetuate the spirit and teachings of the Junior Conservatory Camp. With its foundation rooted in the Cushman Musicianship Course, Walden School became a sanctuary for budding musicians. Through her 40 year tenure, Walden thrived, becoming internationally recognized as a training ground for holistic musicians capable of effecting positive change in the world around them.

As the sole living founder of Walden, Pamela Quist continues to carry forward the legacy of Grace Cushman through the work of Avivo, a consortium of Teaching Artists, dedicated to preserving and advancing Grace Cushman's foundational concepts of integrated creative learning. The Avivo team, several of whom were a part of the founding generation of The Walden School, share a commitment to inspire learners to embrace music as a living language and nurture their authentic creative voices.

As we reflect on the life of Pam, it becomes unmistakably clear: she is more than an educator; she is a prolific and inspirational mentor. Through her unwavering commitment, she has nurtured countless young artists, empowering them to create and express themselves with authenticity. Her story is a powerful model of dedication to and passion for transformative education.

Today we celebrate a woman, who stepped into leadership at the age of 23, and has continued to give the world an immeasurable gift of musical enlightenment. Here's to Pamela Layman Quist, the heartbeat of a musical legacy that will undoubtedly inspire many more generations to come.