At Yale, percussionist from New Haven finds her rhythm as a role model
Recent Yale College graduate Jordan Lampo ’20 experienced a life-defining moment on a Yale stage before she was ever a student on campus.
As a rising senior at New Haven’s Wilbur Cross High School, she was called up to the stage of Yale’s Sprague Memorial Hall to receive the gift of an assortment of percussion instruments in recognition of her accomplishments and student leadership in the Music in Schools Initiative. The initiative, a partnership with New Haven Public Schools, brings to campus city students who are in their schools’ band, choir, or orchestra for private lessons, ensemble performances, master classes, and more. Lampo participated in the free program from her early elementary school years through high school.
“Yale faculty and staff members, and New Haven public school teachers were on the stage when I went up to accept the award, and it just made me feel a such a sense of empowerment and belonging,” said Lampo, who grew up in a housing project in the Fair Haven neighborhood of New Haven. “That was the first moment when I realized that Yale was something attainable for me.”
Later, as a Yale student and teaching artist for the Music in Schools Initiative standing on that same stage, she looked out upon the eager faces of young New Haven musicians-in-training and thought about how she wanted to provide them the same support and encouragement she had received as a young musician.
“I wanted the students to know I was sharing a craft, and challenging and encouraging them in their music,” said Lampo, a percussionist and choral singer. “But I also wanted them to know that I was someone they could talk to about anything, who could be there for them in any way they needed me to be.”
The Music in Schools Initiative is designed to complement city schools’ musical instruction and support participants’ personal development. A team of School of Music students, Yale undergraduates, and public school teachers provides individual lessons, master classes, and small- and large-ensemble experiences during the school year and in the four-week Morse Summer Music Academy. The program serves about 650 young students annually.
Lampo, the first in her family to attend college, spent about a decade in the Music in Schools Initiative, first as a pupil and member of the program’s All-City Honors Band, and later as a teaching artist throughout her undergraduate years. She is one of just a small number of undergraduates to have served on the team of more than 110 professionals, including School of Music students, working in the program.
“I learned so much,” Lampo said. “My one-on-one lessons and All-City Honors really helped me understand myself as a musician. The program encourages you to go out of your comfort zone and try to learn different instruments.” A bass drummer when she began, she also learned to play snare drums, timpani, the tambourine, and other percussion instruments.
A New Haven Promise Scholar and graduate of the Educational Center for the Arts’ vocal performance program, Lampo decided to pursue her love for singing at Yale. She was a member of the women’s a cappella group Something Extra for her first three years and later joined the all-senior a cappella group Whim ’n Rhythm. An English and history major, she balanced her musical extracurriculars and academic work with various campus jobs, and interned for U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro during the past two academic years.
She especially enjoyed arranging music for voices for her choral groups, and served in a variety of roles for them, including as music director of Something Extra, and domestic and international tour manager and social media liaison for Whim ‘n Rhythm. She was a co-chair of the Singing Group Council, which works to ensure the safety of the “rush” (or audition) process for Yale’s a cappella groups.
“I went into everything I did on campus with the idea of not leaving a space as I found it,” Lampo said. “Every year the people who make up singing groups change, so every year the groups should be changing along with them.”
In her role as a teaching artist for Music in Schools, Lampo was proud to point out to her mentees that she was a New Haven native, and to remind them that they, too, could aspire to attend college, including Yale, she said.
“Jordan is the perfect role model and an inspiration for hundreds of students in New Haven,” said Rubén Rodriguez Ferreira MUS ’11, director of the Music in Schools Initiative. “She is joyful, compassionate friendly, reliable, patient, and persevering. She has faced many challenges in life and has overcome them.”
This summer, Lampo was to have been on an international tour with Whim ’n Rhythm, but the trip was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. She is looking forward to attending Boston College Law School in the fall, with the goal of practicing public interest law.
“Everything I have achieved in life is because of the people around me,” she said, counting Rodriguez Ferreira as one of her most influential role models. “The Music in Schools program has been a huge part of my journey.”