Staff Spotlight: Martha Siegel

Martha Siegel will be joining us at Camp Common Ground (CCG) this summer for two weeks, as she has done every year (but one) since our inaugural year in 1994. In fact, she’s a CCG founder! She teaches violin and cello to all ages, engaging kids and adults from age 3 to 93. Almost all her students, even if they’ve never played an instrument before, perform a piece in the chamber music concert at the end of the week. It truly is amazing and kids love to see their parents trying something new right along with them!

As with many of our instructors, Martha is an expert in her field and loves to share her passion with campers in the beauty of Vermont. When Carole was visiting Martha this winter, she saw her scurry from phone to computer then out the door with cello in hand. It got us thinking about how little we know about people’s non-camp lives. As you’ll see below, Martha is incredibly accomplished and we’re blessed to have her for a few weeks each summer. Martha is a Park Slope icon and we asked her to write a little something up for the blog to give all of you a glimpse into what the rest of her year looks like when she’s not at Camp. Martha will be joining us for two weeks this summer, starting with the week of August 6. To see our other class offerings for this summer, click here

From Martha….

At Carole's request, I'm going to give a sample of a day in the life of a Brooklyn cellist…I am Martha Siegel, always excited about teaching cello, violin, and chamber music at Camp Common Ground, as I have done since 1994. In Brooklyn, I do the same as at Camp except I'm in a city environment and I teach people on a weekly basis that stretches throughout the year instead of every day for a week.

Right now I'm in recital mode. I am preparing students for recitals at the UN International School, where I have taught cello since 1973, and at the Brooklyn Conservatory where I have taught since 2007. My private home studio ( is also preparing for what I call my “annual gathering.” It's less formal than a recital.  I encourage students to play a piece for a second time if I know they can do better. Occasionally someone chooses to, and they're always happy that they did. We do it at a church one block from my house. Everyone plays a few pieces (solos and duets), and then larger groups, culminating in multiple cello ensembles for kids and adults. Everyone brings refreshments, and we all have a great time. Besides teaching, I do quite a bit of performing. I'm in my local Park Slope symphony orchestra, the Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra (BCCO). We give 3-4 concerts a year. The final one is with the chorus. We're about to play the Brahms German Requiem, which is unbelievably beautiful.

I also lead a group called Brooklyn Brandenburgers, which gives one holiday concert per year at a lovely building called the Old Stone House, in Park Slope.

In addition to performing with those groups, I play chamber music constantly. I have a network of mostly string players who love to play as much as I do, and we are always house hopping and delighting in the sounds of mostly string quartets. I cannot tell you how much fun it is! We also do our share of laughing. Occasionally I have to pull together a group to play for a wedding or some such event.  

So that sums up what I do at home, here in Brooklyn, NY.  Can't wait to play music with all of you this summer. Don't forget your flute, clarinet, oboe, viola, or whatever you play. I'll find music to fit the ensemble!

- Martha Siegel