All posts by Dr. Joan Hillsman

Dr. Joan Hillsman

A Tribute and Recognition of “Greatness” of Floyd Little, NFL Hall of Famer

The world pauses in respect for the late, NFL Hall of Famer, Floyd Little. This great historical giant departed his life on January 1, 2021 at age 78. His accolades are so numerous and meaningful. As we mourn the loss and testimonies of his career, from start to finish, it exemplifies “Greatness” in service, humility, and dedication with a smile. Research defines the word “greatness” in several positive ways. One reference state that greatness is a quality that radiates from the inside out. It is who you are, honoring your values, living a life of purpose, and stepping into your true and meaningful destiny. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reflects on greatness ideas, and his Biblical premise that every man can serve. One could mirror these concepts in the life of Floyd Little. His untiring service and fortitude mirrored hard work, honor and respect.

Upon relocating to Syracuse, mentoring and participating in small group sessions in libraries, presenting Essay Contests and After- School- Programs (“Say Yes to Education), and other community programs for all ages, several of us walked to see some prominent sites of Syracuse. On one occasion we had the opportunity to visit the bronze statues honoring Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, and Floyd Little, behind the Carrier Dome of Syracuse Athletic Department. This was an exciting moment of instilling pride. I am glad to have had the opportunity to meet the great legend, Floyd Little. We extend our love and prayers to the family.

Today as we continue to reflect in this article on the life and contributions to the world by the great Floyd Little. I think that this acrostic will summarize a few of the attributes that we may carry out his legacy.


  • F-A face of smiles and “Full of Life”
  • L-Loved to help others, as he exemplified, his faith in life.
  • O-“One-of-a-kind”, never lost the common touch, an humble encourager!
  • Y- Yearning and sincerity for doing good in life and helping others achieve.
  • D- Devoted to serving on and off the field of life.

That spells “FLOYD” (His first name). The last name is a summary of some of his traits.

* L-I-T-T-L-ELittle, He had the right name for he took the little and made it great. His ordinary became superior, leading and sharing with others the gift of humbleness and the willing to pass it on. One songwriter said, “Little becomes much when you yield it to the Master’s touch. You passed the “finish line”. Job well done! Rest in Peace!



Reflections: Howard University Classmates Join the Masses as we mourn the loss of Jessye Norman, Grammy-Winning Opera Singer

Jessye Norman, American Opera Singer was born in Augusta, Georgia and died in New York, Sunday, September 29, 2019 at the age of 74.

She was a heralded soprano opera singer who won four Grammy Awards and the National Medal of Arts, along with so many other outstanding accolades.  She grew up in a musical family. Her mother and grandmother were pianists, her father was a singer.

Norman grew up singing in the church. She was awarded a scholarship to Howard University in Washington, D.C. “I had the pleasure of being her room mate in the dorm. She was freshman and I was a senior mentor in Tubman Quadrangle on campus at HU”. Many of our classmates enjoyed and cherished her success as an opera Diva.

As she made her claim to fame and returned to the area for performances, she would always invite some of us to chat and visit with her during her performance breaks.

Upon hearing the news, classmates began calling and sharing memories of Ms. Norman. Some of us listened together to recordings and videos on YouTube with teary eyes as we reflected our time with her. There is so much to say about Norman.

After graduating from Howard where studied voice, she went to Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland and to the University of Michigan. She made her operatic debut as Elisabeth in Richard Wagner’s Tannhauser in 1969 in Berlin and went on to other prominent roles and the Metropolitan Opera.

We invited you to read the full story of this artist, share the legacy and keep it alive by sharing her contributions throughout generations.

“Sing with the Angels”

The 2019 Annual Joan Hillsman’s Music Network, Inc. Scholarship\ Fundraiser

Community Supporters! We need your Help! Please Support & Attend!

Dr. Joan Hillsman and JHMN Music Network has supported the Syracuse Community and beyond by providing talent exposure, mentoring, music lessons, serving churches, individuals, and networking with other community organizations of all ages.

This year marks the 9th year of her relocation to Syracuse. During this time she has received numerous accolades and prestigious awards for service and performance. (See: or google). We solicit your support by planning to attend, reserving your tickets, which are now available, or make a contribution to JHMN, Music Network. Your listing will be printed in the program.

Annual Benefit Scholarship Breakfast

(“All You Can Eat,” Music, Entertainment.  Prizes/Awards, Silent Auction & More)

Saturday, September 7, 2019
Syracuse Crowne Plaza Hotel

701 E. Genesee St., Syracuse, NY – Free Parking!
8:30 AM- 11:30AM

                                                     Cost $35. Adults, Children- $20. (12 yrs.+)   

Reserve your ticket now by contacting Dr. Joan Hillsman at 315-373-0805, 315-299-4928 or Email your “Intent” to If you cannot attend, we welcome your contribution by making a tax deductible offering of any amount.

Recognition will be in the program.

Checks may be made payable to JHMN Music, P.O. Box 83, Syracuse, NY 13205. 

June is National Black Music Month: Music Plays and Important Role in the Lives of Individuals!

June is National Black Music Month- Celebrate the Legacy

Summer Enrichment Programs! Enhance your lives with music.  Research and studies have proven that there are many rewarding benefits that may be gained from music.  First of all, music and arts programs are connected with other disciplines such as science, math, social studies, technology, reading, brain-power, life-long learning, engineering, physics, health and wellness, and the list goes on.  Try it- you will see.

Music is important to children and early childhood as they develop brain-power, social skills, and connection to other subjects. The studies trace music as one of the powerful tools for learning.  Music throughout life can enhance living through music therapy, self awareness, creativity, career development and wholesome living.  Imagine what life would be like without music.  It is more than a song or dance! It’s a way of life.

With summer just around the corner, why not include music experiences. There are many advantages out there.  Learn to play an instrument, sing your way through stress filled moments, meditate on songs, listen, dance and move to the beat, relax, get actively involved with music in the community and use those creative genes.

Joan Hillsman’s Music Network, Inc. (JHMN) will hold sessions/classes and community activities throughout the summer and beyond.  Enroll, inquire and get involved. Dr. Joan Hillsman is a certified music educator with decades of professional administration, and has received prominent recognition consultant awards across the country. Her community accolades in the Syracuse area includes at least ten (10) prominent awards since relocating to our area.

Enroll and inquire about Summer Enrichment 2019 activities. The  organization networks across the city, providing training, and music performance techniques for all ages. Summer sessions are forming. Space is limited. Sessions in piano, vocal, gospel techniques, developing leadership techniques sessions are available beginning June 13, 2019. Enrollment information via Email –

Special Event! Fundraiser! Please support the JHMN Annual Scholarship Breakfast, Saturday, June 15, 2019 at Crowne Plaza Hotel, 701 E. Genesee Street, 8:30Am- 11:30 AM. All You Can Eat Buffet, Free Parking – Tickets Available. Contact Dr. Hillsman at 315-373-0805, or email for reservations. Thank you for your support.

Editors Note: There are a variety of programs available for the summer. Check this site and others with announcements about summer activities. CFAC are among several organizations that have camps for a variety of art, crafts and/or music.

The 9th Annual Spring Concert at Hendricks Chapel

Joan Hillsman’s Music Network, Inc. and Syracuse Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, presents the 9th Annual Spring Concert.

The program will consist of local community talent performing spiritual and Gospel music, dance, poetry, spoken word, diversity & Multicultural expression of praise and much more!

The 9th Annual Spring Concert 

Friday, April 12, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Hendricks Chapel

Hendricks Chapel, Syracuse University

 No Admission/ Free Will Offering
Parking available and Handicap Accessible

All participants are welcome!
For more information or if you’re interested in participating, please contact
Dr. Joan Hillsman, Director & CEO
(315) 373-0805 or


Winter Fair Event Inside the Expo “Sunday Gospel Explosion”

The New York State Fair presented an exciting indoor Winter Fair inside the Expo Center, February 8-12, 2019.  This event featured a unique presentation of local talent, vendors, rides, food, exhibits galore, dancers, youth, poetry, drumming, dancers, spoken word, A Sunday Gospel Explosion, and more. This event allowed the community to come together and share networking experiences. It was reported to have over 25,000 people who came out to experience all the fun of the Fair inside the Expo at the Van Robinson Pan African Village, as well as Black History Month recognitions of all cultures and ages. It included elements of the New York State Fair.

“It was a pleasure having been asked by the NAACP to coordinate the “Sunday Gospel Explosion”. There were several adjustments made in the programming at the fair, and we able to accommodate a line up on Sunday, Feb.10th, from 2 o’clock pm-8pm, with back-to-back performances of approximately fifteen (15) or more “Gospel Explosive Participants”.  “Opportunities such as these on a national platform expose the talents of participants on another level”

Thanks again to the NAACP, President, Linda Van Robinson, Gwen Muok, Vice President  and committee  for allowing me and the Joan Hillsman’s Music Network, Inc. (JHMN) to coordinate, this, a First Indoor Mini-version of the State Fair. It was stated that the event was all the fun of the fair “Inside the Expo Center)”

Dr. Joan Hillsman, Music Educator, author and national Board Member of the Gospel Music Workshop of America (, with over 141 Chapters (six of which are international. Syracuse is seeking membership to expand its local chapter (Contact:


“The Gift of Music” A Time For Giving, Last Minute Gifts!

Christmas is just around the corner, and perhaps you forgot some last minute gifts…Consider a lasting gift, The Gift of Music!

Music would be just the perfect gift for youth and adults, for it can be a rewarding and life-time remembrance and treasure.  Music plays an important part in the lives of all cultures and ages.  Young children and beyond gain many skills through developing brain-power and cognitive activities.

Research among youth and adults testify to the fact that it increases team-work and social skills. Music is academic for it is math, science, history, and other academic, interdisciplinary subjects.  Many can also attest to the fact that it is important to gain these life-long learning skills.

The benefits are rewarding, such as being a part of music vocal and instrumental groups, choirs, community activities, and for motivation, leisure, and building self-esteem.

Invest in music! It can pay great dividends!  Call now to reserve a Music Lesson Give Certificate for selected classes in music.  Classes are available (private and group), by contacting Dr. Joan Hillsman for information on piano/lessons, music mentoring, Gospel techniques, vocal coaching, and referrals.  Contact: Joan Hillsman’s Music Network (JHMN) at 315-373-0805.

Important Dates and Celebrations: Coming Soon!

Create Some Important Events for the Community! Develop Community Pride!

  • Kwanzaa Celebrations – Kwanzaa begins on December
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrations
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. – “A Day On, Not A Day Off” activities, Contact Dr. Joan Hillsman for updated listings in Washington, D. C., January 21, 2019, with Annual Celebration at New Southern Rock Baptist Church, 750 Buchanan St. N.W., Rev. Rudolph White, Pastor, Committee: Ermyn Roberts, Walter Young, and Dr. Joan Hillsman (Syracuse, NY), her 38th Year in this historical celebration, started before day became a National Holiday. She received a piece of the Dr. King Sculpture from the Dr. MLK Monument of the mall, trimmings given to her by the mason/sculptor,
  • Inter-Faith Works – Free to the public! Hosted at Southern Missionary Baptist Church, (Rev. Shawn Robeson, Host Pastor) 1343 Midland Ave., Syracuse, NY, Free Parking, Free Admission, Handicap Access, Reception to follow Monday February 4, 2019,  February 4, 2019, time: 6:30-8:00 PM.  This program was established by the United Nations Assembly. It seeks to affirm that mutual understanding and interfaith dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace. This 9th Annual event is sponsored by Interfaith Works of Central New York and Women Transcending Boundaries.  The Theme is “We Are Family.” There will be Dialogue and groups performing. Dr. Joan Hillsman will engage the audience in sing-along. Mark Your Calendar!
  • Black History Month Celebration at Beachamp Library, Syracuse, NY with celebrations: Music, Poetry, and much more. Participants are welcomed. For More Information, Contact Dr. Joan Hillsman at 315-373-0805. For Further Information, also call Beachamp Library.
  • Wanted Singers and Musicians to join “Syracuse Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America. Email: or call 315-299-4928.
  • Save these dates and plan to attend:

The National Board Board Meeting of the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA), performance, Collegiate Night Performances, and planning sessions for the up-coming National Convention  will take place in Los Angeles, Calif. March 18-21, 2019. The National GMWA 51st National Convention will be held in Washington, D. C. July 27-August 2, 2019. Participants Welcomed.

Contact Dr. Hillsman (  More information to come! Visit the website: www.gmwanational,net.


Is Your Year a Trick or Treat: It’s no Joke-It’s scary!

Many people celebrate Halloween in various ways. Some families and organizations engage the children (adults enjoying it as well) in many positive activities. Many of these include going “trick or treating”, meeting other families, developing social skills, in-door parties, instilling safety values, sharing cards and candy, a night out or sleep-overs, and numerous “fun” activities with costumes, role-models, music, arts and crafts, and so much more. There are so many activities for reflection at this time.

Why do I say, “It’s no joke/Its scary! Let us transition our thoughts and reasoning.

The month of October has passed; it is now November, December soon to come…..then “A New Year”. Scary and jittery thoughts came to my mind (you might share the same feeling).

Oops! I have not fulfilled the last year’s resolutions by vowing to do certain things. As the next year comes in a couple of months, I will be checking my list and checking it twice to see what “I forgot to do”.  That’s scary! But wait!  I can redeem my guilt by using the next couple of months to get busy. Then, when 2019 rolls around, I can say what i achieved.  Don’t be scared! The trick is that we often get busy and side-tracked, and simply forget.  Help! What can I do?

Things to do before 2019 (you only have a couple of months)

  • First, reflect and evaluate what you resolved last year (Do a check list)
  • Do an Express List during the time that you have left in 2018 hints:Read books, try something new, do a community service, create and share with others, show love to friends and adults, and reflect on positive things.
  • Do not Fear! Release the Stress! Make up for that which was left un-done
  • Move Forward! Don’t be distracted! Don’ let your mind trick you! Let it Treat you!
  • Make a Proposed-New Year Resolution (Add those things that you will be able to accomplish.

Here comes 2019 and Beyond!

Now! I haven’t been “Tricked”, and I discovered within myself that it was “treat”, and that I have time to pick up where I left off. November is Thanksgiving-Be thankful! Christmas is coming soon! Santa will check his list twice.

Thought! When life serves you lemons..make lemonade! The Trick was a Treat!


Brain Power: A Music Booster for Children

The Syracuse Community Folk Art Center (CFA), was the place to be, as children from Pre-school to grades three years old gathered.  They participated in an exciting event regarding music as an important vehicle for developing the brain. The event was held on Saturday, October 6, 2018, from 2 o’clock Pm to 3Pm.

The coordinators were Cincereru Read and Lakita Dawkins, Jack and Jill of Syracuse. They work hard in promoting the ideals and mission of the organization. Hats off to them, for the great work planning. Research and studies have proven that music is important in the lives of children at an early age, as well as throughout adult years.

Therefore, engagement and participation in music, whether instrumental, vocal and related arts can contribute immensely to the quality of life.  Music is therapy, academic and is relative to growth. “The Brain loves music”, states many educators in the field.  The process involves many tasks such as social skills development, expansion of memory, working roles and other functions.  It is suggested that we include music as a part of the child’s experiences.  It is suggested that music should be included as an important focus at an early age.

There are various stages of development which can be monitored through positive music experiences. Music in the schools and community should not exclude the arts, and other pertinent subjects from its curriculum, this is my assessment as a retired Supervising Director of Music for the Washington, D. C. Public Schools, and Professor of Music at Bowie State University.  In writing curriculum, it was my focus to be inclusive of the interdisciplinary approach to learning at all levels. Therefore, students and teachers could connect the subject to all disciplines such as math, social students, science, physics, and other related arts by not teaching in isolation.

The Jack and Jill of Syracuse, New York presented a Kinder-music approach to developmental facts supporting the importance of music at various stages of early

childhood. The students participated in many activities in rhythm, movement, singing and playing rhythm instruments.  The room was filled with excitement.  They moved, created rattles, shakers, engaged in activities that developed cognitive and motor skills.

Parents and adults participated by engaging in partner skills as they carried out the activities  Important facts were unfolded, as we could witness the children sharing instruments, engaging with each other socially, swaying and moving to multicultural types of music.

Refer to other related topics on “Brain Study”.  Invest in music:  It’s worth it!

For more information on the topic email Dr. Joan Hillsman at

Special thanks are extended to Jack and Jill for the hard work and quality preparation for such a valuable experience.  Bravo!

Syracuse City-Wide Music Ministry Workshop “Encouraged by Many Participants”

People gathered from across the city of Syracuse, New York and beyond to attend the “City-Wide Music Ministry Workshop” that was held at Bethany Baptist Church, where Rev. Phil Turner is pastor.  The Joan Hillsman’s Music Network, Inc. (JHMN, Inc.), collaborated with Bethany and was open to volunteers, supporters, and all who wanted to gain information to share with their existing organizations.

Presenters shared their experiences and knowledge on many subjects that could apply, not only to music ministry, but to all walks of life. Many may have embedded in their mind that the information would be only pertinent to those who are active in music in worship.  It was much more.

The aspects gained from music itself may be applied to everyday life skills in the workplace, organizations, and the church.  It is often stated that “music is a universal language.” This has been proven to be true in many instances. It can attract people of all cultures, ages and boundaries”, states Dr. Hillsman, music educator and historian.  Music is: math, science, social studies, technology, physics, and the list goes on.

This was the third presentation of this kind sponsored by JHMN and Syracuse representatives. The purpose was to gather information that would produce effective results in the community, therefore, motivating them to strengthen positive values through the arts, exposure, and connecting with resource persons.

Topics and presenters shared a great deal of information that can be taken back to their communities.

They included subject matter on the following and more, such as

  • The Importance of Music in Worship
  • The Singing Voice/ The Instruments
  • Use of technology/microphones (Sound Ministries)
  • Importance of Communication and Conversation
  • Developing Positive Leadership Skills
  • Music for Youth and adults
  • Choir Decorum
  • Music In the Scriptures
  • Guides for establishing an effective music department
  • Unity, Team Work, and Group Effectiveness
  • Conflict Management
  • Knowing your purpose and assignment
  • Seek Guidance from God
  • Love and R-E-S-P-E-C-T for all
  • Diversity/Sign Language/Inclusion

The testimonials of the workshop and its effectiveness were highly applauded.  The evaluations also gave suggestions for future sessions.  Rev. H. Bernard Alex, Victory Temple was one of the Keynote clinicians, which was his second appearance for the City-Wide Workshop. Other renowned presenters included, Host Pastor Phil Turner, Bethany Church and committees, Facilitator, Ruby Linzy, Brian Moore, Robert Short (MM), Andrew Young, New Generation Group from Africa, Combined Youth Groups, Syracuse Chapter Gospel Music Workshop of America (SGMWA) and many other organizations, musicians, individuals and friends.