1. What is your background and what/where are you teaching now?
Throughout my music career, I have always taught private lessons. I have a degree in performance from SUNY Oswego. The year after I graduated, I was asked to teach as an adjunct professor for the Oswego jazz lab group. I started getting asked to do things like teach music groups at CNY Pace. I did that for 10 years until the pandemic started. I ran music groups at Elmcrest Music Center. Then I started teaching in Auburn at Spotlight Studios. I started just filling in and then they asked me to teach permanently, so I’ve been there since 2017. I have also been the music teacher at Most Holy Rosary for four years. So, I do a variety of music-based things.
2. You obviously love music. Is there an instrument that you enjoy teaching more than the others?
I’m a guitar player by nature. That is probably my favorite to teach, but I also like to teach piano. It’s a go-to instrument to learn because it is so accessible. Kids pick it up way quicker than guitar. It may seem complicated, but it isn’t. I always steer younger kids to piano. I see a lot of lights turned on with piano, and a lot of frustration with guitar. But I love to teach guitar to those who have been doing it for a while and show them my techniques.
3. Can you tell us more about what you do at Spotlight Studios?
We are a part of what’s called Mozaic, which used to be the Arc. Spotlight Studios is an arts-based center for adults with disabilities. The music department there is the biggest department. There are music classes, and we also have showcase nights, where performance groups perform a show once a month. They sing and dance in front of a live audience.
One of the things we did in one of my classes was make a Christmas album that we won a SAMMY for. We also just did an original music project where students wrote their own songs and entered them into The Danny Awards.
We’ve done a lot of cool and interesting things. We’re just trying to get it back to where we can perform in-person again. Right now, our performances are live streams on Facebook.
4. What are you most proud of from all of your different music education “roles?”
There are a couple things. One of the coolest things that I’ve done is making the Christmas album with my Spotlight students and getting the SAMMY. Also, my concerts at Most Holy are really cool. I try to take a different approach to them. For our spring concert, we did a tribute to The Beatles – from Pre-K to sixth grade, all Beatles songs.
Another thing that I’m proud of is when I worked with a boy, Sultan. He contacted when I started working with adults with disabilities. He has cerebral palsy and he wanted to learn the guitar. For a year and a half to two years, we started redesigning and I started building things to accommodate him to be able to play the guitar. It made him so happy to be able to play.
I love that I get to teach my kid, too. I get to be his music teacher at school and also for private lessons.
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