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Music Education

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Drum Clinic with Paul Francis a Success

Recently, we hosted Grammy-winning drummer Paul Francis at a Jazz Drumming Workshop. Paul worked with MAGC drummers and students from around the community and taught them about jazz, drumming, and much more. Paul currently performs with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett and can be heard on their Grammy-winning album "Cheek to Cheek." We are very proud of all the students who participated and look forward to the next master class!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Alumni Profile: Angela Pitto

Recently I had the chance to catch up with former Music Academy student Angela Pitto. I spoke with Angela about what she has been doing since graduating high school. Angela tells how her music education has equipped her with the skills she needed to succeed in college and beyond – check it out!


What years were you enrolled at the Music Academy of Garden City?

I was enrolled at the Music Academy from 2007-2011. I took lessons there throughout my four years of high school.


What instruments did you study while a student at MAGC?

I mainly focused on voice, as I am primarily a singer, but I also studied piano, mandolin, guitar, and banjo!

What are you studying in college and which college are you attending?

I am currently a senior at Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Hunter. I will graduate this June, Magna Cum Laude, with a BA in Economics with Honors and a Certificate in Public Policy and Political Science. I’m in the top 10% of my class.


Since you are not a music major, what musical activities are you engaged in at school?

I am Co-Founder and President of Hawkappella, Hunter College’s first (and only award-winning) a cappella group! We rehearse twice a week for two hours, and perform regularly. Our most recent performance was at the Fall 2014 Public Policy Capstone Celebration of Scholarship –  where I presented my first thesis – and we performed at the Roosevelt House. We also have several performances coming up this semester, culminating in our final performance on May 14 at Six Flags Great Adventure! I also performed with The Houghtones when I studied abroad at the London School of Economics for my junior year – they are another a cappella group, and they are so great.

How has your background in music helped you to achieve at school?

Music and performing has always been a major part of my life. In high school, I was never able to participate in sports due to a medical condition, so I instead put my time and energy into music. Studying music taught me discipline, which has helped me so much throughout my undergraduate career. I remember in high school preparing for NYSSMA. In my junior year, the time I spent preparing for my adjudication was intense – it would determine if I was chosen for All State. I spent hours each week prepping, and the day of my adjudication was one of my best performances ever. I got a 100 on my Level 6 piece, Una Donna a Quindici Anni, an achievement not easily accomplished. I was selected for All State, and that was an incredible experience! The hard work really paid off in the end. That drive has always stayed with me, and it’s important to have in college. As a vocalist, performing music increased my confidence as well, as had made me a better public speaker. Giving presentations is something that I do often at school and at my current job, so I’m very grateful for that great skill.


Do you think the Music Academy helped to prepare you for a successful career? If so, how?

I definitely think MAGC helped me for my future. First, I had several great teachers who not only helped me strengthen my music skills, but also became a support system for me and my sister, Juliana. We have both benefitted so much from the Academy, and we really appreciate and love the staff – they are like our family! The recitals are great too because they offer all students a chance to show off their skill. Now that I am in college and perform more with a group than as a soloist, I can really appreciate how important performances are because they are a goal to work towards. Obviously learning a new skill is important and intrinsically rewarding, but the rush of performing on stage can’t be beat, and there’s something to be said for that as a motivating factor.


Any other thoughts you would like to share?

The reward you get from studying music is worth every minute of your time, and every dollar you invest. And it’s NEVER too late to start!

Thanks, Angela!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

MAGC Brass Instructor Aaron Langenauer

Aaron Langenauer is a certified NYS music teacher and holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, where he studied Music Education, Trumpet Performance, and Jazz Studies. A versatile brass player, Aaron is experienced in orchestral, wind band, solo, jazz, salsa, pop, and chamber music. Aaron is also a notable conductor, and has organized various chamber groups for well-acclaimed performances and additionally held the post of Music Director for the Clarkson University Orchestra. Aaron teaches trumpet at the Music Academy and teaches in the Plainview School District.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Please Welcome Phil Rowan, Double Bass

The Music Academy of Garden City is pleased to introduce our newest instructor, bassist Phil Rowan.

Brooklyn-based double bassist Phil Rowan received a B.A. in Jazz Studies at Purchase College and an M.M. in Classical Double Bass Performance at Stony Brook University. Phil’s current projects include indie-folk-jazz quartet Old Time Musketry and the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, three-time winner of the American Prize in Orchestral Performance. In addition to these projects Phil has performed and recorded with the David White Jazz Orchestra, the Alex Levin Trio, NYCity Slickers, the Kjersti Kveli Group, High Line Jazz Quartet, Mettawee River Theater Company, Astoria Symphony Orchestra, Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra, The Choral-Orchestral Ensemble of New York and Hunter Choir Orchestra. Phil teaches electric bass, double bass, and guitar at the Music Academy and has openings on Saturdays.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Letter to GC News

Below is a letter I wrote in response to an article in the Garden City News. The article spoke about the positive impact of music education, but failed to give any advice on picking a qualified teacher. In my opinion, not caring about the qualifications of your child's music teacher is akin to not caring about the qualifications of their school teachers. It just doesn't make sense, especially as more and more studies show the educational and developmental impact of music on our kids.


Positive impact of music

To the Editor:

Regarding the article "Students seeking private music lessons have options" that was featured in the "Back to School" section of last week's issue: As a music teacher I wholeheartedly agree with the author's assertion that music is a fundamental part of a well rounded education. I have seen firsthand the positive impact of a music education but would offer additional advice to parents seeking out music teachers for their children.

Researching the qualifications of potential music teachers is extremely important, especially since many privately run music schools have no mandatory requirements for their teachers or standardized curriculum. It is also important to make sure your child's private lesson will allow him to flourish if he should desire to become involved in an ensemble at school. For example, a student who is studying guicontinued tar privately would need to learn note reading, proper technique and jazz theory if she wanted to audition for jazz ensemble in middle or high school. Similarly, a student studying violin privately must learn proper technique, historical context, music theory and more in order to flourish in her school orchestra and be considered for audition only ensembles.

Garden City has a wonderful and challenging public school music program that offers many ensemble opportunities, so choosing a good teacher becomes even more crucial to ensuring your child's success. Another essential question for a potential private music teacher is whether he or she has experience with NYSSMA preparation. NYSSMA has complex rules that vary for instrument, level and genre, and NYSSMA scores are used to determine which students are selected for All- County and All-State ensembles.

Finally, as with all aspects of education, the best way to ensure your child succeeds in music is by being involved with the process. Get them started young with a qualified teacher, ask questions about their progress, and make sure their teacher is knowledgeable in the areas of notation, theory, technique and more, and holds a degree in music.

Dr. Peter Coco

Peter Coco is founder of the Music Academy of Garden City, an Assistant Professor of Music at Hofstra University, and a professional double bassist.

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