BM - SUNY at Fredonia; MM - Eastman School of Music; Ed.D. - University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign
My first inspiration was Mrs. Eleanor Torrey, K-6 General Music/Choral Director, Perry Central Schools in upstate New York. Mrs. Torrey was an extraordinary person and teacher and the foundation for my love for music was cemented by her great work. Subsequently, my high school band director, Donald Hughes, and high school choral director, Robert Good, provided the experiences, energy, and inspiration that created my decision to go to music school and to become a music educator. By the time I graduated from high school, my school music experiences, my experiences as a ‘gigging’ drummer, and my drum corps marching opportunities ‘sealed the deal’ for my career interest. I have never regretted this decision and, honestly and in many ways, as.a music teacher, I feel like I have never really ‘worked’ a day in my life as a musician and conductor/teacher.
Currently, I am the Director of Bands and Orchestra at Youngstown State University Dana School of Music! This is the beginning of my 28th year in this position. At YSU, I conduct the Wind Ensemble, the Symphony Orchestra, and am in charge of the graduate conducting program. I have also served as the Edward J. Zacharias Memorial Chair/Conductor of the Youngstown Symphony Youth Orchestra (YSYO) for 27+ years, and I will soon begin my 11th season as the Principal Conductor of the W.D. Packard Concert Band, a professional ensemble in Warren, Ohio.
I started my teaching career as the percussion arranger/composer/instructor for two junior drum corps in upstate New York: The American Patrol in Batavia, New York and the Cadets of Greece in Rochester, New York. I also had similar positions with several high school competitive marching bands during this time in upstate New York. When I completed my BM at SUNY Fredonia, I was appointed as the Jr./Sr. High School Band Director in Warsaw, New York. After two years in this position, I began my masters degree residency at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Subsequently, I was hired as the Director of Bands at Auburn High School in central New York. This was a large and comprehensive high school band program with marching band, wind ensemble & concert band, jazz ensembles 1 & 2, and jazz combos. There were 17 music teachers in the system and the marching, concert, and jazz bands all competed at state- and national-level competitions with great success. Following 9 years at Auburn, I began my doctoral residence with James Keene and Gary Smith at the University of Illinois: Champaign-Urbana where I continued to study wind and orchestral conducting and percussion. After one year and two summers of doctoral course work, I was appointed as the Director of Bands at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. During these 3 years, I was able to complete my doctoral degree. After the 3rd year in this position, I interviewed for and was selected for the jobs that I currently hold at YSU.
My wife, Stephanie, and I are the proud parents of sons, Matthew, in Austin, TX and father of granddaughter, Zoey, Brendan who just completed a horn/piano/sound recording technology bachelors degree at YSU, and daughter, Claudia, who is currently in a dual masters degree residency at the University of Indiana: Bloomington.
My favorite mantra is “LOVEMUSIC”! To me this represents my passion for sharing the art of music with young people. While I always have loved and continue to love making music, I derive much joy from sharing music-making experiences with young musicians. In addition to my work at YSU, I have been able to serve as a clinician/guest conductor/conductor for countless high school honor bands and orchestras over the past 25+ years. All of these experiences provide so much joy and are rewarding on an intrinsic and extrinsic artistic level. It is such a thrill to see young musicians find ways to solve the complexity of executing great music at an exceptional and musically-rewarding level. At YSU, I have been part of producing 9 highly acclaimed CD recordings, including two that were released by NAXOS, Inc., have had the privilege of conducting the YSU Wind Ensemble in New York City’s prestigious Carnegie Hall on two occasions, have taken YSU and YSYO orchestras and wind ensembles to perform for 17+ state and national music education conventions, and, more importantly, have had the privilege of sharing these amazing experiences with hundreds of talented, diligent, and highly-motivated young musicians and exceptional colleagues for more than a generation. To see where all of our YSU and YSYO alumni have landed, as teachers and professional performers and as contributing citizens, and to know that these men and women are making significant differences in the profession and in the world-at-large is something that I am honored to have been a part of!
Today’s world is, by far, the most complex and unsettled of my lifetime. It has always bothered me that so many people and so many policies and actions create barriers of what some people can do. Racism, gender inequality, and meanness are things for which I have no tolerance. My whole adult life has been about building healthy and strong relationships with my colleagues and students that are built on trust and fairness. While by no means have I always been successful, I assure you that I hope to find ways to break down societally-created obstacles that exist. I see progress and hope and pray that we continue to make inroads in these areas of our life and world!
In a perfect world, I would like everyone to be nice to each other, for every person to do his or her best, no matter the task, and for everyone to “LOVEMUSIC”!