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Staff Share Memories During ‘Music’ Month

Each day during March, which is “Music in Our Schools” Month, we are sharing a nugget of some sort from someone in the district.

Our hope is that these are varied and fun – anecdotes and quotes and epiphanies and wisecracks and reminiscences – some more serious and substantive than others, surely, but together a reminder of how music is such a constant, influential, therapeutic source of pleasure, inspiration, entertainment etc. in everyone’s lives for their entire lives.

We will update this regularly:

Tuesday, March 1

"Anyone who rides in my car or dials my cell phone knows that Supertramp is my favorite band and 'Take The Long Way Home' is my favorite song, because it's my ring back tone and the Supertramp CD 'Breakfast In America' never leaves my car," says Michael Moynihan, a grade 3 teacher at Robertson. He first heard the song when he was 3 years old -- back in 1979.

Wednesday, March 2

This is from Megan Lacey, a technology integration specialist at MHS:

"My dad used to tuck me in when I was a kid by singing "Goodnight Sweetheart, Well It's Time To Go" from the movie Three Men and a Little Baby, one of our family favorites. He's a goofball, so he would always try and do all three voices himself and make me laugh."

Thursday, March 3

This is from Elizabeth Oman, a music teacher at Verplanck:

"Some of my earliest memories of music are of me singing Broadway show tunes with my cousins. I have a distinct memory of being kicked off a public bus while on vacation in Myrtle Beach because we were singing "Annie Get Your Gun" too loudly. We didn't care. We got right off and continued belting "No Business Like Show Business" to our heart's content!"

Friday, March 4

This is from Scott Goldsmith, school psychologist at MRA:

"My first Rush concert was with my dad in 1982. On the day my father died in 2010, my brothers and I had tickets to see Rush in concert. After the funeral planning, honoring my dad's passion for music, we went to the show, bonding like never before. My favorite moment was when the band played "Time Stand Still," which lyrically explained our emotions. It must have been a sight to see three grown men bawling at a Rush concert."

Monday, March 7

This is from Grahame Slogesky, building and grounds dep't secretary.

"The Illing Jazz Band performed at Barnes & Noble last December. A customer came up to me and said his mind was blown that these amazing 7th and 8th graders were playing "Watermelon Man" by Herbie Hancock – and sounding AWESOME. I told him all about the music program in Manchester. He commented that the music program in his (affluent) suburb was nowhere near as strong. I was so proud of our kids and MPS that night!"

Tuesday, March 8

MHS security guard Tom Liucci loves the Rolling Stones and worked security on one of their tours, "I was helping out backstage after the show," he said. "Keith Richards was greeting fans and signing autographs." A girl walked up to him and asked him to sign his name, Liucci said, and "he looked at me and said this [stuff} never gets old!"

Wednesday, March 9

This is from Eliza Haveles: "One of my favorite memories as a high school musician was leading the Marching Band as the drum major during the 2000-2001 school year. I enjoyed performing at football games, parades, competitions, and other events. Now as a music teacher at Keeney I instill in my students the importance of music and the arts throughout their schooling and their adult lives."

Thursday, March 10

From Deb Streeter, an IMS para:

"I remember when I was working at MHS and my son Todd was a student there participating in Jazz Band, We hosted Maynard Ferguson and his band. At a workshop that the band gave, their keyboard player made a comment that really struck a chord (pardon the pun) with me as a former clarinet player. He said, “Wind players read music horizontally and piano players read vertically.” I have often referred to this when singing in our church choir."

Friday, March 11

Michael Dunning, an elementary music teacher, has today's entry:

"One of the best concerts was Elly Ameling, Soprano with Dalton Baldwin at the piano. The concert was at Tanglewood. She performed 10 encores and then told everyone to go home!"

Monday, March 14

This, from Highland Park PE teacher Susan Larson, is a poignant memory about a sweet song.

"One of my proudest moments as a wife and mother was watching Eric, Jack, and Joey perform Kenny Rogers' 'The baseball Song' at MHS's talent show six years ago. Eric used to sing and act out the lyrics to the boys when they were young."

Tuesday-Friday, March 14-18

We surveyed staff on these days and came up with the following results:

Favorite musical genre -- it was a runaway. Of the 97 responses,rock received 51 followed by country (12), pop (10), folk (9), jazz (5) and hip-hop (5). Blues,  classical  and EDL (electric dance music) trailed the field.

Favorite Irish song -- "Too Ra Loo Ra" and "Danny Boy" are the favorite Irish songs of the MPS staff. Well, the ones who responded to the survey anyway.

Instrument you wish you had mastered -- Our survey says most MHS staffers who don't play an instrument wish they had taken up piano (at 44 percent), followed, in this order, by guitar (33 percent), drums, saxophone and harmonica. 

Monday, March 21

From Keith Berry, director of of our music department:

"Hardly anything could top my musical experience in 2011 when my idol Doc Severinsen performed at MHS. I 'had to' pick him up at the airport. He stayed for three days and did workshops with students and a phenomenal concert. We ate meals together, watched playoff football together (awesome!),and he even asked me to play for him and then handed me his custom made trumpet for the private concert. Wow!"

Tuesday, March 22

Elisabeth Heil, a social worker at Robertson Elementary, checks in with this:

The Presidents of The United States of America. Best Band Ever. How else would we know where Peaches came from? Or what Lump did in her 20s? Yes they still tour. It is magical. They also make kids albums (under the name Caspar Babypants) - just in case, since some of us grew up and had children of our own.

Wednesday, March 23

Music has clearly enriched Susan Parra's life, as she writes intoday's installment. Susan is an ELL teacher at Verplanck and Washington.

Music has always lifted me! From listening to Sade and Barry Manilow in my preteen and teen years (diversity is the key to life!) to the praise and worship ministry that I am now a part of at my church. I remember walking down to the basement of my elementary school for choir and band rehearsal. It was one of my favorite part of my days. I pray that this does not become a thing of the past.

Thursday, March 24

Catherine Roy, a teacher at Bowers, has today's nugget as we continue to feature staff contributions during "Music in our Schools" month:

"I never knew I liked jazz music until Mr. Berry brought the jazz band to Bowers. I've been hooked ever since. The MHS jazz band is my favorite assembly by far and I look forward to it every year!''

Monday, March 28

Waddell music teacher Lisa Kerkin-Bundy performed in several musicals while in middle school and high school including "The Pajama Game," "Godspell" and "Little Abner" (in which she played Daisy Mae). She writes:

"I remember these fondly because of the friendships made and the camaraderie between the actors, musicians, directors and stage hands. Great experiences!!"


Tuesday, March 29

Illing music teacher Cheryl Hilton also oversees the Community Choir of Manchester and reflects on the group's first performance at the Breakers Mansion in Newport in 2004:

This was our first 2 hour concert, to an entirely different audience, and I wasn't sure how we might measure up to all of those other "professional" groups, and frankly I was scared out of my wits! However, when we began the first phrases of our concert, as I looked at their beautiful faces, I was so proud of all of my "children!" even the ones older than me! At the end of the performance, the woman in charge said to me, "You completely made this event for me this year. I'm signing you up for next year." As I stood there shaking her hand, unable to speak, the tears flowed down my face, and my heart was bursting with pride!

Wednesday, March 30 

Katie Morin, who teaches music at Washington, shares this story:

In college, my choir performed at the National Cathedral in D.C. I don't remember what we sang, or who I stood next to, but I do remember that when we cut off, the ring of reverberation lasted for what felt like 30 seconds. I basked in that feeling of calm and joy. That is the magic of sound.

Thursday, March 31

'Music in our Schools' month is over, but we have a few more anecdotes to share.

This is from Theresa Miffitt, an instructional tutor:

My beautiful musical memory was at a party in Boston last year. Three former MHS Roundtable singers (and one of their moms!) gathered in the kitchen to sing UBI CARITAS by Durufle. You could hear a pin drop...it was simply magical. Once a Roundtable singer; always a Rountable singer!

Here's one from tutor LeAnne Krajewski:

I love to sing and grew up in a musical household. I have been called the "singing tutor" at my school, Bowers. I make up songs for everything; letter id, letter sound sounds, getting to know you songs, color id, number songs, kindness and behavior songs. I love it when the kids ask me for a new song or an old one. I sang to my children growing up and it has served me well as tutor.

Behavior analyst Christina Dukes, it's your turn:

I had the distinct pleasure of having coffee and dessert with Peter, Paul, and Mary after one of their benefit concerts many years ago. I loved how we spoke like we were old friends! Their commitment to peace and social equality had a profound and memorable effect on the values and principles that I hold so dearly today.

Orchestra teacher Susan Kohanski offers this anecdote:

I've been a classical music nerd since I was 11 and started playing the cello. My favorite memories are my 6 years in Norwalk Youth Symphony, Western Region, All State and pit orchestras at NHS. In 25 years of teaching music, I have never once wanted to do anything else!

The final words go to FRC coordinator Sean Webster:

Music is a huge part of my life, so to sum it all up in just a few words is tough. So I will just share a quote from hip hop artist Talib Kweli; "At exactly what point do you start to realize that life without knowledge is like death in disguise?"

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