|Print this story||Permalink|
There was a time when Anthony Mazzocchi didnt think of his new job as much more than a ticket back to New York City. In 2001, the Manhattan School of Music-trained trombonist was in Los Angeles recording for movie and commercial soundtracks, but yearned to come back east to play in Broadway shows. When, through a friend of a friend, he heard about a music teacher opening at a Brooklyn middle school, the New Jersey native had his excuse. On his first day at his new job, there was no indication that the Marine Park Junior High School band would blossom into one of the best middle school bands in the country. When I first got here they sounded awful, they sounded like children. My attitude was just like, OK, lets just have some fun, Mazzocchi said. But a trip to a music teaching clinic in Chicago changed Mazzocchis attitude, and with it, the course of history for the schools band. I heard a couple [middle school] bands from Chicago and some other places. I heard how they sounded. They were a bunch of little kids, but my jaw dropped, he recalled. From that point forward, Mazzocchi was a man on a mission. He had caught the teaching bug. The result is a middle school program consisting of symphonic, jazz, and marching bands that has won multiple state and regional competitions, many of them against high school bands. They have played before Mayor Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein at the Tweed Courthouse. Now one of New Yorks hottest tickets, the band was commissioned to play at the birthday party of socialite Denise Rich. Marine Parks musicians proved the old adage: With their diligent practice habits, they paved a road from Brooklyn to Carnegie Hall, where they performed in 2005 as part of the Salute to Music citywide middle school concert. The accolades dont stop there. Selected by VH1 network as part of its Save the Music Program which is dedicated to funding and restoring music programs in public schools across the country the band played at the programs 10-year anniversary bash at Lincoln Center along with Pink Floyd, Bon Jovi, and John Mayer. Indeed, the program has come along way since Mazzocchi got to Marine Park in 2001 and saw 50 kids in front of me who didnt even know how to read music. I was basically starting from scratch. But his trip to Chicago showed him what children were capable of if properly taught. Most people just think: Theyre going to sound like little kids and theres nothing you can do about it, but it doesnt have to be that way, he said. With his newfound high expectations, and availing himself of a citywide $65 per student Project Art grant from the Department of Education that kick-started the program by paying for new instruments, Mazzocchi set out to create a band on par with the ones he had heard in Chicago. Along the way, he discovered in himself an aptitude and passion for teaching. During his first few years in Marine Park, Mazzocchi became a regular on the teaching clinic circuit. He recently took a position at Montclair State College in New Jersey he will hold alongside his Marine Park job. You have to learn to just break the stuff down, he said, describing the secret to his success. I didnt think I wanted to teach, but I tried it out and it just became a passion.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
|Print this story||Permalink|
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.