Huntington UFSD was well-represented at the New York State School Music Association conference in Rochester. District music teachers Victoria Garbarino, Matthew Gelfer and Jason Giachetti presented professional development workshops at the state conference after being selected through a rigorous process.
Ms. Garbarino and Mr. Giachetti are both Huntington High School music teachers while Mr. Gelfer is on the music faculty at J. Taylor Finley Middle School. About 1,200 teachers attended the statewide conference.
Ms. Garbarino’s presentation focused on how music education affects students with moderate to high functioning autism. It provoked a discussion how music positively affects the emotional intelligence, social skills and sensory processing of those with autism.
“My thesis for my graduate degree was titled ‘How Music Education Affects Students With Autism,’ a topic that I am very passionate about,” Ms. Garbarino said. “While many music educators have given presentations and written material on students with special needs in the music classroom, very rarely do they focus solely on students with autism. Last spring I was presented with the SEPTA service award for my work with students with special needs and for creating an inclusive environment. I would like to raise awareness about autism and how to not only be accepting of them in the music classroom, but to completely involve them in the musical experience.”
Ms. Garbarino holds a bachelor’s degree in music education with a concentration in voice from Five Towns College and a master’s degree in music education from the University of Florida.
“I plan on pursuing a doctorate in music education, where I am hoping to continue my research and write a dissertation on music education and students with autism,” Ms. Garbarino said.
Mr. Gelfer’s presentation centered on “fiddle tunes” and involved basic fiddling techniques and how they can be applied to a small string ensemble or even an entire orchestra. The value of learning folk and fiddle styles was discussed along with opportunities for cross-cultural education. Teachers attending the session brought their instruments for a jam session and learned what materials are needed to form a fiddle club at the elementary or secondary level.
The veteran Finley teacher has created a method book/collection of fiddle tunes in order to provide resources to string educators. These will be published through JW Pepper in cooperation with Pinnacle Press. “I also have several original works for school level orchestra available,” Mr. Gelfer said. “My master’s degree thesis was a rationale for teaching improvisation as a vital part of string pedagogy.”
Mr. Gelfer holds an undergraduate degree in film scoring from Berklee College of Music. He earned his professional certification from CUNY Brooklyn College and a master’s degree at Stony Brook University.
“I am collaborating with my brother, Sam, also a music educator on a method for improvisation in a non-jazz idiom,” Mr. Gelfer said.
Mr. Giachetti’s presentation focused on ‘The Snare Drum: From the Beginning Lesson through College Audition.’ The workshop involved an in-depth and detailed study of the pedagogy of the snare drum. Topics included equipment, technique, exercises, stroke patterns, hand development and coordination, sequential learning of rudiments and literature.
An adjunct professor at Five Towns College, Mr. Giachetti is very highly regarded and well known in the high school music education and performance community. He has served as the director of numerous performing groups and presented at many professional workshops.
Mr. Giachetti obtained a Bachelor of Music Education degree with a certificate in percussion performance at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music and a Master of Music Education degree with a concentration in wind band conducting at Hofstra University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in percussion performance at Five Towns College.