SmartMusic Helps Make Connections

Mark D’Angelo and Bob Grifa pictured at the 2010 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago

I think many educators occasionally question whether the long hours and paperwork are worth it. Sometimes we just need a little reminder.

While manning the SmartMusic booth at the 2010 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic I recognized a familiar face in the crowd; Mark D’Angelo, a former student I hadn’t seen in 13 years! Mark and I go back to the fall of 1986 when he was in the sixth grade and I was the middle school band director who started him on percussion. What’s more, during Mark’s high school years I was his private percussion teacher as well as the high school marching band’s percussion coordinator.

As you might imagine, I was delighted to catch up with Mark.

Bob Grifa: What did you do after high school?

Mark D’Angleo: After graduation I attended West Virginia University as a Music Education Major in Percussion. I also auditioned and won a spot in the Front Ensemble for what was then called the Cadets of Bergen County.

I am currently the Instrumental Music Director at Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, Michigan. I serve on the Board of Directors for the Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps, and my wife Sarah and I are volunteer music ministers at our church in Detroit.

BG: I understand your band was selected to perform for a very special event a couple of years ago. Please tell us about that.

MD: In January 2009, the Wyandotte Marching Chiefs were selected to march in the 56th Presidential Inaugural Parade for President Obama. It was a VERY BIG endeavor for the Wyandotte program, but in the end it pulled the community together and provided the students with an irreplaceable experience.

The application process was quite extensive. Throughout the process we had planned to take the kids to the Inauguration as spectators regardless of our acceptance. Actually getting the call to perform – as the only marching band to represent the state of Michigan – was an amazing experience.

BG: Are there any other special honors you have received?

MD: While I’m honored everyday by the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of my students, it is nice when some recognition comes your way. In the fall of 2008 I was surprised by a phone call from SBO (the School Band and Orchestra magazine) notifying me that I had been included among their “50 Directors That Make a Difference,” and I was recently recognized by the Wyandotte Rotary Club for Outstanding Service to the Community.

BG: I have to ask, do you use SmartMusic?

MD: Yes I do. My students use our classroom computers to rehearse their solo literature, and I use it for assessment purposes with my high school string orchestra.

BG: What do you think in general about using technology in the classroom?

MD: I agree wholeheartedly that it has a place in music education. As research has proven, there are different types of learners in every classroom. The use of technology, hands-on computer experiences, and visual aids can help today’s students be successful in the arts and prepare them for the world of today (and tomorrow)!

BG: What suggestions do you have for teachers that are just starting in the teaching profession?

MD: Every young teacher tries to take the world by storm… take your time, set your priorities, and remain humble.

I am so proud of Mark, his accomplishments, and his dedication as a teacher – and appreciative of the reminder that our work can make a difference. Had such a reminder recently? Please share it by clicking on “Comments” below.

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