Members of Herricks Public Schools and the community welcomed the NAMM Foundation and the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus for a two-day residency on Oct. 12 and 13. This opportunity brought a state-of-the-art mobile audio and video recording production facility to Herricks High School for a student recording session, which was followed the next day by a SupportMusic Community Forum. Herricks is one of only three school districts in the country to receive this visit.
The district earned the visit as part of the NAMM Foundation’s “What Makes Music Education Great in My School District?” video submission program. The winning video was created by Class of 2017 graduate Jonathan Sanelli, who is studying video, television and film at Hofstra University and returned to his former high school to participate in both components of the residency.
Students Julia Feldman, Aagarshan Gupta, Austin Kim, William Leung, Kyla Surajbali, Ju-Young Yi and Cole Zimmerman joined Sanelli aboard the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus on Oct. 12 and spent the day recording a song and producing a music video from start to finish. They were assisted by three professionals who taught them about the equipment and processes involved in carrying out such projects.
“We’re learning a lot about how to structure songs and put them together,” Feldman said during the activity. “It’s challenging, but a fun challenge and we like working together.”
On Oct. 13, the NAMM Foundation brought together a panel comprised of Sanelli, NYSSMA Past PresidentDavid Gaines, Director of Music and Performing Arts Anissa Arnold, Herricks Middle School Principal Joan Keegan, board of education trustee Henry Zanetti, Searingtown School teacher Andrea Somma, Music Boosters Past President Debbie Madonna and Jonathan Watkins of Wright Music for a morning of discussions about best practices and success in music education. NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen served as the moderator and asked the group questions about what makes the program stand out. The event also featured performances by the Wind Ensemble in addition to the Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Choir.
Superintendent of Schools Fino Celano presented opening remarks and extended appreciation to Ms. Arnold for overseeing an extraordinary department and coordinating the special visit. Town of Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth and Councilman Peter Zuckerman presented a proclamation to the district for its award-winning music program, and Ms. Arnold welcomed attendees and thanked the teachers for going above and beyond in their roles.
“Music is such an important part of our lives here in Herricks because it transcends our typical academic pursuits and brings us to a higher plateau,” Celano said. “Music connects all of us together with its beauty and elegance. Indeed, music brings us together from all walks of life, ages, backgrounds and cultures. In that way, music is a great unifying force and exemplifies the great diversity, intellectual curiosity and creativity that makes Herricks such a special and unique school district. It is the fabric that holds us together.”
That afternoon, students had the opportunity to tour the bus and make use of a rhythm section set up outside. They enjoyed jamming, trying new equipment and exploring creative musical techniques. NAMM also donated instruments and equipment to the school.
“It was an amazing opportunity to showcase the success of our music program,” Arnold said. “This was a great way for our students to celebrate Herricks music and a life-changing experience for so many. I’m appreciative of our music staff, parents, students and community who came together to make this such a memorable event – I am proud of our team.”
With a decades-long commitment to music education, Herricks offers a multitude of programs ranging from chamber choir and orchestral music instruction to modern jazz band, wind ensemble, guitar and ukulele instruction and beyond, overseen by 22 music educators and a supportive community, board of education and administration. The district has been recognized by NAMM as a Best Community for Music Education for nine years and is a previous winner of a GRAMMY Signature Schools Award. Many students achieve regional, statewide and national distinctions on a regular basis.