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FI Music in the News Archive

Celebrating Memorable Milestones

Woodhull hosted a memorable spring concert and graduation ceremony on Tuesday, June 21. The event featured all of the students in a diverse array of musical selections and a celebration for the graduating sixth-graders, prekindergartners and former students completing 12th grade this year. The ceremony was well-attended by all corners of the Fire Island community.

The Woodhull concert band, comprised of all fourth- through sixth-graders, kicked off the evening with a triumphant performance of the Olympic theme. The program ensued with performances by individual classes, mixed groups, soloists and a mass ensemble of all prekindergarten through sixth-grade students. Highlights included the concert band’s rock set, featuring instrumental versions of Led Zeppelin's “Kashmir” and Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” Maya Perez’s moving solo of “Castle on a Cloud” from “Les Misérables,” and the all-school performances of Toots and the Maytals’ “Reggae Got Soul” and the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”

The evening continued with the procession of prekindergarten and sixth-grade students. Superintendent Loretta Ferraro and School Board President Jay Lippert ceremoniously distributed diplomas to each student, and later, sixth-graders were honored with awards from the school, the PTA, community organizations and political offices. Mrs. Ferraro then recognized former Woodhull students who were graduating high school this June.

Keeping with tradition, the program included a group speech by the graduating sixth-graders in which they took turns sharing reflections on their time at Woodhull. They fondly recalled the many unique activities, field trips, and opportunities in the arts, technology and physical education that they had enjoyed over the years.

Closing the evening was a sweeping slideshow compiled by teacher Gabrielle Donovan that captured the growth and evolution of all of the evening’s graduates. It was accompanied by a stirring vocal performance of “For Good” from Broadway’s “Wicked” sung by sixth-graders Eli Finnick and Maya Perez.

NYSSMA Performers

Five Fire Island fifth- and sixth-graders recently participated in the annual NYSSMA solo festival, which rates student-musicians on solo performances in an audition-style setting.

The Woodhull Elementary School students – Maya Perez, Eli Finnick, Toby Heslin, Julianna Elton and Jason Philie – performed either vocally or instrumentally and each earned ratings of "outstanding" or "excellent" for their performances. These are the highest and second highest designations, respectively.

The annual event took place this spring in the East Islip School District.



Practicing for Pups

Woodhull Elementary School’s concert band recently participated in a "Practice-a-Thon" to benefit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and ended up raising nearly $500 for the nonprofit organization.

The funds were raised entirely by four sixth-graders, Toby Heslin, Brooke Lambie, Casey Cole and Eli Finnick, with nearly half the funds coming from Lambie alone. The students, who practiced over a three-week period, found sponsors among family and the community, who agreed to donate at a rate per minute. Music teacher Mr. Philip Tamberino coordinated the issuance of receipts and thank-you notes as well as the delivery of proceeds to the ASPCA, whose fundraising team provided a web page to track the progress of the project.

The ASPCA was selected as a beneficiary based on a majority vote of students after exploring various causes to support, and participation in the activity was voluntary. Proceeds will be used by the ASPCA in its effort to rescue, place and protect as many animals in need as possible.



Prestigious Music Honor

Woodhull Elementary School in the Fire Island School District has received the 2016 SupportMusic Merit Award.

This is the third time in four years that the school has received the award from the National Association for Music Merchants Foundation, which has recognized high quality school music programs since 1999. Altogether, 118 individual schools from across the country were honored this year.

The award reflects the many factors that contribute to a healthy school music program, including staffing, funding, instructional time, program offerings and community support. The NAMM Foundation, with the assistance of the University of Kansas, evaluates schools on these factors through their participation in a survey, with results verified by school district administration.

Fire Island students participate in music instruction one to three times per week with music teacher Philip Tamberino, who has taught at Woodhull since 2006. The music program includes classroom ukulele, keyboard lab and bucket drumming, as well as more traditional elements of concert band, vocal music and musical theater. Fire Island regularly sends students to the NYSSMA solo festival and SCMEA All-County performing ensembles. The school was the recipient of the NYSSMA Award of Excellence in 2010.



Digital Music Library

Woodhull Elementary School students in Phil Tamberino's music classes are now able to browse school-owned music using their laptops while on the school's private network.

The innovation was developed with the help of school information technology specialist Christopher Forget in order to provide a controlled environment for students to explore high-quality music while in school. Intermediate students have already used the library during lessons about specific genres or artists in music.

"It's common for students to be able to choose what they read in the library or even in the classroom. Why shouldn't they have the same opportunity in music?" said Mr. Tamberino. "It makes them more excited about the activity, and they can interact with so much more music than if we had to listen to everything together as a class."

Woodhull's music library includes a variety of music spanning different time periods and world cultures, though Mr. Tamberino is able to restrict student access to specific selections depending on the lesson at hand.



Bound for Neverland


The Fire Island community was treated to a musical performance of “Peter Pan” by Woodhull students during the school’s annual winter program on Dec. 22.

The cast included the entire pre-K through sixth-grade student body, with students from the intermediate class starring in lead roles, the elementary class as pirates, and the primary and early elementary classes as Peter Pan's company of "Lost Kids."

Some students also helped transform the stage into the various sets needed for the story by designing and painting set pieces with art teacher Bianca Hansen. Director and Woodhull music teacher Philip Tamberino provided musical accompaniment for the production, which received tremendously positive reviews following its one-night-only performance.

Musical Takes Flight

Fire Island students are set to perform Peter Pan at the annual winter program on Tuesday, December 22. The cast includes all of the students in the entire school, with those from the intermediate class in lead roles, the elementary class as pirates, and the primary and early elementary classes as Peter Pan's gang of "Lost Kids." Some students also helped transform the stage into the various sets needed for the story by designing and painting set pieces with art teacher Bianca Hansen. Faculty and staff enjoyed a dress rehearsal performance on Friday, which concluded with Woodhull music teacher Philip Tamberino, director of the show, giving his final notes to the excited cast.


High Note for Music Education

For the second year, Woodhull Elementary School has been honored with a SupportMusic Merit Award by the NAMM Foundation’s “Best Communities for Music Education” program. The national award recognizes an outstanding commitment to music education at the school level and was received by 120 other schools across the country in 2015.

To qualify for the award, Woodhull provided detailed information about its funding, programming, participation, instructional time, facilities, and community-wide support for the music program. Responses were verified by school officials and reviewed by the Center of Public Partnerships and Research, an affiliate of the University of Kansas.

“It says a lot about a school to have a music program that is healthy and intact these days,” said Woodhull music teacher Philip Tamberino. “This recognition is really a reflection of the whole community’s support.”

Depending on their grade level, Woodhull students participate in music instruction up to three times per week, and all students perform in a musical theater production each winter, as well as a concert in the spring.  Depending on grade level, the music program includes instruction in voice, piano, drumming and mallet instruments, the ukulele and a wind band instrument of the student’s choosing.



Woodhull Spotlighted for Outstanding Music Program

Fire Island School District’s Woodhull Elementary School has been named a 2013 Support Music Merit Award winner by the NAMM Foundation in recognition of the access it provides students to a comprehensive music education program. This honor was bestowed upon the school based on the results of NAMM’s 14th annual Best Communities for Music Education survey, which acknowledges schools and districts across the United States for their commitment to and support for music education in schools. In 2013, 307 school districts were named Best Communities for Music Education, but only 66 schools were given the distinction earned by Woodhull.

"Of course music teachers care about music education, but this program recognizes that it takes more than teachers alone to maintain a healthy music program that reaches all students," said Philip Tamberino, Woodhull's music teacher. “As a teacher, I’ve always appreciated having that support, and it’s great to see it recognized. Fire Island is just a fantastic place for teaching and learning across the board.”

The Best Communities for Music Education program has conducted annual surveys since 1999, seeking to highlight schools and districts that demonstrate communitywide efforts to keep music an integral part of the core curriculum. Respondents answer questions about all aspects of support for music, including school budgeting, facilities, academic programming, course offerings, student participation rates, parental involvement, administrative support and staff qualifications. The results are verified by district officials and then reviewed by advisory organizations.

The New York State School Music Association similarly recognized Fire Island as a school district with an exemplary commitment to music education in 2010.


Woodhull Elementary School Garners NYSSMA Award of Excellence

The Fire Island School District’s Woodhull Elementary School is a proud recipient of the 2010 New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Award of Excellence. Each year the Association honors eligible school districts based on a thorough application, with criteria such as music program offerings and curriculum; school policies and practices; support from the District’s administration, school board, parent organization, and community; student participation in music within the District as well as extra-curricular music festivals (such as the NYSSMA Solo Evaluation Festival and SCMEA All-County Festival); productive use of technology; and staff qualifications and activities.

This award is given irrespective of the school district’s size. A ceremony honoring the awarded schools will take place at the NYSSMA Winter Conference in Rochester this December.

"Thanks to the entire school community, including the school board, administration, parents, teachers, and students themselves, Fire Island has been able to provide musical opportunities that would be impossible in a larger school district, and which have allowed a far greater proportion of students to shine musically; and this award recognizes that," stated music teacher Phillip Tamberino.


Fire Island Music Teacher to Present Ukulele Program at Summer 2010 Conference in Albany

The Fire Island School District is pleased to announce that Woodhull Elementary School music teacher Philip Tamberino has been invited by the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) to deliver a presentation entitled “Incorporating the Ukulele into Classroom Music” at the Summer 2010 Conference in Albany, New York.

This invitation was the result of a proposal that Mr. Tamberino submitted outlining the many benefits of the ukulele as a teaching tool and as a vehicle for independent music making.

Mr. Tamberino’s presentation will include a blueprint for ways to launch, administer, and maintain a classroom ukulele program based on his experience in the Fire Island School District since 2007.

Music teachers at all grade levels from throughout New York State will attend the Conference. Mr. Tamberino’s hope is that teachers and administrators in attendance will be motivated to start similar programs in their own districts.

Ukulele Program Brings a New Sound to Fire Island Students

Fire Island’s Woodhull School offers a unique addition to traditional music education opportunities – a ukulele program for second and third graders. This course serves as an introduction to stringed instruments and teaches the basics of melody, harmony, rhythm, music notation, and acoustics. The program, taught by Mr. Philip Tamberino, was introduced in 2007.

Mr. Tamberino initiated the program after hearing about successful ukulele lessons in Canadian and Hawaiian schools. He grew up listening to the sounds of his grandfather playing the instrument, and believes that it has great potential both in the school setting and as a long-term hobby.

The program has already proven successful and is now a popular component of the school day for several children. Each student involved receives a soprano ukulele for use throughout the year, and lessons are held during core music classes as well as specially scheduled times. As a culminating activity, the students perform as a featured ensemble in the school’s annual Music and Art Festival in the spring.

(Ebert, Michael. Newsday. 14 Feb 2009)



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