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Elementary School Music Teachers Inspire Students During Music Month

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) designates March as Music in Our Schools Month to raise awareness of the importance of music in education. Although the pandemic has presented particular challenges for music classes this past year, our teachers continue to find creative ways to keep music a part of the curriculum. Two of those teachers joined the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns just this year; Mr. Jeffery Mizen teaches students in John Paulding and W.L. Morse and Ms. Abby Ferri is at Washington Irving.

Mizen hails from Canada and taught music in the New York City Public School system for nearly two decades. He teaches general music to some of the youngest students and his passion resonates in his classes whether he is introducing students to an accomplished musician through a short video, teaching them to write musical notes or singing with them. Since September he has worked with both in-person and remote learners.

“I want the children to be excited about music and recognize music they wouldn’t ordinarily hear,” said Mizen. “I also play kids' music which is so important for them to hear. This genre of music is in their vocal range and it is fun.”

Mizen looks forward to the future when they can all learn together in the keyboard lab generously donated by a Mini-Grant from the PTA.

Traditionally, students begin their formal training on instruments at W.I.  Ms. Ferri is thrilled to guide students along this journey.  Presently, she teaches her classes remotely, modeling the fingering and sounds during her live-streamed lessons. Although this can be a challenging way for a student to learn a new instrument, Ms. Ferris reassures and encourages them. 

She studied music at Ithaca College and was a student teacher last year at Sleepy Hollow Middle School and High School. She conducted the Winter Concert and is overjoyed to return to the district.

“I knew from when I was in sixth or seventh grade that I wanted to be a teacher. I never wanted school to end in June,” said Ms. Ferri, who exhibits that enthusiasm in each lesson. “Music allows students to express themselves, and to have students who are motivated, even in these difficult times, is rewarding.”

Both instructors await a time when they can showcase the talent of their students during performances in front of live audiences.

“We are lucky in the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns to have one of the finest staff of music educators of any school district in our region,” commented the Performing Arts Department Chair Micah Sprague.  “Mr. Mizen and Ms. Ferri are incredible additions.  I look forward to seeing all their wonderful accomplishments for our students and community over the coming years.”