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5 Questions for Laurie D’Amico

5 questions for typography
Laurie D’Amico
United Federation of Teachers

What inspired you to become a music teacher?

I was in the Salute to Music program as a kid, and that made me realize I wanted to become a music teacher. The program is open to public school students from all five boroughs in New York City. The teachers in that program and the experiences that I had as a student were really important to me. Now every Saturday from 9 am–12 pm, I teach a group of students from fourth through eighth grade. We put on one to two concerts a year.


What do you find most rewarding about teaching?

Besides the organized chaos of teaching 12 different lessons at once, the biggest joy for me as a teacher is seeing how students can grow through music and watching them progress.

At Tottenville High School, we teach all levels of band, from beginners to the top musicians in the state. Beginning band is 75 students who are so excited to pick up instruments for the first time and learn to play. Intermediate band is made up of kids who come from 10 different middle schools throughout the city. They don’t know each other, but they come together and they make music. In symphonic band, there are about 100 students, and to see them play music and express emotion without saying a single word is unbelievable.

Music teacher Laurie D’Amico poses with her school marching band
Music teacher Laurie D’Amico, far left, poses with her school marching band.

What about the marching band?

We are one of just two competitive marching bands in New York City. We start practicing over the summer. This past year, we had 65 students. Because of COVID, the majority of the students had never done competitive marching band before. To see their growth is so gratifying.


What is something you have learned from your students?

I focus on building trust. If students are going to take your feedback seriously and not get offended by it, they must be able to trust you. If you let them see a little bit of who you are, then they are a little more willing to show you who they are, and you can build that trust. When I need to give them feedback, they know I am coming from a place of good.


What is the one lesson you want your students to learn from band?

Be a good human being. I tell students, yes, the music is important but how you interact with one another and work together and build our show, that’s more important than actually performing well. I would rather they walk away with big life lessons than play every note perfectly.