Mattituck High School’s music students are about to learn industry insights from the pros.
The Mattituck-Cutchogue Union Free School District recently announced its new Friends of Music series. Each month from December through April, a professional musician, composer or industry figure will discuss their career and share their knowledge with the high school’s band and chorus students.
The series was made possible by Chris DiGirolamo, a Mattituck resident who recently took over the Mattituck Music Booster Club. A music industry veteran himself, Mr. DiGirolamo has been involved in the marketing of 29 Grammy-nominated projects, two of which won. He has been and will continue to flip through his Rolodex seeking those who can spare 90 minutes of their time for Mattituck’s students, either in-person or virtually.
“[People asked me] ‘why are you doing this?’ ” Mr. DiGirolamo said of the initial proposal. “I said, ‘because I can.’ The kids can have more. If you could do this, wouldn’t you?”
Black Label Society drummer and Mattituck native Jeff Fabb will visit students at the school on Dec. 1 for the first Friends of Music session.
“He’s very down to Earth, very knowledgeable about how you have to act as a musician who’s a professional,” Mr. DiGirolamo said of Mr. Fabb. “He talks about the experiences with people that have been tough to work with … The guy has been on the Ozzfest tour. He’s so filled with really pure knowledge of the road and the business. If we get him to play at the end, it doesn’t have to be something that’s long, but it will be great.”
Although the exact date is still to be determined, Mr. DiGirolamo said in January, students will virtually meet Los Angeles-based Emmy award-winning composer and film scorer Joel Goodman, whose resume lists over 150 films and television programs which have amassed five Oscar and 40 Emmy nominations. In the coming months, Mr. DiGirolamo said he also hopes to book Cindy Blackman Santana, who, in addition to her long-running solo career, has recorded and toured with Lenny Kravitz and her husband, Carlos Santana.
As it has in previous years, Mr. DiGirolamo said the music booster club is also focusing on “consistent fundraising” for the music students’ needs both large and small, from replacing broken drumsticks to sending students on trips.
“Every May, the chorus goes and competes in New Jersey, and then they spend the rest of the day at Six Flags,” he explained. “But the number to get them there is $5,000 and that’s not in the budget.”
Just as the community’s generosity will support Mattituck’s music students financially, Mr. DiGirolamo and Mattituck’s music teachers believe the Friends of Music series will support them in another way.
“The educational value to me is the simple idea that the music industry that exists out there is tenable, it’s real,” said Jacob Fowle, who teaches chorus to Mattituck students grades seven through 12. “It’s not something that seems impossible that students can’t attain. Having these speakers come in is a really great way of letting the students know anybody can do this, you just have to be dedicated and passionate and make some contacts and try it.”
“If you grew up here and you’re a musician, it’s kind of hard to think ‘I can make it,’ ” Mr. DiGirolamo said. “Think about it, you’re in a small farm town. But [Mr. Fabb] did. I think that’s the other thing [students will learn], you can be from Mattituck and you can be a famous musician.”