NAfME ANHE Guitar Ensemble Recap
Views from 2018 All-National Honor Guitar Ensemble Members
By Thomas Amoriello, Jr.
NAfME Council for Guitar Education Chair
Students who participated in the inaugural 2018 NAfME All-National Honor Guitar Ensemble at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort enjoyed themselves musically and socially, experiencing simple fun on the highest levels. Musical growth and a strong work ethic mixed with some Florida fun is what will await the next group of students selected for the November 2019 ensembles. As the clinician (Bill Swick), Guitar Council, and educators begin the preparation process behind the scenes to make this an enjoyable experience for the future participants, here are some thoughts of what being selected for the 2019 NAfME All-National Honor Ensembles (ANHE) Guitar Ensemble will look like. Good luck to students who will audition.
Thank you to the following 2018 ANHE Guitar Ensemble members for sharing their thoughts: Jarobi Watts and Diego Namnum (Freedom High School, Florida); Paolo Uno and Taijza Broadnax (Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, Nevada); Ryan Robinson (Loudoun County High School, Virginia); and Jack Osborne (Briar Woods High School, Virginia). I would like to thank NAfME guitar educators Christopher Perez, Bill Swick, and Kevin Vigil for encouraging their students to take part in this article.
What was it like meeting and working with guitar students from all over the country?
Ryan: Meeting and working with such a large group of people from all different places and backgrounds, united under a shared passion for the classical guitar, was a surreal experience I will never forget. I met so many amazing people, and the amount of talent I saw there has inspired me to practice even harder.
Diego: It was a very humbling and fascinating experience. I met and worked alongside other guitar students who I was genuinely comfortable working with and being around. Being together felt like a community, willing to help each other work through the music. No one felt excluded. Our sectionals and full rehearsals were kept light-hearted and fun, yet very focused.
Taijza: It was amazing. I learned more about how guitar education varies from different parts of the country. I also made some great friends. Working with students from all over the world furthered my knowledge about people and guitar. I viewed certain musical styles or techniques from different perspectives. It was nice being able to connect through music, guitar specifically, and see how both have influenced their lives.
Paolo: Meeting and working with guitar students showed me the wonderful talent of everyone, but also showed me the competition I was against getting into the honor ensemble. Working with other students motivated me more and pushed my creativity solely by seeing what is possible. I also learned more about competition, the guitar community, and guitar techniques.
How did you become a better musician from working with the conductor Dr. Michael Quantz?
Ryan: Dr. Quantz really emphasized musicality and gave us great instruction on how to bring it to the forefront. For each piece, he had a story for us to imagine, or an emotion for us to channel. It helped bring character to every part of our program, and I know I will continue to use the techniques he taught in my own solo and ensemble study.
Jack: Dr. Quantz is one of the best conductors I have worked with since I began playing in guitar ensemble. He taught me how to really feel every song as if there is a story behind every detail in every piece.
Jarobi: He gave me a lot of confidence when I would play. Dr. Quantz told me to envision being in the pieces we rehearsed and performed. This boosted my musical consciousness.
Diego: Dr. Quantz boosted my confidence by mixing his eccentric behavior and fun-loving personality with the way he helped us visualize the music. He inspired me to find more musicality and emotion through performance. All the while, he kept rehearsals interesting and fun.
What was your favorite non-musical memory of your NAfME All-National time in Orlando?
Ryan: Going to Disney was a really fun way to finally get to know all the people I’d been working so hard with. It gave me an opportunity to connect to everyone with something outside of music, and when we got back that night, I felt like I’d known them all for years.
Jarobi: My favorite memory was talking to new friends I made from the Guitar Ensemble while we travelled to Disney. We talked a lot about the many different types and styles of music we play and listen to. We actually have a lot in common.
Diego: The most enjoyable non-musical memory would be when we arrived and checked into our hotel room. It was an amazing feeling knowing that I earned the privilege of being there and that all of my hard work and preparation paid off.
Taijza: I really enjoyed getting to know others during our free time, especially in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World, because we were able to connect on new levels beyond just music.
What was the biggest challenge during the entire process?
Jack: I’d say the biggest challenge was the extensive rehearsal hours, as we rehearsed for around 8 hours a day. However, these long hours were essential to providing a successful concert, and I’m glad that we were able to get so much done through them, especially with our fantastic conductor!
Jarobi: There weren’t too many challenges. Once I received the music I worked and practiced hard on everything to be ready for our rehearsals.
Taijza: Rehearsals were probably the biggest challenge. I was not used to spending hours sitting down in one position. I had to focus on listening to others intently and maintain the focus on music for however long rehearsals were. In the end, it was worth it.
Paolo: The biggest challenge for me was to get up and stay awake. We do so much after rehearsals, get back to our hotel rooms late, and are expected to practice what we learned earlier in the day. I am not complaining at all because even though it was tiring, I am surrounded by people who love what we do and am having fun.
About the author:
Thomas Amoriello Jr. serves as the chair on the NAfME Council for Guitar Education and is also the Chairperson for the New Jersey Music Education Association. He has had more than thirty guitar and ukulele advocacy articles published in music education journals in Michigan, Ohio, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. During his time on the NJMEA board he has co-directed four guitar festivals and drafted the proposal to approve the first ever NJMEA Honors Guitar Ensemble. Tom is an advocate for class guitar programs in public schools and has been a clinician presenting his “Guitar for the K-12 Music Educator” for the Guitar Foundation of America Festivals in Charleston, SC, and Columbus, GA, Lehigh Valley Guitar Festival in Bethlehem, PA, Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society Festival, Philadelphia, PA, NAfME Biennial Conferences in Baltimore and Atlantic City, as well as other state music education conferences in New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia. He has been featured twice on episodes of “Classroom Closeup-NJ” which aired on New Jersey Public Television.
Tom has taught guitar classes for the Flemington Raritan School District in Flemington, NJ, since 2005 and was also an adjunct guitar instructor at Cumberland County College, NJ, for five years. He has earned a Master of Music Degree in Classical Guitar Performance from Shenandoah Conservatory and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Rowan University.
He is the author of the children’s picture books: A Journey to Guitarland with Maestro Armadillo & Ukulele Sam Strums in the Sand (March 2019), both available from Black Rose Writing. He recently made a heavy metal recording with a stellar roster of musicians including former members of Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne, Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force, and Dio that was released on H42 Records of Hamburg, Germany. The record released on 12-inch vinyl and digital platforms has received favorable reviews in many European rock magazines. Visit thomasamoriello.com for more information.
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