Educator, Trombonist Pizzo Slides into Yale Music Educator Award
- May 1, 2009
The Band Room at Sherwood Middle Academic School smells like most band rooms at schools across the nation. It’s a mixture of cork grease, metal, spit and linseed oil. But despite its humble odors, great things are happening in this room – thanks in large part to school band director Andy Pizzo, who recently won the Yale University Distinguished Music Educator Award.
Navigating through a sea of chairs, clunky music stands and instruments, Pizzo makes his way to the trombone section. Instead of a baton, he uses his hand to set the beat and begin the players’ practice music. Between the WHOMPS of slide music, Pizzo, as a fellow trombonist, smiles. In those few minutes, he has shared an infectious love of music – and the trombone – with his students.
The Yale School of Music selected Pizzo for its national educator award based on moments just like this one. The award is sponsored by an endowment from the School of Music’s Class of 1957, and Pizzo has been chosen as a delegate to the 2009 Symposium on Music in Schools June 10-11 at Yale. He is one of 50 honorees chosen fom more than 425 total applicants representing 46 states. His all-expense trip is covered by Yale University, and Pizzo and fellow recipients will be honored at an opening dinner. In addition, winners will study El Sistema, a Venezuelan music education system, to determine if it might work in U.S. schools.
Currently, Pizzo is the leader and trombonist for The Andy Pizzo Project, a Baton Rouge jazz/funk/rock group; lead trombonist for the New Orleans Latin jazz/sala band VIVAZ; trombonist and featured soloist for the Baton Rouge funk/soul band PHAT HAT; trombonist and soloist for the New Orleans jazz band The John Mahoney Big Band; and an area free-lance professional trombonist. He has had the opportunity to play with many great musicians, such as Bill Watrous, legendary jazz trombonist; Earl Turner, Las Vegas show entertainer; The Rat Pack Show, official Rat Pack tribute; Mark Mullins and Craig Klein, formerly of Harry Connick Jr’s big band and their New Orleans trombone funk band Bonerama; Harry Watters, trombone soloist for the U.S. Army Blues Jazz Ensemble; Tito Puente Jr., son of the great timbalero Tito Puente Sr., and his latin jazz band; Poncho Sanchez, congero and Latin jazz recording artist; Christopher Riddle, son of the big band leader Nelson Riddle, who’s orchestra backed up the great jazz singer Frank Sinatra; The Northwestern State University Jazz Orchestra; and many more.
When not playing music professionally, Pizzo is a music educator. After receiving his bachelor of music Education Degree from Louisiana State University in the spring of 1999, he took over the band program at McKinley Middle Magnet School. Next, he served as the band director for Southeast Middle School. Since 2005, he has been the band director of the award-winning Sherwood Middle Academic Magnet School Band in Baton Rouge. Pizzo teaches all levels of band: beginner, intermediate, advanced and jazz. He also works with the physically and mentally challenged “community based” students at his school.
Pizzo currently serves as the president of the Louisiana Association for Jazz Education and as the Jazz chairman for the Louisiana Music Educators Association. In 2001, he was named a grand-prize winner in the Toyota Corporation/VH 1 music teacher contest titled “Making Tracks with Camry.” Pizzo also has served as the guest clinician for The Vermillion Parish Honor Middle School and High School Jazz Ensembles, the District IV Middle School Honor Jazz Ensemble, the District V Middle School and High School Honor Jazz Ensembles, the District VI High School Honor Jazz Ensemble, the District IX Middle School Honor Jazz Ensemble and the Louisiana Bandmasters Association All Star Middle School Jazz Ensemble.
Principal Brister in Washington, D.C., to Accept McKinley Middle School’s Second Blue Ribbon Award
On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Principal Herman Brister (pictured, left) and the school’s Teacher of the Year, Lynn Williamson (right), were in Washington, D.C., accepting McKinley Middle Academic Magnet School’s National Blue Ribbon Award from U.S. Department of Education’s Director of National Blue Ribbon Schools Program Aba Kumi (center). The event, which recognized some 314 schools from across the United States, was held at the Omni Hotel. Click herefor story.
Subscribe to the EBRPSS eNews to receive our bi-weekly eNewsletter.