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July Music Teacher of the Month

KyleKyle Trocolla from Danbury, Connecticut is our Music Teacher of the Month! Trocolla teaches 9-12th graders at the Alternative Center for Excellence. He plays the violin, guitar, bass, and piano.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who nominated you? How long have you been teaching?

I was nominated by Jill Russell Benner, my incredibly supportive music department chair. I have been teaching Social Studies for 22 years and music for 9 years.

What has music and/or teaching taught you?

Music is a way for us to connect in very universal ways. It spans language and cultural barriers as well as the things that often separate us. It has helped me have empathy for others. Learning music has taught me patience and self-confidence.

Teaching has had a very similar effect. It has certainly helped me to become more empathetic and open-minded. Both music and teaching have helped me see not only how we are all unique individuals but also how we are connected through our shared communities - whether they be school, classroom, or even music scene communities.

What types of music or instruments are your favorites to teach?

I love teaching piano. It is very accessible for beginning music students. Press a key and it makes the pitch you are looking for. It is also such a great way for students to be introduced to elements of music theory in a very visual way.

What is your favorite type of music to play?

While I grew up playing classical music in orchestras and symphonies, I started my first band when I was 16. I am now 46 and still playing in bands that tend to be on the rock side of things.

My favorite type of music to play is still punk rock. There is just something fun about a music genre that is meant to be accessible for everyone to play and see live.

What do you like to do for fun? Do you have any hobbies?

Playing music with my son Bowie in my home music studio or gigging with my band is still at the top of my list of activities that keep me sane.

What advice would you give music teachers just starting out?

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was you don’t have to be able to play an instrument to teach it. If you can teach your students music instead of simply how to play an instrument you give them the power to make their own path as musicians.

Also, you gotta keep the joy in music; it is what connects us all to it. Let students teach you new music you wouldn’t have otherwise known, let them choose the songs you explore in your classroom, and provide them with choice as a voice as often as you can.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to all music students if you could?

Music doesn’t have to simply be a hobby. There are so many career paths for musicians from performance to sound engineering to building instruments to teaching. If music is something that you are passionate about, it CAN be your career. Seeking out post-secondary music education in the field you would like to pursue can also help elevate you on your music career path.

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